Power play

John Ellison, owner of Ellison Electric, says preparing for the annual Mining Expo June 7-11 isn't one of the biggest jobs his company performs annually, but it certainly is one of the most challenging.

Ellison Electric has powered the hundreds of vendors and their massive equipment for the past five years. Ellison Electric works off a map that shows the location of vendor displays, and the main concern outside of safety is making sure no single power line draws too much.

"We have to know what each vendor is going to require so we don't overload the system," Ellison says. "Load limits have to stay within the capacity of lines that you are running. If you have a booth down at the end that's pulling 20 or 40 amps, you have to bring another circuit in or try to move booths that have heavy loads closer forward."

Ellison meets with event planners for a pre-construction meeting before the event to help determine the vendor layout and power requirements. The Mining Expo requires secondary transformers to boost power output for bigger pieces of equipment.

Equally important, Ellison says, is making sure the public is protected from the high-voltage power lines snaking throughout the event.

"The biggest thing is ground faults and safety," he says. "You check everything constantly, make sure all ground-fault protection is working properly, and make sure that all equipment stays dry because this is an outside event. Our main goal is safety."

Jen Stotts, events coordinator and administrative assistant for the Elko County Convention and Visitors Authority, says 332 exhibitors have registered for the event, up slightly from last year's number of 327.

The convention center also added booth space to accommodate vendors, who had been on a waiting list the past few years.

Stotts says the convention center eliminated some of its larger 25- by 50-foot booths and added 20- by 20-foot and 10- by 10-foot booths in an effort to get more vendors into the show. Forty-eight total booths were added.

"Every year we were coming to the point of selling out, and we and still had people wanting in, so we did that to try and get more people in the show," Stotts says.

The financial impacts of the Mining Expo provide a tremendous boost for the regional economy, adds Don Newman, executive director of the Elko Convention and Visitors Authority. The city's nearly 2,300 hotel rooms are sold out for the week.

"It is a great event. It brings all of the vendors who work with the mines together in one place," Newman says. "They not only have the opportunity to showcase their items, but they can kind of meet and greet and socialize with friends and competitors. It is a huge event for Elko and the community. It fills the town for a week."

With the 25th anniversary of the Nevada Mining Expo, event organizers will host a free barbecue for the community at Elko City Park on Monday, June 7. Reno rock/power pop band Left of Centre will play the event.

Newman expects about 500 people to turn out for free hot dogs and hamburgers. Other Elko special events, such as the Motorcycle Jamboree and ATV Jamboree, will be highlighted during the barbecue.

"We are just trying to cross-promote all our events. It should be a lot of fun," Newman says. "It is free to everybody, and we want the community to get involved and really kick this thing off. This year is the silver anniversary, and we want to bring in the whole community."

Newman says the convention center eventually would like to expand on an adjoining 60,000-square-foot dirt lot, but that plan is more an item on the wish list than actuality.


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