At the Museum of the San Rafael recently, Deb Dull and Mark Miller of Utah Power, and Delena Fish of the Utah State Department of Workforce Services gave a presentation detailing the construction projects to be undertaken in Emery County over the next two years. This informational meeting was to inform business owners and service providers of the influx of workers into the area. Also, details for employment for the temporary positions were given.
With the museum filled to near overflowing, business owners and concerned residents listened to the outline of the projections for the coming years. Commissioner Gary Kofford stated, "It is an exciting time for Emery County now. Several things affecting our economy will be taking place over the next several years.
"We have just recently signed the contracts to begin the construction work on the Rilda Canyon project in Huntington Canyon. This project will be completed in several phases, including the road work, and the construction of the new bath house.
"The Lila Canyon mining project is another that will affect Emery County. This will bring many jobs to the area for miners. The SUWA action has been resolved and the Division of Oil, Gas, and Mining will be issuing the permits this fall.
"Concerning the construction of the interchange at the Hunter Plant in Castle Dale, the bids will be let out soon and the project should be completed by November. This project alone is a $22 million project.
"In another project, the money for phase two of the Moore cutoff project has been secured. The $2 million road project should be completed during the winter. Next year, a $1 million road improvement project for Goblin Valley will be done.
"A new precipitator will be built at the Huntington plant, unit two. This particular unit was constructed before there were any emission regulations. With the addition of the scrubber, emissions will be lowered and this will greatly benefit the county. This project is estimated to last for 18-24 months. During the next several years, Emery County will see an influx of approximately $200 million.
"The College of Eastern Utah is attempting to set up a series of classes to train miners. At a meeting with Brett Harvey, he stated that the average miner is 52 years old. During the next few years, that industry will see many retirements and will be in need of a younger workforce. There is a great need right now to train new miners. Utah Power has indicated that they have the same problem. Their workforce is nearing retirement age and the need for trained and qualified people is very great.
"The bottom line for the workers in Emery County right now is, 'Want a job, get an education.' For every position that becomes available there are more than 100 applicants. There are people with high school educations competing with people who hold doctorate degrees. So, during the next few years, many opportunities will present themselves for Emery County, the workforce needs to be ready and trained," said Kofford.
Mike McCandless of the Emery County Economic Development Council said, "Right now, there are many opportunities developing in agriculture. There are projects in development for the hay and the beef markets. We are developing markets inside and outside of the United States. We have a strong interest from buyers of natural beef. With minimal modifications, we can meet the criteria for that market.
"Family Dollar is building a new store in Castle Dale, and there are two new call centers coming, one in Huntington and one in Castle Dale. All of these projects will require a workforce from Emery and Carbon counties.
"Several existing businesses are expanding their facilities and several new small businesses have recently opened, including the new Farm Bureau "In Green River, a local person is trying to bring about the reopening of the refinery. Expansions are happening in mining with those companies expanding their leases. In the banking area, there is a chance that Eastern Utah Credit Union will open an office in Emery County.
"There are some short term and some long term projects in the planning stages. Things are happening, opportunities are presenting themselves. If you hear a rumor, come and ask us and we will find out the facts.
"We need to improve training opportunities and re-evaluate our real estate values. There are people out there willing to relocate to Emery County, but the real estate is priced beyond what the banks are willing to lend," said McCandless.
Dull stated that the Huntington clean air project is mobilizing for construction now. The lead people are in the area now looking for housing. The contract for this project was signed on May 10.
The partners included in this project, known as the Huntington Environmental Partners, are Sentinel Constructors (Zachry Construction of Houston), Barton-Malow, and Burns and McDonnell, who are the engineers. The winning bid on this project was $99,253,600.
"As a part of the contract that was signed with this partnership, a clause was entered that states that to the fullest extent commercially reasonable, the work will be completed using a majority of Utah labor. This statement is a first for PacifiCorp. Our only need is that the workforce is trained for the work that needs to be done, skilled labor is very important.
"The absorber field assembly will begin this fall, the scrubber will be 60-70 feet in diameter and be 120 feet tall. Delena has been in contact with Zachry Construction and they will be hiring through the DWS. We need registered workers and that registration can be completed on-line. Promotion and registration will take several months.
"One pressing issue we have been made aware of is the need for workers who can pass a drug test. If you don't pass, you will never be hired.
"Other projects that will coincide with the scrubber construction project are three overhauls to the existing power plants. Huntington units one and two will require an additional 200-300 craft labor, in addition to the workforce needed for the construction of the scrubber. For the Hunter two overhaul, we will need 300-400 craft labor. We will try to inform the community of our needs for these projects.
"These projects are scheduled to be ongoing through 2006. We are giving the community a heads up concerning the next two years. Be aware that these things are coming. We don't know a lot of specifics right now, but we will keep the community notified," said Dull.
A question was asked about the purchase of equipment for these projects. Dull answered by saying that much of the small equipment will be purchased in the area, but the large equipment, such as the cranes will be brought in by the construction company.
Information concerning applications for positions with the construction and overhaul crews can be obtained at DWS, either in the office in Castle Dale at 381-6100, or on-line at their website.
As for permanent positions, Dull explained that the construction positions will not be permanent, but there will be a few positions at the new scrubber facility.
Sharon Earl of the Emery County Chamber of Commerce explained that the chamber is assembling a list of vendors, workforce contacts, and services available in Emery County. All business owners are encouraged to inform the chamber what their business can provide during the years of the influx. There will be many opportunities for all retailers, and they must be prepared. She said there are resources available for those who need help. For any questions, people can call the chamber office at 381-2547.
Mike Hurdsman, president of the chamber, urged all business owners to work together during this period of time. He told them to think outside of the box and consider ways to capitalize on the opportunities that will arise through these projects. Several hundred people will be coming into the area, and they will need the same things that the residents here already require.