Christmas comes to Culbertson


Victor Urbaniak, operations technician at Lonesome Creek Station, (right) came up with the idea to decorate an unused structure as a Christmas tree while working at Culbertson Station. Ian Logan, operations technician at Culbertson Generation Station, (left) helped transport the cone and string the lights.

One person’s trash just might be another person’s Christmas tree.

Employees at Basin Electric’s Culbertson Generation Station, located near Culbertson, MT, have gotten into the Christmas spirit by repurposing a large steel cone from the plant’s laydown yard as a Christmas tree.

The 7.5-foot-tall cone was used to prevent large particles of foreign material from entering the turbine during Culbertson Generation Station’s commissioning in 2010.

“The cone is called a ‘witches hat,’ for obvious reasons,” says Robert Scogins, operations and maintenance supervisor at Culbertson Generation Station. “That thing is solid stainless steel; it’s heavy.”

The cone was stored in the plant’s laydown yard until Victor Urbaniak, operations technician at Lonesome Creek Station, started work at Culbertson Generation Station in 2016. Urbaniak is “a real Christmas fanatic,” Scogins says.

For Urbaniak, who transferred to Lonesome Creek Station Dec. 11, it’s a charge difficult to deny. Last year, in addition to the “tree,” Urbaniak decorated inside the employee break room, kitchen, and hallway in the plant’s administration building.

At his home, Urbaniak and his family take about 11 hours to string about four totes’ worth of Christmas lights.

“My house is always lit up. Christmas lights are just one of my obsessions,” Urbaniak says. “I’ve just always done it, and now it’s just as fun for the kids as much as me.”

The decorated cone is located near the administration building, in plain view for all visitors to the plant site.

“In the holiday season, I think it brings a little cheer to people who drive up and see it,” Scogins says. “I think it’s unexpected when people drive up to an industrial setting to see something like that. They see that we have a festive side to us as well.”

With Urbaniak now working at a different plant site, Scogins wasn’t sure if Culbertson Generation Station’s administration building would be strung with lights in the future. The tree, however, is a different story.

“We’re going to continue the tradition of the tree, for sure,” he says.

And across the Montana-North Dakota state line, Lonesome Creek Station might be glowing just a little brighter next winter.

“I can’t wait for Christmas next year; I already have some ideas for my new site,” Urbaniak says.


  1. Bobbie Sargent says:

    Awesome job guys!

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