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Residents of Sydney remember their iconic factory



Sidney, Montana – Sidney Sugars had a way of affecting the lives of everyone nearby, regardless of how long a person spent working there or living in Sidney.

According to Kali Godfrey, executive director of the Sidney Area Commerce and Agriculture, the enormous factory has roots in the community.

She says, “you have to realize that my children think the clouds are made by the factory. The factory means a lot more than producing sugar.”

Generations of people grew up with the landmark of the Sidney Sugars sugar beet factory, which stood for almost a century and was only a few miles distant.

However, even those who merely lived temporarily in Sidney got themselves caught up in the factory and its sugar beets.

Like Mike Rea, who only spent a short time in Sidney before coming back over the years to spend the summers instructing in the sugar beet fields.

Mike said that back in 2000-2008 he would “work with kids that came from Texas, and they worked in the fields hauling sugar beets and we used to help them get credits for school in the evening.”

What may seem to some to be merely an old plant has far deeper meaning to others who grew up in Sidney.

similar to Sidney native Christina Shockley, who has a close bond with the Sidney Sugars and was born and bred in the city.

Christina shared, “I just lost my mom and it’s been about 2 ½ years an that was a big connection I had with her she worked there, and she was a single mom raising me and Sidney factory was kind of home for me.”

She went on to recall, “I went there so many times to visit her when I lived in Wapaton for a while and when I came home, I would always come see her, eat her food.”

Christina went on to reveal that the factory “was just a connection I had with her, and now I feel like I’m losing another connection. Shes getting further away from me.”

And many who spent a significant portion of their lives working at the factory feel like they are losing a part of themselves as well as a stable member of their community.

Connie Erickson has been employed by Sidney Sugars for almost 12 years, and as the plant starts to close down, she is currently in charge of warehouse sanitation.

Connie considers how the shutdown has changed their perception of the plant, despite the fact that she still has a job at the factory till September.

Connie said that “the factory has always been that one place that you could always count on it being there so if you needed to you could go back and now it’s like, what do we do? I don’t know…”

Despite the fact that the factory is still intact, Sidney residents claim they are treating the shutdown like a funeral in their family and are lamenting the lost opportunities for the future of the city.

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