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Southeastern Utah Energy producers honor their own

By PATSY STODDARD
Editor


The Palacios family receive honors at the Southeastern Utah Energy Producers annual banquet. Manuel, Pete, David, Robert and Gregg Palacios.

The Southeastern Energy Producers Association held their annual banquet and honored men who have made great contributions to the mining industry. Rick Olsen, president, welcomed everyone to the banquet. He said there were some changes in the agenda with Rep. Jim Matheson being unable to attend due to commitments in Washington DC.

Bob Topping representing the Western Energy Training Center was introduced. Olsen said WETC has been such a help for technical training and teaching the youth of our area about jobs in the energy field so they can stay here.

Topping said, "I have met some great people here. We have had 6,000 students from 300 companies in the year I have been here. It feels like home. Our job is to develop workers for industry. I am humbled to understand the sacrifices made by people for energy. WETC is a collaboration with industry. Industry is the driver to attract, develop retain and advance workers.

"In Utah, during the 80s they didn't make enough babies. All of us older folks are now getting ready to retire. We need assistance to attract, develop and retain workers. We need to create strategic alliances. There aren't enough workers to fill the spots. There is a new industry wanting to invest in our area that means 50-70 jobs immediately. We need strong alliances. SEUEPA is an amazing association to accomplish the greater good. This has been an amazing year," said Topping. He said the energy field provides the driving force for this nation.

Rep. Matheson appeared via satellite and addressed the group. He said he is always working on energy issues and values the relationship he has with the group of people in the energy field. He believes this nation needs a balanced common sense energy plan. He was saddened by the loss of nine lives. As the investigations continue they will look at what happened and what needs improvement. He wrote a bill dealing with the gap in ability to locate miners and is initiating research into technology that addresses those needs. The prosperity of our nation depends on affordable energy. Energy use is projected to increase over the years. Reducing access to affordable energy hurts the poor. America has been an innovation leader. Matheson said alternative energy should be developed to supplement coal fired energy.

David Litvin, president of the Utah Mining Association addressed the audience. He worked 23 years at Kennecott, he was with the Department of Energy, EPA, the Defense Department and the navy. He has a juris doctrate of law.

Board member, Sam Quigley stands before the pictures of former Lifetime achievement award winners for the Southeastern Utah Energy Producers.

"It is a pleasure to be among friends. This country depends on energy. It impacts everyone when the costs go up. Our ability to compete locally is greatly hampered with rising energy costs. Our country is off kilter, we need to get back on track. We need to stop the anti-development forces that are stopping what we need. Every coal and gas permit is challenged. There is something wrong with this system. We need to get involved to make sure this change takes place. We are the true environmentalists. How many acres of land have environmentalists reclaimed? We protect the environment and I applaud what we do. Don't let people who don't know what we do take credit for that. I just turned 61, people listen to what you have to say. I have 41 years in energy. I am frustrated. Nothing has changed for 25 years. We ought to be getting on with what's important for viability for our kids future. Oil is approaching $100 a barrel and gas $4 a gallon. There is a slow down in manufacturing. The future is bleak for General Motors. There is a mortgage crisis and liquid assets crisis. The construction industry is stymied. Existing home sales are at a record low. The stock market is dropping. all these things are self-imposed. There are wildlife concerns so the BLM says no leasing. There are failed environmental policies. Western lands are not a playground for the east. Tourism just won't cut it," said Litvin.

Litvin told the story of the old miner with his trusty old mule. The mule had been with the miner his whole life. The miner didn't know what to do with the mule. He wasn't needed in the mine anymore. So he decided to bury him in a hole. But he couldn't look as he threw shovelfuls of dirt on the mule. The mule didn't know what was going on so he just tromped down the dirt as the miner threw shovelfuls upon him. When the hole was completely filled in the miner turned around and his trusty mule was right next to him on the surface. He told the mule please forgive me I regret what I've done. The miner wept for joy. "We in energy are that trusty old mule. The United States has depended on us. As we look forward this country needs to look at what we do and what we supply. Coal has been used as a fuel since 1000 BC in China. It's used to smelt copper and to heat homes. Through technology it has changed the way that is done, but it's still the same fuel. Turbines are turned by coal power to produce the electricity that heats home. The steam engine propels ships and that steam was created by coal producing the heat. The oil industry began in 1859. Oil is used in furnaces and for transportation. Oil was further developed; advancements have been made to take lead out of the system. Natural gas came into play. This is a bleak time in the industry. But, we will, through technology, change again. We will be a part of the energy field to keep this country going. We will keep stepping up like that little mule," said Litvin.

Olsen thanked Litvin and said it is people like David that make the energy industry what it is today.

Sam Quigley had the privilege of introducing the Palacios family, recipient of the lifetime achievement in energy award. He said, "They have contributed so much to the industry. It is an honor to talk about the Palacios family. The five Palacios brothers have worked in mines in Utah, Colorado and New Mexico. They have 200 collective years of coal production and if you add their father, it's 225. I will consider it an achievement if I can only achieve 50 percent of what they have done. One Palacios brother said, 'It's a long way up the ladder of success and a short way down.' They have been foremen and supervisors, they worked 135 years combined at Kaiser Steel. They also combined for 12 years in World War II," said Quigley

Joe Palacios was born on March 24, 1922. His family immigrated to the United States when he was a child. He lived in Sego, Utah. He started working in the coal mines at age 19 and married his sweetheart with his first paycheck. He was a mine foreman at Kaiser Steel.

Robert Palacios began his career at the Kaiser Steel operations at Sunnyside number one mine in 1957. He worked at United States smelting, refining and mining in Lark, Utah. He worked in potash mining in New Mexico and eventually settled in Helper where he held many foreman positions and he retired in 1997.

The award winners receive Gary Prazen statues.

Pete was born April 20, 1927 in Sego, Utah. He took his first job in the coal mine as a boney picker and crusher attendant. He served in the Marines. He began working at the Standardville Coal Company in 1949. He was the maintenance superintendent and worked at Kaiser Steel until his retirement in 1988.

Manual Palacios was born in Sego, Utah on April 19, 1933. He started working in the coal mines in Standard, Utah in 1952 and was soon hired as a shuttle car operator at Kaiser Steel. He was a certified fireboss, foreman and mining supervisor. He worked on the longwall for about 22 years until the mine closed.

John Palacios started his career in 1947 and in 1950 transferred to the Royal Coal Company. In 1952 he began working at Kaiser Steel. He was the longwall manager from 1965 until 1986, finally retiring in 1987 after a heart attack. He became a mine consultant to many local companies. He also served on the mine rescue team at Sunnyside for several years. He worked underground for 39.5 years and truly loved mining.

David Palacios, son of Pete spoke a few words after the miners received their awards. He said it was quite an honor to be Pete's son. "When dad first started in the coal mine it was with a pick and shovel. Progress doesn't come without sacrifice he would always say. I am grateful to be part of a coal mining family," said David. He thanked his mother, Pete's wife of 62 years. "They are an incredible family who have mined thousands of tons of coal," said David.

Sen. Mike Dmitrich was also honored for his role in the energy industry. Sen. Dmitrich was introduced by his cousin Mike Milovich. He said Mike was always an idol of his. Mike has spent 39 years in the state legislature and is well respected and works well with other members in the Senate. He packs some weight at the legislature and represents us well. He has helped bring millions to our area for projects. Mike also has a passion for golf. Mike was introduced along with his wife of 50 years, Bo.

Sen. Dmitrich worked in the mining industry for 18 years. He took a job after an injury ended his football career at the University of Utah. He worked underground at Kaiser Steel in Sunnyside. He handled government relations for the Cyprus-amas Willow Creek mine working above ground. He also worked in banking. In 1968, the 31 year old filed and won a seat in the House of Representatives. In 1992 he moved to the Utah Senate and represents Carbon, Emery, Grand and San Juan counties along with a portion of Utah County. Sen. Dmitrich has long been an advocate for the energy industry. He serves on several committees including: appropriations, natural resource appropriations, executive appropriations, capital facilities and government, operations appropriations, senate transportation and public, utilities and technology and senate review and taxation.

Olsen closed the banquet saying next year's banquet will be held in September and feature more lifetime achievement awards. He encouraged everyone to stay active and involved in the energy industry as it remains a vital part of our economy.






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