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First Alberta producer-owned terminal opens

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With grit, determination and a spirit reminiscent of the early settlers, more than 200 shareholders joined forces three years ago and are now celebrating the fruition of their hard work – Lethbridge Inland Terminal, a $22 million, 1.5-million bushel capacity concrete and steel inland terminal at Wilson Siding.

On October 24, the producerowned and controlled grain company – the first of its kind in Alberta – hosted a grand opening ceremony and ribbon cutting, with Premier Ed Stelmach as the guest of honour.

“What great day! This is a long time coming,” said Darcy Heggie, company president and board chairman. “We had our share of naysayers. Many of us compare this terminal to hiking Mount Everest.”

In his address, Stelmach spoke of ancestors who built communities in Alberta. “They believed that an individual’s success is everyone’s success, and I’m proud to know that this spirit still exists

today,” he said. “The completion of this terminal will benefit everyone. It will be an engine for this area and part of the ongoing evolution of agriculture.”

Lethbridge Inland Terminal is the newest and largest terminal in the area, built over 16 months by FWS Construction Industrial Projects on a 211-acre parcel along Highway 4 and on the main north-south CP Rail line linking Alberta with Montana. The site is bordered on the north by Highway 845.

The terminal and its shipping and receiving areas are built on about nine acres, meaning there is room to grow. Heggie promised more to come in the form of an industrial park with the potential for bulk fuel and fertilizer facilities, although he didn’t confirm any specifics.

“I encourage the provincial government to recognize that this is one of the only places in Alberta where value-added can be incubated and move forward,” said Heggie.

The project, started in May 2005, began as a vision but grew into a concept by January 2007, with construction underway in the summer of 2007. The facility, with the main concrete workhouse, six steel bins and space for 112 train cars, received its first load of grain on August 28. As of October 24, the terminal was full and waiting for cars to move the grain to the Cargill terminal in Vancouver for export. The majority of shareholders are grain farmers, with investments from 32 Hutterite colonies.

At the helm of operations is Norman Fodness, chief executive officer. Fodness, born and raised in Medicine Hat, is a 34-year veteran of the grain handling industry. He’s worked all across southern Alberta, as well as in Saskatchewan.

“While construction was going on, we were building a grain company built for southern Alberta producers, not just shareholders,” said Fodness. Any farmer can deliver grain to the terminal if they have the type and kind of grain needed by the terminal to meet market sales commitments through the Canadian Wheat Board. It will handle other grains as well, if considered profitable for farmers and the terminal.

Lethbridge Inland Terminal has a full-time staff of 12, with support from a Red Deer accountant, a Vancouver Island grain marketer and a Winnipegbased rail and wheat board specialist. It is part of the Inland Terminal Group, created by officials of South West Terminal at Gull Lake, Saskatchewan, and North East Terminal at Wadena, Saskatchewan.

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