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Special service district places plaques at fairground facilities commemorating energy workers

Sun Advocate reporter

People who have worked in the energy industry will be commemorated as part of two recent improvements at the Carbon County Fairgrounds.

The Carbon County Recreation and Transportation Special Service District discussed plans at a special board meeting on Oct. 24 to install plaques at the softball field, where renovation is coming to a close, and the Expo Center, which is nearing final stages of construction.

Both facilities have been constructed using funds which were principally derived from the energy industry.

The two projects were funded by the special service district and the Utah Permanent Community Impact Board, both of which oversee the distribution of millions of mineral lease funds. Those funds are paid by companies, such as coal mines and natural gas companies, as they develop energy facilities on state and federal lands.

Since the money used to build the two projects can be ultimately traced back to the energy industry, the special service district board agreed some months ago that it would be fitting to honor those who work in the industry.

As a result of the decision to honor the workers in the energy industry, the district board commissioned Jim Young, a local artist who works in a variety of media, including bronze.

Young presented a conceptual design for the plaques to the board in September. At that time, the board made a number of recommendations. One of those recommendations resulted in doubling the length of the text which will be displayed on the plaques. Because of those changes, Young redesigned the plaques, increasing the size to accommodate the added text.

The two plaques are designed to be mounted on a wall with relief images of miners, mining equipment, gas field workers and gas extraction equipment surrounding the text.

After discussing the matter further, Young was encouraged to design a larger plaque that could commemorate the energy industry in a single piece of art. He designed a bronze relief roughly eight feet wide and four feet high.

However, such a large piece of bronze art presents certain problems. According to Young's estimates, a bronze relief of that magnitude would weigh close to 1,500 pounds.

Young said that he discussed mounting the bronze relief with construction supervisors at the site of the Carbon County Expo Center.

The wall which board members had suggested placing the art is simply not big enough, Young told the special service district representatives.

The wall which had been suggested is an interior wall constructed of steel frame and sheet rock.

That type of construction is not designed to support a three-quarter-ton piece of art, said Young.

A variety of alternatives were presented as the board discussed the matter.

One option was to look at mounting a single piece of artwork or two smaller reliefs on a cinder block wall at the south end of the new construction.

The cinderblock walls are favorable when it comes to the weight of the art which will be mounted because they are reinforced with rebar and cement.

Another alternative is to consult with construction crews and county staff to redesign the wall which Young discovered was inadequate to support the weight of the art.

The wall in question has yet to be built so the option is still available.

But the alternative will have certain costs associated with a redesign if the special service district board and the county agree to pursue that route.

While the board determines the best possible way to pursue, Young will work on the smaller plaque for the ballfields.

The smaller plaque, measuring less than three feet in width and more than one foot in height, already has a likely home on the exterior of the concession stand and bathroom facility.

Three sides of the building are already occupied with doors, windows or utility connections.

The fourth wall is blank, and both Young and the district board agreed that it would be the best location.

The smaller plaques comes as a cost of $6,770, which covers the entire cost of the bronze plaque, including design, casting and mounting.

The special service district approved the plaque as presented by Young, with the price fixed at $6,770.

By approving the smaller plaques, Young can move forward with production while the board reviews the placement of the larger plaques.

The special service district board scheduled a visit to the Carbon County Expo Center to determine the best course to pursue as far as the larger pieces to be placed there.

The board members expressed a desire to both do justice to the art by providing a suitable home and to complete the plaques in a timely manner.

With the Carbon County Expo Center scheduled for completion in early 2007, the board plans to have the art and plaques installed by mid-summer.

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