Aug 14, 2017

Why Communities Matter

Small towns rally around victims of fatal grain facility explosion

A deadly explosion at Didion Milling in Cambria, WI, on May 31 shook the agriculture community in my home state and grain industry nationwide. The blast initially killed three of the 16 employees working at the corn processing facility that night — weeks later two more people died in the hospital of their injuries.

The Red Cross, Salvation Army and more than 20 local fire departments responded to the explosion and subsequent fire. Although the cause of the incident is still under investigation, the site is a complete loss, which Didion has already committed to rebuilding.

The unimaginable tragedy occurred the first night of the second annual trade show and conference Feed & Grain LIVE, and the next morning word of the sad news spread throughout the trade show hall quickly. Before breakfast, I took the opportunity to lead a moment of silence for those who lost their lives, for their families, and everyone at Didion Milling who were undoubtedly affected by loss of their fellow co-workers. Of all of the fatal accidents I’ve reported on over the years, this one, because it took place a mere 60 miles from my home, was especially saddening to hear.

One silver lining in this situation is how the communities so close to mine rallied around Didion, raising money for the Old Mill Foundation Didion Benefit Fund, which will go toward supporting the victims’ families. Taverns held meat raffles to raise contributions. A grocery store volunteered to host a meal benefit. A supper club donated all of its profits from one evening to the cause. Quilting groups created special prayer quilts and invited community members to participate.

The funds will assist people like Collin Vander Galien, whose legs were amputated in order to free him from the debris he was trapped under. His inspiring story of survival aired on WKOW27, an ABC affiliate in Madison. Despite the loss of both legs, Collin lives grateful for each day he’s given. He is determined to make a full recovery from the amputation and is well on his way in just a matter of weeks. Collin graciously thanked the first responders who came to his aid and the aid of the friends he worked with that night. (Watch the video at

Donations to the Old Mill Foundation Didion Benefit Fund can be sent to National Exchange Ban, 118 West Edgewater St., P.O. Box 338, Cambria, WI 53923.

Please consider contributing to this cause and keep Didion Milling in your thoughts. And as always, keep safety a priority as you prepare your facility for the harvest season just around the corner.

Sponsored Items

Recently Added to Buyer's Guide

Manufactured Canoe Liner

  • Durable urethane molded around rugged steel plate to absorb impact and abrasion
  • Protective plate integrated directly into urethane liner

Utility Monitor

  • Plant-wide utility consumption analysis helps identify anomalies
  • Gain real-time analytics and monitoring


  • First-of-its-kind quantitative LFD
  • Rapid and reliable solution for detecting predominant allergen, safety and grain process ability concerns


  • Enables commercial grain facilities to monitor bins to protect quality of stored grain
  • Digital cable technology checks grain temperature and moisture, automatically activating fans to help prevent out-of-condition issues

Silver-Sweet QL Series Bucket Elevators

  • Convey bulk materials vertically
  • 400 to 11,925 bushel/hour capacities

TUBO Push Conveyor

  • Now with 8-inch tube for higher capacity throughput, up to 43 tons/hour
  • System transports products gently over distances from 165 to 230 feet in all directions


Marketwatch: Mar, 28

US Corn Price Idx: ZCPAUS.CM

open: 6.4264
high: 6.5307
low: 6.409
close: 6.5306

US Soybean Price Idx: ZSPAUS.CM

open: 14.0045
high: 14.1408
low: 13.9246
close: 14.126

US Hard Red Winter Wheat Price Idx: KEPAUS.CM

open: 8.0855
high: 8.3229
low: 8.0455
close: 8.2277

US Soft Red Winter Wheat Price Idx: ZWPAUS.CM

open: 6.2936
high: 6.5111
low: 6.2936
close: 6.4248