Wasco and Hood River County fruit organizations talk merger

By SUE RYAN

News staff writer

February 24, 2007

The Wasco County Fruit and Produce League and Hood River Grower Shipper Association may merge.

Jeff Heater, the league’s president, told growers at Tuesday’s Mid-Columbia Cherry Day in The Dalles about the proposal.

“We’re going to talk about including grape growers and blueberries as they are emerging industries in the Gorge,” Heater said.

Currently the groups represent cherry, pear, and apple producers. The league mailed out a one-page outline of the timeline for the proposed merger in a winter newsletter.

In that article, league secretary Ken Bailey wrote that the two boards believe it is time to look at “the prospects of improving the strength and effectiveness of the growers in Wasco and Hood River counties by merging them into one larger more effective organization.”

The league is a volunteer effort while the HRGS Association has paid staff.

The first step involves each board taking the idea to its members to get feedback. The discussion is planned to continue through the 2007 harvest.

The second step would begin in the fall of 2007 to evaluate grower responses and see if merger talks should continue.

The third step would involve approval by the boards and negotiations of an actual merger.

The fourth step would be to present a proposed merger to the members by February 2008 at the earliest.

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