We are fortunate to have many great people in the Twin Towns and it is always a good time to recognize people’s gifts.

Centenarian Heb Diederick passed away. It’s fantastic that Heb was recognized as an inaugural Richland County Sports Hall of Fame inductee!

Heb could be considered the greatest amateur baseball player in Richland County history. It was captivating to hear him tell stories about state tournaments where he violated every single pitch count restriction used in modern baseball. His only possible match was another lengthy right-handed pitcher – Orris Gauslow, a Colfax farmer.

Lonnie Halverson, the “Carousel Man,” was one of the hardest working people ever. The woodworking building light was on by 4 a.m. about every day.

Lonnie was the Abercrombie police officer in the 1970s. Richland 44 teenagers tried to avoid Lonnie on Halloween when they inevitably checked out a presumed haunted house along Main Street where a “Duke” once lived.

Lonnie always lent a helping hand. Besides carving every horse and scheduling volunteers, he drove a park truck to haul hundreds of yards of dirt to carousel and Chapel bases and laid sod cut from the golf course on their lawns. Lonnie lived at the carousel during the 1997 flood, lovingly protecting it inside a sandbag fort. Lonnie painstakingly counted every penny of zoo deposits, cleaned the campground restrooms, carved creative signs and did so much more.

Louise Erdrich is an American writer icon, recently honored with the Pulitzer Prize for her “Night Watchman” book. She previously received North Dakota’s highest honor, the Theodore Roosevelt Roughrider Award in a ceremony at the Red Door Art Gallery.

The Three Rivers Arts Council is pleased to host “A Visit With Louise Erdrich” at the Sculpture Park / Hughes Shelter from 1-3 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 17.

October is National Arts and Humanities Month. What a great opportunity to honor a Wahpeton native who fondly remembers her childhood and has brought us incredible attention! The event is free and a fantastic opportunity to hear Louise’s wit, insight and wisdom. Young artists and entrepreneurs would do well to learn from her.

Jim Sturdevant has managed the Twin Town fifth and sixth grade tackle football program for more than 40 years. He has positively impacted many, many youths.

The Sturdevant name is synonymous with toughness, dedication, determination, generosity and athleticism. Jim has recruited coaches, donated fireworks money, been the only equipment manager, brought Phil Hansen to town for football camps, prepared the football fields and been the first one there – last one to leave type guy for four decades.

The Chahinkapa Park football field is being named “Jim Sturdevant Field” and we plan to recognize Jim with a short ceremony at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 19. It is a time to thank Jim for his impact not only on the youth football program but everything a long-time city leader has given to this community.

Greg Gerou does an amazing job as the long-time Red River Area Sportsmen’s Club President. He is a generous individual who inspires many great projects and activities. Greg attends practically every activity, preparing delicious pancake / sausage breakfasts for the youth hunts, helping at all the youth fishing derbies, spending entire days at events like the Veterans Hunt, professionally emcees the Hunters Smoker, represents the club with the North Dakota Wildlife Federation, serves as the club’s voice with KBMW reports and one could on and on.

Lise Erdrich is an artist, writer, visionary, grant writer, town supporter, conservationist and hard working extraordinaire who works quietly behind the scenes. She is incredibly humble and will likely be ticked to be mentioned in the same breath as other famed Wahpeton people. The Sculpture Park, numerous colorful city-wide murals, visits by two National Endowment of the Arts Chairs, Asham Stompers / Red River jiggers and sculptures by Ben Brien are among gifts largely attributable to Lise’s influence, grant writing skills and dedicated support of our city.

Please join us in recognizing and thanking Louise Erdrich and Jim Sturdevant at special events to honor them. We are indeed fortunate to benefit from their gifts.

Wayne Beyer is the director of Wahpeton Parks and Recreation.

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