Mill auction better than expected

The November auction of equipment at the former Warm Springs Forest Products mill brought in a little over $2.8 million.

This was about $400,000 more than had been expected, said Ed Hostmann, serving as receiver in the WSFPI receivership process.

Mr. Hostmann made the report on Tuesday, December 13, at Tribal Council.

Some good news in the otherwise unfortunate situation involves the tribal Credit enterprise.

WSFPI had borrowed about $2.2 million from Credit, and this debt appears to have first priority in the receivership process, Mr. Hostmann said.

This would mean that Credit could likely be repaid in full for the amount owed.

The deadline to file claims in the WSFPI receivership is December 31. There are a number of claims already filed, but the final number will not be known until after the new year.

Some of the equipment that was purchased during the auction remains at the mill site, as weather has prevented removal by the purchasers, Hostmann said.

Next spring will see the removal of most of the buildings from the mill property. Some buildings, such as the WSFPI administration building, will remain.

Warm Springs Composite Products was a purchaser at the auction, having bought their building. Meanwhile, tribal members accounted for about $4,000 of the total $2.8 million in purchases.

A small work team remains on site at the mill, serving as fire watch and security. The crew will not be needed once all the equipment is gone and the building removal phase begins.

Future use of the site is yet to be determined. Tribal Council Chairman Austin Greene said the site will need an environmental analysis. After all, he said, the mill has been in operation there for several decades, during which time environmental regulations have changed.

The soil in some areas could require clean-up before the property is put back into use.

The WSFPI receivership was filed in tribal court on May 2. A judge pro temp from Deschutes County has been overseeing the process.