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NEW SKYLINE FOR ISLAND CITY
By T.L. Petersen
Observer Staff Writer
ISLAND CITY Stan Weishaar is first and foremost a businessman and farmer.
But a part of him, he freely admits, will miss seeing the old Union County Grain Growers elevators and buildings he's having torn down this week at the corner of Highways 237 and 82 in Island City.
"I liked it, I did," Weishaar, 80, said. "I spent a lot of time down there, and it worked fine."
But the mill, about 100 years old, was getting to be a liability, he said, and thoughts of what a fire at the old mill could do to Island City kept him awake at night.
The elevators were originally part of a flour mill that had large belt-operated water wheels in the lower levels to grind the wheat that was brought in by horse-drawn wagons, Weishaar said.
As progress came to Union County, the elevator turned to wheat storage until it became part of the Union County Grain Growers operation, serving as the county headquarters.
As many as 40 employees worked for the grain growers, but by the early 1980s the business was bankrupt.
Weishaar bought the buildings, elevators and the land, almost six acres, in 1982 and closed the mill to the public.
For almost 18 year he kept the elevator operating for his family's private grain storage, but about a year ago the last load of grain was shipped out by rail.
"Everything has to go by big truck, not rail," he said. "Changing times did all this. The big trucks can haul grain straight from the field to the river now."
Recognizing that the cost of liability insurance was mounting, and that he couldn't sell the operation as a working mill and elevator operation, Weishaar decided to clear the land and hopefully find a buyer for the site.
Mike Becker was contracted to bring the old mill down, turn the wood into chips and haul it to Boardman where it will be used in the power-generating facility there.
"None of it is going in the landfill, and none of it is being burned here," Weishaar assured.
Only Weishaar's office will remain within a few days.
"It bothers me a little bit," Weishaar said this morning as the demolition continued. He wished there had been more interest in preserving the history, but there wasn't.
"It was a wonderful building inside," he said, noting the craftsmanship of the construction.
"I think Island City is going to miss it for a while."