CLINTON, Minn. — After a fire July 25 in Clinton, Minnesota, destroyed the town’s only grain elevator and main economic source, Gov. Tim Walz, State Rep. Jeff Backer and Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen visited the community Tuesday, Aug. 3, to inspect the damage left in its wake.
“The whole state of Minnesota was watching this,” Walz said while visiting with business owners and residents. “Our first reaction was relief that no one was killed, but then recognize that a community had lost a major (financial) asset.”
Multiple fire departments responded July 25 in an attempt to save the elevator, hauling in water from around the area and later asking residents to restrict their water use as the fire continued throughout the day.
Residents told Walz about how the elevator was not only an economic source but that the farmers, workers and drivers would also stop in town for supplies or a quick lunch.
“It's always been a busy elevator, very busy,” said Roland Ebnet of Clinton. “Local truckers in town here had steady jobs hauling in and out of here. I'm sure a lot of truckers stopped at the convenience store and cafe. So, yeah, It’s very quiet now with all the trucks going (elsewhere).”
Ebnet talked about how there had been three grain elevators in Clinton when he moved to town decades ago. He said that the other two were taken down over the years, and that the Wheaton-Dumont Co-Op Elevator located in Clinton outlasted the other two because of its proximity to the railroad tracks but “they removed (those tracks) around the ’70s.”
With the rebuilding of the Wheaton-Dumont Co-Op Elevator being uncertain, residents of Clinton await news of what will happen in a town where so much of its economy depends on the grain elevator and the business it brought to the area.
“We have to support our local economies,” Backer said. “We saw that happen on Sunday when (they) had 19 communities who came to help and that's what west central Minnesota residents are all about.”