Golden Triangle Energy Plant Manager Shaun O’Riley, left, and Quality Assurance Manager Robbie Sipes, right, recently delivered hand sanitizer to the Atchison County Health Center in  Tarkio, as well as other local healthcare facilities. The plant is making the hard-to-find sanitizer using the alcohol available at the plant. (Atchison County Health Dept. photo)

Golden Triangle Energy employees load cases of hand sanitizer that are destined for local healthcare centers. (Mound City News photo)

Golden Triangle Energy is making the hard-to-find sanitizer using the alcohol available at the plant. (Atchison County Health Dept. photo)

Dennis Sharkey, Editor Mound City News

Golden Triangle Energy (GTE) in Craig, Missouri, is using its diversity and its vast amount of resources to produce hand sanitizer for local healthcare related facilities.

“The main ingredient in hand sanitizer is alcohol and we’ve got a lot of that,” GTE Plant Manager Shaun O’Riley told the Mound City News last week.

GTE is one of six ethanol plants in the state and is using its most produced resource to help out during the COVID-19 pandemic that has left healthcare facilities with a shortage of medical equipment including hand sanitizer.

The plant isn’t set up to mass produce hand sanitizer like some are. Holladay Distillery in Weston, Missouri, which gets its alcohol for its 360 Vodka brand from GTE, has been producing sanitizer on a larger scale. O’Riley said as a group, GTE employees wanted to find a way to help. “I think everybody here wanted to do their part to help out,” O’Riley said.

To produce the hand sanitizer employees mix up 50 gallon batches in a 55 gallon drum. O’Riley said it takes a little bit of extra time measuring out all of the ingredients. Once mixed up each gallon is individually filled.

Last Wednesday, April 15, O’Riley and Quality Control Manager Robbie Sipes delivered 50 gallons of sanitizer to hospitals, health clinics and nursing homes in Holt and Atchison counties. Sipes said it will be sometime this week before the next batch goes out. “We haven’t made it yet,” Sipes said. “We have to make the next 50 gallons.”

O’Riley said they’ve tried to identify as many organizations and clinics they can that could benefit from the sanitizer. “I don’t want to say them all because we might have missed one,” O’Riley said. “We tried to get them all.”

O’Riley, while delivering the sanitizer, realized there were many moments he knew how helpful their gesture was to those health workers. “Everybody loved it,” O’Riley said. “They were very much appreciative; big eyes and thankful, almost teary.”

Although GTE has a good supply of alcohol, other ingredients like the glycerin that is used to make the sanitizer was hard to come by. “Everything is sold out and everybody is trying to do this and get their hands on it,” O’Riley said. “It was a pretty tough task.”

To get the glycerin GTE called upon Holladay Distillery for a little bit of help and it delivered. “We had some friends at a distillery down the road that had some of the ingredients that they donated to us for the cause,” O’Riley said.

GTE General Manager Kelly Bordewick, who has been in his position just under a year, said in addition to the sanitizer, GTE also got its hands on some face masks that were donated to a local nursing home. Bordewick said one of the biggest strengths of his company is the people. “I definitely appreciate the group here for participating in those kind of things and really giving back to the community,” Bordewick said.

Note: One of the healthcare facilities that received hand sanitizer was the Atchison County Health Center in Tarkio. They do have a little left over and are offering refills. Atchison County residents only may bring in small containers (no large ones) to be filled with the GTE sanitizer. Call 660-736-4121 to arrange pick up.