Cheese plant construction on schedule

By Jack King

Five new raw milk silos, each 75 feet tall, have been erected at Southwest Cheeses’ site on Curry County Road 4, said Maurice Keane, the company’s president and chief executive officer.
Keane said the 54-acre, $190 million project is on schedule, with plans to begin production sometime in October 2005.
Four of the new silos will hold 70,000 gallons of milk and one will hold 50,000 gallons and, in the next few weeks the company plans to erect a similar number of equal-sized silos, Keane said.
At peak production, the plant will be able to process 7 million pounds of milk a day, company officials have said.
At full capacity, it will produce 250 million pounds of cheddar and cheddar-style cheese and 16.5 points of whey product a year, they have said.
Most of the plant’s underground pipe work has been completed and crews are raising perimeter fencing. In early July, crews will begin raising tilt-top section side walls on the site, Keane said.
“The weather has been good, so it’s been a good time to get work done,” Keane said.
He said approximately 100 employees work on-site at the plant, working for the contractor, Dahlgren-Skanska of Seattle, Wash.
Besides laying the pipe and erecting the silos, most of the work, so far, has been earth moving and laying of concrete slabs. Activity is expected to pick up and more workers to arrive on the site in the next few weeks, he said.
Clovis Industrial Development Corp. Executive Director Chase Gentry said the workforce on the site are a mix of local and out of area workers.
“I’m not sure of the ratio, but I know they have advertised locally and nationally,” he said.
“What I think they’re doing is advertising first locally, then, if they can’t find someone, going out of the area. For some of the more specialized jobs, like welding stainless steel, they may not be able to find anyone locally,” he said.