Wind knocks down portion of port's transload facility

Above: The transload building while under construction before the accident. Below: One of the iron roof supports at the Port of Morrow's transload facility under construction collapsed Monday due to strong wind gusts.

By Jessica Smith

Staff writer

BOARDMAN — Progress on the transload building at the Port of Morrow continues, despite high winds on Monday that toppled over the iron roof support and injuring a construction worker.

Port of Morrow General Manager Gary Neal told Port Commissioners at their meeting on Wednesday that work on the structure is continuing.

Winds gusting at more than 40 miles per hour knocked down the frame of the 100,000-square-foot building early Monday afternoon. A employee of Vemco Inc., was working on the facility at the time of the accident and suffered a broken arm. Vemco is a subcontractor to Becker Construction out of La Grande.

The employee was transported to the Good Shepherd Medical Center where he was treated.

The port intends to lease the transload facility, when completed, to a local company which plans to use it to store dehydrated onions.

Damage to the facility could reach upwards of $400,000.

Also at Wednesday's Port of Morrow commissioners meeting, Neal discussed the Heppner Power Plant. He told commissioners he had "been in some discussion with some possible clients for the facilities."

The commissioners also heard from state Rep. Greg Smith on the current events in Salem regarding potential new bills that might effect Eastern Oregon.

"You are going to see some real changes," said Smith. "From my perspective they won't all be for the better."

Smith told commissioners that a lot of money for rural development was probably gone and not coming back, along with the $100 million that had in the past been available for infrastructure grants. The funding for the extension offices across the state may be eliminated, along with substantial funding cuts facing community colleges.

"Rural Eastern Oregon is really going to see the pinch by the end of the session," added Smith.

The commissioners also discussed leasing 15 acres to Vestas, a company who deals in parts for windmills. The land would be used as a staging and distribution point for parts.

Jessica Smith can be reached at

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