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Big-ticket business

Tyson Rudd started his career in the mining industry working for an equipment manufacturer, traveling around the country fixing machinery and becoming familiar with different types of mining operations.

During his travels and work, he started to notice niches that weren’t being filled by some of the larger companies in the industry, and it was those observations that planted the seed for Rudd Fabrication Inc.

Rudd, a native of Fielding, was looking for a way to put his knowledge, expertise and connections in mining and construction to work locally. He founded Rudd Fabrication in 2012, and today the company has some 20 employees, all local people, working out of a large shop in Deweyville. They serve customers in Utah and surrounding states in the mining and construction industries, providing maintenance on large equipment as needed, as well as fabricating new pieces built to customers’ precise specifications.

“We do a little bit of everything,” Rudd said. “It’s good to be diversified in this day and age.”

While the Bear River Valley isn’t known for mining, it is centrally located among areas that are.

Rudd Fabrication works as a subcontractor for major equipment manufacturers operating at copper mines in Arizona, gold mines in Nevada, molybdenum mines in Colorado and coal mines in Wyoming, among others. Closer to home, it does work for Rio Tinto Kennecott’s large open-pit copper mine southwest of Salt Lake City, as well as for construction firms that operate their own gravel pits and asphalt plants.

Depending on the scope of a particular job, sometimes companies send their equipment to Rudd’s shop to be worked on, while other times Rudd will send employees to work on-site at mines in other states.

Tyson Rudd said location is an important factor when the major manufacturers are deciding which companies they want to contract with, and that has been a big advantage for his company because of its central location among mining interests in the Intermountain West.

“Logistics is a big deal,” he said. “Shipping out of this area is really nice with I-80 and I-15 right here. That’s a pretty big deal for these companies how they’re gonna get 20-foot square pieces of equipment down the road.”

Another big selling point, he said, is the quality of the workforce in Box Elder County. Nearly all of Rudd’s employees have been with the company since the beginning.

“The work ethic in our area is top-notch and second to none,” he said. “I don’t worry much when I hire guys from this area, and our turnover rate is pretty much nothing.”

Those factors, along with the specific capabilities Rudd has at the shop in Deweyville, helped the company recently secure its biggest fabrication job to date: a massive drag-line bucket for a company operating at a large coal mine in eastern Wyoming. Rudd beat out about a half-dozen other contractors from around the world to win the job.

Over the last three months, Rudd has been building the 45-ton steel bucket, which it put together using pieces shipped in from far-flung locales in Italy, China, Canada and others. Last week, the bucket was placed by a crane on a large flatbed trailer and sent away to be put to work at the mine, where it will be attached by a cable to a large boom and cast out to scoop up 90 cubic yards of coal at a time.

The bucket’s distinction as Rudd’s biggest project ever won’t last long, as the company is under contract to build a 120-cubic-yard bucket for the same customer in the near future.

While it remains to be seen what impact the global coronavirus situation might have on his business, Rudd said things are looking good right now. The company currently has a six-month backlog of work, and is always providing bids and quotes on new projects.

“As long as the mines are digging dirt and construction companies are crushing rock, we’re in a pretty healthy position,” he said. “We’re excited to bring a little bit of the mining world to northern Utah.”

Health department extends order, eases some restrictions

Emergency measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic will remain in place in Box Elder, Cache and Rich counties through at least the end of April, although gyms and surgical centers are allowed to reopen with some restrictions in place.

The Bear River Health Department on April 10 extended its order mandating the closure of some types of businesses and public gathering places, and placing restrictions on those allowed to remain open, until May 1. The department originally announced the order on March 28, the day after Utah Gov. Gary Herbert issued his “Stay Safe, Stay Home” directive.

In extending the order, BRHD left most of the original requirements in place. Until further notice, restaurants are allowed to operate only drive-through, take-out or delivery services. Public gatherings of 10 or more people are still prohibited with exceptions for essential services, most businesses, or members of a single household. Movie theaters, museums, bars and all other public entertainment venues are to remain closed, and visits to nursing homes and other assisted living facilities are still strongly discouraged.

Team sports and other recreational activities involving close contact remain prohibited.

Outdoor recreation areas including sports courts and fields, dog parks, trailheads and trails are open with social distancing requirements in place.

Child care facilities, physical therapy clinics and salons are allowed to continue operating under the same restrictions outlined in the original order, although the health department is now recommending that salon employees wear protective masks.

All retail and service-oriented businesses that remain open are still required to implement social distancing measures (keeping customers at least 6 feet apart) and ensure that employees who have a fever or symptoms of respiratory illness do not come to work.

However, the new order also eases some restrictions. While the original order mandated the closure of all standalone surgical centers, the new order allows them to reopen under guidelines from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The order still states that all non-essential surgeries and procedures should be postponed, and that “all decisions shall incorporate the critical need to preserve Personal Protective Equipment.”

Gyms and fitness centers are also allowed to open their doors, but with several restrictions in place. Gym staffers must screen customers in person or by phone at the door for symptoms of illness, and once inside, patrons must be kept at least 10 feet apart from each other. Team or group activities are prohibited, locker room and shower areas are to remain closed except for restrooms and sinks, all equipment must be disinfected after each use, and the use of touch pads or sign-in sheets cannot be required.

Those at higher risk of COVID-19 infection are urged to stay away from gyms, and anyone who enters is encouraged to wear a face mask.

The revised order also adds specific instructions for self-isolation and quarantine of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone who has tested positive.

While violators can still be charged with a misdemeanor, the order has been updated to request that enforcement officers issue warnings rather than citations, especially for first offenses.

“The purpose of this Order is to protect individuals’ health, not to hold them criminally liable,” the order states. “However, repeat or egregious offenders may be cited and charged.”

In a prepared statement, BRHD Director Lloyd Berentzen said the department realizes it can be difficult to follow social distancing guidelines, “but we are optimistic that individual efforts are helping to flatten the curve.”

A copy of the public health order can be found online at brhd.org. Questions should be directed to the Bear River Health Department at (435) 792-6500.

Utah cancels text alert system for incoming motorists

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah officials on Monday canceled a coronavirus emergency alert system launched three days earlier that was supposed to send text messages to drivers entering the state, but ended up also sending texts to hundreds of people who were in their homes.

Thousands of motorists received the alerts, but the system that used cellphone towers near state borders sent the alerts to far more people than intended, said Joe Dougherty, spokesman for the Utah Division of Emergency Management.

The text alerts that began last Friday asked motorists to fill out online forms to report virus symptoms and their recent travel histories.

People who live near the southern Utah border in St. George, the Idaho border with Box Elder County in the northern part of the state and in the Uinta Basin in eastern Utah were hit hardest by the unintended texts, he said, acknowledging that the system “didn’t work exactly as we had hoped.”

Some annoyed recipients reported receiving 15 to 20 alerts, he said.

The system was shut down Monday afternoon and the state has no plans to try it again, Dougherty said.

State officials will maintain billboards and signs that were erected asking motorists to fill out the online form. Cards will still be provided to arriving Salt Lake City International Airport passengers asking them to fill out the form.

Dougherty apologized to people who were bombarded by the alerts, but said it was done in good faith as the state tries to prevent the spread of COVID-19. About 10,000 people went to the website to take the survey, but he had no information about how many reported having coronavirus symptoms.

“It was a really bold experiment and I’m proud we could be a part of it,” Dougherty said.

The text messaging system directed travelers to a form asking people to identify themselves and report their recent travels as well as any symptoms that might be attributed to COVID-19 infection. It asks for peoples’ full name, date of birth, Utah residency status, home address and phone number.

The alerts were set up through “geofencing,” which involves the use of GPS technology to set up a virtual boundary, enabling software to trigger a response when a mobile device enters or leaves a particular area. The geofencing was done at nine of the state’s most common entry points, including I-15 and I-84 at the Idaho border with Box Elder County.