Results of a recycling project - buildings that have gone from vegetable canneries to travel-trailer factories to educational facilities - have saved at least $2 million in state building funds for Snow College. Those buildings will be dedicated Friday.
Gov. Norm Bangerter will be featured at a 10 a.m. ribbon-cutting to mark the completion of the TeeD Center - Technology Education and Economic Development Center.Bangerter and Snow College President Gerald Day will also speak.
An open house will introduce visitors to the center's facilities, while exhibits and displays will feature the latest technological developments in items from computers to cellular phones.
The TeeD Center was a long time coming. It had its beginning in 1914, when the newly organized Ephraim Sanitary Canning Co. built a plant "across the tracks" on the west side of Ephraim. Its principal product was peas, but it also canned corn, beans and some row crops like carrots.
In 1927, the plant became a member of the Rocky Mountain Packing Co. family. Later it was sold to Hunt's Food and shortly thereafter was closed.
The machinery was removed, the doors were locked and the building stood empty - a fading relic, a sad reminder of the years when Sanpete Valley farmers had a cash crop that paid their bills and gave their kids summer employment.
On a cold December day in 1960, the building's future took a turn for the better. Equipped with a few tools, considerable know-how and a little capital, Harry Mosher and a friend moved into the dingy ground floor of the old cannery and built their first travel trailer.
They called it the Roadrunner.
The Roadrunner prospered. It soon outgrew the ground floor of the cannery. More land was acquired, buildings were constructed, the market expanded, the payrolls grew.
Roadrunners were seen on highways all over the West. The founders somehow had the perception or good luck to get into the business in the heyday of what a writer has called "the travel-trailer age."
The Entwistle Corp., a Boston-headquartered firm also manufacturing trailers and wanting to develop a Western market, took over the Roadrunner plant.
The Entwistle expansion program didn't work out. America's appetite for travel trailers had vastly diminished: By 1981, the machinery stood idle, the payroll gone and the "For Sale" sign in place.
Snow College entered the scene in 1982, and its administrators foresaw an expanded role for the college - a vocational education program that would train the area's youth for the job market.
The state didn't have the money to finance a full-fledged voc-ed program. It especially didn't have the money for a major building program.
Seeing the "For Sale" signs at the trailer plant, the office building and the sturdy cement buildings, college administrators decided the complex could be converted to educational uses.
After a week of negotiations, Entwistle agreed to a "bargain basement" price of $600,000 for a property valued at several million. The deal would have other benefits for the company, of course - getting out from under the property tax burden and gaining a substantial tax write-off.
The Legislature put its stamp of approval on the deal with an appropriation of the required $600,000.
The conversion process has been going on - almost room by room, building by building - as funds have become available.
Four renovated buildings now provide quarters for several vocational programs - building construction, automotive trades, computer information systems, and electronics and business subjects.
Also housed at the site are evening and summer programs, continuing education, co-op education, community service agencies, economic development. Incubator space and advisory help for start-up businesses are also provided.
The site is now called the west campus. The old, blue-painted cannery building is long gone. Tulips and daffodils are in bloom around the grounds. And the buildings that once turned out thousands of cases of canned peas and later hundreds of trailers bearing the Roadrunner logo will now turn out students.