Weather Forecast


R.D. Offutt Co. grants spread Christmas cheer to Minn., ND volunteer fire departments

Dilworth Fire Chief Mark Empting, left, and fellow firefighters Troy Kind and Bill Bergquist, who is also the Clay County sheriff, say the Dilworth Fire Department is grateful for a financial gift from R.D. Offutt Co. that will help the department buy new radios. Dave Olson/ Forum News Service

DILWORTH, Minn.—Some area volunteer fire departments are getting Christmas presents from R.D. Offutt Co.

The company is awarding grants of various sizes to 41 volunteer fire departments in areas where R.D. Offutt does business, with the total value of the gifts reaching about $500,000.

One of the recipients is the Dilworth Fire Department, which is using its award to help pay for new radios, including radios for department vehicles and individual firefighters.

"The cost of these radios was rather significant for our fire department," said Dilworth Fire Chief Mark Empting. "This donation is definitely going to greatly contribute to that. We'll be able to purchase all of the radios that we need between our city budget and this fantastic donation through RDO."

R.D. Offutt wasn't disclosing specific grant amounts, but the reaction from those receiving the gifts has been overwhelmingly positive, according to Jean Zimmerman, executive vice president of RDO Equipment Co.

Zimmerman said when she notified one fire department about the grant they were receiving, she was told the money was "going to save lives."

The Dilworth grant is made possible by the R.D. Offutt Co.'s Community Builder program, which is supported by the Offutt Family Foundation and open to employees of R.D. Offutt Co., parent company of RDO Equipment Co. and R.D. Offutt Farms.

The program gives grants to charities that team members are actively engaged in.

In addition to Dilworth, some of the other Minnesota fire departments in the region receiving grants through the Community Builder program include: Hawley, Hitterdal, Rothsay and Vining.

North Dakota communities are receiving grants, too, including: Casselton; Christine, Davenport; Fingal, Glenburn and Kindred.

Items fire departments plan to use the money for include special equipment to empty grain bins quickly when someone is buried, as well as air compressors, tools and gloves.

Clay County Sheriff Bill Bergquist, who is also a Dilworth firefighter, said the Community Builder grant is a welcome gift.

"It's great," Bergquist said, adding that sometimes years go by without the department seeing a substantial donation.

Zimmerman said that during the grant application process, it was difficult to pick out who was going to receive money.

"So, since it's Christmas time, the Offutt Family Foundation decided it's Christmas and everybody gets a little something," she said.

In addition to Community Builder grants, R.D. Offutt encourages employees to get involved in their communities by paying individuals for eight hours worth of volunteer time a year.

Troy Kind, an RDO employee and a member of the Dilworth Fire Department who wrote the Community Builder grant application, said that while many volunteers put in more than eight hours a year, the financial incentive is a nice perk.

"It's greatly beneficial that RDO is willing to do that," Kind said.

Dave Olson
Have a comment to share about a story? Letters to the editor should include author’s name, address and phone number. Generally, letters should be no longer than 250 words. All letters are subject to editing. Send to
(701) 241-5555