(UPDATE) Dennis Wendt in cahoots with Rio Dell’s Development Director?

Wouldn’t you know it, that mega-hash lab Dennis Wendt and Kevin Caldwell are cooking up is set to come before the Rio Dell Planning Commission this evening.

You’ll probably want a first row seat as Kevin Caldwell, Rio Dell’s Community Development Director, sells himself out to support marijuana land use regulations which just so happen to allow his buddy Dennis Wendt to create Willy Wonka-style pot factory in Rio Dell. We’d laugh if it wasn’t so disgusting.

THC finds it hard to believe that Rio Dell actually wants things like pot factories in their commnunity – you’d have to be pretty damn out of touch to think so. We’ll update you all on what the good Commissioner’s of Rio Dell decide.

Here’s a link to the evening’s agenda.

Our story is set in the sleepy, sunny little Hamlet of Rio Dell where pretty much nothing exciting happens. Like, ever. (Unless you count the delicious pizza pies they whip up at the Pizza Factory – we can’t get enough of them.)

Eager to capitalize on the burgeoning potential of marijuana related entrepreneurship in Humboldt County, Rio Dell has wisely moved to get some sort of policy governing cultivation, manufacturing, and laboratory testing of marijuana products.

Now, enter Dennis Wendt – of Dennis Wendt Construction – with a plan to develop a mega hash lab in Rio Dell that would fall under the City’s marijuana ordinances. THC assumes that Wendt’s proposal is a little more sophisticated – and less dangerous – than the butane hash labs blowing up all over the County. Such a project must eventually go before the Rio Dell Planning Commission – but first they have to develop the guidelines to govern such an endeavor.

Now, Wendt apparently hasn’t made himself overly popular these days (search “Wendt” on Humboldt County Craigslist’s “rants and raves” section – we dare you!), but THC doesn’t know of the reasons behind that. What we do know about is the potentially inappropriate relationship he has with Rio Dell’s Community Development Director, Kevin Caldwell.

It’s THC’s understanding that Caldwell lobbied, and lobbied hard, for the City of Rio Dell to allow the type of projects that Dennis Wendt envisions. As the Community Development Director, THC believes it’s not necessarily his place to push for things in that manner.

But the part of this tale that really stinks is that we’re led to believe that Caldwell also moonlights as a consultant for  Dennis Wendt’s business outside of his job as Community Development Director. Last we checked on the scale of conflict of interest, that is a super big no-no. (Of course, there seems to be a lot of that in Humboldt County recently.)

Now, we’ve done our best to corroborate the claims against Wendt and Caldwell’s collusion, but the record-keeping for the Rio Dell Planning Commission is, uh, lacking. Lacking as in non-existent prior to February of 2016, as evidenced by AccessHumboldt’s video archive. The two recent Rio Dell Planning Commission meetings which focus on pot are available – but only one has working audio, and THC is told that the questionable lobbying tactics employed by Caldwell took place some time in January. (Our guess is the January 14th P.C. meeting.)

If true, this is a troubling situation for a number of reasons, but most importantly because there’s just no way in hell it’s okay for Caldwell and Wendt to be working together on a project that Caldwell has a significant role in getting approved.

So, we put it to you, good readers of THC, to tell us anything you may know about the situation. And be assured that we’ll keep a closer eye on ol’ Rio Dell in the future.

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10 Responses to (UPDATE) Dennis Wendt in cahoots with Rio Dell’s Development Director?

  1. John jones says:

    Even more interesting is the operations manager for Wendt construction is sue long……the mayor of Fortuna.


    • Whipsaw says:

      So maybe she should of excused herself on pbs tv during city council meeting when wendt was debating cities zoning preference on riverwalk


  2. When writing accusations with no documentation, no proof, just “it was heard he said, she said…” it’s called a “Hatchet Job” in professional media. If someone doesn’t like a specific thing or person, it would be far better to outline why, shored up with FACTS and leave the gossip to those with more time and beer on their hands. If the facts aren’t available it would be better to search them out BEFORE spreading gossip which in reality you know nothing about. It is obvious you know nothing about the city planner of Rio Dell. Let me give you a few FACTS:
    1) The city of Rio Dell is and has been on welfare ever since I’ve been here. Welfare being grants for the basic facets that keep the city going.
    2) We are lucky to have a city council, planner and manager who have managed to get these grants that keep the lights on, the water flowing and even a few beautification projects.
    3) Every project seems to have at least a few disgruntled people standing up telling all who will listen that any of these projects will be the ruination of Rio Dell.
    4) We lost a very good City manager because he tried and tried to get business and beauty here so the city could change its reputation and support itself, but after meeting so many road blocks from every angle – he threw his hands up and retired.

    Now Rio Dell has a chance to build a business that could employ many citizens. The demonization of cannabis just fear and ignorance talking. It’s far less harmful than alcohol, has several documented medical applications for the body and mind and in time will come be be regarded as just another form of personal pleasure. If you have another way for the city to employ as many, raise taxes without putting the burden on the people, please let us know. But keep the gossip to yourself.
    Larry Arsenault


    • Good Ol' Boyz says:

      Note that Larry makes zero mention of the obvious conflict(s) of interest. Very telling…


    • Roger Bar says:

      well larry a few key points : The only reason the beatification grants were passed were for kickbacks , and to allow for a unsafer median to be placed in center of town. It only hinders the fire dept. by getting to a fire by a minute later. It setup a reason to employ a couple more people holding a shovel up when rocks and different landscaping would of done just fine like city of Fortuna. It was better off county the rest of town is still the way it pretty much was since they put the freeway in. Out of the five incorporated cities take a hard good look at the improvements all the others are doing and then reflect back were really the money for these grants are going! everybody is entitled to there opinion it just seems that when a city mandates a new intake gallery back in 2000, deems one of 2 wells unsafe and now presently was awarded 1.8 million to now put new wells in were we have a sewer pond treated or not, or next to and on top of it have development in a floodplain . This only goes to show this is and only has been for the employees of this city to make sure calpers is taken care of. Lets put in a processing facility and dump the waste the very same way the mills did in the river with all the pollution . Unless of course u think we can afford to send it back over the bridge and let citizens drink it , like they did back in the day when there was a treated wood tanks next to the well caps. For a town that has been incorporated since 1964 its development has been slow going better off being a c.s.d. community service district.


  3. Just Watchin says:

    Congratulations THC! You are now a member of the “professional media”. WOOOOHOOOO!


  4. MOLA42 says:

    I dunno….

    Seriously, what’s wrong with having a Willy Wonka-style cannabis factory? Once legalization happens it would be no different than having a brewery or a distillery. I haven’t seen THC rail against them (yet).

    I’m just disagreeing on the one point. The cronyism, although familiar, is troubling.


  5. Jason jason says:

    Dennis Wendt if Fortunas Donald Trump…..lots of hot air


  6. Bert says:

    I have spoken out against the move to bring the pot industry into Rio Dell on several occasions before the City Council. Rio Dell was hit extremely hard by the closure of Palco and Eel River Sawmills. This has created a vacuum that the pot industry has eagerly exploited. Those of us who are in opposition of this endeavor are characterized as “ignorant and fearful.” The city itself is up against growers who have literally millions of dollars at their disposal to wage a legal war against Rio Dell that the city simply does not have the funds to fight. There is a lot more to this story than what is being told. I feel as if those who oppose the pot industry is in a David versus Goliath, and the pot industry is the Goliath. I am very concerned that this endeavor, if approved will bring in a very unsavory element into our community. If you lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas.


  7. Roger Bar says:

    if we had transparency in this town it would be great and if they could show that they in fact pay there water bills and sewer and everyone pays the same unless its in a industrial, commercial or agricultural zoned then great , but when a few people have to foot a bill for a group of idiots running the show , who cannot tie there shoes let alone run a plant that was capable of handling this town whos population in reality has not grown by much. Then again it takes a lot anymore to complete any projects when everything gets sub contracted out, but gets more complexed when corrupted officials are employed by a welfare city.


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