Late last week Graue Mill officials took a "leap of faith" by purchasing a $6,000 corn grinder to get them through the milling season.
On Tuesday, a DuPage County Forest Preserve District commissioner threw them a safety net.
Commissioner Joe Cantore said he will donate about $3,500 to the mill to help cover its costs and ensure it can meet its customers' demands for freshly ground cornmeal.
"Graue Mill is a place I've been going to my whole life. My mom still has cornmeal in the freezer from when I was a kid. My wife, even though she grew up in Oak Lawn, used to take field trips there, so it's always been a place close to my heart," Cantore said.
"I think it's an important resource for kids and adults so this year I'm donating my salary over and above my starting salary 10 years ago, which amounts to about $3,500, to the Mill Foundation to get the cornmeal back in circulation."
The forest preserve commission then agreed to donate the remaining $2,500 to cover the mill's cost of purchasing the emergency grinder.
Bonnie Sartore, president of Graue Mill and Museum, said the new grinder has arrived and was being installed Tuesday at the mill along York Road in Oak Brook.
"I'm deeply grateful for the donation and it will allow us to go forward and get the mill up and running at full tilt in a very short amount of time," Sartore said. "We did go forward and purchase the equipment on a leap of faith that we could get up and running soon."
The new grinder's 12-inch stone wheel will give him the ability to produce cornmeal very near the consistency of the original gristmill at the historic facility.
The new grinder is necessary to allow the mill to resume production of cornmeal as its primary source of revenue. Grinding at the mill stopped earlier this month after a structural analysis found the gear system and heavy timber supports used in the process were unsafe.
A more permanent repair may not come until late September and would have meant millers would have lost nearly the entire April 1 through Nov. 10 milling season. Once the larger-scale mill work is complete, which could cost the DuPage Forest Preserve District as much as $20,000, the new grinder will be kept in reserve.
"The challenges are just beginning but this is going to take us a long way," Sartore said.