Gov. Inslee tours new Dayton food processing center

Blue Mountain Station houses several local specialty product makers.

Gov. Jay Inslee inspects a sample of Gypsy Girl Granola with owner Suzi Tasker in her workspace at Dayton's Blue Mountain Station.

Gov. Jay Inslee inspects a sample of Gypsy Girl Granola with owner Suzi Tasker in her workspace at Dayton's Blue Mountain Station. Photo by Rachel Alexander.

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When Governor Jay Inslee stopped by Dayton’s artisan food center, he couldn’t help but admire the rolling hills out the window.

“I think I’d work here just for the view!” he told Port of Columbia Director Jennie Dickinson.

Inslee visited Blue Mountain Station for a tour Tuesday morning, before continuing on to a signing ceremony for a bill making Palouse Falls the official state waterfall.

He toured the processing spaces for center’s three tenants and sampled granola and goat cheese, which he called “very good, very subtle.”

Dickinson led the tour, explaining how Blue Mountain Station has allowed small-scale entrepreneurs to open businesses.

She cited Little Dipper Dairy owners Terrisa and Andrew Churchill, who made goat cheese products for their family for 12 years but couldn’t get the certification they needed to become a business until they began processing at Blue Mountain Station.

Inslee listened intently as each producer described their product and process, asking questions about Suzi Tasker’s allergen-free granola recipe, Reggie Mace’s oak barrels for fermenting mead and the growth of Churchill’s business.

“You’ve got a beautiful space to work,” he told Tasker, the owner of Gypsy Girl Granola.

Mace, who owns Mace Mead Works, said he’s appreciated the steps Inlee has taken to help the state’s wine industry, and was glad to get a chance to show the Governor how mead is produced.

“We sent him home with a bottle, so maybe he’ll let us know that he liked it,” said Mace.

Dickinson said she’s been thrilled to see the success of Blue Mountain Station, which the Port build last year.

A coffee microroastery, Rey’s Roast, has signed a lease to for one of the remaining processing spaces and hopes to move in at the beginning of April, and the Saturday market has drawn a sizable group of locals and visitors every weekend.

She appreciated the opportunity to show the governor how the center is helping start businesses in Columbia County.

“I think the governor really does appreciate rural businesses,” Dickinson said. “He loved the Blue Mountain Station concept.”

Rachel Alexander can be reached at rachelalexander@wwub.com or 509-526-8363.

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