Land transferred to Sierra Cascade Forest Products

A Linn County/Sierra Cascade Forest Products land transfer that began in May 2020 was completed during the Board of Commissioners’ weekly meeting Tuesday, Sept. 28.

On Aug. 11, the county had approved giving Sierra Cascade Forest Products time to complete a Phase I environmental assessment. That assessment has concluded. The county transferred the property deed on Friday, Oct. 3.

Sierra Cascade, which produces scented cones and holiday home décor, paid the county $525,000 for the 68-acre former timber mill in Lyons. The county had foreclosed on the property in 2018 in lieu of $60,000 in back taxes. The property itself has a market value of $1.1 million.

At the time of the auction, Sierra Cascade officials said they would employ about 100 people to start with and could grow to as many as 300 employees. The company plans to diversify its product offerings with firelogs, starters, color flames and bundled firewood. Having commanded national market share in bundled firewood and holiday cone products, Sierra Cascade has seen substantial business growth during the COVID-19 pandemic as families planned home improvement projects.

In other business, the commissioners: 

— Were informed by Juvenile Director Torri Lynn that there are 173 youths in the probation unit, either on probation or pending a court hearing. Of those, 59 are assessed as high-risk. In July, 13 Linn County youth were held for 181 days; two Lincoln County youth for seven and three Benton County youth for six. Some 54 young people are involved in the Community Programs Unit, and the Intervention Specialist is working with 42 young people, of which 32 have not had involvement with law enforcement.

— Were told by Fair & Expo Center Director Randy Porter that the recent statewide reinstitution of mask mandates has resulted in a downturn in business, which had begun to improve. Shows have been cancelled, although the annual ag show remains on the schedule. Food and beverage contracts will soon be up and Porter is working on those issues.

— Approved acceptance of a $4,000 grant from the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs to assist Linn County Veterans Services in developing printed materials for a suicide prevention program. 

— Were impressed to hear that Linn County employment is rebounding. Commissioner Will Tucker said the county’s stance of providing funds to local small businesses had a positive effect. He thanked Board Chairman Roger Nyquist for spearheading the program and also thanked the Albany and Lebanon chambers of commerce for partnering in identifying businesses and providing them with much-needed funds. 

— Approved First-Time Youth Wage Grants with Wirth Farms, Berkey’s Blueberries, Dairy Queen of Albany, Koos Seed Co., Third Knight Farms, Spurlin Farm Inc. and the city of Mill City. Employers hiring young people for their first jobs are eligible to receive a $4-per-hour stipend for up to three youth, with a maximum of $2,000 per employee.