David Palacios from Savage Industries started off the bi-weekly Bear Meeting outlining positive news about the mining industry in the area.
Palacios explained that he was born and raised in the area and has experienced the economic swings in the coal industry firsthand, but he still sees coal as king.
Palacios described a bleak outlook early in this year’s budget process at Savage. The company was contemplating layoffs for the first time in over ten years, but a couple of big contracts quickly materialized and after four budget revisions, things are looking solid. Part of what is driving the upswing is the need for Utah coal in Japan and Germany.
Transportation of crude oil from the Uintah Basin is also an area into which Savage has expanded. Trucks are carrying the oil to transfer stations in Carbon County to be loaded onto rail cars for transport to refineries. There are four oil load-outs currently in operation in Carbon County, including the Savage load-out east of town.
Savage Industries is an international company with operations in Saudi Arabia, Canada, Nova Scotia, Sweden and the U.S.
Carbon School District Superintendent Steve Carlson spoke about the cost of running the district, and explained that with the flat population growth, the district continues to look for ways to hold down costs. The biggest challenge is the bubble of students in lower grades. A different method of dividing up children will be necessary.
With the implementation of the Utah Core Curriculum, the logical division is a K-5 grade school, a 6-8 middle school and 9-12 in high school. Even with that change, the district will have seven less teachers next year. However, no one will be laid off. The cuts will come from retirement of current teachers and normal attrition. Carlson expects that there will be new teachers hired for next school year. Also as a result of retirement, there will be a combining of duties at the district office to streamline cost as well.
Finally, Castleview Hospital CEO Mark Holyoak spoke about their efforts in improving the facility. He said that patient satisfaction and care remain a top priority for the facility and they seek accreditation standards that keep them at the top of their game. He also stated that recruiting physicians that will stay in the area is a priority as well. Castleview has been recruiting physicians with local roots to come to Carbon County to practice and the efforts have been paying off.
Holyoak wrapped up by talking about the acquisition of the surgical center and the upcoming expansion of the ER department. He said that the expansion will triple the size of the current ER, affording better patient care and improved privacy.