GRANDVIEW - Changes are taking place at Grandview's former Snokist plant.
This past March, Conrad & Gilbert Fruit L.L.C. took possession of the plant in a one-year lease agreement, with the option to buy.
Since then, Curt Gilbert said, the plant has been under renovations. He said the company is currently in the process of expanding the Rainier cherry lines to handle more fresh market fruit.
The company has also expanded refrigeration capabilities.
"It is exciting to see the expansion. We will accommodate fruits we formerly packed under the Snokist name," said Larry Solberg, a plant employee.
He said the company will provide more jobs to the local economy, employing from 200 to 250 employees during the cherry season.
Cherries are not the only fresh market fruits being handled at the plant this summer. According to Gilbert, the company will pack pears, peaches, nectarines, apples, apricots, prunes and a variety of other tree fruits.
He said he himself is a grower and wanted to become more involved in the handling and marketing of fruits in Washington.
Gilbert is the owner of Gilbert Orchards in Yakima, which already packs several fruits.
"The Grandview location provides us with location diversity and an opportunity to expand," he stated, saying he is looking forward to the coming season.