Work undergrounding electricity to Minden’s Bently Heritage site is the prelude to more than $1 million in work being done to convert the old Minden Flour Mill and the creamery into a whiskey distillery.
Excavation of the site to install underground electrical vaults is underway for the work that will begin next month.
Conversion of the 100-year-old buildings is estimated to be done by the end of 2017, Bently Heritage Site Government Affairs Officer Carlo Luri said earlier this month.
“I tell people that if we had a green field, and were building a building, we would know how long it will take,” he said. “But, we are dealing with old buildings here and you don’t know what you’re going to find when you dig 5 feet into the ground.”
The company is already hiring the staff for the distillery with a junior distiller on board and a master distiller in the works.
On Thursday, Douglas County commissioners approved serving as the conduit for $99,000 in state economic development funds to hire a dozen people to work at the distillery.
County Economic Vitality Manager Lisa Granahan said that the company will receive $8,250 for each of three to six jobs in 2017, and the same in 2018.
If the company only creates the minimum of six jobs over the two years, it only gets half the money.
Granahan said the jobs will average $40 an hour.
“This is the highest wage I’ve ever brought you,” she said. “This is very much in line with the county’s economic priorities while preserving our cultural heritage.”
The mill was originally built in 1907 to store grain for transport by the V&T Railroad.
It was built by the Minden Flour Co. for $50,000. The Dangberg Land & Lifestock Co. was the original majority shareholder.
Earlier this month, crews poured the foundation for a new crosswalk flasher at Fourth Street and Highway 395. The crosswalk will connect the Bently offices in downtown Minden with the Heritage Site.
Property owner Chris Bently restored the Minden Farmer’s Bank and moved the headquarters of Bently Enterprises there in 2014.
Both the mill and the creamery buildings are listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.
Miles Construction is conducting the work, according to the Douglas County Building Department. Work on the 22,540-square-foot structures is estimated at $1.17 million for the purposes of the building permit.
Luri said that none of the jobs discussed on Thursday will include whiskey taster.
“People will pay us for that,” he said.