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7/2/2008 – News

Volume 125, Number 22           Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008

BTR adds $3.5 million addition to its grain facility
By the time you read this, a significant addition to the BTR Farmers Co-op will be completed. Six 135,000 bushel concrete silos 38 feet in diameter will stretch 150 feet in the air, the same height as the original silos, which were built five years ago at BTR’s new location in the Benson County Industrial Park at Niles, smack dab between Churchs Ferry and Leeds. The walls of the new silos are eight inches thick and strengthened with rebar. In addition there will be two 35,000 bushel bins and one 12,500 bushel bin constructed. This will give the co-op an additional 892,500 bushels of capacity.
Cost is a cool $3.5 million. "We’re lucky we built when we did," said general manager Bob Yri. "Steel costs are up about 40% since the job was bid," he said.
The new facility will have the capability of dumping 30,000 bushels per hour into the silos by utilizing two filling systems. A "kanal" system will be used to load 30,000 bushels per hour into unit trains. The kanal system will empty the grain in the bins after the gravity flow stops.
The kanal system also serves as an aeration system. Each set of three bins will share a common 50 hp fan to aerate or unload one bin at a time.
Vigen Construction of East Grand Forks, Minn. is the contractor on the new addition. The concrete pour began at 8 a.m. June 23 and it was finished June 28. Once the concrete pouring begins, it doesn’t stop until the job is finished. Two crews of 50 people work 12 hour shifts day and night. The concrete silos rise about a foot an hour. It keeps Strata Concrete of Devils Lake busy hauling between Devils Lake and Niles.
There are 150 jacks which clamp onto pipes to move the equipment up after each pour. By the time the structure is finished there will be 150 pipes in the structure, each 150 feet long.
BTR is a state-of-the art facility. Recently a 110-car train was filled with grain in nine hours. There’s even a railroad spur to contain the cars as they’re being loaded. The offices don’t look like the offices of an elevator — more like a mall with spacious offices.
"We’ll have to borrow some money for this addition," said Yri, "But I don’t know how much yet. We have to keep a significant amount of money in the bank to purchase grain at the prices they are today," he added. Ramsey Bank of Devils Lake has extended credit to pay the contractor.
When the original elevator was built there was some doubt as to whether the elevator could survive because of the debt it took on in the original construction. "It’s been an unqualified success," said Yri, who has been general manager since 2002. The annual statement shows debt is down to about $4.9 million. This is balanced with assets of more than $32 million. The assets of the co-op doubled in 2007!
The co-op did $58 million in business in 2007, double its 2006 figures. The volume of grain handled has been increasing each year.
When Yri came on board in 2002, the volume was 2 million bushels per year. In 2006 it was 7 million bushels and in 2007 it was more than 9 million bushels. He’s projecting that the elevator will handle 11 million bushels in 2008.
BTR is a big taxpayer. In 2003 Benson County property taxes were waived for a new business according to state law. In 2004, the elevator paid 20% of its tax bill. In 2005 it paid 40%. In 2006 it paid 60% and in 2007 it was assessed 80%. The 2007 property tax bill was $76,840. Beginning in 2008 the elevator will begin paying 100% of its tax bill, which will be more than $100,000. Presumably, the addition will also have this five-year sliding scale on taxation.
Yri says this addition will put BTR in an excellent position for the future. "We’ve got a very progressive board which isn’t afraid to make investments for tomorrow." Members of the board are Doug Dulmage, Marco Tollefson and Steve Jorgenson of Leeds; John Peyerl of Penn; Allan Follman of York; and Gary Shock of Cando.
Yri has guided BTR to its present situation and it appears to be positioned for further success. But that will be someone else’s responsibility. Yri will be retiring on April 1, 2009 after 35 years in the grain business.
He graduated from St. John High School in 1971. He married Minnewaukan native Lynn Stensby in 1973. He worked with his father, Ray Yri, for a time at the service station on the south end of Minnewaukan before going into the grain business. He started working at the Oberon elevator in 1974. "When I first started working there, the farmers had to tell me what kind of grain they had in their trucks because I didn’t know barley from wheat," he says.
He learned fast and by 1977 was assistant manager. He became manager of an elevator at Willow City in 1977 and in 1985 moved to New Rockford to take over an elevator there. He came to BTR in 2002.
After retirement the Yris plan to live on Devils Lake just east of West Bay Resort, which is operated by his cousin, Jim Yri and his wife, Diane. Minnewaukan is Lynn’s home town. Bob’s great-grandfather, Rasmus Yri, and his grandfather, Arthur Yri, lived and farmed in the very same township of Benson County (Riggin). So they’re just returning home.

BTR Farmers Co-op manager Bob Yri stands in front of the new silos going up at BTR at Niles. Concrete pouring was completed June 28.

Three of the new concrete grain silos are visible in this photo. The other three are just behind the three in front. Today the new silos are as high as the original structure on the left.

A crew of 50 men worked on each 12 hour shift and concrete was poured
24 hours a day until the job was finished. This is the view looking down on the construction site from the original silo.

Legion gets donation
The Citizens Community Credit Union of Devils Lake recently made a donation to American Legion Post 86 of Minnewaukan for repair of the Legion building. Mark Motis, left, of Minnewaukan, a member of Legion Post 86 is shown accepting the donation from Rod Braun of the Citizens Community Credit Union. The Legion is experiencing financial difficulties due to the high cost of heating fuel and because some major repairs need to be made.

Motis reappointed
Mark Motis of Minnewaukan, pictured here with Genie Smith, also of Minnewaukan, was reappointed grand chaplain of the Grand Masonic Lodge of North Dakota. The appointment was made at the annual Grand Masonic Lodge meeting June 13 and 14 in Fargo. This was his fourth year performing in that office. The duties of the grand chaplain are to attend to invocations, benedictions and memorial services at lodges and to prepare and deliver the vesper service at each grand lodge.

New life makes its appearance at this time of year.
This lamb was born June 11 on the Stanley and Marilynn Kruger farm north of Sheyenne. Mother keeps a wary eye on the photographer.

Plans complete for 4th of July; use of Sheyenne School
Meetings continue to be held in Sheyenne for projects and events taking place over the 4th of July and during the summer.
People can check the blog for last minute updates at
Patti Jo Larson is shown leading discussion on the preparations for the 4th of July, including the all-school reunion and the town’s 125th anniversary, along with reports on the schoolhouse lodge project.
The marketing committee reported that work on a brochure has started to promote the lodge facility and all its offerings, along with prices and fees to host seminars and similar events.
The development and design committee reports it has begun getting bids for plumbing and structural changes.
The finance committee reports that the town’s non-profit status can be used for fund solicitation and lodge operations. In front with their backs to the camera are, left to right, Tim Hartl, Carl Gillig and Laurie Westby.

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