Sunflower plant workers spruce up their city

Grandin, N.D. - More than 50 employees of the sunflower processing plant here recently put a shine on the city as part of a new volunteer initiative by Cenex Harvest States.

Employees of Cenex Harvest States
Employees of Cenex Harvest States' sunflower processing plant in Grandin gather in front of the sign they repainted in the city park, one of many improvements they made as part of the CHS Day of Service initiative on June 12 and 14. Special to The Forum

Grandin, N.D. - More than 50 employees of the sunflower processing plant here recently put a shine on the city as part of a new volunteer initiative by Cenex Harvest States.

In the park, they put fresh coats of paint on the large Grandin sign, laid pea rock in the dugout and bleacher areas of the baseball field, stained the bleachers and benches, revitalized the horseshoe pit and painted the trim and interior of the concession building.

The CHS Sunflower workers also planted flowers, dugs weeds out of the playground, spruced up the scoreboard and painted the merry-go-round.

Around town, the crews culled dead trees, trimmed live trees and planted new ones. They filled street cracks with liquid asphalt and even painted the windows of the minister's home.

And, they did it all in two days, on June 12 and 14, said Deb Sorsen, a City Council member in Grandin, which is about 25 miles northwest of Fargo on Interstate 29 and has a population of about 173.


The council took over management of the park about a year ago when the park board folded, she said. Cenex Harvest States approached the council for a list of projects to tackle.

The sunflower plant has 98 employees, and 59 took part in the service days,

co-op spokeswoman Lisa Graham-Peterson said.

"It was pretty amazing stuff," Sorsen said. "It was fun to see that many people. The town was just crawling with them."

The help was especially appreciated in a city with limited resources.

"You can't afford to pay anybody to do all that," Sorsen said. "There's no way. It wouldn't be in our budget."

Cenex Harvest States launched its Day of Service initiative this year, encouraging employees to take time during the work day to volunteer in their communities.

"Every day our 9,000 employees are helping to feed a hungry world. I'm proud of the difference we're making for our customers, our owners and our communities," CHS President and CEO Carl Casale wrote to employees in January. "We've had a great year, but we all know there are many needs in our communities. Many of you dedicate countless hours of your time volunteering in your schools, churches and communities. I'm a firm believer in giving back."


Eligible full-time employees have eight hours of paid time to volunteer, while regularly scheduled part-time employees get four hours of volunteer time.

By volunteering in shifts, CHS employees kept the sunflower plant humming throughout the two-day project, Sorsen said.

The CHS Sunflower-Grandin group was among the first in this region to implement a group volunteer effort, Graham-Peterson said. The CHS SunPrairie Grain business in Minot also had an employee group project there, she noted.

Robert Deraas, operations manager at the Grandin plant, was a driving force behind the effort.

"It was very successful and personally rewarding for all involved," he said in a statement from Graham-Peterson.

Supporting the initiative locally in Grandin were city residents, council members, former mayor Dave Blaser, the Grandin Rural Fire District, Hubbard Feeds, Hunter Equipment, Stop & Shop, Dakota Heritage Bank, Country Line Bar & Grill and Kelly Kyllo Farm Chemicals.

Now, locals are enjoying the fruits of their labor. Sorsen said it's neat to see people playing horseshoes in the park again.

"It turned out pretty good," she said.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528

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