LYNNE RAMSEY: Closing of Liberty Dairy brings the end of an era

TO THE EDITOR:

Evart, by many standards, is a small town. If you drive down U.S. 10 you miss Main Street.

Roger Elkins wrote an article a while back about Liberty Dairy closing and encouraged the public to get involved in doing something to prevent that. I’m sure not very many people who read the article acted on it, and I’m not so sure we could have done anything about it anyway.

Liberty Dairy is a subsidiary of Dean Foods, it’s not big or ostentatious. Not a frivolous place to work. Kind of quiet. It employed plant workers, drivers and supports work for milk haulers. They make a good living and have good benefits, but they worked Christmas Eve, the Fourth of July, Saturdays and Sunday nights. They bottle milk and orange juice and handle by-products such as Dean’s Dip and cottage cheese. Did you know they could bottle close to a million gallons a week!

Some people may wonder in this bad economy why I am writing about one company and one group of people. Other than the fact that my husband has worked for this company for 26 years, this is my way of saying “thank you.”

Thank you to the farmers who endure through it all to sell their milk to Dean’s. Thank you to Thompson Milk haulers and all the independent drivers who go to the farms to pick up the milk and deliver it to the dairy. Thank you to receiving and processing, the guys in the cooler and to the drivers who deliver the dairy products to all the stores throughout Michigan; thank you to the dedicated customers who have purchased Dean’s milk for more than 50 years. And thank you Liberty Dairy.

Changes have already taken place. There are fewer men working inside and fewer drivers on the road and in a few more months Liberty Dairy will be no more.

This will affect everyone for miles around and if you don’t think so, think about this: You lose your job and you don’t live in Evart, you have no reason to shop here, buy your gas here or eat here.

You get laid off and you move out of town the same thing happens only you have children in the school system, so the school loses much-needed funding. We lose property tax money, city tax and business tax money, businesses that are specifically to service the Dairy. The farmers lose because no one wants to pick up their milk.

How much has Liberty Dairy donated to the community over the past 50 years?

For the past 26 years we never go anywhere in Michigan on the major highways without watching for the Dean’s Dairy trucks; it will seem so strange not so see that.

Some people may say it’s just a business, but its more. It’s part of the heart of Evart, and soon it will be gone.

The word sorry just isn’t enough.

Lynne Ramsey

Evart

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