Dual record-holders, Wahpeton High School’s class of 1979 reunited the weekend of Friday, Aug. 2.
Their individual achievements are matched by two feats that have yet to be surpassed. One-hundred seventy-three students graduated in 1979, members of the “Wops.” Wahpeton High School’s basketball team not only went to the state championship, they defeated the Jamestown BlueJays, 47-43.
Forty years later, the pride endures. It’s remembered and strongly felt just by hearing a song like “We Will Rock You.” Freddie Mercury’s vocals and Queen’s distinct sound were emulated by Wop fans.
“There was a reason we were undefeated at home,” recalled Wahpeton Councilman-at-large Perry Miller. “When this song came out, we’d be in the stands going boom-boom-boom on the old wooden bleachers. ‘We-will, we-will WOP you.’ A whole gym like that — it was something.”
Daily News got in the spirit of ’79, looking back with a few graduates and in the archives.
Then and Now
A member of the Wop basketball team, now known as the Huskies, Benn ultimately didn’t play in the championship game. He’s surprised the win hasn’t been matched yet. “There’s a tradition for basketball in Wahpeton,” Benn said. “It was an incredibly talented class.” Benn is a commercial real estate attorney in Dallas.
Dr. Lori Peterson:
An organizational development consultant based out of eastern Wisconsin, Peterson (née Smith) remains proud of Wahpeton. “Growing up in an environment like this gave us tremendous opportunity,” she said. “It you are able to leverage the opportunities you have here, you can take them anywhere and do anything.”
Johnson’s career path has taken him from his father’s drywall business to cable TV operations to the Venetian and Palazzo resorts in Las Vegas. Chief engineer for the neighboring hotspots, Johnson said life in North Dakota bred in him an attitude that he can work hard and achieve whatever he wants.
In August 1979, Twin Towns Area residents were talking about:
• the Blue Horizon Skate Center, scheduled to open in October; skating rinks were popular hangouts for youth and residents; WCCO Belting, Inc. now stands on the Blue Horizon site
• mosquitoes; then as now, the city of Wahpeton favored ground spraying rather than aerial spraying; Daily News reported aerial applications were considered “not vitally necessary”
• Richland Elementary, whose modern schoolhouse would be built in Abercrombie, North Dakota; it nearly went up in Colfax, North Dakota, home of Richland 44 High School
• lifestyles; Daily News profiled Vernae Hasbargen, Breckenridge, Minnesota, who discussed changing, exciting, non-stereotypical roles for women.
• Despite the recent “Disco Demolition Night” in Chicago, dance music topped the charts. Hits included “Bad Girls” by Donna Summer, “Good Times” by Chic and the just-released “Don’t Bring Me Down” by Electric Light Orchestra.
• Earlier that summer, McDonalds introduced the Happy Meal. It cost $1.10. A gallon of gas had an average price of 86 cents. In 2019, the Happy Meal has an average price of $2.49-$3.29, while the national average price for gas was recorded at $2.50.
• Optimism was high for a new decade, a sentiment President Jimmy Carter shared in his State of the Union. “We move into the 1980s with confidence and hope and a bright vision of the America we want: an America strong and free, an America at peace, an America with equal rights for all citizens.”
Save the Dates
Wahpeton Public Schools will honor the first members of its hall of fame in September. Clark Williams, who taught social studies in 1979 before serving 32 years as Wahpeton High School principal, is among the inaugural honorees.
City Brew Hall, Wahpeton, is hosting an 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 14 luncheon. Tickets are $25 and are available at the WPS District Office or from WPS Alumni Association members. The district office is located within Wahpeton High School, 1021 11th St. N. in Wahpeton.
Wahpeton Public Schools’ 2019-20 education year begins Wednesday, Aug. 21. Look to Daily News for coverage of district events.
The Junior Princess and Pre-teen Princess Pageants will be held next week at the Wilkin County Fair.
The junior pageant will be held at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 16 at the Earthen Stage in Welles Memorial Park, Breckenridge, Minnesota. This pageant is for girls ages 5-7. Kenzy Overby, program director for Wahpeton Breckenridge Just for Kix, will emcee the event.
The preteen pageant is for girls ages 9-12 and will be held at 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17 at the same location. Mrs. North Dakota International Jessie (Worner) Aamodt, a Breckenridge High School alumna, will emcee the event.
The Wilkin County Fair begins accepting entries for Open Class from 5-7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 14. The public can head down to the park for lunch at St. Mary’s food stand and the 4-H Canteen which open at 11 a.m. Thursday. The judging of non-livestock projects and poultry and rabbit judging takes place Thursday. The Midway rides, games and food vendors open at 4 p.m.
Look to more fair preview coverage each day this week in the Daily News and find our special fair section on our website at https://issuu.com/wickcommuni cations/docs/wilkin_co_ fair_19/1?e=1225821/71500240/.
Which state is the best for children?
The Kids Count Data Book for 2019 from the Annie E. Casey Foundation recently became available. According to a summary on the foundation’s website, the book looks at the “American childhood experience,” examining four domains of child well-being – health, education, family and community, and economic well-being.
The book also breaks down the data and ranks the states accordingly.
Minnesota ranked in the first quartile for all four domains, third in the nation for economic well-being, 10th for education, sixth for health and sixth for family and community.
North Dakota ranked first in the nation for overall economic well-being and fourth for family and community. The state was 30th in the nation for health and 35th for education.
Trends throughout the nation and overall child well-being, according to the summary for this year’s data book, include a growth spurt in the nation’s child population.
“The nation’s child population added more than nine million kids since 1990. Half of this growth came from three states: Texas (2.5 million), Florida (1.2 million) and California (1.1 million),” according to the site. The site also explained that in overall child well-being, six of the top 10 states are found in the northeastern part of the U.S.
“States in Appalaccia, the South and Southwest – where families have the lowest levels of household income – populate the bottom of the overall rankings,” the site states. The nation’s diversity among children has increased in the past 30 years with 47 percent of children being of color.
In overall child well-being, Minnesota is fourth in the nation and North Dakota is eleventh.
Within each domain, the foundation tracks four different areas. Within the economic well-being category, they look at statistics for how many children are in poverty, children whose parents lack secure employment, children living in households with a cost burden and teens not in school and not working.
Economic well-being statistics throughout the nation show that the likelihood of children growing up in families burdened by high housing costs has dropped by 10 percent nationally, according to the datebook summary.
“At the local level, the share of kids affected varies from a high of 43 percent in California to a low of 18 percent in North Dakota and South Dakota,” the site states.
National child poverty has also dropped four percentage points to 18 percent in 2017, according to the summary.
“Despite this good news, the poverty rate for African-American and American Indian kids remains substantially higher – at 33 percent,” the site states.
In Minnesota, 12 percent of children are in poverty, 21 percent of children’s parents lack secure employment, 22 percent living in households with a high housing cost burden and 4 percent of teens are not in school and not working. These percentages have all moved lower since 2010 in the recent data from 2017.
North Dakota ranks first in the nation for economic well-being, with only 11 percent of North Dakotan children living in poverty in 2017, this percentage dropped from 16 percent in 2010. There are 22 percent of children whose parents lack secure employment which was the same in 2010 and 2017.
Eighteen percent of children are living in households with a high housing cost burden, down slightly from 19 percent in 2010. Four percent of North Dakota teens are not in school and not working according to 2017 stats, a slight improvement from five percent in 2010.
National trends in the education domain show that in 2017, 67 percent of eighth graders in public schools scored below proficient in math, a summary of data book information shows.
“Despite slight improvement for African-American and Latino students, this statistic raises some concerns for kid of color. For example: 87 percent of African-American kids, 81 percent of American Indian kids and 80 percent of Latino kids tested below proficient in math,” the report shows.
Fifty-four percent of young Minnesotan children (ages 3 to 4) are not in school. This percentage was the same in 2009-2011 as it was in 2015-2017. Fourth graders’ proficiency in reading improved, with 61 percent not being proficient in 2017, down from 63 percent in 2009.
More eighth graders are not proficient in math in 2017 than 2009, growing slightly from 53 percent to 54 percent.
The percentage of high school students not graduating on time has decreased from 23 percent in 2010-2011 to 17 percent in 2016-2017.
North Dakota ranks 35th in the nation for education, with 69 percent of young children (ages 3 to 4) not in school in 2015-2017. This percentage increased from 65 percent in 2009-2011. Sixty-six percent of fourth graders were not proficient in reading in 2017, a slight increase from 65 percent in 2009. Sixty percent of eighth-graders were not proficient in math in 2017, up form 57 percent in 2009.
The percentage of North Dakota’s high school students graduating on time improved to 13 percent in 2016-2017 from 14 percent in 2010-2011.
The summary showing health trends across the country states that the share of children without health insurance has shrunk by 62 percent.
“Yet there’s still room for improvement,” the site states. “American Indian kids are more than three times as likely as their peers to lack health insurance.”
Only 3 percent of Minnesotan children are without health insurance and only 4 percent of teens abuse alcohol or drugs. Child and teen deaths decreased from 25 to 22 per 100,000 from 2010 to 2017.
The number of low birth-weight babies has increased slightly from 6.4 percent to 6.7 percent.
Comparatively, in North Dakota, the percentage of low birth weight babies held steady at 6.7 percent from 2010 to 2017. Eight percent of children in North Dakota were without health insurance in 2017, a slightly higher percentage than 7 percent in 2010. Child and teen deaths decreased from 34 in 2010 to 30 in 2017. The percentage of teens who abuse alcohol and drugs dropped slightly from 5 percent in 2015-2016 to 4 percent in 2015-2017.
Family and Community
National data in the family and community domain shows that single parents are raising one in every three kids across the nation, states the data book’s summary.
“Single-parent households are 4.5 times more likely than married households to live in poverty,” it states.
In the family and community domain, 27 percent of Minnesotan children are in single parent families, 8 percent of children are in families where the head of the household lacks a high school diploma, 5 percent of children live in high-poverty areas and there are 12 teen births per 1,000.
North Dakota ranks fourth in the nation for family and community. In 2017, 27 percent of children live in single-parent families, up from 25 percent in 2010.
Five percent of children live in families where the household head lacks a high school diploma, according to 2017 data, which is a slight increase from 4 percent in 2010. Six percent of children lived in high poverty areas in 2014-2017, a lower percentage than the 7 percent in 2008-2012. The number of teen births per 1,000 dropped from 29 in 2010 to 16 in 2017.
To view the 2019 Kids Count data book online, visit https://datacenter.kidscount.org/kids-count-data-book-interactive?/.
One fatality was confirmed following a two-vehicle accident Friday, Aug. 9 south of Oxbow, North Dakota.
The deceased, a 38 year old male who has not yet been identified, was driving a southbound 2005 Chevy Malibu on County Road 81. He was pronounced dead at the scene and is expected to be identified on Saturday, Aug. 10.
The second vehicle was a northbound 2002 Kenworth T300 semi truck which was towing a Massey Ferguson hay baler.
At approximately 4:40 p.m., the North Dakota Highway Patrol stated, the Malibu was southbound when it drove off the roadway into the west ditch. It then re-entered the southbound roadway where it began a spin.
“The Chevy spun into the northbound roadway and was struck at a right angle,” the highway patrol stated.
The Kenworth struck the Malibu on the passenger side, causing it to split in half. The truck came to rest upright in the east ditch. The baler became dislodged and also came to rest in the east ditch.
The truck driver, who has also not been identified was taken to the hospital with minor injuries. Both drivers were wearing their seatbelts.
The accident site is a half-mile south of North Dakota Highway 46.
Responding at the scene were the North Dakota Highway Patrol, Richland County Sheriff’s Office, Cass County Sheriff’s Office, Kindred Fire Department, Kindred Ambulance and Christine Fire Department.
A noxious weed could be returning to flowerbeds in Richland County, North Dakota.
Purple loosestrife, an invasive species, is known for its negative impacts on native plants. Steven Ginsbach, Richland County’s weed officer, is keeping residents aware of the resurgence.
“We are asking county residents to help relieve the possibility of a new explosion of this plant escaping from flowerbeds,” Ginsbach wrote. “This causes an expenditure of time and money to remedy a preventable situation.”
The North Dakota Century Code requires citizens to do all things necessary and proper to control the spread of noxious weeds.
“No person may distribute, sell or offer for sale within this state a noxious weed,” the code states.
Richland County borders Wilkin County, Minnesota, where purple loosestrife can also be a concern.
In Minnesota, it is a misdemeanor-level crime to possess, import, purchase, transport or introduce purple loosestrife. Permits are available for disposal, control, research or education purposes.
Several decades ago, Ginsbach continued, Richland County officials informed gardeners about purple loosestrife’s noxious weed status. Locals complied and removed the plants.
“In Valley City, the seeds from these invaders washed into the streets and then into the storm sewers which went into the Sheyenne River,” Ginsbach wrote. “Downstream, the purple loosestrife infestation was astronomical.”
Because of the extensive infestation, it took approximately 12 years to control the purple loosestrife population. Following this, southeast North Dakota counties adopted a mutual aid and awareness policy.
“The most identifiable characteristic of purple loosestrife is the striking rose to purple flowers,” according to the North Dakota Department of Agriculture. “The flowers are arranged on a spike, which can be a few inches to three feet long.”
Each flower has five to seven petals arising from a cylindrical green tube, the department continued. Purple loosestrife usually flowers from early July to mid-September in North Dakota.
“Wild infestations are associated with moist or marshy sites,” the agriculture department stated.
Purple loosestrife is native to Europe and Asia, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources stated. It arrived in America through contaminated solid cargo ship ballast and deliberate importation of seeds.
Sold and planted for decades as a decorative plant, purple loosestrife is now illegal to sell in most states.
The purple loosestrife warning comes at the same time as advisories for Palmer amaranth and soybean sudden death syndrome.
Palmer amaranth, found last fall in Richland County, is known for its quick spread, resistance to herbicide and crop-damaging impact. It is identified by having a smooth, hairless stem and bracts on its female plants, among other characteristics.
Soybean sudden death syndrome is common in southern Minnesota and South Dakota. While not yet confirmed in Richland County, the disease has symptoms and pathogens which correspond with plant samples from Richland County.
For additional information, contact the NDSU Extension’s Richland County office. It’s open from 8-5 a.m. at the Richland County Courthouse, 418 Second Ave. N. in Wahpeton.