1. Today in History: In 1792, the cornerstone of the White House was ceremonially laid. The White House has 132 rooms, including three kitchens and 35 bathrooms. Read more on Page A4.
2. Walk for Domestic Violence Awareness: The Zonta Club of Breckenridge-Wahpeton invites the community to show their support of victims of domestic violence by joining them on their walk Wednesday, Oct. 16, starting around 6 p.m. at Greenquist Academy in Breckenridge and over to Three Rivers Crisis Center in Wahpeton.
3. Warm up: Although we saw our first winter storm already, it’s not winter yet. Temperatures will slowly warm up this week, with highs expected around 50 on Thursday.
4. Today’s Birthdays include former U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013); singer-songwriter Paul Simon (1941-); Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones (1942-); rocker Sammy Hagar (1947-); TV personality Marie Osmond (1959-); football player Jerry Rice (1962-); actress Kate Walsh (1967-); figure skater Nancy Kerrigan (1969-); and comedian/actor Sacha Baron Cohen (1971-).
Wilkin County Economic Development Authority (EDA) met Thursday, Oct. 10 to discuss pursuing a loan and grant program to initiate economic activity and community development.
The committee discussed and approved to reapply for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Loan and Grant program in spring 2020. This program intends to create and retain rural jobs.
The USDA Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant program provides funding to local utilities, EDA, for rural projects to create economic development in rural areas.
The USDA would provide a grant to EDA which would use the funding to establish Revolving Loan Funds (RLF).
This program would provide a zero-interest loan to EDA which would be passed to local businesses as the ultimate recipients. The loan would be applied to projects that are capable of creating jobs and retaining employment in rural areas.
EDA may pass the funding to local businesses for eligible such as: community development assistance to nonprofits and public bodies, facilities and equipment to educate and train rural residents to facilitate economic development, facilities and equipment for medical care for rural residents, business expansion, technical assistance, business incubators acting as a catalyst for local rural economic development and start-up costs.
Wilkin County is eligible to apply for this economic development program due to being in a rural community and having less than 50,000 residents.
If EDA were granted this loan, they are eligible for up to $2 million in loans to be requested, up to $300,000 in grants to establish RLFs, and up to 10 percent of funds to be applied toward operating expenses over the life of the RLF.
Terms for the committee will have 10 years at zero interest, grants require a 20 percent match and must be repaid upon the termination of the RLF to the USDA.
Local businesses may request up to 80 percent of project costs using these funds, with the remaining provided by the business or the EDA. The terms of the loan to the business is a zero-percent interest rate, up to a two-year deferred repayment, and the EDA may incorporate interest rates or administrated fees.
EDA discussed the denial of their application. Board Member Dennis Larson stated that the main reason for the denial in recent months of their application was the lack of letters of business from potential businesses.
EDA will be reaching out to local businesses for their submission of a letter as to why this program would be beneficial.
In other news, Board Member Eric Klindt stated that for 2020 Focus and Goals, the board should identify individuals in the community that are champions for that community and put together a contact list.
A joint meeting will be held with Breckenridge Port Authority and EDA regarding the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) programs at 3:30 p.m. on Oct. 23 at the Breckenridge City Hall.
It’s uncertain whether or not the Wahpeton Public School District bus involved in a Thursday, Oct. 10 accident will be repaired or considered a total loss.
The bus received damages to its front and passenger side entrance door. Approximately 30 students were aboard, but none were believed to have received a serious injury.
Wahpeton Public Schools Superintendent Rick Jacobson is waiting for an assessment of the vehicle from the district’s insurer.
“As of right now, we do have enough buses to deal with day to day busing,” Jacobson said Friday, Oct. 11. “If our buses are consistently going down, we might have to buy another vehicle.”
The accident, involving the bus and a Ford passenger vehicle, occurred during a rain storm. Jacobson, who also drives a bus for Wahpeton Public Schools, said the district continues to monitor weather conditions.
Richland County, North Dakota, was among the counties in a winter storm warning lasting on Friday. Visibility and road conditions are two factors that Jacobson and his fellow drivers pay constant attention to.
“We do have to slow it down (when driving). The gravel roads are extremely wet and the township roads are slick. It’s about adjusting our speed and taking our time,” he said.
Capable of seating 84 passengers, the damaged bus was a 2004 vehicle. Wahpeton Public Schools purchased it as a used vehicle. The district is expected to soon determine whether it will be permanently replaced or if one of the spare buses will continued to be used.
“On our bus replacement schedule, (the damaged bus) was going to be moved to a spare for next year,” Jacobson said.
A new school bus is expected to cost more than $100,000, an expense Jacobson said is not currently affordable. He’s also skeptical that the damaged bus will receive much in terms of insurance reimbursement.
Wahpeton Public Schools plans to stick with having two built-in storm days on its education schedule.
“It’s a definite help to us when we enter the real winter,” Jacobson said.
During its Wednesday, Oct. 9 meeting, the Wahpeton School Board approved an alteration to the financing for its expanded Wahpeton Agriculture Education Facility. Located on the Wahpeton High School campus, the project is a partnership among Wahpeton Public Schools, Southeast Region Career and Technical Center and North Dakota State College of Science.
“We’ll be working with PFM out of Fargo,” Jacobson said. “That was was recommendation which came from our finance committee. The project is on school land, meaning we have to finance it. The vocational center cannot.”
Richland 44 High School in Colfax, North Dakota, also held a school board meeting Wednesday, Oct. 9. Superintendent and high school principal Dr. Britney Gandhi said the district approved its final 2019-2020 budget, approved an evaluation template for her and is considering re-establishing its speech program.
Richland 44 is scheduled to hold its next school board meeting at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13 at Richland 44 High School, 101 Main St. in Colfax.
Wahpeton Public Schools is scheduled to hold its next school board meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13 at Wahpeton High School, 1021 11th St. N. in Wahpeton.
Winter storm advisories went out Thursday evening for the eastern part of North Dakota, as the Twin Towns area saw rain all day. By Friday morning, the rain had turned to snow and fell throughout the day. Snowfall amounts for the entire event are expected to range from 4 to 8 inches locally, the National Weather Service forecast Friday afternoon.
Highways were closed as the day went on Friday due to whiteout conditions with temperatures hovering in the low 30s. The North Dakota Department of Transportation had closed I-94 from Bismarck to Fargo by 5:30 p.m. Friday. I-29 from Grand Forks to the Canada border was closed earlier in the afternoon, and U.S. Highway 2 was closed from Rugby to Larimore. Friday evening a No Travel Advisory was issued for all of southeast North Dakota.
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum issued a state of emergency in response to the storm.
The Devils Lake basin took the brunt of the storm as the system slowly circled over it all day Friday. By Friday afternoon, 2 feet of snow had fallen there, with more expected overnight and into Saturday.
The North Dakota Highway Patrol was busy all day Friday helping stranded motorists. One rescue was a bus with 42 people on board.
A winter storm warning remained in effect until 1 p.m. Saturday, with snow and areas of blowing snow. Temperatures Saturday were forecast in the low 30s, dropping to 28 overnight. Sunday’s high is expected to be at 35, with a slow warm up over the next week.
Snowplows were reportedly having a hard time plowing the wet and heavy snow to the west of the Red River Valley Friday. There was tree and structural damage from the heavy snow load, as well as disruptions to agricultural and livestock activities, the weather service reported.
Ditches are full of water in many areas, which adds to the danger for people trying to travel.
A flood warning was also in effect up and down the valley, including Abercrombie on the Wild Rice River and Kindred on the Sheyenne River. River levels are expected to continue to rise at many locations due to the storm system dumping plentiful precipitation across the region.
Eastern North Dakota is expected to see more snow than rain which will allow for a slower response into area rivers, the weather service reported. Northwestern Minnesota was expected to see more precipitation in the form of rain which will be quicker to run off into the river systems and exacerbate ongoing flooding issues.
Authorities advise citizens to not travel through flooded areas, take steps to protect life and property, and those who live in the Red River Basin should monitor river levels while the river is in or near flood stage.
Nearly six months ago, the Red River Valley Veterans Concert Band was preparing for a concert in Wahpeton.
They were unable to play the Bremer Bank Theatre on North Dakota State College of Science’s Wahpeton campus due to blizzard conditions.
Figuring that October weather is more pleasant than April weather, the band scheduled two concerts for Thursday, Oct. 10. Despite on and off precipitation, near-freezing temperatures and the promise of a snow event, the Red River Valley Veterans Concert Band kept its engagements.
Thirty-two members of the band held an 8:10 p.m. concert at the Bremer Bank Theatre. It followed a 6:45 p.m. concert at St. Catherine’s Living Center, Wahpeton.
“(We are) dedicated to the memory of all who proudly served and protected their county,” the band wrote on its program.
The Red River Valley Veterans Concert Band plays to audiences of all ages. Their membership and supporters include veterans of the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard.
Members of Boy Scout Troop 346 participated in the concert, displaying the American flag during “The Star Spangled Banner” and flags of the military during a medley, “Armed Forces on Parade.”
The Bremer Bank Theatre setlist was diverse, featuring patriotic pieces like “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” and “O’er the Land of the Free” by Johnny Vinson. Vinson’s piece was composed in 2014 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of “The Star Spangled Banner,” the 100th anniversary of World War I and 70th anniversary of D-Day.
Audience members enjoyed the rousing songs, as well as performances including a bluegrass rendition of “Turkey in the Straw,” a Dixieland medley including Jeff DeVillers’ trumpet taking the lead on “When the Saints Go Marching In,” the Spanish “El Relicario,” a medley from “The Music Man” and Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America.”
The band was directed by Bernard McKigney, a former high school and junior high band director who spent 35 years in the military, including during the Vietnam War. McKigney has been with the Red River Valley Veterans Concert Band/American Legion Post 2 Band for 40 years, more than 25 of which he’s spent as director.
Band members have years and in some cases, decades, of experience, the Bremer Bank Theatre audience learned. Their music makers include the flute, alto sax, clarinet, bass clarinet, tenor sax, baritone, French horn, trumpet, trombone, baritone saxophone, tuba and percussion instruments.
While attendance was limited at the Bremer Bank Theatre concert, with just over 20 audience members, the band expressed their joy at playing a favorite venue.
For more information on the Red River Valley Veterans Concert Band, visit www.rrvvcb.org or check out their Facebook page.