Printed on: October 04, 2012

Cives touts its plant

By Alex Stucky

UCON -- For 21/2 hours Wednesday night, Cives Steel officials told a large crowd how the company's jobs and its quiet and safe working conditions would benefit the community.

The comments came during a public hearing called by the City Council.

Members of the public were still offering comments shortly before 11 p.m. Wednesday, nearly four hours after the hearing opened. The public comment period started at about 10 p.m.

Cives needs council members to approve a rezoning request before it can build what would be the company's seventh plant in Ucon. If approved, the company would occupy 30 acres of what now is farmland at 997 N. Yellowstone Highway.

As of 11:20 p.m., no decision had been reached on the rezoning request.

The Georgia-based company employs about 1,000 people at its six steel fabricating facilities spread across six states.

During their lengthy presentation, Cives officials stressed the 150 jobs it would bring to the area. Idaho Department of Labor representatives spoke about the economic benefit those jobs would have on the community.

"Adding 150 jobs would bring $13 million in total labor income and $50 million in gross regional product for Bingham, Bonneville, Jefferson and Fremont counties," said Will Jenson, the department's regional economist.

Ben Merkling, general manager of Cives' Northwest division, said most of the promised jobs would go to local people with just six to eight taken by workers who would move here with the company.

Company officials also brought a number of representatives from local agencies, schools and businesses, including Eastern Idaho Technical College and Grow Idaho Falls, that supported the company's planned move to Ucon.

With the help of those representatives, Cives addressed a number of concerns raised by many residents, such as traffic congestion, noise and safety concerns.

Merkling cited a traffic study conducted by the Idaho Transportation Department that showed none of the intersections surrounding the facility's proposed location would need to be changed.

A study conducted at Cives' Midwest facility indicated that noise levels would not cause problems for neighbors of the proposed Ucon plant site.

Cives officials also addressed safety violations that were reported Tuesday by the Post Register. The newspaper reported that Cives was cited for 72 safety violations during the past 10 years by the Occupational and Health Safety Administration.

Those violations included a $132,000 fine handed down in July at Cives' facility in Maine. The fine was the seventh highest initial OSHA fine levied on a fabricated structural metal facility in 10 years.

"We at Cives take safety very seriously," President Craig Alderman said. "We do everything in our power to make certain we are safe when we are at work."