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5/11/2005 – News

Volume 122, Number 14             Wednesday, May 11th, 2005

BTR Farmers Co-op ships 5.4 million bushels in 2004
BY MARVIN BAKER Minot Daily News
In the past two years the BTR Farmers Co-op site between Leeds and Churchs Ferry has gone from nothing more than open farmland to a cutting-edge elevator capable of storing more than a million bushels of grain and loading 110-car unit trains.
It’s been a long haul, according to general manager Bob Yri, but since the elevator opened for business about a year ago, BTR, which stands for Benson, Towner and Ramsey counties, has seen its territory snowballing into Pierce, Rolette and Eddy counties.
The elevator was built about halfway between Leeds and Churchs Ferry on 160 acres because the parent elevator, located in Churchs Ferry, was being swallowed up by residual waters from a rising Devils Lake.
“We were pumping water all the time and the pumps never quit,” Yri said.
“We had to do something.”
In fact, most of the buildings and equipment were moved to the new site, about seven miles west of Churchs Ferry, according to Yri. About the only thing that couldn’t be transported was the main elevator house, which was a concrete facility that has since been razed.
Several metal grain bins were moved down US Highway 2 at a speed of less than 5 miles per hour and placed on the new location. An office building and fertilizer plant were also relocated.
The main house, which is very similar to a new Benson-Quinn elevator in Hensler, was designed by Vigen Construction and poured on-site. Vigen also designed the Hensler site.
“It took a year from pouring to dumping trucks,” Yri said. “We were done this past summer. I was pulling my hair out.”
In addition, the BTR facility, which sits on the old Niles townsite, is one of the few elevators Yri knows about that has a circular track.
Because BTR had to purchase the track when the facility was built, Vigen Construction engineers and BTR board members decided that in the best interest of cost and rail loading efficiency, the circular track spur off the Burlington Northern Santa Fe main line would make the most sense.
As a result, 7,313 feet of track was put down in a circular pattern directly west of the load-out facility. The spur holds 110 rail cars and a locomotive with a little room to spare.
“On a normal elevator, you’d need that amount of track on both sides of the elevator,” Yri said. “It takes nine hours to load a 110-car train and one hour to get it ready. They give us 15 hours to load.”
Yri added that once a car is ready, it is typically filled with 3,350 bushels of wheat in four minutes.
“We can load about ten 110-car trains a year,” Yri said. “We do about fourteen 27-car trains too.”
The result of the circular efficiency has allowed BTR staff to load what is known as an exploder train, a function that Yri is clearly proud of.
The first exploder train, perhaps only the second time it has been done in North Dakota, was loaded on a cold and windy day March 11.
“It goes to Minneapolis, then goes in four different directions,” Yri said of the new generation of unit trains. “Mills can’t handle 110 cars so they go separate ways and the mills pay the premium. We’re kind of excited to see how it works.”
The logistical nightmare of physically moving a large elevator several miles has paid some great dividends, according to Yri. The new, 1.03 million-capacity facility has seen 5.4 million bushels of spring and winter wheat, durum, soybeans and corn move through its augers in the past year.
“We can dump two trucks at a time and we’re going to set it up for three trucks,” Yri said. “We can actually dump 150 trucks a day and not have a line. It’s pretty slick. The elevator is state-of-the-art. It’s phenomenal.”
Part of that facility includes an elevated load-out room above the rail cars that is equipped with TV monitors to show whether the rail car hopper bottoms are open or closed and to make sure safety precautions are taken while cars are moved.
Yri said BTR, which includes an elevator in Leeds and a seed plant in Leeds, employs 15 people, most of them living in Leeds.
According to Yri, a liberal federal and state grant policy helped the board make the decision to go west after the fed bought out most of the homes and businesses in Churchs Ferry several years ago.
“This is really great for the farmers,” Yri said. “They get the benefit of the cheaper freight.”

The new BTR Farmers Co-op facility is a state-of-the-art elevator, capable of loading unit trains. It is located near the former town of Niles on US 2 between Churchs Ferry and Leeds.

Duck stamp artists
These Leeds students received honorable mention in the 2005 North Dakota Duck Stamp Contest. Left to right are Shelby Jorgenson, Mylie Herman, Taryn Bjerke, Aidan Ritterman and Tristan Henderson. There were 600 entries from all over the state.

Leeds Mini-Society
Mini-Society is in full blossom at the Leeds School. Mini-Society is an innovative program in which students establish their own society, print their own money, open their own businesses and create their own government.
Profits from the Mini-Society were used for a Hawaiian luau in April.
Ashley Wood and Kendra Leibfried do the hula at the luau.

The Mini-Society experience helps students understand more about entrepreneurship, economics, government, law, math and ethics. Mylie Herman and Shelby Jorgenson are pictured at the luau.

Leeds artists chosen
Four students from the Leeds Elementary School were chosen for the ND State Student Art Traveling Show at the ND Student Art Show in Minot. Judging took place at the Taube Museum of Art on April 12. Left to right are the chosen artists: Katelyn Nelsen’s “Time for Spring,” Joseph Strand’s “My Farm,” Michael Urness’ “American Landscape” and Dylan Matlock’s “Pumpkin Pete.” These pictures, along with others, will travel the state for a year in the exhibit.

Mayor buys poppy
Maddock Mayor Kevin Winson, center, purchased the first poppy from American Legion Auxiliary Unit 123 of Maddock. He also signed a proclamation declaring Poppy Day in Maddock. Co-chairmen of the poppy drive are pictured with him. On the left is Cede Motschenbacher and on the right is Lois Johnson. Proceeds from the sale of poppies go for veterans programs and children and youth projects.

Prairie Chicks Homemakers have 25th anniversary celebration
The Prairie Chicks Homemakers gathered April 29 at the home of Faith Halvorson for a potluck salad supper to celebrate its belated 25th anniversary.
The Prairie Chicks organized April 18, 1978. Charter members were: Jane Arnston, Bonnie Benson, Arlyss Bergrud, Sheila Erickson, Linda Faleide, Diane Fossen, Gail Grondahl, Val Hakanson, Debbie Haugen, Eileen Hoerauf, Debbie Jacobson, Ruth Lindgren, Donna Weaver, Dorothy Wisness, Sharon Wood and RaeAnn Lynne. The first officers were Arlyss Bergrud, president; Bonnie Benson, vice president; Debbie Jacobson secretary; and Sharon Wood, treasurer.
Following supper a business meeting was conducted with the first officers presiding. Roll call was a favorite homemaker memory. All present looked at scrapbooks, pictures and minutes of past meetings. Following the business meeting Ruth Lindgren and RaeAnn Lynne were program leaders. They decided that after 27 years of cooking, cleaning, raising kids and catering to husbands, a trip on the "Pampered Chicks Airline" was in order. After a demonstration on use of the oxygen mask (there was only one) and the use of the motion sickness bag by stewardess RaeAnn, Piolet Ruth whisked the group away to Germany and Switzerland. They relaxed to soothing music, cucumber slices on their eyes (to smooth all those stress wrinkles) and feet were tucked in an aromatic wrap. The trip was short but one of the more memorable "chick" moments. Anniversary cake was furnished by Linda Faleide.

Members of the Prairie Chicks Homemakers gathered to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the club. Left to right, back row, are Sharon Wood, Ruth Lindgren, Bonnie Benson, Faith Halvorson, Sharon Benson and Dorothy Wisness. In the front row are RaeAnn Lynne, Linda Faleide and Arlyss Bergrud. Not pictured are Sheila Erickson and Agnes Dybing.

Students visit Washington, DC
Four Winds High School Counselor and Close-Up Advisor Selected students from Four Winds High School took part in a Close-Up trip to Washington, DC April 10-16. It was an unbelievable experience for these students. A good sign was when we were at the Grand Forks airport on Sunday with Charlie Pride and his wife and band who took the same plane to Minneapolis.
A Close-Up staff member met us at the airport in Washington, helped us claim our luggage and had a bus to take us to the beautiful Hilton-Mark Center Hotel.
Students selected for the trip were Lane Adams Jr., Francisco (Paco) de la Paz, Kateri DeMarce, Lora Greybear and Terry Herman Jr. They were chaperoned by Eilene and Mauritz Carlson.
The students were divided into workshop groups. The students attended a seminar on the media by Dan Gainer of the Carnegie Institution and a seminar on national defense and international relations. The students visited the Woodrow Wilson Center, took a walking tour of the Capitol (which included a visit to Sen. Dorgan’s private office) and the Capitol grounds, including riding the senate tram that runs between the Senate Office Building and the Capitol. They saw the Rotunda and the senate balcony, and many monuments and museums.
One of the highlights was visiting the new Native American Smithsonian and a tour of the Pentagon. In addition to the educational programs, the students attended the play, “The Piano Lesson,” a Pulitzer Prize winner, dinner at the Hard Rock Caf? and Buca de Beppo, a Washington pizzeria. They also visited the Fashion City Mall.
The trip was made possible by Four Winds High School and the community, especially Candeska Cikana Community College Education Talent Search, the TERO Program, Dakota Tribal Industries, Spirit Lake Housing, Spirit Lake Casino & Resort, the Spirit Lake Tribal Council and Nodak Mutual Insurance and Western State Bank of Devils Lake.

Four Winds students are shown at the Pentagon. Left to right are Lane Adams Jr., Francisco de la Paz, Steven McKay, Kateri DeMarce, Terry Herman Jr.
(back) and Lora Greybear.


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