By Bill Anderson
Well, it has been an active week in Rutland, North Dakota, out here on the prairie. Snow started falling like a gentle lullaby on Thursday, February 4, building to a Wagnerian crescendo with a full-fledged winter storm by Monday, February 8. Much to the disappointment of the eager students attending the the local school system, Sargent Central cancelled classes on Monday due to the heavy snow. Mayor Narum had the City’s snowplow opening Rutland’s streets by 4:30 each morning, but travel outside the City was difficult in many places, impossible in others and not advised throughout the area. Throughout the storm, the mercury went up and down like a yo-yo, from 25 above on Sunday to 18 below by Tuesday evening. Well, this is North Dakota after all, and we certainly can’t complain about the flies and mosquitoes so far this year.
Saturday, February 6, was a big day in the Little City That Can, with the 15th Annual Rudy Anderson Memorial Pinochle Tournament taking center stage. Sixty-six teams of pinochle players had preregistered for the contest, and nearly all braved the elements to be on hand in the Rutland Town Hall when the first cards were dealt at 8:00 a.m. Steve Lies & Barb Diedrich of Wahpeton took home the first prize of $300.00 at the end of the day, accumulating more than 1,700 points in their winning effort. Local folks were relieved when the team of Roger McLaen and Jack Brummond won second prize, also a substantial sum of cash, as Jack is now recouping some of the entry fees he paid in during the 10 years, or more, that he has not finished in the money. Jack is not deterred by success, however, and commenting on the sign proclaiming that a $5.00 fine could be imposed for whining, stated that he was going to go for the $10.00 package, figuring he could get a volume discount. The pinochle tournament has been sponsored by the children and grandchildren of the late Rudy & Edna Anderson since 1996, the year after Rudy’s death. Both Rudy and Edna were avid card players, and passed their enthusiasm for card games, particularly pinochle, on to their descendants. Proceeds of the tournament not paid out in prizes have been donated to the Rutland Community Club for the improvement and maintenance of the Rutland Town Hall. Tournament participants and kibitzers enjoyed a dinner, featuring the famed Rutland scalloped potatoes with ham, made with real cream and served by members of the Rutland Community Club. The 16th Annual Rudy Anderson Memorial Pinochle Tournament is scheduled for the first Saturday in February, 2011, in the Rutland Town Hall, says the reigning family matriarch, Sonja (Anderson) Christensen.
The new Lariat Bar also saw plenty of action last Saturday, February 6, as a local snowmobile club made two stops there during the day, the first at 10:00 a.m. at the beginning of their run, and concluding their day with dining and refreshments at the Lariat late in the afternoon. Also enjoying the new dining room facilities at the Lariat were the employees of the Sargent County FSA Office, who held their delayed Christmas Party there on Saturday evening. Approximately 30 employees, spouses and guests attended the event.
After 3½ months of what started out to be a quick, two-week, clean-up and renovation job, the newly remodeled, renovated and re-equipped Rutland Café re-opened to rave reviews on the morning of Saturday, February 6. The Café business was sold to The Rutland General Store by former owner, Shari Leinen, back in October, and Shari accepted a position of employment with the new owner. The Café building has now undergone its first complete remodeling, re-wiring, re-plumbing, re-insulating and re-configuration since it was built back in 1948. A 20’ wide walkway now connects the Café to the Rutland General Store building to the south. A new 8’ diameter round table has also been added where the Assembled Wise Men can discuss profound thoughts, issues of the day and the weather. The table was hand-made by local cabinet maker Alan Olstad at his shop on the Olstad’s Ransom Township farm. The perimeter of the table has been decorated with the brands of local cattlemen. Well, it is the bulls that produce the BS, after all.
Sunday was another active day in Rutland, starting out with the American Legion’s pancake & sausage breakfast/brunch that was served in the Town Hall from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Despite heavy snow and bad roads, more than 120 diners braved the elements to partake of pancakes made with the Post’s secret recipe that gives shy persons the strength to go out and do what needs to be done. Post Commander Larry Christensen extended thanks to all those who turned out and supported the Post’s activities in the community with a free will donation.
A Super-Bowl Party was held at the Lariat Bar Sunday afternoon and evening, at which patrons lunched on hors d’ouvres, enjoyed the football game and dined on a pot-luck supper at half-time. As a bonus, the underdog New Orleans Saints defeated the heavily favored Baltimore Colts by a score of 31-17. Despite the football victory, though, one can only wonder at what New Orleans has to celebrate about. Four and a half years after hurricane Katrina devastated the Crescent City, more than 300,000 of its residents are still without homes and huge areas of the City have not even been cleaned up, much less rebuilt. New Orleans’ recovery from the effects of Katrina has been, at least in part, impeded and prevented by the corruption and inefficiency that are legend in the City, as well as in the State of Louisiana. Former Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards, himself a convicted felon, once stated that, “At any given time half of Louisiana is under water, and the other half is under indictment.” Some things, it seems, never change.
Paul & Sue Anderson traveled up to Carrington to attend the ND Grape Growers annual convention on Saturday & Sunday, February 6 & 7. Paul currently serves as Vice-President of the organization which promotes grape and wine production in North Dakota. There are now about 80 grape growers in the State, whose aim is to promote the establishment and growth of vineyards, wineries and tourism in North Dakota. Paul currently has a small vineyard on his Rutland estate, with plans for future growth and expansion.
Mike & Diane Kulzer have been vacationing in Las Vegas this past week. A photo of Mike lounging buy a swimming pool in a recliner has been received via e-mail. There is some confusion among Mike’s friends whether the photo indicates that he is relaxing and enjoying himself, or whether it indicates that he has lost everything in the casinos and has been forced to sleep in the open. If the latter is true, the photo indicates that he may have lost his shoes, socks, shirt and trousers, as well. Norbert Kulzer is managing Kulzer Feed and Seed during Mike’s absence.
Kathy Brakke, accompanied by daughter Janelle, departed Rutland on Tuesday afternoon, bound for Minneapolis and the University of Minnesota Hospital, where her son Jesse Brakke had undergone heart transplant surgery a week earlier. While heart transplant surgery is not exactly an out-patient procedure, Jesse has been released from the hospital only a week after receiving the transplant. The team of surgeons who performed the surgery indicate that Jesse’s progress has been exceptional and that his prognosis is excellent. At this point, the follow-up regimen calls for him to remain in the Cities for several weeks of observation and testing before he returns home. It is indeed amazing what the American medical system can do for those who have the insurance coverage or financial resources to get in the door. Jesse’s rapid recovery is attributable in no small part to the fact that he followed his doctors’ instructions and kept himself in otherwise excellent physical condition in the time leading up to the transplant surgery. His many friends here look forward to his return home.
Meanwhile, in Washington DC, the Congress seems to be paralyzed on the issue of healthcare insurance reform, with the Democrats appearing to lack the backbone to move forward, and the Republicans unwilling to forego partisan back-stabbing to cooperate in the national interest. The cost of healthcare for the American people, and for the American government, has been rising at twice the rate of the rise in the cost of living since the last attempt at healthcare reform failed back in 1993, but the insurance industry has used its advertising muscle to so bamboozle and befuddle the American people that many, if not most, don’t know which way is up on the issue. Even while the debate and discombobulation raged throughout the year of 2009, the average cost of healthcare soared to a new record high, over $8,400.00 per person. In other words, more than $2.7 trillion dollars, and that includes every man, woman and child in the US, whether insured or uninsured. At the same time, more than 45 million Americans have no access to the healthcare system, except through the Emergency Room Door, the most expensive portal into the system. Millions more are only one payday away from losing their employer provided coverage, and even more are denied needed treatments because of policy payment caps and pre-existing condition exclusions. If the Democrats, with their large majorities in both the Senate and the House, fail to achieve healthcare reform this session, they are likely to lose in large numbers this coming November, and deservedly so. The problem for Americans is that the outgoing ineffective Democrats would be replaced by incoming, obstinate Republicans who have shown themselves to be devoid of ideas and unable to put aside narrow self interest in favor of the broader public interest. What’s a mother to do?!
The President lost one of his strongest allies in Congress this past week when Congressman John Murtha of Pennsylvania died of complications following surgery. Representative Murtha, readers may recall, was roundly criticized as un-American and un-patriotic by then Vice-President Dick Cheney for his criticism of the Bush Administration’s conduct of the Iraq War back in 2005. Rep. Murtha was a U. S. Marine Corps combat veteran of both the Korean and Vietnam Wars, sustained wounds for his Country, was decorated for heroism and, in 1974, was the first Vietnam War veteran to be elected to the Congress. Vice-President Cheney, on the other hand, had avoided military service in Vietnam through student deferments and other dodges, stating that he had “better things to do with my time.” Apparently Mr. Cheney didn’t think that the more than 58,000 Americans whose names are engraved on the Vietnam War Memorial Wall had anything better to do with their time. Americans can judge on the record who was un-American, who was un-patriotic and who was not.
Some local folks are going to be globe-trotting next week. Joe & Patty Breker, Mark & Kathy Wyum, Cliff & Janet Kiefer and Eugene & Kathy Breker will be heading for Australia on Saturday, February 13. They plan to spend ten days below the Equator checking out farming methods, new planting equipment and touring the Australian outback in the vicinity of Sydney. Bon Voyage!
Well, that’s it for now. For more information on what’s going on in the big little City, check out Rutland’s community web site at http://www.rutlandnd.com. Later.