Thursday, June 21, 2018

Trucano moves to save Deadwood


For a time in the 1970s and 80s, Lloyd West, Mike Trucano and Paul Miller owned Deadwood.
"If it wasn't for Mike I know many of us would probably be in a very scary position right now," said Louie Lalonde, co-owner of Saloon No. 10. When gaming first came to Deadwood a generation ago Trucano set out to help the little guy. And let's not forget Deadwood Historic Preservation. It stood to lose a $1.2 million dollar payment due July 1 if Trucano hadn't stepped in to save the company he founded. [KOTA teevee]
A labor strike against FW Thorpe took down West, cocaine and philandering took Paul down leaving Trucano to retire a rich Republican donating to the Governors Club and becoming a Future Fund recipient.

Paul's dad Dave, uncle Paul, and Gary Mule Deer's dad Bruce Miller built Twin City Fruit. They told stories about beating checks back to Deadwood driving rickety old trucks over dirt and gravel roads from Deadwood to Denver's Denargo Market peddling produce from Scottsbluff, Nebraska back to the Gulch. They owned the Scottsbluff market back-hauling beet sugar and Rockyford melons from the area. Denver-based competitor Nobel also distributed there until it was absorbed by Houston-based Sysco. That was the division that ultimately bought TCF. Behind the warehouse on Miller Street hundred pound sacks of Colorado and Nebraska potatoes were unloaded from the rail spur that is now home to the Mickelson Trail.

In a horsehair coat and hat, Paul seduced my former girlfriend in 1978 and prompted my move to Missoula, Montana.

I returned to Deadwood in '81 and was hired as a truck driver by Paul, a mad genius, who ran the transportation. Brother David, Jr., now a local historian, ran the staff and warehouse until selling his share to Paul while Dave, Sr. ran purchasing. A college friend, Art Young, with whom I had logged, started working on his doctorate in economics as a truck driver for the family and told Paul about my expertise with heavy equipment.

Operating with a ramshackle fleet earned Paul both moxie and derision for his cutthroat approach to guarding the local Black Hills market. The owners of rival Manor House in Rapid City hated Paul; they failed in the 80s.

Paul put me into sales in '83 then sold me to Sysco during the Sturgis Rally in 1990. Yearly receipts for the company had peaked at about $22 million at the time of the sale. Territories had expanded to Greybull, Wyoming, into North Dakota, and east to Pierre. After gambling he actively sought to buy up the air space in the Gulch believing cable cars would span it.

Some of us called him the Anti-Christ of Architecture for his Goldbergian approach to improvisation. He had two salvage mobile homes lifted to the top of the warehouse that served as office space for at least three decades. Before the dawn of historic preservation he bought the Fish & Hunter building and built a three story freezer in the middle of it. After gambling he sold it to the City of Deadwood for a dollar; it is now part of the City/County complex.

The years working for Paul were among the best of my life but the Deadwood before 1989 is lost forever.

Deadwood is still studying ways to advance its economic development plan even examining second stories in historic properties.
Deadwood had a large chunk of respondents (more than 60 percent) rate employment opportunities, educational opportunities, activities for youth, services for seniors, and as a place to conduct business as “fair” to “poor.” Seventy-three percent of respondents said that the city should develop more trails in and around Deadwood. Respondents listed the top three most important things for strengthening Deadwood’s economy as creating more and better year-round job opportunities, diversifying the economy to incorporate more activity from other economic sectors, and attracting new businesses to Deadwood. [Black Hills Pioneer]
Another opportunity is the Grateful Deadwood High Cannabusiness Institute. The building that has been home to the Deadwood High School Bears now Lead-Deadwood Elementary came to mind at my conclusion to make Deadwood an adult destination. This building is perfect for Deadwood's cannabis experiment. Under a compact with tribal nations and Black Hills State University with oversight from the South Dakota Gaming Commission create a campus with degrees in cannabusiness and tourism. Train casino workers and poker dealers.

The Dakota Progressive is currently lobbying Trucano, State Representative Tim Johns and Lead Mayor Ron Everett to turn the Open Cut into an ice climbing park.

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