No, the former Willamette Egg Farm in Eagle Point is not being turned into a marijuana-growing operation by famous singer and cannabis activist Willie Nelson.
Speculation that Nelson is involved in an operation at the site has been running rampant in Eagle Point for months, Mayor Bob Russell said.
Helping fuel the rumor is work going on at the former egg farm to turn it into a greenhouse growing operation, as well as at a neighboring property that is going to also grow cannabis. The owners of the two properties aren't related.
Nelson's publicist Elaine Schock said Nelson and his family have nothing to do with the Eagle Point operation.
"Willie does not have a farm in Oregon," Schock said in an email.
She said "Willie's Reserve," a series of marijuana-related products, are sourced from the best growers in the country."He is more than just associated with the industry," Schock said. "He is a pioneer."
The 78-acre former egg farm is owned by XP Investments LLC of Texas, which bought the four tax lots May 24, 2016, for $1.2 million, according to Jackson County records.
Dwight Crump, a partner in the venture with Russ Hrncir of Texas, declined to be interviewed at the farm Wednesday but did say the operation isn't related to Nelson.
Workers are stacking up metal rods to build greenhouses, which will be erected toward the back of the property. Some of the older, more dilapidated buildings will be razed, while other buildings are being converted into processing facilities, Crump said.
Adding more fuel to the rumors about Nelson is a separate greenhouse marijuana project underway on an adjacent property, owned by He He Properties of America LLC.
Mark Wiest, a 63-year-old Sams Valley resident, said he works as a consultant for He He.
"About once a week or more, I hear Willie Nelson this and Willie Nelson that," he said.
He He bought the 140-acre farm, with two tax lots, which is directly to the north of XP Investments, on July 26, 2016, for $390,000, according to county records.
Wiest, a biologist, said he used to grow canola on the property and raise cows, and he said it's been interesting watching it turn into a marijuana venture.
He said 15 containers of greenhouses built in China were shipped to Seattle, then trucked to the He He property, where they will be assembled in the months ahead.
Wiest said he provides consulting services to Jimmy Liu, manager of He He, and he's watched as Chinese methods come face to face with Oregon's planning process.
He said it's difficult to explain to Liu why it may take days or months to get something approved, rather than just a couple of hours back in China.
A road has been built across the pastureland on the property, and instead of putting rock down, a decision was made to use native clay soils, despite Wiest's best efforts to point out why that's a bad idea.
"He made a big mess," Wiest said.
As he watches the huge amount of marijuana money pouring into Jackson County, Wiest takes a philosophical view.
"This whole scenario has got to be step for step the way the legalization of alcohol went," he said. "Pot growers were growing weed in the mountains, just like the moonshiners. The cops raid stills, and the cops raid marijuana patches."
Richard Harrington, who owns property to the north of XP Investments and He He Properties, said he's concerned about his neighbors' plans for large pot farms.
"I'm just horrified at the smell and the greenhouse lights," he said.
— Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on www.twitter.com/reporterdm.