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Historic smokehouse rises from the ashes

Most of all, the friendly smiles of the clerks will be the same. Jerry Quintal kept his entire cast of 14 employees on the payroll for four months, regardless of the lack of production work occurring - and those friendly faces will be back, serving customers as well as preparing the meats and cheeses as two generations before them have.

Behind the old-world charm, however, is high technology, in both the plant and its equipment, that is environmentally conscious.

The entire plant has geo-thermal heating and cooling system. Heat from the groundwater is extracted to warm up the building in the winter, and groundwater chills the air conditioner evaporators in summertime and the product freezers and coolers year-round. Also, the roof is engineered to soak up the heat in winter to warm the building, yet reflect it in summer to keep the building cool. Also, the lighting is the latest in design, saving about two-thirds of its electricity usage by employing high-efficiency LCD or fluorescent lighting that shuts off automatically when not in use.

These "green" aspects of the building may have boosted the cost of the enterprise by about $300,000, but Jerry Quintal estimates that the sum will be recovered in five years or so in energy savings - while lessening the impact of the plant on the environment.

Jerry said his daughter Janelle influenced their decision to make the considerable extra expense in geothermal technology and other "green" innovations, which are expected to save up to 61 percent of utility costs.

The new smoke house has other attributes that are anticipated to enhance the success of the operation.

The three new smokers are higher capacity and computerized, so they control smoke intensity, heat and humidity in various cycles automatically to maximize flavor, uniformity and production. The entire curing cycles, which can be complex, have been developed by the Quintals for maximum taste and quality and programmed into the smoking apparatus, so the employees can be more productive.

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