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Monday, August 14, 2017


A DAY LATE AND A DOLLAR SHORT “Other J.C. Penney stores have closed throughout the region, too, including in Jamestown, Dickinson and Wahpeton. The stores in Grand Forks and Fargo appear safe for now.” -- A GF Herald editorial wagged a rhetorical finger at Thief River Falls residents who signed a petition to retain their J.C. Penney Store. The Herald said the petition was far too late and what the store needed from residents was patronage, not rhetoric.

DIGI-KEY has been previously mentioned here because the electronics distributor plans to bring 1,000 new employees to its facility in Thief River Falls, Minnesota. Tom Dennis writing in the GF Herald provided a fuller picture of Digi-Key including that it “is the world's largest seller of electronic components that are available for immediate shipment.” Each day, 16,000 orders leave the warehouse for 170 countries. The company has 3,500 employees earning an average of $62,000 in annual compensation -- a big economic factor in the town of 8,600 and the Grand Forks area.

WORTH A TRY The last time the FEMA issued a drought related major disaster declaration was 52 years ago. This week, Gov. Doug Burgum requested such a declaration for ND.

MAKING DO "We don't mess around with the new technology." -- The Wolfgram brothers (Wesley, 82, Harold, 84, and Leonard, 85) of Niagara ND (40 miles west of GF) are quitting farming, renting their land to relatives and auctioning their antique farm equipment. In 1961, they took over a farm which had been in their family since 1887. The brothers resisted modern equipment trends, preferring to maintain their equipment, some of which is 70 years old. Their 1946 Chevy truck purrs like a kitten. The Wolfgram brothers are emblematic of older farmers who own much of Red River Valley farmland -- often too expensive for aspiring young farmers.

PRARIE SKYSCRAPER The grain elevators which marked almost every prairie small town are slowly disappearing. Scott Dahms, a Fargo architect, spotted an elevator in Baker MN, about 15 miles southeast of F-M. He bought the elevator for $15,000 in March, "The coolness factor was just off the charts.” The 1965 elevator was abandoned for 20 years, but the “cribbing,” stacked 2-by-8 lumber, was still in good condition. Dahms, who was born in Fargo, is fulfilling a dream of converting an elevator into a home. In Phase I, he is creating living space, a workroom and community gathering spot. This uses only a portion of the elevator -- what comes next is anybody’s guess.

GOVERNORS’ HIGHWAY is the name columnist Mike Jacobs gave to ND Hwy 18 which runs parallel to I-29. He named it such because 18 of the state’s 32 governors lived nearby -- five of the governors were from Casselton. The state’s last governor, Jack Dalrymple, and current governor, Doug Burgum, came from the Hwy 18 corridor.

A LESSON “Judy was a strong woman, having cancer for 5 years she never once complained. When making her trips for treatment she had her favorite stops along the way. Judy applied the wisdom and patience she learned from living on the farm to all the other things she did in life.” -- Obituary of Judy Hewitt Johnson (79) of Carrington (formerly Sykeston).

THE REIGN OF TERROR IS OVER A charge of terrorizing against 80-year-old Alice Olson has been dismissed. In October 2016, the Watford City granny frightened the family of Brent Sanford, now ND’s lieutenant governor. They thought she may have been reaching for a gun -- it now appears she was rubbing a sore hip. Olson, the owner of a RV park, has an unfortunate way of speaking her mind.

CANDISC For the uninitiated, that stands for Cycling Around North Dakota in Sakakawea Country, an annual 400-mile bike tour in west central ND. The tour is notorious for its bouts with wind and weather. Well, no more, after 25 years the organizers are calling it quits, blaming a lack of volunteers.

CAUTIONARY TALE She’s broke -- Barbara Carlson was a Minneapolis celebrity, member of the city council, talk show host and wife of both former governor Arne Carlson and businessman Martin Anderson. Carlson basically blames herself, although she also credits serious surgeries and being swindled by a con artist. Her ND grandparents also played a role -- she says they set an example of extravagance. She said she never gave money a thought -- until the day she ran out of it. Carlson lives in a low-income apartment.

SAD ENDING “Ron, 82, and Mary, 78, had been last seen July 29 at the Country Corner store along Highway 2. Ron was in the early stages of dementia, and Mary suffered from right-side paralysis and had difficulty speaking.” -- The Duluth News reported a U.S. Border Patrol helicopter discovered the Tanowskis dead of natural causes in their SUV which was stuck in mud. The elderly Duluth couple had been missing for a week and were the subject of a comprehensive area search involving thousands.

TREADING WATER Minnesota math scores were down slightly in 2017 for some grade levels and flat for others, while reading scores stayed relatively the same, according to the state Department of Education. The state has been unable to close the gap between scores for blacks and whites -- black proficiency in reading is less than half of whites and black math scores are only 41 percent of those for whites.

DAKTOIDS: U.S. News named the best high schools in ND: No. 1, Bismarck Century; No. 2, Fargo Davies; No. 3, Fargo North; No. 4, GF Red River and No. 5, GF Central . . . Although a state board says weather modification has suppressed hail by 45 percent and increased rainfall 5 to 10 percent -- farmers aren’t buying it, they’re circulating a petition to end the program statewide . . . 110-foot-long trailers, each carrying 50 big bales of hay, are hauled from GF County to Zap (just west of Beulah) -- a response to extreme drought in western ND.

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