News & Events

The Rooster Crows – June 30, 2017

Diners enjoying the Summer Beer Dinner at the Coteau des Prairies Lodge on the evening of Wednesday, June 21, had a bird’s eye view of the thunderstorm that rolled across the prairie a few miles to the north at about 7:00 p.m.   The storm dropped about .2 of an inch of rain on Rutland and vicinity.  It isn’t much, but it’s better than the treatment that the western part of North Dakota is getting from the weatherman this year.  Customers near Mott ND for whom Cam & Jenny Gulleson have harvested for the past several years have already canceled harvest plans, with the intention of cutting this year’s wheat crop, what little there is of it, for hay.  Conditions may not be ideal here, but Sargent County is a garden spot when compared to much of the State.

Lidgerwood native Don Wohlwend, now of Stanwood WA, near the city of Everett WA, stopped in Rutland on the afternoon of Wednesday, June 21, for a visit with an old friend and business associate, Paul Anderson of this community. Mr. Wohlwend had owned a company that made attachments for use with skid-steer loaders, and sold hydraulic breaker attachments to Bobcat, formerly Melroe, for many years.  Paul was in product development for the Bobcat company at the time, and had been involved in working out the supply arrangement with Mr. Wohlwend’s company.  Don’s company was later sold to Stanley Tools, which still manufactures the same breaker, with updates and improvements. Mr. Wohlwend’s spouse, Arlene (Asche) Wohlwend had passed away about 6 months ago, and a memorial service had been planned for Saturday, June 24, in conjunction with the Asche family reunion in Milnor. Don & Arlene had, over the years, collected and restored numerous classic and antique automobiles, including several Corvettes and a Packard once owned by actor Clark Gable. He reports that he has been reducing his collection in recent years, however.  He related that the old Packard automobiles used to have a clear glass sediment bowl in the fuel line into which contaminants such as dirt and water could settle before the fuel went to the carburetor.  On one Packard, Don had installed an electric fuel pump and fuel filter, bypassing the sediment bowl.  He had left the sediment bowl in place, though, and had put a large artificial cricket into it, a sight that startled many who wanted to check out the big 12-cylinder engine under the hood.  Don later sold that particular Packard to a collector who was a purist and did not see the humor in the sediment bowl cricket, and immediately had the car “de-bugged.” Before Don departed Rutland, Paul presented him with a bottle of “Rutland Rooster Red,” a wine produced from grapes grown in Paul’s “Oleo Acres” vineyard.  Don planned to drive back to Seattle this week in a brand-new Corvette, and according to a nephew-in-law, Sparky Engquist, he did just that.  Happy trails, Don.

Bert Siemieniewski, Manager of the Rutland Post Office, has been on the sick list since Monday, June 19.  Mary Ann Gadberry, formerly Manager of the Rutland office and now a Clerk at the Gwinner Post Office, has been on duty here during most of Bert’s time off, except for one day when Postmaster Penny Beckstrom was on hand to supervise a worker making some repairs to the floor.  You can check out the photos on Facebook.  Bert is reported to be recuperating at home, but not as fast as she’d like.  She’ll be back when she’s back, though, and, in the meantime, Mary Ann is in charge.  She has a real bargain price for First Class Postage this week – 48 cents for a First-Class stamp, or 100 for $48.00.  Buy early to get the volume discount.

Descendants of Rutland area pioneers Ole C. Anderson, Berndt O. Anderson and Jonetta Olson-Narum, all immigrants from Norway, and of a sister who remained in Norway, Lena Odberg, gathered at the Coteau des Prairies Lodge on Friday and Saturday, June 23 & 24, for the family’s 30th reunion since 1951. The gatherings were held every other year until 1993, and have been held every 3 years since then. Sonja (Anderson) Christensen of Wahpeton, a granddaughter of Ole C. Anderson, one of the original pioneers, submitted the following report:

On the cool and breezy afternoon of June 23, 2017, excitement was evident as 23 descendants of Andreas and Mathea Olson Odegaardstuen gathered at the Coteau des Prairies Lodge in southern Sargent County, North Dakota.  Andreas & Mathea had resided on a small farm near the town of Bieri in the province of Snertingdal, Norway, in the 19th Century, and had seen 6 of their 8 children emigrate from Norway to America, all of them settling, at least for a time, in or near Rutland, in Sargent County.  As acquaintances were being renewed, a kitchen crew of Laura and Scott Olsen plus Diane and Todd Stein were busy peeling 60 pounds of potatoes for the 3 roasters of Scalloped potatoes for Saturday’s dinner. Paul Anderson and Carol Fridgen grilled bratwursts and hot-dogs for those present. Chips, potato salad, Watermelon and other dishes were enjoyed by the crowd, as was wine made from grapes grown by Paul Anderson and Curt Breker in their Oleo Acres and Shortfoot Creek vineyards. A special welcome was given to 5 cousins present from Halden, Norway, namely Rolf and Gerd-Berit Odberg, along with their daughter Mari Odberg Bjerke, and granddaughters, Tuva Bjerke, age 13, and Thale (pronounced “Tala”) Bjerke, age 10.  Rolf is a grandson of Lena Odberg, youngest of the 2 sisters who stayed in Norway as their brothers and sisters emigrated to America.  Rolf and Gerd-Berit are both retired teachers, and their daughter, Mari, is an elementary school teacher.  Their son, Edvard, who accompanied them to the 2014 Reunion, is also a teacher.  Gerd-Berit also served in the Norwegian National Parliament, the Storting, for 20 years, from 1996 until she retired in 2016.  Gerd-Berit was a member of the Christian People’s Party, one of the smaller political parties in Norway’s multi-party system.  Political involvement seems to run in the family, on both sides of the Atlantic.  Cool temperatures again greeted family members on the morning of Saturday, June 24, as about 60 cousins, siblings and spouses began the day of sharing memories, renewing old friendships and making new ones.  A continental breakfast got the cousins going as Julie Nelson Johnson, LeDora Nelson Wohler, Judie Anderson Seavert, and Sonja Anderson Christensen combined sliced potatoes and ham with cream for the main dish of scalloped potatoes at the potluck dinner to be served at 12:00 noon. Joe Breker, one of the owners of the Coteau des Prairies Lodge, gave a farm tour to interested guests at 9:00 a.m. which started with an explanation of Joe’s soil conservation practices and ended with participants meeting a whitetail fawn that makes its home in the Breker’s farmyard.

Orvis Pearson, grandson of Berndt Anderson, and Orville Nelson, grandson of Jonetta Olson-Narum, both youthful and energetic at ages 92 and 91, respectively, had the honor of being the oldest family members present, while Will Schiele, son of Mallory (Olsen) Schiele, grandson of Laura (Hayen) Olsen, great-grandson of Barbara (Moe) Hayen, great-great-grandson of Bertha (Anderson) Moe and great-great-great-grandson of Berndt Anderson was the youngest.  At a family conference/business meeting the decision was made that Saturday, June 25, 2022 would be the date of the next reunion.  Terri (Lee) Ausen, St. Paul MN, volunteered to set up a Facebook page known as Anderson/Odegaarden reunion to inform family members of happenings and future activities, and she had the page established on Saturday afternoon.  John Breker, Northwood MN, and Jon Anderson, Britton SD, volunteered to assist Terry Ausen as co-chairpersons. The Silver Lake Park Pavilion and the Rutland Town Hall were chosen as the sites for the 2022 gathering.  Julie Johnson will make the reservations. The meal will be potluck, featuring such Norwegian menu items as lefse, krumkake, sandbakkels and abelskievers.  A planning session for the 2022 Reunion is planned to be held in Halden, Norway, on the last weekend in June 2020, with the Rolf & Gerd-Berit Odberg family coordinating the event.  Some of the highlights of the 2017 Family Reunion included: taking a family picture; showing pictures and other artifacts that reminded us of the lives and accomplishments of our ancestors; and, telling stories dear to our hearts.  A “Family Feud” game was held with team members Orville Nelson, Bill Anderson, Rolf Odberg, and Beverly Schons representing Team West and Orvis Pearson, Harlan Nundahl, Randy Pearson, and Sonja Christensen filling the seats of Team East.  Paul Anderson served as the MC & Referee, serving up questions concerning family history, some obscure and some well known.  The game ended in a tie because of questionable decisions by the refs.

An auction was held for a quilt made by Judie Seavert.  The purchaser was Bill Anderson who then presented the quilt to Mari Odberg Bjerke as a remembrance of her 1st Family Reunion in America.  3 bottles of wine from Oleo Acres (Paul Anderson) were awarded to Beverly Schons, Terri Ausen, and Laura Olsen.  The recipients were giddy about their acquisitions even before the corks were pulled.  Bill Anderson sent the first invitation to this reunion in July 2016, after some e-mail correspondence with Rolf Odberg.  Bev Schons, Joanne Harris, Nancy Lee, and Sonja Christensen met in early April to begin planning.  Julie Johnson, Bill Anderson, Judie Seavert, Laura Olsen, Mallory Schiele, Joanne Harris, Orville Nelson, Marilyn Anderson, and Sonja Christensen met on April 28 at Orville Nelson’s home in Forman for further planning.

Descendants of Ole C. Anderson, Berndt O. Anderson, Jonetta Olson-Narum and Lena Odberg attended the 2017 Reunion.  Netta Donaldson had passed away in 1910, leaving no descendants. There were no descendants of Otto Anderson, Gina Onsrud and Josie Lauritzen in attendance at the 2017 Reunion. The Family Tote with the play, “PARTINGS,” written for the Family’s Centennial Reunion in 1989 by Orville Nelson’s brother, Clifford; Welcome Banner; names and addresses; and, other important information is being stored at the Jon Anderson home in Britton SD.

Thanks to Sonja for the report, and congratulations to the Anderson-Olson-Narum-Odberg clan for a successful and memorable reunion.

Cold and windy weather discouraged attendance at this year’s Relay For Life event, held from Noon to Midnight on Friday, June 23, at the County Courthouse grounds in Forman, but enthusiastic fund-raisers still managed to garner in excess of $60,000.00 for the fight against cancer, according to one of the participants, Pam Maloney of this community.  Pam stated that the Sargent County Relay For Life’s fund-raising goal for this year is $80,000.00, and that there are still a couple of events scheduled that may yet get the effort over the top.  There are still 2 events set to be held in Rutland: a rummage sale and dinner at the Rutland Town Hall; and, the Annual Junk-Fest; both scheduled to be held on the same day as the Rutland Rib-Fest, August 19.  A lot of progress has been made in the battle against cancer during the past 25 years, but the fight is not over yet, so dig deep for the cause, says Pam.

Intern Pastor Nicholas Rohde, who has been serving the Lutheran congregations at Rutland and Havana since August of 2016, has informed members of both congregations that he will be returning to Wartburg Seminary to complete his theological studies this Fall, and that his last Sunday here will be on Sunday, July 30.  A joint service of both congregations is planned to be held in Rutland at 10:30 a.m. on that Sunday, to be followed by a farewell dinner.  Pastor Rohde’s wife, Leslie, currently serves as Youth Pastor at Bethel Lutheran Church in Wahpeton, and he hopes to return to this area of the country following the completion of his seminary studies.

Jacob Mehrer of Rutland, elected Lt. Governor of North Dakota Boys State earlier this month, addressed the State Convention of the North Dakota Department of the American Legion on Monday, June 26.  The young man who had been elected Boys State Governor had to be in Florida, so Jacob picked up the mantle and rose to the occasion.  According to District #10 Past Commander and Post #215 Vice-Commander Tom Manley, Jacob delivered an outstanding address, and even managed to get in a few plugs for Rutland’s upcoming Uff-Da Day, Sunday, October 1.  Jacob is the eldest son of Shannon & Hilary Mehrer of this community.  He will be a Senior at Sargent Central High School this coming Fall.  The Rutland community extends its congratulations and thanks to a native son, Jacob Mehrer for a job well done.

Some upcoming events in Rutland include: Rutland City Council meeting at 5:00 p.m. on Monday, July 10, in the Rutland Town Hall; Rutland Community Club meeting at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, July 10, in the Rutland Town Hall; and, Rutland Sportsmen’s Club meeting on the evening of Thursday, July 13, at the John Narum Memorial Trap & Rifle Range 3 miles west and 1½ mile south of Rutland.

Meanwhile, on the national scene, the old adage that “Great Minds Think Alike,” is once again being proven correct.  In recent weeks, the President, Speaker of the House and Senate Majority Leader have all stated, “Healthcare is hard.”  Well, Goll-eee, Barney Fyfe!  What did you expect.  The last time it was worked on, back in 2009 & 10, it took 169 hours of open hearings and floor debate, input from every interest group with a dog in the fight, and the acceptance by the Democrats, who were then in charge, of 161 amendments put forward by Republicans to get the bill through Congress and to the President’s desk for signature.  The current ruling triumvirate wants to ram through a bill with no hearings, no input, no amendments and no debate, and they just can’t believe that the American people do not approve of being treated like mushrooms, kept in the dark and fed a bunch of…stuff.  Healthcare is hard, but it wouldn’t be quite as hard if they were really working on healthcare, rather than on an $800 billion tax cut for the wealthiest 2% of Americans that will cost 22 to 23 million Americans their healthcare coverage.  The current system, the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, needs some fixing, so fix it.  The “fix” though, should improve the delivery of healthcare to Americans, not hinder it.  At present, the Republicans are offering nothing but smoke and smart talk, and the Democrats are just offering nothing.  If they think that they can win an election just by saying, “We’re not Donald Trump,” they’ve got another think coming.  They should remember how well saying, “We’re not George W. Bush,” worked for them back in 2002.  This country needs some leaders with brains and guts, 2 commodities that seem to be in short supply at the current time.  The people do know for sure, though, that there are 23 weeks down and only 185 weeks to go until January 20, 2021.

Well, that’s the news from Rutland for this week.  For additional information about what’s going on in the little city that can, stop by the community’s internet web site at, and check out the Uff-Da Day and Rutland Facebook pages 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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