recovery contract helps local electrician launch business
A contract to re-wire the Bureau of Land Management field office complex in Cottonwood, Idaho, has helped a local small business find its footing in tough economic times.
Ken Geis, owner of LiveWire Electric, says he was just starting his business in Cottonwood when he bid on the contract with the BLM to upgrade the wiring at the five-building BLM Cottonwood Field Office. “This job allowed me to pay off some loans I’d taken out that would have taken me a lot longer to repay otherwise,” Geis noted. He was also able to hire two apprentice electricians to help complete the work.
The BLM administrative buildings in Cottonwood were built in the 1950s as residential housing for staff of the nearby U.S. Air Force Air Defense Radar Station, which was in service from 1959 through mid-1965. The structures were not re-wired when the BLM acquired them for office space in the 1970s, and a 1999 BLM National Science and Technology Center site
assessment found many of the original components of the electrical systems still in place. Modern office equipment and electronics, lighting and appliances were straining the ungrounded wiring and obsolete panel boxes. When components of the system failed, it was difficult and expensive to find replacement parts, and even when these were available, they did not bring the system to current electrical codes.
Geis and his apprentices replaced non-grounded wiring, load centers, switch boxes and outlet boxes in all five buildings to provide a safer updated electrical supply to the complex. The upgrade ensures long-term functionality, the safety of employees and visitors, and the integrity of computer systems and other electrical office equipment.
Cottonwood is a small town of just over 1,000 residents located about 60 miles south of Lewiston. About 3,000 people live in nearby Grangeville, the county seat of Idaho County. The BLM currently employs 26 people in the Cottonwood Field Office, which opened in 1974.
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has pledged unprecedented levels of transparency and accountability in the implementation of the Department’s economic recovery projects. The public is able to follow the progress of each project on www.recovery.gov and on www.interior.gov/recovery. Secretary Salazar has appointed a Senior Advisor for Economic Recovery, Chris Henderson, and an Interior Economic Recovery Task Force to work closely with Interior’s Inspector General and ensure the recovery program is meeting the high standards for accountability, responsibility, and transparency set by President Obama.