What On Earth (and Water) is Going on In Waitsburg? Town Rejects Nestle’ Plant
Most small towns, especially those with gradually shrinking populations, or heavily dependent upon the uneasy world of farming, would welcome an opportunity to add a company with a LOT of jobs.
But not Waitsburg. This tiny town of just over 1,200 people in Walla Walla County has turned down an offer from Nestle', who wanted to build a bottling plant, and utilize some of the area's natural springs for bottled water.
Reports indicate the city council discussion was "contentious," and spirited, according to the Walla Walla Union Bulletin newspaper, but the council rejected Nestle' North America.
Some residents and council members proudly distributed Ghostbuster-style Nestle' stickers with the red line across 'Nestle'.
The council plans to write a letter saying they are not interested in the company developing the $50 million dollar bottling plant that would have brought a projected 50 permanent new jobs with it. In a town the size of Waitsburg, that's a significant economic and social boost.
The town has been on edge for some time after learning former Mayor Walt Gobel, who resigned a few weeks ago, and City Administrator Randy Hinchcliffe had apparently been in secret talks and negotiations with Nestle' without informing other city officials.
A representative of the company at the recent meeting told members, even before they decided to write the letter, that the company got the message saying, "we're just going to leave."
While concerns over the impact to the city's natural springs is understandable, it's likely the city could have demanded certain environmental standards be met to not damage or destroy them while they're being used to bottle the water.
Nearly half of the 50 people who attended the meeting wore the anti-Nestle' stickers, according to the Union-Bulletin. Supporters of the proposal are dismayed the city has rejected an opportunity to add jobs, money, and even more tax revenue to bolster the town's economy. Maybe it WAS something in the water....