Hildale factory goes for $1.65 million at auction

KVOA TV News, Tuscon/February 28, 2007

Hildale, Utah -- A factory formerly owned by a polygamous sect was auctioned off Tuesday by a court-appointed trustee.

The winning bid was $1.65 million, not quite the $2 million the United Effort Plan Trust had hoped to receive for what had been the Western Precision plant.

The factory sits on three acres near the Utah-Arizona state line and includes office space, two apartments and a machine shop.

The trust was appointed to take over the assets of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints after a judge found that church leaders had mismanaged it.

Bruce Wisan, an accountant who oversees the trust, said Champion Safe of Provo plans to make gun safes at the plant and could hire 75 to 100 people.

"It's kind of a good news bad news situation. The bad news is we didn't get as much money as I wanted," Wisan said. "The good news is for economic development, this is an outside company that hopefully will be a real stimulus."

The trust is trying to pay property taxes in Washington County and across the state line in Mohave County, Ariz. The border towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., are home to the estimated 10,000 members of the FLDS church _ which practices polygamy.

Wisan said money from the sale will pay off legal fees and expenses for the trust and "gives us some breathing room."

He said Tuesday's sale was the first to a company from outside the community, which is home mostly to members of the church. He expects to sell off more of the property in the future.

The court took control of the trust and appointed Wisan trustee while FLDS leader Warren Jeffs was on the run from criminal charges. Jeffs is charged with rape as an accomplice and accused of marrying a 14-year-old girl to her older cousin. Jeffs' trial is scheduled for April.

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