By Jan Schultz
The Imperial Republican
Scott and Linda Payne lost a major building and all of its contents in a March 2 fire north of Imperial.
Losses from the 1982 steel building, as well as equipment and housing inside for their S & L Farms custom harvesting business, were estimated at $1 million just two and half months before they were to head out for the 2015 season.
However, Linda Payne said they’ve seen many positives following the terrible fire.
Some of those “positives” showed up at their place last Thursday when about a dozen volunteers from Imperial, Grant and Madrid spent the day cleaning up the debris.
Working from about 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., the crew hauled out 28,000 lbs. of burned debris in a grain cart, as well as five to six loads on a semi-trailer.
Area farmers provided equipment and trucks while Ivan Regier, who owns Regier Land Improvement in Madrid, brought his excavator to the scene.
It made quick work removing the burned reminders of the fire a month ago.
Dan Wallin of Grant helped coordinate the cleanup. He also came the day before and helped remove some of the smaller burned tractors after S & L Farms employees loaded out 2,800 lbs. of other debris last Tuesday.
Wallin has been friends with the Paynes for more than 35 years.
Linda Payne said they are taking one step at a time, but feel blessed.
Actions like last Thursday are why.
She and Scott didn’t even know many of the men from the Mennonite community in Perkins County who came to help last week.
“They did it on their own. We need to take note of that,” she said.
While there’s still a lot to take care of, they are thankful no one was injured in the fire. They are also proceeding with the 2015 harvest season. on schedule. The S & L crew will leave for Oklahoma the third week in May.
“All of our crew is hired, too,” she smiled.
She said all of the insurance details are not finalized yet, “but we’re getting close.”
They do plan to eventually put up a new building, which they need to store their harvest equipment, she said.
Some of the equipment inside, such as Scott’s service wagon that housed many important tools for their harvest work, is irreplaceable. Linda will also miss one of the burned trailers which served as her home on the road.
However, it helps to have a caring community that stands behind you, she said.
While their losses were great, Linda said two of their employees were living in one of the three trailers lost inside the building in the fire.
However, a “love offering” from their church back home in North Carolina has helped them recover.
The two young men from Sparta, N.C., have been S & L employees several years and will be on this year’s crew again.
“They lost everything except what they were wearing,” she said.
“We don’t want to forget about them,” she said.