New Year’s rides offered

FAIRMONT — A collaboration between the Fairmont ethanol plant and the sole licensed taxi service in the community will result in safe transportation on New Year’s Eve at no cost to passengers in Fairmont, Truman, Sherburn, Welcome and Guckeen.

Starting at 7 p.m. Sunday, Green Plains and Royalty Rides will join forces to provide free rides, whether to a house party, a local bar, a dining establishment or even “Rock on Ice” at the Martin County Arena, which also is sponsored by Green Plains.

Royalty Rides owner Dahmon Gullord had heard of free cab rides being offered in Mankato on Thanksgiving and was trying to come up with an idea for a similar program in Fairmont.

“All of a sudden, I got a call from Green Plains, offering to pay for all rides on New Year’s Eve,” he said.

Jon Richardson, plant manager of Green Plains in Fairmont, said the idea came from the employees.

“This was one of the ideas brought forth by the plant employees in the maintenance, operations and safety departments,” he said.

A committee of representatives from each of those departments shares ideas with the plant’s management team, which makes the final decision. The employees volunteer for projects such as cleaning road ditches and helping at the Martin County Humane Society, 12 Baskets and the Salvation Army. Recently, they sponsored a “sharing tree” through the Fairmont schools and provided Christmas gifts and meals to several families in need.

“We’re part of the Fairmont community, so we’re always looking for ways to give back. What better way than to keep people safe?” Richardson said.

The Fairmont plant is unique among Green Plains sites in that it is the only one located in a community large enough to offer free safe rides on the traditional celebratory night.

People who want to arrange for a ride should call Royalty Rides at (507) 848-3748.

“Normally, if we can get a 15-minute ‘heads up’ beforehand, it will work,” Gullord said. “If it’s a larger group, we might need up to 30 minutes so we can arrange for a larger vehicle.”

He plans to have four vehicles of various sizes in service, all of which will be marked to identify the Green Plains sponsorship. The free ride program is scheduled to run until 2 a.m. Monday.