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Jayden Blanchard is a student in Rachel Johnson’s second grade class at Breckenridge Elementary

GOODLIFE: Ag producers deal with wet conditions this year

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FOOTBALL: Breckenridge and Wahpeton each host tough foes

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4 Things To Know Today

1. Wait for REAL ID is 3 months in MN: The deadline to have a REAL ID driver’s license or ID needed to fly domestically, enter military installations or federal facility that requires ID is October 2020.

2. Oktoberfest: Visit Hankinson, North Dakota, for the annual Oktoberfest celebration Saturday, Sept. 28. A day full of activities and music ends with a fireworks show at 8:30 p.m.

3. Day Day’s Spaghetti Dinner Benefit: Dale Mattson has been diagnosed with Stage 4 Rectal Cancer, which has now spread to his liver. Come support Day Day and show him how much we appreciate what he’s done for our community. Runs 2-9 p.m. at KC Hall Event Center in Lidgerwood.

4. Pumpkin patch: Bagg Bonanza Farm’s annual family-friendly pumpkin patch event will be held from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5. Face painting will be available for the first 80 faces, barrel train rides, hay rides, STEM games/activities and a cake walk. $3 fee include a pumpkin and all activities.

Jana Sipe Berndt set to release her book ‘Finding Norm’

Jana Berndt had a ‘normal’ life until one day, her life changed when her husband unexpectedly collapsed and shortly after passed away. Berndt was able to heal through writing and invites others to read her self-published book and discover how to cope with significant loss.

Berndt’s husband, Randy, collapsed when he was 52 years old. This loss turned Berndt’s life upside-down. Her life changed from “us and we” to “me and myself.” She asked herself, “How do you start over? How do you find a life that involves just you and not your spouse, too.”

Berndt began blogging as a way to cope with loss and it became a therapeutic remedy. After several years of writing and supporters who were touched by her story, she said to herself, “Wow. Maybe I have a story to tell.” She turned her blog-writing into writing for a book in the hope that her story, her loss, and her healing could help others cope with loss and adjust to a new normal.

This adjustment to a new normal is partly how she chose the title for her book, “Finding Norm.” A search for a new norm. The other part is Berndt and her late husband used to watch the TV sitcom “Cheers” as part of their nightly routine.

Normal became a concept out of reach which led her to the question, “What is normal?” Berndt sees life as always changing and that finding normal is about accepting life as forever-changing. For Berndt, finding normal is to, “be prepared for what is today, may not be what is tomorrow and to have the strength and resilience to move forward. “

Berndt explores in her book, “rediscovering joy through a season of loss.” For her, this meant choosing the mindset and attitude to move forward and not be stuck looking in the rear-view mirror. Berndt finds the analogy of a glass being half-full or half-empty as a way to look at rediscovering joy. However, this analogy to her is meager and to her, the glass refillable.

“Finding a new norm says to me, ‘You know what that glass is refillable.’ It doesn’t matter if its half-full or half-empty. The fact is I gotta find something else to put in it and I can refill it,” Berndt said. “Rediscovering joy really is a mindset and an attitude of saying ‘I’m going to look for the blessings in my life.’ Look for how to refill the glass.”

“Yes it’s my story, but the way I tell it and the way I show it, maybe will resonate will people in their own lives of loss. You don’t really have to have known Randy to be able to appreciate the story,” Berndt said. While her book is categorized as a memoir, it is also a book to help others through loss. Loss can be the loss of a loved one, a relationship, a job, a change in health. Loss can be in anything.

“It’s really a book about rediscovering joy, it’s about picking up the pieces, moving forward,” said Berndt.

Berndt is the director of consumer banking, Fargo region, at Bremer Bank and has been fond of writing since she was young. During high school, she worked at the school’s newspaper and was on the yearbook committee. While attending Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, she was the editor of the yearbook her senior year.

The book launches on Monday, Sept. 30. The book can be best purchased through her website and an e-book can be found on Amazon. Berndt will be hosting local events for a meet and greet for the community to talk with her, buy the book and have her autograph your copy. She will be at Indigo in Wahpeton from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 1, Lovin’ Nutrition from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, Oct 14, and 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Oct. 19 at Dakota Coffee.

Batting cage, yes; bats, no

Anytime anyone sees a green pickup in front of the Wahpeton Community Center, Wayne Beyer said Tuesday, Sept. 24, people know they can come in for some activities.

Beyer, director of Wahpeton Parks and Recreation, reported on community center usage and operations to the city Public Works and Safety Committee. The current center, located at 304 Fifth St. S., Wahpeton, opened in October 2008.

“It’s been a real good multipurpose facility for us, serving the public well,” Beyer said. “We’ve made some real good decisions in setting things up. A lot of activities can happen there.”

Beyer singled out the community center’s baseball batting cage, which is used by area schools, a partnership he called a good use of public facilities. Student athletes aren’t the only residents taking advantage of the community center.

“Pickleball is the latest craze, especially for older individuals. We’ve got a good walking facility for seniors. The summer lunch program for youth is headquartered out of our kitchen (in the center),” Beyer said.

Originally constructed in 1954 as an armory, the community center building deteriorated over the years. Prior to its renovation, Daily News previously reported, there was no air conditioning, many windows were covered and walls were uninsulated.

The present facility was designed by Foss Architecture, Fargo, with general contracting by Comstock Construction, Wahpeton. Comstock’s partnership with the community center includes assisting the city of Wahpeton with snow removal, which Beyer singled out for praise.

Improvements to the center building in 2008 included insulation installation, changing to a slanted rather than flat roof and uncovering gymnasium windows to allow in natural light and keep temperatures regulated.

“We saw there was a reason and we could turn it into the nice facility we have here today,” then-Wahpeton Mayor Jim Sturdevant said.

Attending the community center’s opening ceremony, Wahpeton Park Board Commissioner Wayne Gripentrog said the goal was to eventually have it open 24 hours a day. While that hasn’t yet come to fruition, the center has seen several changes over the last decade.

“It’s always good when we have law enforcement nearby,” Beyer said, joking about the added sidewalks used by dog-walking residents including Wahpeton Police Chief Scott Thorsteinson.

Bats, on the other hand, are a less common sight at the center. Beyer mentioned projects including sealing work to keep the winged animals out, an imminent contract with Schmitty’s Plumbing, Heating and Sheetmetal, Wahpeton, for furnace and air conditioning service, table and chair replacement and tree planting to take place in 2020.

A succession plan for the community center has been discussed, Beyer said.

“If the town ever embarked on a larger community center, this present space would make a pretty good senior citizen center,” he continued.

The community center has not changed its room and facility rental fees since 2008, Beyer said. It’s possible that the fee structure will be re-examined by parks and recreation officials.

Upcoming community center events include the Hunter’s Smoker, benefitting the Red River Area Sportsmen’s Club, scheduled for Friday, Oct. 25; Holiday Shop at Home, benefitting Richland-Wilkin Kinship, scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 26; and Wild Game Shows, benefitting Chahinkapa Zoo, scheduled for Friday, Nov. 22.

“We we started the facility, we looked at keeping things at a reasonable cost to the public and non-profits,” Beyer said. “If someone’s in there for private reasons or to make money, they do pay regular rates.”

Event holders have asked about new equipment including a dishwasher, Beyer said. The opening of the Wahpeton Event Center has seen a shift in the number of wedding receptions booked at the community center.

According to Beyer, though, the city’s big enough for both locations.

“During one of our first wedding receptions, all the aunts made the food. Then again, a lot of people don’t want to go to a wedding dance and then take down tables and chairs after. That’s just the sacrifice to use our facility (and pay the) lesser rate,” he said.

News Monitor / Karen Speidel • News Monitor  

Vehicle crashes into jackknifed semi, both catch fire

Area first responders were dispatched to a semi that jackknifed on I-29 south and was struck from behind by another vehicle Friday afternoon. The collision happened about four miles south of the Wahpeton exit at mile marker 19. The vehicles caught fire and nearby cattails and grass were also burned. Southbound traffic was slowed for a short time while firefighters battled the flames. Responding agencies included Richland County Sheriff’s Office, Mooreton Fire Department, Dwight Fire Department, Great Bend Fire Department, Lidgerwood first responders and Breckenridge Ambulance Services, Inc. Follow www.wahpetondaily news.com for updated information.

Committee recommends allocation for police vehicles

With a 4-0 vote, the Wahpeton Public Works and Safety Committee is recommending the city approve an up to $50,000 allocation for two new Wahpeton Police Department vehicles.

Although the vehicles would be new, the funding would come from pre-determined sources, Wahpeton Police Chief Scott Thorsteinson explained Tuesday, Sept. 24.

The majority of the money, $32,000, was previously allocated specifically for new tasers. An adjustment to the department’s firearms and ammunition budget is allowing the acquisition of tasers as well as allowing for a more beneficial arrangement, Thorsteinson said. The additional $18,000 will come from continuous improvement funding that has not been expended for 2019.

“We’re hopeful to pull the trigger and get them in at the end of the year,” Thorsteinson said.

The two vehicles to be replaced are a 2016 Ford Explorer and a 1998 Ford Expedition. The newer vehicle, Thorsteinson said, is living on borrowed time. Its deficiencies include transmission and suspension problems, not to mention the problem of tires hitting the frame during certain turns.

“It’s becoming a reliability and a safety concern,” Thorsteinson said. “It was used quite often and needs to be taken out of rotation.”

The Expedition has been used as a special purpose vehicle for the department. Although its mileage isn’t as much as expected from a 21-year-old vehicle, it’s also reached a point where putting money into its upkeep is not considered beneficial.

“I’m just trying to keep my people on the road. All it takes is one car out of service,” Thorsteinson said.

Service has been a recurring priority for the Wahpeton Police Department. Earlier in September, the Wahpeton City Council approved allowing Thorsteinson to advertise for open officer positions and create an applicant pool.

Three officer positions, representing 20 percent of the recent police force, will be vacant as of Tuesday, Oct. 1.

The Chevrolet Tahoe has been a reliable vehicle for the Wahpeton Police Department, Thorsteinson said. He’d like to continue having those as part of the fleet.

Smaller vehicles, such as a pair of 2014 Chevrolet Impalas, are used not for everyday patrol work but for individuals including Thorsteinson and School Resource Officer Lisa Page. Page observed her second anniversary with Wahpeton Public Schools on Wednesday, Sept. 18.

“Vehicles do get beat up, shook up,” Thorsteinson continued. “One has 154,000 miles. Now, that doesn’t seem like a lot, but that’s when you’re thinking about highways. (Patrol vehicles) go down difficult roads. People who think roads are rough in different parts of town don’t go down the roads we go.”

The next Wahpeton City Council meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 7 at City Hall, 1900 Fourth St. N. in Wahpeton.

Veeder shares stories and songs of life on the prairie

The Wahpeton Event Center was the place to be Thursday night for the Jessie Veeder music performance. The Sept. 26 fundraiser for the Red Door Art Gallery included a dinner catered by The Boiler Room, a wine board, 50-50 raffle and basket raffle. Original artwork was used as centerpieces on the tables, which were also available for sale, “If you can’t leave without one,” Gallery Director Noah Dobmeier teased.

Guests enjoyed listening to Veeder’s humorous stories in between original songs and a few covers, including “Ring of Fire,” a Johnny Cash classic. She shared what it’s like to be a parent raising a fifth generation of ranch children and talked about the importance of arts and culture in North Dakota’s small communities.

Veeder visited with community members before her performance and enjoyed learning about the gallery, the sculpture park and new businesses in town housed in renovated buildings. Her CDs and her new book, “Coming Home,” were available for sale during the show.

She started singing as a child alongside her folk musician father, and began writing her own material as a teenager. She’s recorded in Nashville and traveled the country, singing about regular, hard-working people making a living in oil country. Also a columnist for state newspapers, her songs tell the stories of the human condition and the isolated landscape she calls home.

The evening was a successful fundraising event that brought like-minded community members together in support of the arts.

The Red Door Art Gallery is located at 418 Dakota Ave., Wahpeton.