News & Events

The Rooster Crows – July 17, 2015

Heat and humidity gave Rutland and vicinity the feel of an open air sauna last weekend, with the mercury pushing into the 90’s and humidity to match.  Lightning flashed and thunder rumbled through the region on Saturday morning, but only managed to squeeze out a tenth of an inch of rain, according to Paul Anderson’s rain gauge in his backyard at 309 Gay Street.  Dale McLaen recorded .2 of an inch at his shop, a mile and a half north of town, Jesse Brakke ‘s electronic rain gauge measured .4 of an inch between Rutland and Cayuga, and Joe Breker’s farm 4 miles south and 2½ miles east of Rutland registered.3 of an inch.  The heat and humidity prompted a growth spurt by both the corn and the soybean crops, and the wheat fields, which had been a gold tinged green at the beginning of the weekend were noticeably more gold than green by Monday afternoon.  We’re not going to put a jinx on this year’s crop by bragging about it, though, because, as everyone knows, “It’s not as good as it looks from the road.”  It never is.

“A brown bean is a clean bean,” states local farmer Mike Anderson.  Mike made that statement after Jesse Brakke had inquired as to the health of the soybean plants in one of Mike’s Ransom Township fields.  The plants had been a healthy green, but had suddenly taken on a decidedly brown hue, with curled up leaves adding to the concern of a casual observer.  Mike stated that he had just had the field sprayed for weed control, and, although the varieties of beans now being planted are “Roundup Ready” and herbicide tolerant, the powerful herbicide used does have an impact on them, making the plants look quite unhealthy for a few days.  The beans snap back, though, and are not only green and healthy, but also weed free in a few days.  So, the next time you notice a brown and sickly looking soybean field along the road this time of year, just think, “A brown bean is a clean bean,” and you’ll feel better, even before the beans do.

Roger McLaen retired from the custom harvesting business a couple of years ago after nearly 4 decades in the business.  Roger’s son, Chris, now farms between Caldwell and Wichita in the winter wheat growing area of Kansas, and when Chris called to tell his Dad that he could use a little help with the harvest, Roger responded to the call like an old-time fire horse responding to the alarm bell.  Roger headed south, and rounded up a couple of experienced locals, Dennis Nelson and Mike Walstead, to help out, too.  According to Mike, Dennis only had to remind Roger, “You’re not the boss any more,” a couple of times.  Roger reports that the winter wheat crop in Kansas varied from fair to “pretty good.”  Chris had accompanied Roger on the custom harvest run enough times to learn that when you need help, you call on a pro.  When asked if he misses the custom harvest run, Roger just smiles, and pours another cup of coffee.

Word was received here back on Saturday, June 20, that Rutland native Don Donaldson had passed away that morning in a Concord CA nursing home.  He was 89 years, 10 months and 20 days old at the time of his death.  Donald William Donaldson was born on July 30, 1925 to Iver and Sophie (Peterson) Donaldson in the family home at 303 Gay Street in Rutland, ND.  Don was the fifth of seven children. His mother died when Don was 6 years old, and he and his siblings spent a great deal of time at the farm home of Ole & Julia Anderson, old family friends, just east of Rutland, during the remainder of their childhood.  The Anderson farm became the second home for the Donaldson kids.  Don attended Elementary School in Rutland, and graduated from the 8th grade in 1939.  As a teen, he went to Minneapolis to work for the Evenson brothers, Marvin, Leland & Orville, who were also from Rutland, doing Heating & Air Conditioning. When Don was 18 years old, he joined the Army and participated in campaigns in Northern France, Ardennes, Rhineland and Central Europe as a soldier with Company D of the 1306th Regiment.  Don’s unit was engaged in the repair of the Remagen Bridge over the Rhine River in March of 1945 when the bridge, previously damaged by German Army demolitions, collapsed into the Rhine River, taking most of the men in his unit to their deaths in the icy depths of the swiftly flowing Rhine.  Don had been sent off the bridge to bring back some repair materials, and had just stepped off the structure when it collapsed, killing his comrades and sparing him, a twist of fate that haunted Don’s memories for the rest of his life.  Early in 1946, after his discharge from the Army following the end of WWII, Don, then just 20 years old, was employed by the Great Northern Railway, working out of Wilmar, MN as a locomotive fireman, back in the days when there were still coal fired steam locomotives in use on America’s rails.  Later on he was employed as a diesel-electric locomotive engineer. Don worked for the railroad for 38 years, and retired from the Burlington Northern Railroad in 1984.  He was often willing to discuss his long struggle with alcohol and with the effects of what would now be recognized as post traumatic stress (PTS) following the War.  He never preached, and would not judge, but was ready with a helping hand for those who needed help and were willing to take the first step.  Don had known Fay “Toddles” (Payne) Bohn and her husband, Willard “Bud” Bohn, when they owned the Lariat Bar in Rutland from 1947 to 1958.  The Bohns had moved to Concord CA from Rutland.  Bud died suddenly in 1974, and Don and Toddles happened to meet again about a year later.  The two were married in September of 1977.  Don gave up his bachelor high-rise apartment in the Twin Cities to purchase a more pet friendly home in Minneapolis where they resided for the next 7 years.  Don & Toddles sold their Minneapolis home in 1984 to start their retirement, and moved their household to Toddles home in Concord. They enjoyed camping in their motor-home; loved going to the ocean at Bodega Bay; and, enjoyed getting together with friends at Dad’s camp on the Klamath River. Don and Toddles shared their home with a number of dogs during their 36 years of marriage, and those pets added much joy to their lives. Don was a member of the First Lutheran Church in Concord; a member of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers AFL-CIO; and, was a charter member of Bergman-Evenson Post #215 of the American Legion in his home town, Rutland ND, and had maintained continuous membership in the Post for 69 years. Don is survived by his sister Phyllis (Leif) Sundlie of Lisbon ND and by numerous nieces and nephews. Don was preceded in death by his wife Toddles; his parents, Iver and Sophie Donaldson; and by 5 of his siblings: Ivan Donaldson; Percy Donaldson; Aldon Donaldson; Beulah (Lloyd) Susag; and, Ronald (Laura) Donaldson. The family extends special thanks to Hospice of the East Bay for making Don’s passing comfortable and peaceful. The funeral Service for Don Donaldson was held at 11:00am, Friday, July 10, 2015 at Ouimet Bros. Concord Funeral Chapel, 4125 Clayton Road, Concord CA.  Interment, with presentation of the folded American Flag and a military bugler playing “Taps,” was in the Oakmont Cemetery.  Ouimet Bros. Chapel of Lafayette CA and Concord, CA was in charge of arrangements.  A remembrance marker will be placed in the Donaldson lot in the Rutland Cemetery, and a brief memorial service, with military rites by Don’s comrades in Bergman-Evenson Post #215, will be held here at a later date, according to one of Don’s nephews, Greg Donaldson of this community.  The Rutland community extends its condolences to the family and friends of Don Donaldson, an old friend who overcame much, and never forgot where he got his start.

Betsy Anderson and her cat, Bruce, departed Rutland bound for her home in Philadelphia, Mississippi, on Tuesday, July 7.  Betsy had spent 3 weeks in Rutland, helping her Dad, Paul Anderson, arrange a couple of “inventory reduction” yard sales that emptied out a couple of rooms in Paul’s house at 309 Gay Street.  Betsy is a history professor at a community college in Decatur, Mississippi, a few miles down the road from Philadelphia, and digging through a long neglected closet is like a history research project, as far as she is concerned.  She also teaches some “on line” classes via the internet.  Anyone interested in history is welcome to sign up, she states.

Clair Brakke and Alex Markovich of Grand Forks visited in Rutland from Friday, July 3 through Sunday, July 5.  They returned to Grand Forks on the afternoon of Sunday, July 5.  Both are students at the University of North Dakota and are also employed in Grand Forks during the Summer months, Claire as a CNA at Valley Memorial Home and Alex at the University in the building maintenance department.  Alex is planning to be back in Rutland on Sunday, July 19, to participate in an Ole & Lena skit at the Rutland Town Hall.

A large gathering of family and friends was on hand at Four Seasons Healthcare Center in Forman to sing “Happy Birthday” to Rutland native Irene Anderson on the occasion of her 98th birthday on Sunday, July 5.  Among those who attended the party were: JuliAnn Becker; Orvis & Alphie Pearson; Richard Meyers; Sonja Christensen; Judie Seavert-Grohs; Danene McLaen; Claire Brakke; Alex Markovich; Betsy Anderson; Marilyn Anderson; John & Joanne Harris; Phyllis Erickson; Quentin & Doris Hoistad; Paul Anderson; Bill Anderson; and, many others.  Those in attendance enjoyed Birthday Cupcakes prepared by the Rutland General Store.  John Harris, a mere kid at age 76, also observed his birthday on July 5, and was also serenaded with a rendition of “Happy Birthday by the assembled throng.”  Best wishes to both Irene and John, and may they enjoy many more.

The board of directors of Rutland Housing, Inc., owner and operator of 3 apartment houses in Rutland took 2 significant actions at the board’s regular monthly meeting that was held at 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, July 8, in the corporation’s office at 204 Dakota Street.  Board members approved a “scope of work” for the replacement and repair of the heating systems in the corporation’s apartment houses at 207 First Street and 316 Ross Street; and, accepted the resignation of long-time manager Kris Nerison, effective at the end of August.  A replacement for Ms. Nerison has not yet been named.  The scope of work must be approved by Rutland Housing’s lender, USDA-Rural Development, and then advertised for bids.  Board members hope to have the work completed before Winter sets in.  For both apartment houses the scope of work calls for replacement of the existing system with “dual heat” systems that use electricity for the primary heat source with a gas fired backup source.  The existing systems have exceeded their life expectancies by at least a decade, and are overdue for a major overhaul, according to local contractor Calvin Jacobson.  Current members of Rutland Housing’s board of directors are: Ron Narum, president; Delores Lysne, vice president; Carolyn Christensen, secretary; Bert Siemieniewski, treasurer; and, Bill Anderson, director.  The board’s regular monthly meeting is held on the second Wednesday of the month, and special meetings are held as needed.  All board members serve without compensation, as has been the case since Rutland Housing was formed back in 1971.

Greg Donaldson departed Rutland early on the morning of Thursday, July 9, bound for Concord CA to attend the funeral of his uncle, Donald Donaldson.  The funeral was held on the morning of Friday, July 10.  Greg’s brother and sister-in-law, Scott and Rhonda Donaldson of Jamestown ND, also flew out for the service.  Greg returned to Rutland on Sunday, July 12, and reports that his trip went smoothly, with no problems, but Scott & Rhonda could not report the same.  Greg flew on Delta Airlines, but Scott and Rhonda had their reservations on United, and had been planning to fly to Concord on Wednesday, July 8, just to have an extra day to enjoy in the San Francisco Bay area.  That was not to be, though, as Wednesday, July 8, was the day that United Airlines’ computer system crashed, paralyzing the airline and grounding its flights, worldwide.  Scott and Rhonda did get rescheduled for a Thursday flight, but missed out on their extra day on the Bay.  Another of Don’s nephews, Stan Sundlie, and his spouse, also attended the funeral service.  Stan and his family reside in California.

Rodney Erickson reports that the light on top of the Rutland water tower is now back in operation.  The light has been out of commission for at least a year, and it was first assumed that the bulb had burned out, but Rodney used the extending boom unit he owns to get up to the peak of the tower a few months ago and discovered that there was no electrical power at the fixture.  Otter Tail Power confirmed that electricity was getting to the tower, so either the fixture, which was the original installed when the tower was erected back in 1954, was defective, or the wiring, also original, had come apart.  Rodney had a new light fixture ordered, and last week he went back up on the roof of the tower to install it.  While there, he opened the inspection hatch on the tower roof and saw that the conduit through which the wires bringing electricity to the bulb ran had rusted out, allowing the wires to sag perilously close to the surface of the water in the tank.  “We didn’t want ‘charged water’ in the tank,” said Rodney, “so I figured that problem had better get fixed, too.”  Rodney installed a new conduit, this one on the outside of the tank, replaced the fixture, repaired the wires and turned the electricity back on.  As of sundown on the evening of Friday, July 10, the photoelectric eye on the street light pole nearest to the water tower is once again turning the light on at dusk and turning it off at dawn.  At an elevation of 110’ above the ground, the light can be seen for many miles on a clear night.  Thanks to Rodney Erickson for getting the water tower light in operation once again.

The streets were lined with cars on Friday and Saturday nights, July 10 & 11, and the Rutland Town Hall was filled with a combination of conversation and music.  Either the clock had been turned back 60 years, or the Jacobson-Johnson clan was in town.  It turned out that the clock had not been turned back, but it did get wound up, with the alarm re-set for 3 years hence.  Following is a report of the Jacobson-Johnson Family Reunion received from Carolyn (Jacobson) Christensen: “Nearly 90 descendants of pioneers Jacob & Berte Hero (later changed to Jacobson) & Ole & Ane Johnson held a family reunion Saturday & Sunday, July 11 & 12 at the Rutland Town Hall.  Relatives started arriving on Thursday, July 9, & the last ones departed Rutland on Monday, July 13.  They came from Wisconsin, Illinois, Arizona, Idaho, Minnesota, & North Dakota.  Thursday evening, the early arrivals, as well as local family members, gathered at the home of Larry & Carolyn Christensen for supper.  After peeling potatoes for scalloped potatoes on Friday, a large group kept the Lariat Bar staff hopping at supper time.  Saturday was the big event.  A bean bag toss tournament was held with Seth Jablonsky & Justin Jacobson coming out the winners.  Ralph Jacobson’s daughter, Karen & her husband Bob Hahn, brought along their sophisticated Karaoke equipment & the town hall rocked Saturday evening.  A friendly competition between Myrtle’s Magnificent 7 & Boyd & Catherine’s Bunch of Crazy Characters ended with Myrtle’s Magnificent 7 coming out ahead.  The hot weather was perfect for the water fights the children had on Saturday afternoon & a cool swim at Silver Lake both Saturday & Sunday.  The menu for dinner on Saturday was Rutland’s famous scalloped potatoes, & Calvin Jacobson was the grill master for the pork loin served for supper that night.  It was all just as good when heated up for dinner on Sunday.  After church on Sunday, a memorial service was held at Nordland Cemetery to remember those who came before us.  Its always a very emotional time.  All through the weekend, there was lots of reminiscing, catching up on each other’s lives & picture taking to store up memories to last us until we meet again in 3 years.”

About 2 dozen youthful members of Nordland Lutheran Church, ranging in age from Pre-School to 5th Grade, gathered at the Nordland Fellowship Hall on the morning of Monday, July 13, for the first of 3 days of Vacation Bible School.  The youngsters are being taught Bible lessons, music and crafts during the 3 day session.  The students will present a musical program during the Nordland congregation’s regular Sunday worship at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday, July 19, according to Marcia Brakke, one of the adults assisting with the school.  Everyone is welcome, says Marcia.

The Rutland Community Club held its July meeting at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, July 13, in the Rutland Town Hall.  Lori McLaen reported that all of the new chairs had finally arrived, and treasurer Paul Anderson reported that the bill of slightly more than $6,000.00 has been paid.  The Club had purchased 252 new chairs with padded backs and seats for use in the Town Hall.  Lori reported that she had also sorted through the old chairs and kept 88 of the best for use in the Hall, as well.  Fifty of the old chairs had been sold, and the rest had been distributed to other facilities in town.  The new chairs will be restricted to the Town Hall, but the Club’s existing supply of all metal chairs will remain available for use off the premises by community members.  The treasurer reported that the Club still has more than $19,000.00 on hand for community projects.  Marcia Brakke reported that the Uff-Da Day committee has scheduled numerous lefse making sessions for the month of August, and that the lefse making materials were being assembled in preparation.  The 2015 edition of The Rutland Leader is also being prepared, and sponsors will be contacted in the near future.  Kathy Brakke is once again Editor-In-Chief of The Rutland Leader, which features articles on local history, photographs from the Rutland community and information about Uff-Da Day activities and events.  The paper is published once a year, just prior to Uff-Da Day.  Marcia Brakke also reported that she had been in contact with Dr. John Hamilton, owner of the old Hardware Store building at 111 and 113 First Street, to try to arrange to use the unoccupied portions of the building for Uff-Da Day events.  Currently, the north half of the building is in a poor state of repair after 2 decades of neglect.  The south half of the structure is occupied by the U. S. Post Office in the front, and a 2 bedroom apartment in the back.  Bonny Anderson reported that she had completed a first draft of the new “work list” organization, paring down the number of groups from 4 to 3.  After a final review, the groups will be presented to the Club for approval.  The next meeting of the Rutland Community Club is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. on Monday, August 10, in the Rutland Town Hall.

Etha Quinlan of Sun City West AZ arrived in Rutland on the evening of Tuesday, July 14, for a visit at the home of her son in law, Paul Anderson.  Paul and Etha will be traveling to Iowa this coming weekend to attend a family reunion.  Paul’s youngest daughter, Betsy, plans to join them in Iowa, to get some hugs from Grandma.

Some upcoming events in Rutland include: Nordland Vacation Bible School program at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday, July 19, at Nordland Lutheran Church; Ole & Lena skits at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, July 19, in the Rutland Town Hall; tryouts and practice for Entertainment Unlimited’s Children’s Summer Theater on Monday, July 20, in the Rutland Town Hall; Bridal Shower for Anna Weber of this community, bride to be of Jesse Mastenberg, on Thursday evening, July 23, at the Nordland Lutheran Church Fellowship Hall; Children’s Summer Theater  dress rehearsal and performance on Thursday & Friday, August 6 & 7, in the Rutland Town Hall; Community Rummage Sale on Saturday, August 8, commencing in the morning and continuing throughout the day at various locations around town; Relay For Life Junque-Fest sponsored by “the Little Old Ladies Of Sargent County,” on the afternoon of Saturday, August 8, in the Weber Building at 102 First Street; and, Rutland Rib Fest, featuring ribs, music and fireworks, on the afternoon and evening of Saturday, August 8, on Main Street in Rutland.

Meanwhile, this past week saw a couple of “big deals” on the international scene.  After several years of negotiating, agonizing, obfuscating, political posturing, name calling and other antics, the nation of Greece and the nations of the “Euro Zone,” the loose confederation of European nations that use a common currency, the Euro, have finally come to an agreement that provides for the restructuring of Greece’s huge national debt in exchange for the Greek government’s promise of a plan to eventually repay the debt.  So far, the Greeks have had an excellent plan for increasing their debt, but had failed to come up with one for reducing it.  After observing the sleight of hand, subterfuge, smoke and mirrors and outright deception used to come up with the most recent deal, Dale McLaen observed, to the Assembled Wise Men at the Rutland Café, that ancient Greece was the home of Pythagoras, Euclid and Archimedes, who laid the foundations of modern mathematics.  “It is hard to believe,” stated Dale, “that the country that invented math can’t balance its own checkbook.”  The Greeks, it seems, had heard the old story that circulated through the farm belt during the farm depression of the 1980’s, in which a farmer, hat in hand, stops in for the annual review of his finances with the local banker.  “Well,” says the farmer, “I’ve got some bad news and some good news for you this year.  The bad news is that I can’t repay any of the principal on my debt, and none of the interest, either.  The good news is that I’ve decided to keep on doing business with you for another year.”  It’s International Finances 101.  The other “big deal” was the agreement reached on Monday night between the U.S., Great Britain, France, Russia, China, the European Community and Iran concerning the development of nuclear weapons by Iran.  The agreement, according to news reports, leaves both Iran and the nations seeking to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons thinking that they have made a good deal.  Some Republicans in Congress profess to be distressed because Iran was not made to cry “Uncle!” in public at the conclusion of the negotiations, however, the old fashioned concept of a successful negotiating session was that both parties could be satisfied with the deal they had made.  In this particular situation, the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China and the European Community were satisfied that they had put limitations on Iran’s nuclear program that will prevent it from developing nuclear weapons, and Iran is getting what it wanted most, the lifting of the crippling economic sanctions that had been imposed upon it by the rest of the world.  The alternative to a successfully negotiated deal was military action, a bloody war costing thousands, perhaps millions, of lives and billions, perhaps trillions, of dollars.  Some in the Congress speak cavalierly about putting “bombs on target” and “boots on the ground,” without having a clue as to what it takes to actually put a bomb on a target, or what it means if it happens to be your feet that are required to be wearing those “boots on the ground.”  Senator McConnel of Kentucky says that the Iranians can’t be trusted.  The Iranians say that we can’t be trusted.  That’s precisely why a tightly drafted written agreement is needed.  If all parties could be trusted, a handshake would be good enough.  There are only 2 situations in which a written agreement is advisable.  The first is when the parties do not know each other, and the second is when they do.  Anyone who has ever observed 2 experienced horse traders making a deal will be familiar with the process.  Frankly, most of us in southeastern North Dakota would have felt better about it if Roger Brekke had been a member of our negotiating team.  Right now, we don’t trust them and they don’t trust us, and we have a very thick written agreement to prove it.  With a little bit of luck, interpreting the provisions of that agreement will keep everyone talking, and no one shooting, for a long time to come.

Well, that’s the news from Rutland for this week.  For more information about what’s going on in the little city that can, check out the community’s internet web site at, and stop by the Rutland blog and Facebook page while you’re at it, too.  Remember to patronize your local Post Office, and don’t forget to keep the pressure on the U. S. Postal Service and the North Dakota Congressional delegation to SAVE OUR POST OFFICE!  Later.

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