By Bill Anderson
The V formations of Canada geese beating their way north through gloomy skies and drizzly rain, coupled with the rush of water from melting snowdrifts, muddy roads and slush filled yards, portend impending Spring in Rutland and vicinity. The hardy Canada geese, among the first of the migratory waterfowl to move north each year, are already setting up housekeeping in their usual locations, while local soybean and corn growers are marking the sites in preparation for the annual anti-depredation campaign that will soon commence. The vanguard of the snow and blue goose migration is now in Nebraska and heading this way, a point of interest to those who wish to participate in the Spring Conservation Hunting Season now open on those wily birds. Sunshine and temperatures in the 40’s on Tuesday and Wednesday brought a lift to the spirits and put some spring into feet that have been slogging through the winter bearing the weight of 5-buckle overshoes for the past several months. Mother Nature even removed some snowbanks to expose some green grass in honor of St. Patrick’s day. The forecast is calling for a relapse into winter conditions for the weekend, but Winter’s icy grip has now been broken. This is not the end, but it most assuredly is the beginning of the end.
If you have been thinking that 2010 has had some dark and gloomy days so far, you have been right. The National Weather Service for North Dakota reported last week that there was fog and overcast conditions on 54 of the first 68 days in 2010. If the old-timers’ were right about getting rain 90 days after a fog, we are in for an abundance of precipitation during the months of April, May and June. Don’t put your overshoes away just yet.
Rural mail carrier Jim Lunneborg escaped serious injury from an exploding battery on his farm on Thursday evening, March 4. Jim had the battery charger hooked up to the battery on an old tractor that had not been started for a while and, when he hit the switch to crank the engine over, the lead-acid battery blew up. He had intended to move the tractor from the shed where it had been in winter storage to make more room for calving cows. The hard plastic of the exploded battery case shattered one lens in his eyeglasses and left him with several cuts on his face and forehead. Fortunately, there were no acid burns. The incident did keep Jim off the mail route for a couple of days, though, until repairs to his eyeglasses were completed. It is expected that there will be no permanent scars on Jim’s handsome visage. No report has been received on the condition of the tractor. Jim is a collector of vintage Allis-Chalmers tractors and equipment, and some of the local aficionados are concerned about possible damage to the tractor, too.
Paul & Sue Anderson returned home from a 2-week vacation trip to Arizona on Saturday, March 13. They report that the Arizona weather was unseasonably cool for several days during their stay, with the temperature only climbing into the mid-60’s. Upon hearing this news, the Assembled Wise Men at the Rutland General Store responded with, “Well, cry me a river!” The Andersons spent some time with Sue’s parents in the Phoenix-Sun City area, and Paul also enjoyed some time on the golf course with an old friend from Sargent County, Cogswell native Orv O’Neil.
From Las Vegas, Nevada, comes the report that Rutland native, Miss Darby Brakke, now a resident of Los Angeles, became the bride of Mr. Robert Sebree, also of Los Angeles, in a ceremony conducted in Las Vegas at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 13. Darby’s sister, Janelle Brakke of Fargo, and her aunt, Janice Christensen of Rutland, flew out to Vegas to witness the event. The bride wore a vintage dress from the 1930’s for the occasion, and was escorted down the aisle by Elvis. Darby is a 1977 graduate of Sargent Central High School. She is now employed as Director of the Anatomical Gifts Department at the USC Medical School in Los Angeles. The groom is a professional photographer who has worked with many well known entertainment personalities. The couple will continue to make their home in Los Angeles. They are planning a trip to Darby’s home town this coming Fall, to visit friends and family here.
Jeff Breker of this community was re-elected as chairman of the board of Southeast Water Users at the group’s annual meeting held in Edgeley last week. Southeast Water Users provides drinkable water to most farms and many cities, including Rutland, in the southeastern quadrant of the State. Jeff has been chairman for the past several years, and has led the district through several expansions of its service area.
Rutland Postmaster Ione Pherson departed this community on Tuesday, March 16, bound for San Antonio TX to attend the graduation of her daughter, Shelly, from Air Force training there. Shelly’s sisters, Lisa and Val, will also be joining their mom in San Antonio for the occasion. Sadie Siemieniewski of Lidgerwood is filling in at the Rutland Post Office during Ione’s absence.
The rapidly melting snow cover has raised the level of the Wild Rice River south of Rutland by several feet in the past week. On Wednesday, March 17, the Wild Rice once again overtopped County Road #10 2 miles south of town, creating a very dangerous situation for drivers attempting to cross. The County Road Department had marked the site with red flags and “Road Closed” signs, but these signs are often ignored by locals who think that they know the river. Those who really do know the river understand that it can be a wild, unpredictable and dangerous force at this time of year. A vehicle driven by Cody Runyan of this community was nearly swept off the road when the swiftly moving current forced the vehicle cross-wise on the highway, nearly tipping it into the raging river on the west side of the road. The vehicle hung up on the shoulder of the road and Cody escaped without injury. Cameron Gulleson’s 4 wheel drive pickup and nylon tow rope extricated Cody’s vehicle from the icy water. Last year, County #10 was closed for several weeks after the river washed out a huge piece of the roadbed at the same location along with an 8’ diameter culvert. Temporary repairs were completed last Spring and a permanent repair is scheduled for the site this Summer. Bids for the permanent repair project, which will replace the two 8’ diameter corrugated steel culverts now in the road with 2 10’ X 12’ concrete box culverts and will raise the roadbed by 2 additional feet, will be let in May. As the road is presently configured, it was supposed to be good for a 100 year flood event. Well, time must really have been flying lately, as we have had at least seven 100 year flood events since 1997. No wonder we sometimes feel old. For those who remember the Wild Rice as a placid little stream that only carried water for 2 or 3 months during the year, it ain’t “the crick” no more. It is now a mighty river, and a force to be reckoned with along its course across the prairies of Sargent County.
Tis the season for politics, and the State Republican Party will be holding its convention in Grand Forks this weekend. The talk this year is about the U. S. Senate seat supposedly being vacated by popular incumbent Senator Byron L. Dorgan, a Democrat. It is expected that current North Dakota Governor John Hoeven will be endorsed by the Republicans, even though a lot of Republicans don’t like him because they think that he is a closet Democrat, and the Democrats don’t care for him because he once courted them, but kissed them good-bye and joined the GOP after the Democrats appointed him President of the Bank of North Dakota. Despite the fact that activists in both Parties distrust him, Hoeven enjoys a high approval rating among North Dakotans across the political spectrum. Some think that his support is a mile wide and an inch deep, but, so far, that has been enough. The front-runner for the Democratic-NPL Senate endorsement is, so far, a guy very few have heard of, State Senator Tracy Potter of Bismarck. Sen. Potter is respected as a thoughtful, independent and articulate legislator, but is little known outside of his own District and legislative circles. Well, nobody knew who Bill Guy was back in 1960, either, and he went on to 4 consecutive election victories for the Governor’s office. There have been murmurings of a Draft Dorgan movement gaining some strength across the State, as many citizens consider who is best able to represent North Dakota in the Senate, and have come to the conclusion that the fellow who has done an outstanding job for them for the past 18 years just might be the best man for the next 6, too. So far, Dorgan, who announced his plans to retire from the Senate back in January, has not indicated that he would either accept or reject a draft endorsement. Delegates to the Democratic-NPL convention will make their choice at the State Convention on March 26 & 27 in Fargo, provided that the flooding Red River does not require a change of plans.
Meanwhile, inside The Beltway at Washington DC, the U. S. House of Representatives is getting prepared to vote on passage of a national healthcare reform bill, this time the one passed by the Senate last December. The house had earlier passed its own healthcare reform bill that differed markedly from the Senate version. The House is poised to vote on the Senate bill sometime between Thursday, March 18, and Sunday, March 21, and, as of Wednesday evening, it appeared that the bill would be adopted and go to the President for his signature. The legislation has been bitterly opposed by Republicans, who wanted to hand the President a major legislative defeat, and is also a bitter pill for many Democrats, who wanted a much more sweeping reform and restructuring of the nation’s healthcare delivery system. As it is, the new law does institute some reforms of the health insurance industry, but retains the present private healthcare delivery system as well as the private insurance companies through which most Americans obtain their healthcare coverage. National health insurance was first proposed by Theodore Roosevelt back in 1912, during his unsuccessful campaign for another term in the White House as the candidate of the Progressive “Bull Moose” Party. Since then, FDR, Harry Truman, JFK, LBJ, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton have all pushed for a national health insurance program, but this is the first time that both chambers of the Congress have passed bills addressing the subject, and been on the verge of sending one to the President to become law. The bill, if passed, does not set up a national health insurance plan or a national healthcare delivery system, but it does provide for universal access to affordable insurance and requires that nearly all Americans be insured. At the present time, about 45 million Americans have no healthcare insurance coverage.
Laughter, it has been said, is the best medicine, and Rutland folks are getting ready for a dose of that medicine this weekend. The committees making preparations for the Rutland Community Club’s annual supper & play have been putting the prescription together this week. The event will be held on Saturday, March 20, in the Rutland Town Hall, with this year’s entertainment being Rutland’s version of the 70’s TV classic, “The Gong Show.” Tickets may be obtained at The Rutland General Store, Alley Cuts or from Diane Smith. Be there or be square.
While much of the world was watching the 2010 Winter Olympics competition in Vancouver, Rutland native Curtis Bradbury, son of Richard & Janet Bradbury of this community, was on a team competing in the U. S. National Curling Championship Tournament in Madison, Wisconsin. Curling, which involves sliding 44 pound polished granite stones down a slab of ice toward a target at the far end, is a sport that is quite popular across Canada and in many areas across the northern tier of the United States. Curtis, who is employed by the NRCS in northeastern North Dakota, became interested in the sport several years ago, and his team of Curlers from Devils Lake won the North Dakota State Championship this year. Teams from 10 States participated in the National Tournament, called a “Play Down” in Curling circles, and Curtis’s team came in 5th, a very respectable showing for a young team that had not previously competed at the National level. So, Curtis, from your old home town, a hearty “Congratulations !” for a job well done.
Well, that’s it for this week. For more information about what’s going on in the little city that can, check out the Rutland community’s internet web site at www.rutlandnd.com. Later.