The first bale to come off the press at Cotton Growers, Inc., in Dell, Ark., symbolized the hope that a group of cotton producers could pool their resources and build something bigger than themselves.

Twenty years later, on Oct. 19, 2010, the millionth bale ginned by Cotton Growers was proof positive of what happens when hope meets a good plan, hard work and determination. It was a proud moment for board members and cotton producers Clarence Crosskno, Paul Fleeman, Allen Donner, L.H. Gaines, Louis Lammers, Bailey Weiner and Karen Dilldine.

It’s ironic that Crosskno, who is president of the board of directors for the gin, not only owned the 1 millionth bale, but also the first. Both bales were from Crosskno’s farm near in the Lone Oak, Ark., community.

The 1 millionth bale had premium quality, a 31-2-34, with 4.8 micronaire. The gin’s general manager Barry Braden says that the bale will likely be divided up into souvenir size bales. Tim Gipson, plant superintendent since the gin opened, ginned both the first bale and the 1 millionth.

The landmark 1-millionth bale also provided some optimism for an industry that has suffered production declines due to decreased cotton acreage in recent years. Fortunes could turn around soon. There is potential for a 30 percent increase in cotton acreage in northeast Arkansas next year.

The first organizational meetings for Cotton Growers, Inc., took place in Crosskno’s farm shop. “Twenty-one years ago, Clarence called me about building a gin,” said Weiner. “I can’t remember how much money we were trying to raise. But it finally took root. It’s good to see a man realize his dream. We couldn’t have done it without Clarence.”

“Our philosophy is to treat everybody the same whether he’s got 40 acres or 4,000,” said Crosskno, chairman of the board for Cotton Growers, in a 2004 article on the gin,

“Our cotton all comes here voluntarily. That’s a big plus for the organization. Plus, we’ve got an excellent group of people to work with.”

Cotton producer and board member Paul Fleeman says the seven-member board at Cotton Growers, Inc., “has had a lot of heated discussions, but we always vote on everything. We’ve only had one time when the president had to break a tie. We’ve been successful in managing this company.”