Smith resigns from Nyssa rail project management

Greg Smith has resigned as project manager of the troubled Treasure Valley Reload Center, ending a tenure troubled by cost overruns, construction troubles and a shortage of money.

He has managed the project north of Nyssa in Malheur County since it emerged as an idea in 2015, through state appropriations in 2017, and a recent halt in work over the lack of money.

He worked most of that time for Malheur County, but he switched in August to work directly for the public company set up by county officials – the Malheur County Development Corp.

His work was through his private company, Gregory Smith & Company.

“I wanted to let you all know that Gregory Smith & Company will officially be resigning from all Malheur County Development Corporation related duties on February 28th. We will do everything in our power to ensure a smooth transition during this time,” Smith wrote in an email to company directors on Friday, Feb. 17.
The Enterprise obtained the email on Tuesday, Feb. 21, through a public records request.

Smith’s resignation comes as the development company struggles to find money to pay bills and keep the project going. All work stopped in December, and Smith was pursuing another $6.5 million to get the reload center done later this year.

The development company learned recently that contractors who were owed nearly $1 million for work already done had been asked to hold their bills because there was no money to pay them. Such a move spared the development company from having past-due bills that would accrue interest.

Construction on the former Nyssa farmland started in December 2021 but quickly bogged down with ground conditions worse than expected. Earthwork to prepare the farmland to hold a warehouse building and rail spurs had been contracted at about $5.5 million. The work went months longer than expected and ended up costing $13.7 million.

Smith’s company, based in Heppner, was being paid $9,000 a month to manage the project. The fee is covered by Malheur County, which also is covering borrowing costs and other expenses.

Smith served as Malheur County’s economic development director from 2013 until last July. He resigned that work, citing a “toxic” environment, but kept the shipping center task.

He also holds a full-time job in Boardman with the Columbia Development Authority and contracts with other public entities. He is the longest-serving member of the Oregon House, a Republican serving House District 57, which does not include Malheur County.

This is a developing story.


Short of money, rail managers ask contractors to hold onto bills for work already done

SPECIAL REPORT: Another state bailout for Nyssa rail project in the works

SPECIAL REPORT: Smith pledges scrutiny of rail project budget, can’t produce one

SPECIAL REPORT: State suspends payments for Nyssa rail project

State’s fund for rail center nearly exhausted but millions in costs remain, records show

Les Zaitz is editor of Salem Reporter and also serves as editor and publisher of the Malheur Enterprise in Vale, Oregon.