Responsible Growth * NE Washington held its first meeting December 8, 2017, at Kelly’s Bar & Grill in Newport. There were ten concerned folks at that meeting. They were brought together concerned over Hitest Sands, Inc. proposal to construct a Newport silicon metal smelter that would tower over the City of Newport on 188 acres of land previously owned by Pend Oreille County and PUD.

RG * NEW’s initial meeting came on the heels of HiTest Sands, Inc public meeting held at the Newport High School on the 29th of November. There was a packed house of over 600+ community members with a ballpark estimate of 90% opposing the construction of the smelter.

Sensing a real need, RG * NEW’s mission was to establish a Washington-based anti-smelter group as the smelter issue would involve Washington laws and regulations, as well as Washington public officials and ultimately Washington residents and voters.

Our first goal after organizing was to get out the word about the proposed smelter. We initially did this in conjunction with the Kalispel Tribe of Indians by holding a Public Meeting at the Camas Center on Tuesday, January 23, 2018. There were well over 200 interested folks in attendance.

Since that time RG * NEW has given over 20 smelter presentations. These smelter presentations have taken place in Spokane, Priest Lake, Priest River, Blanchard, Sandpoint, Elk, Newport, Metaline Falls and sometimes we are in these communities more than once. RG * NEW has also put up informational booths and tables at different venues and events.

RG * NEW was fortunate in its short organizational time to inherit a non-profit. Along with the non-profit came two storage units full of tables, chairs, canopies, umbrellas and other sundry items, plus a small bank account that has been extremely helpful in moving us forward. The focus of the non-profit was promoting the Arts and Humanities, which was a perfect match for RG * NEW.

We are also fortunate to be represented by the Gonzaga Law Clinic in the fight to protect our rural character and lifestyle, and the Community Environmental League Defense Fund (CELDF). CELDF will present a series of “Democracy School” workshops starting the fall of 2018.

Responsible Growth * NE Washington is a work in progress.

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