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One giant gin

Co-ops partner to open one of state’s largest cotton gins near Hobart

What goes up, must come down — no one knows this better than Randy DeRusha, though he prefers things eventually go back up again.

Decades ago, DeRusha helped construct two cotton gins — one in Brownsville, Tenn. and another in Elaine, Ark. Last year, he spent a month in each location tearing them down piece by piece, sending more than 150 semi-loads of machinery to southwest Oklahoma, where they were put back together to form the state’s largest cotton gin.

On Wednesday, DeRusha helped celebrate the project’s completion at an open house at the cotton gin several miles northeast of Hobart. About 150 people stopped by to check out the new machinery, including gin operators, cooperative executives, service providers, and local cotton producers and their families. People lined up to fill their plates for lunch, catered by Billy Sims Barbecue.

“Feels good to have it done,” said DeRusha, looking up at the behemoth of a gin, which can gin 100 bales of cotton per hour.

The new gin is the brainchild of Mike Sawyer and Kenny Hahn, local co-op executives who came together last year to form Western Planters LLC, an equal partnership of Planters Cooperative Association and Western Producers Cooperative.

“We needed to build a gin large enough to handle all our growers’ cotton,” Sawyer said Wednesday.

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