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August 28, 2012 8:01 am

Deaver school complex to become manufacturing facility

Written by Ilene Olson

Thanks to one woman’s vision and a community’s work to make it happen, Deaver’s former school — once weeks away from being demolished — will become a manufacturing site for Ridgeline Energy Services USA.

Ridgeline, based in Canada, is an energy services and water treatment company. The equipment that will be manufactured in Deaver will be used to filter and purify water in oil and gas fields through a process known as electrodialysis.

According to Dennis Danzik, Ridgeline director of engineering and operations, the equipment is easy to transport and set up, it leaves no scars on the landscape, and it can purify water so toxic that it could kill a person, making it safe for agriculture use.

“Water will not be wasted,” Danzik said.

Deaver’s 65,500 square-foot school campus will be the company’s second manufacturing facility in the United States. It is centrally located to North Dakota; Alberta, Canada; Colorado; eastern Utah and west Texas, Danzik said in an Aug. 22 news release.

“The new facility is also less than 10 minutes from Northwest College, which offers a world-class welding program and other disciplines,” he said.

“Wyoming has no state income tax and is one of the most advantageous business environments in North America,” Danzik added. “The state is currently No. 1 in new corporate entity growth in the United States.”

Danzik served as spokesman Friday during a public event in the school gymnasium celebrating the company’s purchase of the building.

Attending were company representatives, area residents who helped make it happen, area legislators, Deaver Town Council members and other local leaders and residents.

Among them were Karen Fulbright, who initially proposed the idea for selling the building to Ridgeline, and her husband, Gary, a town councilman.

Karen Fulbright said she got the idea after attending a convention for the Wyoming Association of Municipalities last year, where much of the conversation centered on economic development.

She talked to Danzik and found out he was planning to move part of the operation to Wyoming.

“I thought, ‘Yay! This might work.’”

Town Councilman LaMoine Sorensen said Karen Fulbright first brought the idea to the Town Council.

“She is a cousin of his (Danzik),” he said. “She was telling us about it, and I said, ‘Well, get a hold of him.’

“She said, ‘Well, I don’t want to do that; I don’t want to be at the head of something like this.’

“I said, ‘Do it,’ and she did. ... We can’t see how it could go wrong.”

Karen Fulbright said, “I contacted him and showed him the floor plan, and he was interested. So we started from there, and it just ballooned.”

Also present was Rep. Elaine Harvey, R-Lovell, who worked with the company, the community and Wyoming School Facilities Commission and other state agencies to facilitate the process.

“This demolition was on its way. It was going to happen,” Harvey said during the meeting.

Harvey said she got a call from Town Councilmen Fulbright and LaMoine Sorensen asking her to tour the building with Danzik.

“Once he saw it, then he wanted it,” she said. “But it had already been slated for demolition.”

Harvey drove to Cheyenne to meet with Ian Catellier, director of the Wyoming School Facilities Department. She told him about the proposed purchase of the school’s buildings and asked if the $600,000 appropriated for demolition had to be spent by a specific date. Harvey said Catellier’s initial by-the-book answer was, “Yes ... no ... yes ... no ...,” but eventually, he and others were able to work together to put the demolition on hold while negotiations proceeded.

One of the biggest sticking points proved to be getting out of the contract already signed with a company to do asbestos abatement in the building, but that was accomplished, Harvey said.

Catellier then negotiated with Danzik about providing security, and Danzik hired a Big Horn County Sheriff’s deputy to watch the property. Since the deputy’s hours recently had been reduced half-time, it worked out well for all concerned, Harvey said.

Harvey said she then went from agency to agency to facilitate the purchase and work out the process.

Danzik talked about his plans for the campus during a tour of the school buildings and gymnasium after the meeting Friday.

The new gymnasium will be the main manufacturing facility; the old gym will be storage.

Some classrooms will be used for manufacturing operations; others will be converted to dormitories or apartments to house company representatives while they’re visiting or working at the site.

A few classrooms might still be used for instruction and educational presentations for local students by visiting experts.

“Then we can pick from the best and the brightest students,” Danzik added.

Danzik said the company’s contract calls for Ridgeline to build a new metal shop for the town of Deaver to replace the school’s maintenance shop.

“We’re going to start that next year, then they’ll move their maintenance shop, and we’ll have another 6,200 square feet.”

Danzik praised the local school district for its maintenance of the campus. He noted that all the plumbing and electrical wiring in the buildings was redone as recently as 12 years ago, and the campus is wired for fiber-optic Internet access.

“There was about $100,000 worth of fiber optics brought in here about three years ago,” he said. “We’ve got massive communications, which is great for our satellite uplift.”

During Friday’s lunch meeting, Danzik said, “It looks like a school right now. But in a year and a half, it will be a first-class (manufacturing) facility.”

Harvey said helping make the purchase happen was fun.

“Everybody had a vision,” she said. “The people of Deaver have responded, and you see some houses being renovated. They’re excited to build their community.”

Deaver resident Mark Sorensen said, “I think everyone’s excited about it. I think the potential for anything to keep this town viable is a good thing for everyone. ... It’s just win, win for everybody.”

“It’s like a B-12 vitamin shot for the town,” added Rose Wenstrom, whose husband serves on the Town Council. “I’m just really thankful for LaMoine Sorensen and Karen and Gary. ... If it hadn’t been for the three of them, there would be nothing here.”

2 comments

  • Comment Link August 28, 2012 2:04 pm posted by clipstein

    Congrads to deaver......... here is this little town that Powell cut off its fire protection and now watch them grow..... the good old boys and this paper could take a lesson.....Maybe the Mayor and crew and including this paper should take lessons

  • Comment Link August 30, 2012 12:15 pm posted by Poweite

    Way to go Deaver! This councilman Fulbright should run for mayor, it sounds to me like he really has a vision and a heart for his community. Keep up the great work, we might just have to give you your fire station back.

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