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LibbyMt.com > News > March 2009 > Bridge builder moving ahead on Libby expansion

Kootenai Valley Record. Photo by Kootenai Valley Record.
Kootenai Valley Record
Bridge builder moving ahead on Libby expansion
by Brent Shrum, Kootenai Valley Record
March 19, 2009

An Arizona company that manufactures steel bridges and deck joints is looking to have 20 to 25 people working in Libby by May and hopes to have 200 on the payroll within three years, Kootenai River Development Council director Paul Rumelhart told the Lincoln County commissioners last week.

Rumelhart told the commissioners that Stinger Welding owner Carl Douglas is working toward getting an initial crew working in the old central maintenance building on the Kootenai Business Park Industrial District site while plans move ahead for the construction of 300-by-500 foot building that would house a full-scale manufacturing facility. The company has been working with the local Job Service office to find prospective employees, and so far more than 100 have applied, Rumelhart said.

Rumelhart and the industrial district have been working with Douglas on the building proposal. Plans are for Stinger Welding to build the facility; the industrial district would then buy it and lease it back to the company, Rumelhart said.

"Mind you, Carlís in the construction business so he knows how to do things like this," he told the commissioners.

Rumelhart estimated the cost of the building at around $8 million. The industrial district is working to get financing in place as quickly as possible to allow the project to get started, Rumelhart said. A variety of government-sponsored grant and loan programs are being looked into, and a $3.2 million insurance settlement from the collapse last year of the old plywood plant roof under a heavy snow load is also being targeted for the project.

Douglas owns property in the Yaak and plans to build a hangar at the Libby airport for his private plane, Rumelhart said. The local workforce is a major draw for the company, Rumelhart added.

Initial projections were for up to 150 jobs at the Libby site, but that has been revised to 200 within three years, Rumelhart said. The minimum wage for most employees would be around $32,000 plus medical and retirement benefits, he said.

Editorís Note: See the March 17, 2009 edition of the Kootenai Valley Record for the printed version of this story. The Kootenai Valley Record publishes once a week, now on Tuesday, in Libby, Montana. They are a locally owned community newspaper, located at 403 Mineral Avenue in Libby. For in-county and out-of-county subscription information, call 406-293-2424, or e-mail kvrecord@gmail.com.

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