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Published July 09, 2012, 08:00 AM

Forest River prepares for early harvest

FOREST RIVER, N.D. — A gentle rain perked up some thirsty crops Friday, as staff at Forest River Farmers Elevator prepared for what should be one of the earliest harvests on record.

By: Kevin Bonham, Forum Communications, The Jamestown Sun

FOREST RIVER, N.D. — A gentle rain perked up some thirsty crops Friday, as staff at Forest River Farmers Elevator prepared for what should be one of the earliest harvests on record.

“It’s a gorgeous rain,” said Office Manager Pam Jallo of the one-inch soaking.

They’re ready for harvest, which is just weeks away, despite a massive fire last fall that destroyed the offices and main storage bins at the century-old community landmark, and despite a 360,000-bushel elevator reconstruction project that will not be completed until January.

The farmer-owned cooperative didn’t flinch after the fire, setting up a temporary office in town and the board voting almost immediately to rebuild.

“Farmers in the area are very loyal to the organization,” Sam Mondry, board president, said this past week. “We had the backing of the community. That’s the way small communities are.”

The construction is sparking a renewed sense of optimism in this Walsh County community of 125 that will mark its 125th anniversary on Friday.

It’s one of three community celebrations in the area this week.

On Thursday, alumni of Midway Public School will gather for an all-school reunion at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks to mark the 50th anniversary of the school’s first high school graduation. The school was the result of consolidation among Forest River, Gilby, Inkster, Johnston and nearly two dozen other small school districts in the area.

On Saturday Gilby will celebrate its 125th anniversary.

Faith in future

Farmers Elevator will conduct an open house Friday, in connection with Forest River’s celebration, to show off its new office and scale house.

The cooperative is renting farmer-owned storage space at the elevator and throughout the Forest River area, to make up for the 300,000 of storage lost in the fire last September, according to Greg Novak, elevator manager.

When construction is completed, Forest River will have about 675,000 bushels of storage, about the same as it had before the fire, he said.

Besides handling wheat, corn and soybeans, the elevator provides seed, chemicals and fertilizer, along with custom application, as well as agronomy services.

Farmers Elevator currently has seven employees. It’s one of the community’s three biggest employers. The others are Forest River Bean Co. and Black Gold Farms.

“We’ve got good people. We’ve got good patrons,” Mondry said. “So, we’re confident in the future of the elevator and the community.”

“There was no doubt we were going to rebuild,” said Mayor Ivan Muir, an elevator board member. “A year from now, we’ll probably say that was a bad way to do it, but it’s going to be good for the community.”

Kevin Bonham is a reporter

at the Grand Forks Herald, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.

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