Snow, snow and more snow! It gets deeper and deeper and deeper as the Winter gets longer and longer and longer. This Winter is much like the paperwork in a government office – everything is in triplicate, including vehicles getting stuck in the ever deepening snow. Just last Saturday, January 15, 3 of the SnoBear all terrain tracked vehicles that also serve as mobile ice fishing houses were simultaneously stuck in the snowdrifts on Consolidated Lake, in the center of Rutland Township. First one of the vehicles, which are high flotation tracked vehicles with plenty of power that can get into places no other vehicle can reach, became mired in the snow, and the call went out for assistance. The only vehicle that can get to a SnoBear that is stuck in a place no other vehicle can get to is another SnoBear, but that SnoBear, too, bogged down in the snow when it reached its hapless predecessor. So, the call went out to a third SnoBear which also followed the example of its 2 predecessors, and got stuck in the snow. The three SnoBears, owned and operated by Brian Pherson, Denny Pherson and Mark Breker, all of Rutland, might have remained where they were until Spring but for the steely determination of the 3 men. By strength of will and brute force they managed to manhandle first one SnoBear, then another and finally all 3 back onto better footing and eventually out of the frosty grip of Old Man Winter. SnoBears and snowmobiles are about the only vehicles that can reach many of the large sloughs and smaller lakes that had been producing some nice walleyes and perch earlier in the Winter. Those who survive the ordeal of getting out onto the ice at Consolidated Lake have been rewarded with some nice walleyes, reports Kyle Mahrer. Wimps and whiners need not apply, though, as the going is tough, and it’s not for the faint of heart.
Even the ice can be treacherous, though, reports Cam Gulleson. Last Thursday, January 13, he dropped a tracked Bobcat through the ice on a slough near the Gulleson farmyard 1½ mile east of town, plunging the normally sure footed vehicle into water that was almost, but not quite, deep enough to submerge the engine. Cam got out of the Bobcat and tried to pull it out of the water with a front wheel assist loader tractor, but that one had neither the weight nor the horsepower for the job. Finally, using the other tractor as an anchor, Cam used the bucket on the Bobcat to gradually pull the machine out of the icy water by hooking a chain to the bucket, with the other end fastened to the anchor tractor, and tipping the bucket back to gradually inch the Bobcat forward through the ice. Rehitching the chain every few feet, Cam was able to finally pull himself out. With both the starter and the alternator on the machine submerged, the tough little Bobcat kept running, though, and finally got the job done. Next stop for the Bobcat was the Gullesons’ farm shop, where it was pressure washed, inside and out, and immediately serviced. A few weeks earlier, Cam had gone through the ice with the front wheel assist loader tractor on a large slough on the old Brown Farm 3 miles east of Rutland while opening a hole in the ice to provide water for cattle. That time it took a big 4 wheel drive tractor to get the loader tractor out of the slough. Cameron is hoping to avoid the triplicate curse of another dunking this Winter.
Pam Gulleson of Rutland has been selected to serve as Executive Director of the North Dakota Farmers Union, the State’s largest farm organization announced last week. Pam was most recently employed as Chief of Staff for U. S. Senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota until his retirement earlier this month. She had also previously served in the North Dakota State Legislature as a Representative from District #26 from 1993 through the 2007 sessions. Pam’s drive, determination and organizational skills will serve her well in her new position. Pam, her husband, Bill, and 3 sons: Lance; Cody; and, Cameron; own and operate a grain and cattle farm headquartered at Rutland. Bill and the boys will continue to work for the farm while Pam works for the Farmers’ Union. The Rutland community extends congratulations and best wishes to Pam on her new position, with every confidence that she is up to the challenges and opportunities it presents.
Steve & Sheila Wyum arrived home from their vacation trip to Florida and the islands of the Caribbean on the evening of Friday, January 14. The Wyums had flown from Fargo to Fort Lauderdale FL on Thursday, December 30, just ahead of the big storm that shut down the airport for the next couple of days. At Fort Lauderdale they boarded a Holland-America cruise liner that took them on a week long cruise to the Bahamas, the island of Aruba and the island of Curacao off the coast of Venezuela before returning them again to Florida. They were accompanied on the cruise by Rutland native Christina (Reif) Woolwein and her husband, John. Steve reports that they also met a number of interesting people during the cruise, including a couple from Brazil and a British couple who often joined the Wyums and the Woolwein’s for social events. Sheila states that the weather was cool in Florida, although much warmer than in North Dakota. Damage from the frosts that had hit the State in recent weeks was evidenced by the defoliated citrus trees and even by the bare cypress trees in the Everglades. It was even cold enough to put on a winter coat one morning, says Sheila. The Wyums cut their trip short, and came home 3 days early after Roy Hildebrand who had been looking after their cattle, was injured in a snowmobile accident. It’s nice to go on vacation, states Sheila, but it’s even nicer to come home.
Diane Kulzer has been visiting at the home of her daughter and son-in-law, Carla & Brian Mortonson, in Dickinson for the past week. While Diane was in Dickinson, her husband, Mike, and daughter, Amber, drove down to Minneapolis where they attended the wedding of Mike Klefstad, son of Steve & Lori Klefstad of Forman. Following the wedding, Mike reports, he took Amber, son Chad and Chad’s wife, Angela, out for lunch at a ritzy café catering to the upper crust where the lunch tab, including a tip, came to $225.00. He said that the coconut cream pie was quite good, though, and almost worth the price. Mike also reports that another diner at the restaurant seeing Mike, a well dressed gentleman in his 50’s, accompanied by Amber, a vivacious and attractive young woman in her 20’s, gave him a thumbs up. Mike is wondering what that was all about.
Kris Nerison of this community has informed friends here that her mother, Betty Blegen, passed away early on the morning of Monday, January 17, at the hospital in Breckenridge. A celebration of her life will take place at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 22, at United Methodist church in Milnor. Condolences can be mailed to PO Box 6, Rutland ND 58067. The Rutland community extends its sympathy to the Blegen family on the loss of their mother, grandmother & great-grandmother.
Jody Breker of this community, accompanied by Janelle McLaen and Lindy Orn of Forman, departed Rutland on the morning of Wednesday, January 19, bound for McAllen TX via Minneapolis and San Antonio. The trio plan to do some touring in San Antonio and spend several days with Jody’s mother, Soni Rockswold, at her winter home in McAllen before returning to the frozen tundra of North Dakota on January 25. In the meantime, the spouses of the 3 travelers: Jeff Breker; Steve McLaen; and, Brian Orn; are up here on the frigid prairies, stoking the stove to keep the home fires burning.
The Viking unit of the ElZagal Shrine held a supper meeting on the evening of Wednesday, January 19, in the dining room of the Lariat Bar. About 30 members and guests were in attendance, discussing plans for this Spring’s Shrine Circus in Fargo and other activities of the unit. The Viking unit maintains a self-propelled Viking Ship replica that has appeared in most of Rutland’s Uff-Da Day parades, and in many other community events throughout the area. The Shriners are all members of the Masonic Lodge, and their organization is dedicated to assisting children who have been disabled by defect, disease or injury. They are to be commended for their good work, and for the good fellowship they enjoy.
The annual shareholders meeting of the Rutland Community Development Corporation will be held at the Rutland General Store commencing at 6:00 p.m. on Monday, January 24, with a wine tasting session of North Dakota produced wines presented by Prairiewood Winery of Elliot ND. Supper will be served at 6:30, followed by the annual financial report and a brief business meeting. The evening will conclude with a program on local economic development opportunities presented by the Sargent County Extension Office. This will be the 35th Annual Meeting of the corporation, established in 1976 to encourage and assist individuals and businesses with economic development opportunities in the Rutland community.
Fifty years ago this week, on January 20, 1961, John F. Kennedy was sworn in as the 35th President of the United States of America. It was a brilliantly sunny, snow covered day in Washington DC. For those Americans who witnessed the event, either in person or on the then still novel medium of television, it seems almost impossible that half a century has elapsed since the people of this nation, and the world, were inspired by the vision, vigor and vitality of the dynamic, idealistic and pragmatic new Commander-In-Chief to whom the torch of leadership had been passed. It’s also hard to believe that most Americans alive today, were not yet born or were too young to have any memory of that time of unbounded optimism and confidence, a true “Morning in America,” marking the beginning of a decade of great challenges and achievements, as well as tragedy and discord. In his Inaugural Address the new President challenged Americans to live up to the ideals upon which their nation had been founded, to strive for economic, legal and moral justice for all citizens. He pledged America to defend freedom wherever it was endangered, and reminded friend and foe alike that every generation of Americans, including his own, had answered the call to defend liberty in its hour of peril, and that, “The graves of young Americans who have answered that call surround the globe.” Americans, and the rest of the world, did not doubt the sincerity of his words, because all knew that he had put his blood and his life on the line for those ideals as a Navy veteran of combat action in the Pacific during World War II, and that he had been decorated by his nation for the heroism he displayed in saving the lives of the crew of his sunken PT boat, PT-109. He also counseled patience, reminding Americans that all of the ambitious goals of the American vision would “…not be achieved in the first 100 days, nor in the first 1,000 days, nor in the lifetime of this administration, nor, perhaps, even in our lifetimes on this planet, but let us begin!” He challenged Americans to, “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country!” Americans did ask, and America did begin. An economic program that created the longest sustained period of economic, employment and personal income growth in the nation’s history was adopted; American education was revitalized and redirected to meet the challenges of the mid-20th Century; American foreign policy was directed to helping people around the world lift themselves out of poverty to live lives free of want and fear; America embarked on the challenge to, “…land a man on the moon, and bring him safely back to earth, before this decade is out”; historic legislation to extend the rights of Americans to all American citizens, regardless of race, color, creed or gender was begun; and many other bold, imaginative and courageous initiatives were placed on the national agenda. Then as now, every step forward was vociferously, and in some cases viciously, opposed by the forces of reaction and negativity. The young President’s administration was cut short by assassination after only a little more than 1,000 days, but the vision and inspired initiatives lived on, and still live on, because they are American visions and American initiatives, given words by the mind of a man, but born in the soul of a nation.
This week, on Monday, January 17, one of the gallant foot soldiers and brilliant Generals of the New Frontier and the Great Society, Sargent Shriver, appointed in 1961 as first Director of the Peace Corps by his brother-in-law, JFK, and as the first head of the Office of Economic Opportunity in 1965 by LBJ, died at the age of 95. The Peace Corps, in the past half century, has sent more than 200,000 young Americans to help those in less developed countries live in dignity and lift themselves out of poverty. The Office of Economic Opportunity, the main engine of the War on Poverty, succeeded in reducing the percentage of Americans living in poverty by one-third while Sargent Shriver was at the helm.
It has been said that it is difficult to know where you are going if you don’t know where you have been. Today, it seems that America is beset by a multitude of political and media hacks who lack vision, lack memory, lack direction, lack initiative and lack courage, yet, amid all of the nay-sayers and cynical self-servers, a few voices can be heard above the racket, proclaiming, “We can do better. We can, and must, live up to our ideals. We can do great things for our country, and for the world.” Those brave, lonely voices are the heirs of John F. Kennedy and Sargent Shriver. They are the heirs of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. They are the inheritors of the spirit that has guided our best efforts as a nation for 235 years. President Kennedy concluded his Inaugural Address on that bright, clear, cold and snow covered day half a century ago with these words, “With a clear conscience as our only sure reward, with history as the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead this land we love, asking his help and his blessing, but knowing that, here on earth, God’s work must truly be our own.” So, as Americans, we must ask ourselves, as Theodore Roosevelt asked over a century ago, “Having come so far, who would be so bold as to tell us that we can go no farther?” After all, we are Americans, the heirs and descendants of people who have done great things because they went forth to lead the land they loved. As JFK said during the campaign for the Presidency in 1960, “America must be first! Not first but, not first if, not first when, but First!” Live up to your ideals, America, and do great things!
Well, that’’s it for this week. For more information about what’s going on in Rutland, “Pride Of The Prairie,” check out the community’s internet web site at www.rutlandnd.com, and stop by the Rutland blog and Facebook pages, too, while you’re at it. Later.