Graue Mill miller Rus Strahan has given new literal meaning to putting his "nose to the grindstone" the past few days.
Strahan, also vice president of the mill along York Road in Oak Brook, has been grinding cornmeal around the clock since a new, temporary grinder was installed and turned on Wednesday.
"We were up and running for the Fourth of July and we sold a lot of cornmeal," Strahan said. "We've been selling it over the holiday weekend and I've got about 250 pounds in the freezer. That's enough to get us back in business, but will the people come back to buy it once they've been turned away?"
Grinding at the historic mill stopped in early June after a structural analysis found the gear system and heavy timber supports used in the process were unsafe. The new grinder has allowed the mill to resume production of cornmeal as its primary source of revenue.
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 mill is owned by the forest preserve district but operated by an independent board.
"It's only been a few days but the new grinder has performed outstanding," Strahan said. "We knew it would give us quality pretty close to what our customers expect. But so far, it has exceeded our expectations."