photo 2 groundbreaking

Richland County, Montana, Commissioner Duane Mitchell was among those present for a groundbreaking for a seed-cleaning facility at WREC. He presented a check for $50,000.

New pledges for a seed cleaning facility at Williston Research Extension Center tallied up quickly late Wednesday afternoon. More than $250,000 from various entities was pledged for a plant expected to take the region’s Foundation Seed Program to new heights.

Richland County Commissioner Duane Mitchell was first up at the mic, with a $50,000 check from Richland County in Montana.

Mitchell said there had been some questions about the donation for a seed cleaning facility that is located in North Dakota, but said the facility is important to the entire region.

“I’d like to challenge everyone to help make this thing happen,” he said.

Tom Wheeler, a grower who has been active in efforts to get legislative funding for the new seed cleaning facility, noted that one-quarter to one-third of the seed produced by the Foundation Seed Program at WREC is sold into Montana. Wheeler is also chairman of the joint advisory committee for WREC and the Eastern Agricultural Research Center.

Ken Callahan, president of the Williston Basin Chapter of the American Petroleum Institute also had a challenge, this one to the oil and gas industry.

He presented a $5,000 check from API, and said the organization will be asking all its member oil and gas companies to match the donation.

Mountrail Williams Electric Coop had a $50,000 check, which was presented by Chris Brostuen.

While it took some thought to settle on a dollar amount, Brostuen said a donation was a “no-brainer.”

“In the coop’s history, farmers have always played a big part,” he said. “They drove the development of the coop back in the 40s and 50s.”

Even today, with all the oil and gas, farmers continue to be critical to the coop and to the region’s economy, Brostuen added.

Daniel Stenberg, executive director of the McKenzie County Job Development Authority, did not have a check just yet, but said they had a presentation on the facility Tuesday night, and will be asking County Commissioners to send a $100,000 check.

Williams County Commissioners indicated they, too, will be making a donation, though they have not yet discussed how much to give.

“Williams County is 100 percent committed to making sure this project takes off,” Commissioner Beau Anderson said.

Anderson has worked at the facility in the past.

“This is a little chunk of my heart,” he said. “This is a beautiful wheat crop, and it’s a beautiful evening to be kicking off a project that is going to be here a long time. I hope more than 60 years.”

Commissioner Corey Hanson added that it will be a great facility, and that it is exciting to see all the community members coming together on it.

Chad Anderson, with the North Dakota Crop Improvement and Seed Association, noting the close working relationship with the university system, presented a check for $25,000.

Mayor Howard Klug also spoke during the ceremony. Williston was an early contributor, pledging $250,000 through its STAR Fund earlier in the year for the seed facility.

“It is just us and us,” Klug said. “That is where it is.”

Klug explained that the sales tax supporting the STAR Fund is collected from everyone, whether in the oil industry or farming sector of the economy.

“It doesn’t take us long to figure out a project like this,” Klug said.

He said the facility has probably received the largest grant from the STAR fund program. That’s because the facility will help the whole region. Part of what Williston has been working toward is developing itself as a regional resource.

“Whatever we can do to make the region work, whether it is with your group, or working with the oil companies, we will work with anyone,” Klug said.

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