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Wine center seeks Benton County funds

John Trumbo Tri-City Herald

PROSSER, Wash. – A multimillion-dollar wine exhibition and culinary center being developed near Prosser has the view overlooking the Yakima River and a $2 million federal grant, but it could use $100,000 from Benton County before breaking ground on the next phase later this year, organizers say.

The Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center, to be built on 24 acres north of Interstate 82 west of the city, is expected to be a destination for wine and food education, featuring a tasting room, kitchen, exhibits, teaching vineyards, gardens, classrooms and conference rooms.

The Port of Benton wants to break ground a year from now on a 15,000-square-foot facility to showcase wines from throughout Washington.

Scott Keller, executive director of the port, and Marv Kinney, interim executive director for the Clore Center, asked commissioners last week to consider making good on a promise to put $100,000 toward the matching dollars required by the federal Economic Development Administration grant.

Keller said the county agreed years ago to include the request in its capital improvement plans but has not followed through with the money. He noted in a letter to commissioners that the port told the federal government that Benton County’s contribution was forthcoming.

Keller said the port won’t call for engineering or architectural work on the next and final phase of the project until all the money needed is in the bank.

But commissioners aren’t quite ready to release the money. Chairman Leo Bowman said the board has received numerous requests for funding, which are at $10 million and growing. As a result, there won’t be any decision until after a July 13 meeting when all the requests will be considered, Bowman told Keller.

Kinney said the port has already spent $150,000 to landscape the property and build parking lots. And another $600,000 from a $2 million state grant has been used to build a 2,400-square-foot events center, which features an outside arbor, fireplace, catering kitchen and restrooms.

A grand opening is set for June 30.

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