CROSBYTON, TX (KCBD) - The Associated Cotton Growers gin in Crosbyton opened for the 2017 harvest season on Thursday, less than a year after a devastating fire.
The blaze broke out in the busy part of the 2016 season back on Dec. 6, 2016.
"I got a call about 2:30 in the morning that there was a hydraulic leak and the hydraulic oil caught on fire and we couldn't put it out," Associated Cotton Growers General Manger Heethe Burleson said. "It burned about a third of the gin. It totally destroyed the press, the battery condenser, the mote press, gin stands, lint cleaners. We lost two out of the five gin stands and four out of the 10 lint cleaners."
Lubbock Cotton Growers, Cotton Center Coop, Lorenzo Coop and the Roaring Springs gin all chipped in to finish ginning the remaining crop.
"We had several other gins that sent module trucks to help us haul modules," Burleson said. "At one point in time, we weren't able to gin, and we had 46 module trucks hauling cotton to and from all these other gins. That really helped. Agriculture is such a tight knit community and they all helped us."
Burleson said the Associated Cotton Growers Board of Directors took quick action to start the recovery process to be ready for 2017. Five to six million dollars were spent to get the gin back up and running better than ever.
"We knew what we had to have and then we have upgraded and made it state-of-the-art while we were doing that because there's no better time to really redo what needs to be done," Burleson said. "The insurance we had was such a blessing and we were able to upgrade and expand our operation."
It's a welcome expansion as the gin serves around 160 producers from multiple South Plains counties.
"It means everything to us here," Chairman of the Board of Directors and Crosbyton producer Brooks Ellison said. "We have some other gins in the county but there aren't any gins that can take care of all of our cotton. [The Crosbyton gin] takes all of us. It means a lot to us to have our gin operating."
With a "pretty good size crop," according to Burleson, expected this season, the bigger and more efficient comes just in time for loyal cotton growers.
"This year with the new gin plant, all our members are right here just like they've always been and looking forward to use this plant," Ellison said.
"We're excited to start the '17 crop," Burleson said. "There's been such an amount of work put into this. I'm so grateful for the employees I have. We're blessed."