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January 8, 2014

Projecting the past gets bright with the future

DUNCAN — Since the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center first opened in 1998, thousands of adults and children have watched a movie about cattle trail drives in the 1880s, in the T.H. McCasland Jr. Experience Theater.

This week though, the seats sit empty. That won’t last long and when the theater reopens next week, the movie “The Chisholm Trail Experience” will be the same, yet, the experience enhanced.

“After nearly three years of preparation, the T.H. McCasland Jr. Experience Theater is getting a much needed upgrade,” CTHC Executive Director Stacy Cramer Moore said. “The system components and lighting are being brought up to current standards.”

JMD & Associates, Inc. of Tempe, Ariz., are working this week to replace all the lighting and the core computer control systems, Moore said.   

Lighting has come a long way in the last decade. A small LED panel, weighing less than 10 pounds, is now more effective than an incandescent fixture weighing 60 pounds or more.

“The maintenance will be reduced, the power consumption will be tremendously reduced and the programmability will be enhanced,” said John Brandt, JMD’s senior project manager. The original lighting tubes may have been good for 400-500 hours. Compare that to the new LEDs which can last 20,000 hours for a fraction of the cost.

“We’ve been in a lot of museums and this is a mid-size project, but what you have here is impressive,” Brandt said.

Changing out the lighting in a facility like the Heritage Center is not an overnight task. It began with the purchase and delivery of a lift that the museum will be able to use for many projects, but was necessary for the lighting upgrade.

The JMD team expects to be here up to three weeks. The group of six arrived on Monday and set up shop in the center’s multipurpose room. Among them, the president of the company, Jason Rowley, a project engineer – Roger Goodman, two field engineers – John Durica and Dustin Sloan, and AVStumpfl Project Manager USA Kevin Zevchik.

Zevchik’s portfolio includes audio visual projects like “How to Train Your Dragon” and clients such as Nissan.

JMD has to its credit, clients like Jordan’s Furniture in the New England region, Holland America Cruise Ships and the Columbia Visitors’ Centre in Canada.

Rowley is no stranger to Duncan or the Chisholm Trail.

“I was raised in Newton, Kan., on the Chisholm Trail,” he said. Even though his company is in Arizona and he travels the world, he returns home to Kansas for family visits. Rowley also was on the original team that installed all the audio and visual components when the museum was first constructed.

“I was very impressed at how well the museum has maintained,” he said. Rowley and his team enjoy touting the benefits of today’s technology. “The new audio and visual components will make it easier to expand and upgrade in the future.”

“The (museum’s) installation was state of the art, 10 plus years ago,” Brandt said. “The filters degrade over time. You’ll see a huge difference with the new lights. The colors are saturated and it’s really stunning. You can look at the diorama and see the effects. The movie will be so much better.”

Brandt loves the outdoors and when he is not on the road for the job, he spends much of it in the great terrain of Arizona. He’s even a professed gold prospector. When seeing the museum and its diorama and other effects of prairie life, he was impressed with the quality.

“The diorama looks so realistic. I’ve seen a lot of museums and this one is well thought out,” Brandt said.

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