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Benefit planned after Schoon dairy fire

On Nov. 12, the Schoon family dairy farm near Verndale was struck by a devastating fire. They lost almost all of their barns and dozens of their registered livestock. The fire burned for 10 hours inside the walls of the barns and continued into the next day.

Twenty-eight years ago, Harvey Schoon bought a piece of land near Verndale. In partnership with his brother Dave, it became one of the most successful and recognized independently-owned dairy operations in the state. But through the challenges of a grave economy that has struck the dairy farmer harder than most, they have been forced to operate at a deficit for nearly 18 months just to stay in business. They recently they had to significantly reduce their insurance coverage simply to make ends meet. Being left vulnerable, the disaster of disasters befell not only Harvey and Dave's families, but their five employees and their families as well. The farm was the sole source of income for Harvey, his wife Jean, as well as Dave and his wife Jacki. Two full-time and three part-time employees are also without wages. The loss of the structures and animals alone amounts to millions of dollars.

A benefit will be held Sunday, Jan. 24 at the Champlin American Legion, with a spaghetti dinner and silent auction. Also, donations can be made at any TCF Bank branch location, to the Schoon Farms Benefit Account 09440335958.

To learn more about the cause, check out the Web site Also, please Join the Schoon Farm Tragedy group on Facebook.