Family & Friends
By Jane Battey, F284722
There is something truly fascinating about watching huge, heavy vehicles, which look more like toy trucks when seen at the bottom of a 900-foot-deep mining pit, moving tons of rock and ore around in search of gold. Members of the Rocky Mountain Motorcoach Association (RMMA) planning team were fortunate enough to experience this sight during their meeting in Winnemucca, Nevada, at the beginning of June in preparation for the 2005 Rocky Mountain Ramble, scheduled for September 14 through 17 at the Winnemucca Events Complex.
The Newmont Mining Corporation, which operates the Lone Tree mine east of Winnemucca, offers public tours of the facility. And what a captivating tour it was! The engineers who provided the mining operation tour were so knowledgeable and eager to answer all of our questions. The RMMA group loaded onto two buses and headed east to the Newmont offices, where we donned hard hats and safety glasses before heading off to the actual mine.
The Newmont Mining Corporation is the largest single employer in Humboldt County, with approximately 1,300 people performing a variety of jobs, many aided by sophisticated computer systems. The company is the world’s largest producer of gold with significant assets and operations on five continents. The company is focused on educating the community by conducting mining tours, participating in classroom activities and community organizations, and investing in mining-related education, such as a $2.5 million donation to the Mackay School of Mines at the University of Nevada. The company supports sustainable development, and made a five-year pledge to the indoor events complex in Winnemucca where the 22nd annual Rocky Mountain Ramble will be held. In 2004 Newmont’s Nevada operations recorded gold sales of 2.4 million equity ounces. At the price of gold today, approximately $430 an ounce at press time, that’s not a bad take.
Our first stop was to the rim of the pit high above the action, where we watched gigantic dump trucks move down to the mine’s floor to be filled by equally large hydraulic shovels. The largest of these huge trucks can hold approximately 210 tons of ore and are completely filled with two or three 23-cubic-yard scoops at a time. There are seven of these monstrous trucks working, and eight more that hold a mere 150 tons each. The pit is 2 miles long, 1/2-mile wide, and 900 feet deep. We were told that when this operation closes, the pit will be cleaned, restored, and filled with water for recreational use. Many of the “hills” around the area already have been reclaimed through seeding and look much like any other hill you might drive past on the highway.
From there we wound our way to the operations area where the ore is processed. The ore that’s taken from the pit is put into huge tube-like containers that rotate, and by autoclave and flotation devices, the ore begins to be processed. One of these vessels contains large lead balls that crush the ore — and as the ore is crushed, so are the lead balls. The processing center is a computerized operation monitored in a central location. The engineers watch the indicators to make sure that everything runs as it should.
The tour was fascinating and took approximately three hours. As an added bonus, the mine tour scheduled for Rocky Mountain Ramble participants will include a visit to the lab where testing, grading, and research occurs.
Those attending the area rally may wonder whether they will actually get to see and touch real gold. Well, you’ll need to take the tour to find out. The tour will be offered twice on Tuesday, September 13, for $1, with both morning and afternoon excursions available; bottled water will be supplied. For more information about this and other activities scheduled for the “Win in Winnemucca” Rocky Mountain Ramble, those planning to attend should check their confirmation packets. Or contact Allen Rein, Ramble master, at (303) 888-8875; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gulf Coasters Celebrate 20 Years
By Vera Cox, F29339
FMCA’s Gulf Coasters chapter celebrated its 20th anniversary the weekend of June 17 through 19, 2005, at Southwind RV Park in Magnolia Springs, Alabama. Twenty-seven coaches with 52 members, including 10 still-active charter members, were in attendance. Special guests included Southeast Area national vice president George Schipper, F17603, and his wife, Ann, who came in a few days early for some downtime after the Southeast Area West Region Friendship Rally in Mobile, Alabama.
Most of the attendees were parked and settled in by Thursday evening in time for dinner at various eateries around the towns of Foley and Gulf Shores. Shopping is always a priority with this group, and for most of the day Friday the campground looked like a ghost town as folks scattered to the malls and discount stores, knowing that they didn’t have to cook the evening meal. The anniversary committee had arranged for a catered dinner, which was enjoyed by all.
Saturday morning the hosts served sweet rolls, coffee cake, and French toast sticks prior to the business meeting. The caterers returned with many more goodies for the official festivities, which began at 2:00 p.m. During this time many members perused the old scrapbooks, photos, and newsletters that were available, rekindling memories from the past 20 years that brought laughter and also sadness. In the entire 20-year history of the Gulf Coasters, only one rally has been cancelled. That occurred in September 2004 on the weekend after Hurricane Ivan devastated the Gulf Coast area — and so many of our homes.
A traditional Sunday morning potluck breakfast buffet brought the 20th anniversary rally to a close, with talk already circulating about the 25th anniversary. What a weekend!
Back To School
By Doug Uhlenbrock, Associate Editor
When Jim Devereux, F172399, dropped out of college in 1956 to enter the auto salvage business, he had every intention of going back to school to finish what he started. However, as the everyday aspects of being a husband, father, and business owner took over, his dream of returning to the classroom kept getting pushed back.
“I took a few classes at the community college,” said Jim, who, along with his wife, Jean, call Decatur, Illinois, home. “But after I bought the business in 1977, I couldn’t go back full-time to get that degree.” Yet, in the back of his mind he knew that one day he would earn his degree.
That day came on December 19, 2004, just a few weeks before his 70th birthday. Jim walked across a stage at Millikin University in Decatur to receive his diploma, putting the finishing touch on an educational experience that lasted nearly 50 years.
His academic journey began in 1953 when he enrolled at Quincy University in western Illinois. He then transferred to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to study engineering. Once there, however, he found business more to his liking and switched majors. In fact, he liked the idea of running his own company so much that he left school and, with a partner, entered the auto salvage business. At the time he had completed 105 credit hours, leaving him roughly a year short of earning his degree. Around the same time he enlisted in the Army Reserve, in which he served as a warrant officer for 12 years.
Once out of school, Jim realized that finding the time to go back wouldn’t be quite so easy. He married; had four children; and bought his own company, Available Auto Parts, in Decatur. He was doing what he loved to do and the business prospered, but time was racing by and the window of opportunity to return to the classroom was closing.
So in late 2002, with sons Jim Jr. and Joey taking over daily operation of the company, Jim decided that it was time to go back to school. (Jim and Jean also have a daughter, Teresa, who’s a vice president of operations with Smith Barney in Chicago; and another son, Timothy, who is an attorney in Indianapolis.)
Jim enrolled in the Professional Adult Comprehensive Education program at Millikin University in February 2003. The accelerated program allowed Jim to take one four-hour class a week for five weeks. Sounds easy, right? Think again. Squeezing so much work into five weeks makes for an intense learning experience. Then try doing it nine times in a year “” the minimum course load for someone in the program. Jim soon found that his schoolwork was spilling over into the rest of his life. “It was tough and it definitely caused a few problems,” he said. “But once you get started, you get wrapped up in it. Jean was very encouraging and supportive, but I’m sure I put her and the family through a lot of stress.”
It also didn’t take him long to realize that many things had changed in the 40-something years since he last stepped foot in a classroom “” computers, for instance. “Kids today bring laptops to class,” Jim said. “I used computers at work for inventory and invoicing, but not like they’re used today in college. I had to learn how to write papers following the college’s guidelines and use the computer for research, which was all new to me.”
All of Jim’s time and effort were rewarded on that December day when he received his Bachelor of Science degree in business management and leadership. “I was the oldest graduate, and the day we walked across that stage, I was proud that I was able to accomplish this and hang in there for two years of night school,” he said. “Even if it took me 50 years.”
With school finished and the business in good hands, Jim and Jean were ready for some rest and relaxation, which is exactly what an extended trip to Florida in their 2001 38-foot Discovery motor coach would provide. “We had the motorhome loaded and at the curb ready to go, when one of my son’s friends came up to me and said, ‘Jim, I’ve got a job for you,'” he recalled. “It was with the state of Illinois as legislative liaison for military affairs for the Illinois National Guard.”
So, with one challenge completed, he decided to embark upon another. Instead of heading to the land of palm trees and warm ocean breezes, the couple set off for Springfield, the capital of Illinois, for Jim’s new job in state government. There he works each morning with a two-star general to help keep Illinois’ lawmakers informed as to the status of the state’s guard units, many of which have been or currently are on active duty in Iraq or in support roles elsewhere.
For most people, working 100 miles away from home “” the approximate distance between Springfield and Decatur “” would mean searching for a house or an apartment, but the Devereuxs already had their residence packed and ready to go. “We live in the motorhome during the week and drive home for the weekends,” Jim said. “It’s a big savings for us. We used to go to Mesa, Arizona, for three months during the winter, so it’s not all that different.”
Although Jim’s not sure how long he will stay in Springfield “” he also works part-time as a legislative liaison with the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs “” he has no regrets about postponing his retirement and trying something new, which he recommends to anyone who’s retired. “For anyone my age who has an opportunity to take a part-time job doing something they enjoy, they should do it,” he said. “There’s no sense sitting in a chair and six months later you’re gone. I’ve seen it happen. Stay active in life.”
So is there more schooling in Jim’s future? It’s possible, but not to the extent of his most recent foray into higher education. “I might go back for some specific courses that interest me, but not for a master’s degree,” he said. “That would be another 18 months, but two nights a week instead of one.” He encourages others to continue learning as well, no matter their age. “You can never get enough education,” he said.
Texas Roadrunners Celebrate 15th Anniversary
Tony Innocenti, F56315, FMCA’s South Central Area national vice president (right), presents Texas Roadrunners chapter president Bill Chaffin, F121678, with a certificate commemorating the chapter’s 15th anniversary. The chapter celebrated the occasion during its April rally in Kerrville, Texas.