By Bill Anderson
“Tough times don’t last. Tough people do,” says the Rev. Robert Shuler. A brutal winter, the worst since 1996-’97, ended on March 20 and has been followed by a Spring that has turned into a cruel April Fool’s joke. Temperatures into the 50’s for a few days turned the 6 feet of snow that fell during the Winter into rapidly moving floodwaters, sweeping away approaches and culverts, as well as County and Township roads. Two miles south of Rutland, the rampaging Wild Rice River undermined County Road #10 and then swept it away on Wednesday, March 25, leaving a yawning chasm, through which the foaming, frigid waters of the normally placid stream roared, in their headlong rush to reach the Red River, Lake Winnipeg and Hudson’s Bay. Damage to Township roads has been even more extensive, and caution is advised when traveling throughout the area, especially when crossing water covered roads, as the road may have been washed away. In Rutland, Mayor Narum spent several days pumping water backed up by frozen culverts away from residential areas. Other than the normal spring seepage into a few basements, no serious water damage has been reported in town. To the north, our neighbors in Milnor spent most of the week of March 21-27 sandbagging and diking to protect their community from the rising waters of Storm Lake. An exhaustive, round the clock effort saved Milnor and the City officials, employees and volunteers who accomplished the feat deserve a pat on the back and a hearty, “Job well done!” from their fellow Sargent County citizens. A number of volunteers from Rutland went up to Milnor to assist with the flood fight there. Further to the north, the City of Fargo made national news headlines with its fight to save North Dakota’s largest city from the floodwaters of the overflowing Red River of the North. “When the going gets tough, the tough get going,” the old-timers used to say, and Fargo proved to be tougher than whalebone, as thousands of volunteers from the city, from throughout the tri-state region and from across the nation poured in to fill sandbags, build dikes and evacuate threatened homes. Rutland native and current Fargo resident Gary Narum (RHS Class of ’60) reports that he spoke with volunteers from Chicago, Minneapolis, Manitoba and even Rutland while he was working on sandbag dikes on Fargo’s south side. Gary said that he saw several volunteers wearing the distinctive Rutland-Cayuga Fire Department shirts working on the dikes. Among the volunteers from Rutland who participated in the Fargo flood fight were: Cameron Gulleson; Jim Fust; Peder Gulleson; Trent Mahler; Paul Anderson; Mitch Mahrer; Mike Mahrer; Kyle Mahrer; Rob Wyum; Mike Kulzer; Diane Kulzer; and, a number of others whose names are not known by this reporter. As a punctuation mark to the flood disaster, Mother Nature gifted the area with a snowstorm that deposited anywhere from a foot to 26 inches of wet, heavy snow on the 30 & 31 of March, the ultimate April Fool’s joke for shovelers on the morning of Wednesday, April 1. Certainly, when compared to some other natural disasters that have occurred in this nation in recent years, North Dakotans can be proud of the way they have conducted themselves in facing this crisis. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” it has been said, and there is no doubt that those who have endured and survived the Winter and Spring of ’08-’09 are the stronger for it. They have earned the titles of Tough, Hardy and, in some cases, even Heroic. For the vast majority of the volunteers who fought the flood, their only reward will be the satisfaction of knowing that, in a time of crisis and need, they came to the aid of their neighbors, and prevailed. When this crisis ends, as it soon will, North Dakotans will pick up the pieces, clean up the mess, repair the damage, go back about their normal lives and start preparing for the next test. That next tough time won’t last, either, but the tough people will.
The Rutland-Cayuga Fire Departments responded to a call for assistance from Lidgerwood at 6:30 a.m. on Monday, March 23, and brought 3 fire-fighting units to aid in extinguishing a major conflagration on Lidgerwood’s Main Street. Destroyed by the blaze were 2 landmarks — Art’s Tavern and Dee’s Bar & Grill — which were adjacent to each other on the east side of the street. Also sustaining damage were the American Legion Club (formerly the Gamble’s Store) to the south and the City Library (formerly the First National Bank building) to the north. Lidgerwood, which is known for the longevity of its citizens, once boasted 5 liquor establishments on Main Street, but is now down to only two. It is feared that the health of the citizenry may be endangered by this reduction in the number of congenial and convivial watering holes. In addition to the Rutland-Cayuga contingent, units from 13 other neighboring fire departments also responded to the call.
Kathy Brakke of this community has been in Minneapolis for the past 2½ weeks, assisting her son, Jesse, who has undergone heart surgery at the University of Minnesota Hospital. Jesse has been released from the hospital and expects to be home by Friday, April 3. Updated information on Jesse’s condition can be obtained online at www.caringbridge.org/visit/jessebrakke.
Reports from Minneapolis are that Hal Nelson of this community continues to recover from the severe burns he suffered when a propane explosion demolished his home last October. Doctors at the Hennepin County Burn Center have informed family members that both his recovery and his survival are nothing short of miraculous. Most patients with burns as extensive as those sustained by Hal do not survive the first few days. It will still be some time before Hal recovers sufficiently to allow his return home, but all who know him can agree that Hal’s physical strength, courage and spirit embody the definition of “TOUGH.” His many friends in the Rutland community extend their best wishes for a speedy recovery. More information about Hal’s recovery is available at www.caringbridge.org/visit/halnelson.
Catherine Jacobson returned home from Meritcare Hospital in Fargo just days ahead of the evacuation of that institution’s patients to other hospitals throughout the region. Catherine underwent a surgical procedure a few weeks ago and had been resting at home when a respiratory ailment required some additional hospital time. More information about Catherine’s condition can be obtained from Caring Bridge at www.caringbridge.org/visit/catherinejacobson.
The Rutland Community Club’s annual supper and play will be held in the Rutland Town Hall on the evening of Friday, April 3. This year, Rutland’s ham actors will present “Laugh-in Meets Rutland”, a home-grown take-off on the 1960’s TV comedy show, “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In”, that featured short comedy skits, corny jokes and slapstick humor. Tickets are available at the Rutland General Store, Rutland Café, Alley Cuts and Lariat Bar.
Nordland Lutheran Church will serve its annual Palm Sunday Dinner, commencing at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, April 5, in the Rutland Town Hall. This year there will be 2 entrées, roast beef and roast pork, both popular attractions for folks who appreciate a good solid dinner of meat and potatoes. This dinner is prepared by people who were taught how to cook by Ma and Grandma, so you know it has to be good.
The volunteer firemen of the Rutland-Cayuga Fire Department will be serving their second annual Easter Sunday Brunch, on Easter Sunday, April 12, at the Rutland Town Hall. Serving will commence at 10:00 a.m. The event is a fund-raiser for the Rutland & Cayuga Departments, with proceeds being used to purchase equipment to assist the firemen in the performance of their duties.
Alternative sources of energy are a matter of national urgency, and several wind energy companies have expressed an interest in developing the resource here in Sargent County. Just Wind of Napoleon ND and Green Resources of Texas have met with the Sargent County Jobs Development Authority to discuss the possibility of wind energy development, and now a foreign based company, EPOXY Energy PLC, of the United Kingdom, has scheduled several dinner meetings to be held with small groups, 10 to 15, in the Rutland General Store on May 4, 5 & 6. The energy policy proposals of the Obama Administration have North Dakota’s wind energy resource figuring prominently in filling the nation’s demand for electricity. We’re not sure what will develop here, but it’s nice to be noticed.
Well, the North Dakota Legislature could take a lesson in guts from the Virginia State Legislature this year. For 400 years, tobacco has been sacrosanct in Virginia, birthplace of the American tobacco industry. This year, however, the Virginia Legislature adopted, and the Governor of Virginia signed, a law prohibiting the use of tobacco in all public places, including bars, taverns and saloons. Tobacco is credited with the deaths of more than 500,000 Americans each year, with exposure to second hand smoke being the only thing deadlier than using the stuff yourself. So, in 2009, Virginia, birthplace of tobacco in America, cleans up its act. The stench of death still emanates from most bars in North Dakota, though. Fargo voters have taken the lead in banning smoking in bars in the State’s largest city, and it is now apparent that it will take direct action by the voters to end exposure to second hand smoke in public facilities in the rest of the State. Exposure to tobacco smoke is a public health hazard, and the use of tobacco is a personal health hazard. The sooner steps are taken to eliminate the former and minimize the latter, the better off North Dakota will be.
The annual meeting of Rutland Housing, Inc., a non-profit corporation which owns three apartment houses with 14 apartments in Rutland, will be held at the Rutland Town Hall at 5:00 p.m. on Monday, April 13. All Rutland citizens are eligible to participate in the meeting. One director will be elected and those in attendance will receive the annual financial report of the corporation. Rutland Housing, Inc. was formed in 1971 to provide housing for low income and elderly residents in the Rutland community. The current members of the Board of Directors are: Bill Anderson; Ron Narum; Beverly Kulzer; Quentin Hoistad; and, Greg Donaldson. Kris Nerison is employed as manager of the corporation’s apartment units. All 14 of Rutland Housing’s apartments are designated non-smoking.
Well, Barak Obama has been President for 10 weeks as of March 31, and during those 70 days has managed to compile an impressive array of accomplishments. Among other things, his administration and the Congress have: extended health insurance coverage to 10 million American children, financing it with a 69 cent increase in the Federal tax on a pack of cigarettes; set a timetable for the withdrawal of American military forces from Iraq; increased US military pressure on Osama Bin Laden and the terrorists in Afghanistan; ended the torture of prisoners by American law enforcement, military and intelligence units; passed the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to stimulate the economy by putting Americans back to work; restructured the regulation of the American banking industry; began the restructuring and, hopefully, the recovery of the American automobile industry; began the reconstruction of relationships with our European and Asian allies; presented a 2009-10 budget to the Congress that emphasizes improvements in education, healthcare and energy development; re-established America’s commitment to combat the potentially disastrous effects of global warming; re-affirmed the President’s commitment to the rule of law in protecting the rights of American citizens; removed or reversed restrictions on scientific and medical research which had no reasonable bases in science or ethics; Protected millions of acres of public lands for use by the American people for this and future generations; and, other initiatives too numerous to mention. The President’s critics say that his administration is spending too much and will pile up a massive debt for future generations. This is strange criticism, coming from the group that spent $16 trillion dollars in the previous 8 years while turning a projected $5 trillion budget surplus into $11 trillion in real debt, plunged the entire world into an economic recession and left the U. S., along with the rest of the world, teetering on the brink of the financial abyss. At the present, the President’s policies seem to be calm, clear and aimed in the right direction. Perhaps one of his greatest accomplishments, though, is that after only 70 days, the vast majority of Americans no longer think of him as the nation’s first black President, but regard him as The President, irrespective of his racial background, leader of the nation and foremost among the national leaders of the world. We’ve come a long way, baby!
For more information on what’s going on in the Little City That Can, stop by Rutland’s internet web site at www.rutlandnd.com. Contact Deborah Banish personally or by e-mail at email@example.com to put announcements and other information on the community’s web site. See you in cyberspace.