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Co-Op To Build New Mill In Preston

The flames have been extinguished at the Franklin County Grain Growers building after Wednesday’s fire, but now, the real work is just beginning.

The board members of the Valley Wide Cooperative, which took control of the building recently, met Thursday morning to talk about moving on, and how it felt to watch the 81-year-old building burn to the ground.

“Your worst nightmare, to see this and know how devastating it could be,” said Valley Wide Co-Op Preston-area Manager Steve Hinckley.

Hinckley is a grain grower who has lived in Preston his whole life, and he grew up in the Growers building.

“I remember coming here as a young boy when you had to haul the grain. All the grain was hauled in in sacks that were tied, and we even tied them on the combine before you brought them in and loaded them on the trailer,” Hinckley said.

Now, the grain is lying next to charred pieces of wood on the soaked ground. But, Valley Wide CEO Dave Holtom said that from those ashes, a new building will rise. The co-op is going to construct a new state-of-the-art mill.

“That’s the positive thing from a tragedy like this. It puts things in motion for a nicer facility,” Holtom said.

And, there are more silver linings. The grain that was in storage was just feet away from the fire, but after some cleanup, it will still be able to be used. And, another grain cooperative, Intermountain Farmers, has offered to help Valley Wide with filling its orders for dairy farmers so that things can continue smoothly. Customers shouldn’t notice a difference, Holtom said.

But for Hinckley, his town will never be the same.

“It’s hard when something that’s so important to you and to the people of the community is taken. This is a landmark. It’s one of the remaining ones that we have in this town, and to just see it, now I know it’s going to be gone. It is, it’s hard,” Hinckley said.

The Valley Wide board isn’t sure exactly where the new mill will be, but Holtom said it will definitely be built in Preston.

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