PALCO — The skyline of Palco will be a bit different by the time harvest 2019 rolls around, as Midland Marketing broke ground for a new grain elevator Tuesday.
The one-million bushel facility is the first new construction for the cooperative in approximately 30 years, said Vance Westhusin, who retired at the beginning of the month after 25 years as general manager. Kevin Royer took over as GM.
“We’ve added single tanks all along, but this is our first ground-floor new facility since the 80s,” Westhusin said.
“This will bring our total capacity to 2 million (bushels) at Palco.”
The new silos will be located just north of the ground storage bunker at the east edge of Palco. A ceremonial groundbreaking was at the site Tuesday afternoon with Midland board members and representatives of contractors McPherson Concrete Storage Systems, McPherson, and Reif Welding and Construction, Plainville.
Dub Johnson of McPherson Concrete said the two center tanks will be built by August. Reif Construction will then begin on the mechanical work while the remaining two tanks are constructed.
“We’re hoping by June 2019 it’s usable,” Westhusin said.
The facility will make Midland’s Palco site the cooperative’s largest, capacity wise, he said.
The new elevator will also use the latest technology, much of it directed at automation and safety, Midland board member Tom Benoit said.
The facility will be able to move 380 bushels of grain per minute, or about 20,000 per hour. Heat sensors and temperature gauges throughout the tanks will monitor for hot spots, and radar at the top will tell how full each silo is.
On the existing Palco facility, a lift goes only to the top of the silo, meaning workers sometimes have to climb ladders. That won’t be the case with the new silos.
“This one is going to have a man-lift that will take them clear to the top. They never have to get on a ladder. You can step out on a landing, check all your gear boxes, check everything, get back in the elevator and it will take you all the way back down,” Benoit said.
“We’ll probably spend a quarter of a million dollars on the high-tech stuff just to create safety,” he said.