New meat processor planned in Dayton

Jim and Connie Westergreen own Dayton Cut and Wrap and are working to buy the former Thundering Hooves.

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DAYTON -- By September, Jim and Connie Westergreen hope to be in their new meat processing plant on Cameron Street.

The Port of Columbia will build the 1,000-square-foot building on Port-owned land between Rock Hill Concrete and TEMA Trucking. The building will also include an additional space for office, rest room and mechanical room.

Port manager Jennie Dickinson announced the development during the groundbreaking ceremony for the Blue Mountain Station on Friday. The new facility will enable growers to market their products at a higher price, and will bring five new jobs to the area, Dickinson said.

Dickinson said this morning the project is going out for bids today. She said the cost of the new building will not be available until after bids come back.

The Westergreens have owned and operated Dayton Cut and Wrap for more than five years, and will continue to operate the Main Street facility -- which will be managed by Derek Katsel -- along with the former Thundering Hooves facility on Isaacs in Walla Walla, which they are working to buy. They will do custom processing at the Walla Walla facility.

The three facilities will operate as Tucannon Meats.

Animals will be slaughtered at the Cameron Street site, and meat processed there. The plant will be USDA inspected, which allows meat producers can have the meat processed and sell it to the end user. They will not be able to sell to restaurants or grocery stores.

The plant will handle cattle, pigs and a few lambs, Jim Westergreen said. They will not process goats and exotic livestock, except possibly an occasional buffalo, he said.

As the Westergreens operate now, the end user must own the animal before it is slaughtered, so the grower sells the animal to the consumer "on the hoof." The Westergreen's plan to continue their mobile processing service.

There should be no impact on the neighborhood, Jim Westergreen said.

"Everything is cool, quiet and behind 8-inch concrete walls," he said.

"They won't be able to see anything going on there. There won't be any smell. We specifically designed that building to eliminate any impact on the neighbors," he said.

The area where the plant will be located is zoned industrial, and a slaughterhouse is an allowed use in the industrial zone, Dickinson said.

There are a few homes across Cameron Street from the site, Dickinson said.

By-products are stored in a special cooler, and picked up weekly by a truck from a rendering plant.

"It has been for 50 years," Westergreen said.

Tucannon Meats plans to purchase beef from Tucannon Beef LLC, a cooperative of local ranchers headed by Gary and JoAnn Grendahl. JoAnn Grendahl is Jim Westergreen's mother.

The cooperative includes eight ranchers, and was formed about a year ago, JoAnn Grendahl said Monday.

She was helping out at Dayton Cut and Wrap, wearing an apron marked "Mom."

Most of the beef raised by cooperative members are Hereford and Angus, along with a few Charolais cross cattle.

"We're hoping it goes really well," Grendahl said.

Beef raised by ranchers in the cooperative is steroid, implant, hormone and antibiotic-free, according to a Tucannon Beef brochure.

Carrie Chicken can be reached at cec@innw.net or 522-5289.

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