Hens Do Crow! April 3, 2020

The weather looked promising with some sunlight this past week, but it quickly changed to cloudy and gloomy. That certainly doesn’t help the mood of everyone who is staying close to home and social distancing themselves. More events have been cancelled and it doesn’t look like there will be much going on during Easter this year. Watch out summer when the coast is clear!

Students at Sargent Central School began their online classes on Wednesday, April 1, and they will be continuing them for the next several weeks. As ordered by the Governor, in-person classes were suspended on March 16th and all 175 school districts were required to submit an online learning plan to the State Department of Public Instruction. Sargent Central’s plan was approved and students and parents received specific details on the process earlier this week. The online classes will continue during the COVID-19 restrictions. College students have been home since spring break and will not be returning to in-person classes for the remainder of the school year.

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Hens Do Crow! March 27, 2020

Rutland has been a bit quieter and less busy the past two weeks or so. Meetings and events have been cancelled and restaurants and bars have cut back hours or closed — and school is out. Yes, the Sargent Central students had a nearly a two-week ‘spring break’ but are not returning to the classroom for now. Classes are expected to resume, online, on April 1 and will continue until the end of the school year. The busyness has slowed down but that doesn’t mean that this rural area is closed. It has been fun heading to Forman to window peak at the Four Seasons Manor and Villas to wave and visit with the elderly through the open window. Then, ordering food to be delivered to your car to take home for a family sit-down meal. We can keep in touch with people and family in other states and countries so much easier than was possible during the flu pandemic of 1918 which infected over a third of the world’s population and ending the lives of 20-50 million people. The community has stepped up with making grocery runs and dropping off necessities for families. The Sargent County Courthouse may be closed but families are still able to get supplies from the Food Shelf. Where there is a will, there is a way.

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Hens Do Crow – April 5, 2019

By Deborah Banish

On Friday, March 29, representatives from the Main Street Initiative visited Rutland to meet with community leaders. The Main Street Initiative seeks to create healthy, vibrant communities to attract the talent needed to support growing businesses. The Initiative is built on three pillars: (1) healthy, vibrant communities; (2) a 21st Century workforce; and, (3) smart, efficient infrastructure. The goal is to give local leaders a direct access point to a variety of resources, helping capitalize on strengths and make sound planning decisions. Two representatives from the Department of Commerce toured Rutland to see first-hand the existing businesses, homes and infrastructure in the City before meeting with the community leaders. Representatives from the ND Game & Fish Department, USDA Rural Development, Lake Agassiz Regional Council and the Sargent County Teller attended the hour-long discussion. The turnout was small but that led to a robust and honest conversation that focused on Rutland’s strong sense of community, involvement of City and rural residents to help Rutland provide events and activities that draw people to town. Tim Phelan, ND Game and Fish, noted that the change in agriculture has impacted many communities. Farmers now have semis to haul grain, so they do not make as many trips into town and schools have consolidated in many communities so not every town has a school and café or a grain elevator. This is a challenge. Hunting only provides seasonal support and that also depends on the area wildlife. The group discussed the need in Rutland for more single-family homes, a café and child care. Katie McLaen, Rutland Community Club President, noted that there are many families with young children who may be able to support a childcare facility if one was in Rutland. She noted that Rutland has lower-cost homes that are more economical to purchase than to build a new home. Emily Brown, Dept. of Commerce, said there are funding possibilities including grants and loan programs for childcare centers. Shawn Kessel, Deputy Commissioner, Dept. of Commerce, informed the group that the State collects a 5% tax on Amazon sales. He suggested the City, as a Home Rule City, implement a sales tax to capture similar sales. The City could also implement a lodging and hospitality tax as another revenue-generating source. Rutland would be eligible for the Renaissance Zone program and funding; that requires Zoning Ordinances and a Comprehensive Plan as a start. City Auditor Deborah Banish stated that the City updated both of those documents in 2018; the next step is to prepare the Renaissance Zone paperwork and submit that to the State. Amber Metz, Lake Agassiz, suggested a community-owned café to start meals. Residents would need to commit to eating at a café twice weekly to sustain the business. Discussion focused on funding opportunities and community needs and it was a very informative exchange of information and ideas. The Main Street Initiative representatives will return later this year to help put together a Main Street Initiative plan for Rutland.

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The Rooster Crows – May 4, 2018

By Bill Anderson

The roar of diesel engines mingled with the calls of geese, ducks and pheasants as 2018’s Spring field work commenced in this area. Shane Breker, Mike Anderson, Kurt Breker and the Banish Brothers, Mike & Rick, were all planting wheat by Thursday, April 26, while Lyle Erickson, Harvey Bergstrom and Joe Breker, among others, were planning to have planters at work on some of their fields by Monday, April 30, and Tuesday, May 1. There have been a few reports of corn being planted, but most operators in this area are of the consensus that the ground is still too cold for corn or soybean seed to be sown. The frost is just beginning to come out in some fields, and the side hills that were covered by snowbanks only 2 weeks ago are still soggy traps waiting to ensnare an unsuspecting farmer and his tractor. Despite Spring’s perils, however, there is new energy in the air with the onset of Spring planting. The seed is in the ground, and all things are possible. It’s great to be alive! A good rain would be helpful.

The Rutland City Board of Equalization reconvened at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 24, in the Rutland Town Hall, with Council President Mike Mahrer; City Auditor Deb Banish; and, Aldermen Rodney Erickson; Delores Lysne; and, Bert Siemieniewski; present. Mayor Ron Narum was absent. Also present for the reconvened meeting was City Assessor/County Director of Tax Equalization Denise Ferderer. Ms. Ferderer discussed how the State Board of Equalization had arrived at the current recommended valuations for residential property in Rutland last October and showed comparisons with residential properties in other jurisdictions within Sargent County. The Council approved valuations in the City, with a 20% across the board reduction from the level directed by the State Board of Equalization last Fall. The City’s valuations will next be reviewed at the County Board of Equalization meeting in June, and, finally, at the State Board of Equalization meeting in Bismarck this coming August. Due to requirements imposed by the State Legislature, all units of local government will have to have their 2019 budget work completed a month earlier this year. The 2017 session of the North Dakota State Legislature also ended the 12% property tax buy down and structured funding for elementary and secondary education in such a way that many, if not most, school districts in the State were required to increase their property tax levies in order to fund operations. As school funding accounts for approximately 60% of the local property tax bill, most owners of real property would have experienced significant increases in property tax, even without an increase in valuation. While forcing property tax increases on local taxpayers, the State Legislature has reduced State revenues by giving massive tax cuts to out-of-State corporations, such as oil companies, that have significantly impacted local and State infrastructure throughout North Dakota. Well, it all starts with the local city and township Board of Equalization, where your friends and neighbors try to work with a tax policy and funding formula drafted in the Board room of an Oklahoma oil company.

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