GRANDVIEW - Grandview had two reasons to celebrate yesterday (Thursday).
Not only were community members and dignitaries on hand to celebrate the ribbon cutting of Olsen Bros. blueberry plant on Forsell Road, but the Port of Grandview celebrated its 21st birthday.
Larry Olsen, co-owner of Olsen Bros., first introduced the dignitaries at the event, including Washington state Senator Jim Honeyford, Yakima County Commissioner Rand Elliott, Washington State Department of Agriculture Director Dan Newhouse and Barb Lisk, a representative of U.S. Congressman Doc Hastings.
Olsen was pleased at the number of people celebrating the completion of the $2.4 million project in the Port of Grandview. The project was made possible largely because of Supporting Investments in Economic Diversification (SIED) funding granted to the Port of Grandview.
He and his brother Dick years ago were approached and asked to grow blueberries.
The Olsens were uncertain how the crop would do in the Yakima Valley, but the success has led to the most recent expansion of Olsen Bros. operations.
"It turns out blueberries grow very well here," he noted.
Olsen credited Driscoll's, a distributor of berries, for its partnership with Olsen Bros. That partnership, shared Olsen, has helped Olsen Bros. grow and become successful.
Olsen Bros. Ranches grows the organic blueberries distributed by Driscoll's. Those berries can be found in grocery stores across the nation, including local Safeway stores.
Hastings' spokesperson, Lisk, stood before those gathered to congratulate Olsen Bros. She read a letter from Congressman Hastings before Port of Grandview President Colleen Byam took the microphone.
Byam shared briefly the port's history, stating it was established in 1989, after voters approved an initiative by more than 70 percent.
"There were six candidates on the ballot who would not have taken office if the voters hadn't approved the initiative," she shared.
Byam continued, stating, "We've made some mistakes just as any growing child, but I am proud of our growing success."
One of the port's original commissioners, Ron Grow, still serves on the Port of Grandview commission. Byam celebrated his years of service, presenting him with a plaque in honor of the 21 years the port has been in operation.
Driscoll's Chairman and CEO Miles Rider also addressed the crowd gathered Thursday.
"It is an honor to follow the Port Queen," he shared, referring to Byam.
"It's good to see the result of the conversations we have had with Olsens."
Rider said the blueberries grown by Olsens are some of the highest quality berries distributed by his company.
"That terrific product reinforces the promise of the Driscoll's brand...our mission is to continue to delight the consumer, and Olsen Bros. is aligned with that mission."
The speeches were completed and the ribbon cut. Those attending the event were provided a tour of the new 20,000 square foot facility. The Port of Grandview served up cake and punch for the grand celebration.
Jennie McGhan/Daily Sun News
The community of Grandview Thursday celebrated the completion of Olsen Bros. blueberry plant in the Port of Grandview with a ribbon cutting ceremony. They included (L-R) Miss Grandview Princess Jessica Hernandez, Miss Grandview Ranelle Kalaw, Sen. Jim Honeyford, Congressman Hastings' representative Barb Lisk, Mayor Norm Childress, Dept. of Ag Director Dan Newhouse, Port of Grandview Commissioner Jim Sewell, Miles Rider of Driscoll's, New Vision President Dave McFadden, Leif Olsen, Yakima County Commissioner Rand Elliott, Martin Olsen, Port of Grandview Commissioner Ron Grow, Port of Grandview President Colleen Byam and Miss Grandview Princess Diana Ocampo.