Maybe they're distracted by talk of a private prison that may be built nearby.

Perhaps they cannot see beyond the long shadow cast by the Intermountain Power Project, the area's largest employer.Or maybe they're confident that the growth problems hitting the Wasatch Front are still far, far away from south-central Utah.

For whatever reason, construction of a $21 million egg farm that could bring 1.5 million hens to Millard County is not a hot topic of conversation among the area's 12,000 residents.

Robert Thomas, general manager of Rancho Equipment Services, a construction company near the Delta Egg Farm LLC site, said its proposed employment of 40 to 50 people in jobs starting at $6.50 per hour will not have a big impact.

"I don't think it's going to be any great thing," said Thomas, who also lives about four miles from the farm site. "I haven't heard any strong opinions one way or the other."

That's probably fine with Dick Latta of Sunbest Foods of Iowa Inc., which will own the new operation equally with Cal-Maine Foods Inc. of Mississippi and Olson Farms Inc. of California.

The lack of strong opinions means the egg farm may avoid some of the controversy that has hit other agricultural projects in the area, like the Circle Four hog farms near Milford.

But Latta is confident that the egg farm eventually will be a big deal - in a good way.

He said Delta is a perfect location for the farm, because it sits between Denver and Los Angeles. Within five years, Latta said, the farm will be a day's drive away from 60 million people.

Delta Egg Farm needs a huge market like that, he said, because its birds will produce about 30 million dozen eggs each year.

"Everything has just fit perfectly," Latta said during a recent tour of the farm site. "It almost makes too much common sense."

He said the farm's owners wanted to do things right, so they flew 20 people from the county to Iowa last spring to look over a similar egg operation.

When they returned to Millard County, those residents helped Latta answer questions at a town meeting that drew about 250 people, some of whom were concerned about traffic, dust and odor.

"That was probably the best move that we made," Latta said. "We didn't have anything to hide, and it all worked out. Since that meeting, the community has been nothing but supportive."

Leon Smith, Millard County planning administrator, said Latta was very up-front at the meeting.

"I'm all for (the egg farm)," Smith said. "I'm convinced it will be a good thing for the county."

Millard County Commission Chairman John Henrie said the egg farm will give the county about $150,000 in taxes each year once it is up and running.

That is not much compared with the Intermountain Power Project, which provides 85 percent of the county's tax base. But he said every little bit of economic development is important in rural areas.

Even if the egg farm's jobs do not pay the highest wages, they may provide good second incomes for farming families or first jobs for high school students.

"I'm sure it will expand and at least double in the next few years," said Henrie, a lifelong county resident.

For now, the farm is continuing its rapid transformation from an idea hatched this spring into a major construction project. A steady procession of concrete trucks made the 14-mile trek to the farm site north of Delta on a recent hot summer day.

"We're trying to locate these things where they won't be much problem," Henrie said. "(Delta Egg Farm) didn't want to be harassing neighbors. They wanted to get it out a ways."

Latta said the site lays out perfectly for the farm, and that is fortunate, because the first group of pullets - chicks up to 18 to 20 weeks old - already is on order.

That means the farm's top priority is construction of three pullet houses, each about 400 feet long and 56 feet wide and capable of holding about 125,000 birds.

Latta said the pullet houses are state-of-the-art, with evaporative cooling and fans that are powerful enough to completely change the air in each house every 52 seconds.

Once a young hen lays its first egg, it will be moved to a layer house, where it will stay for about two years.

Delta Egg Farm has started site preparation for 12 layer houses and a processing facility. Each layer house will be about 616 feet long and 56 feet wide, Latta said, and a 24-inch-wide belt will carry eggs from the houses to the 145-by-250-foot processing building.

Since the first pullets should arrive in Delta by Nov. 1, Latta said, the first layer house must be ready to take in hens by February. Another layer house needs to be ready every eight weeks after that until the last one is filled, probably in October 2000.

That means the company has a lot of building to do in a short amount of time, including construction of a feed mill in the nearby town of Lynndyl.

Latta said the egg farm partners have identified a 12-acre site for the mill, and the company is negotiating with Union Pacific Railroad for a track layout to that land.

"We're not counting on the feed mill being online for at least another year," he said. "We plan to buy feed from an outside source in the interim."

Latta said local farmers are enthusiastic about using manure from the egg farm's chickens as fertilizer.

"We signed up 10,000 acres to spray manure on in just three days," he said.

And since it will take about 25,000 acres of corn to feed the birds at the egg complex, Latta said, he hopes local farmers will start cultivating that crop.

"We'd rather buy that right here in Utah than bring it in from Nebraska," he said.

Henrie said local farmers will grow corn if the egg farm will buy it. And he thinks the farm may help attract more economic development to the area.

"People are finding out about us," he said. "Things are going to go."