Volume 122, Number 5
Unique trailers for search and rescue units near production
BY RICHARD PETERSON
Jim Savaloja of Leeds expects that his phone will be pretty busy now that he’s let the cat out of the bag. Savaloja has been working full-time the past two years developing his TerraCarry ATV emergency transport trailers.
It’s been a long haul, but now his patents are pending and his Jackalope Conversions trademark has been registered and the TerraCarry trademark is pending registration.
He’s been pretty secretive about the trailers because he was afraid if the larger RV manufacturers got wind of his ideas, they’d steal the concept and start manufacturing them. He’s apparently got himself covered and is now ready to start manufacturing the trailers as soon as the orders come in.
Savaloja stands beside a prototype TerraCarry. The plastic "boat" in the bottom of the trailer floats and can be used by search and rescue units to carry bodies recovered from underwater.
The TerraCarry trailers are designed for multi-purpose uses. One use is to recover human bodies in remote areas or in bodies of water where no roads are available. The body can be placed in a carrier and put in the lower level of the trailer to be transported to a road where it can be transferred to other transportation. The upper level can carry whatever equipment is needed. The dual axle trailers can be easily pulled by an ATV to the most remote areas.
Another use is by firefighters, who can put their equipment in the trailers and travel by ATV to fight brush fires. Law enforcement officials would have use for the trailers in all kinds of situations. With a portable generator installed in a trailer it could be used as a communications center in a remote area for searchers looking for a body or evidence, for instance.
The trailers could also be used for recreational purposes. One trailer he built two years ago is in use by an individual as a hunting trailer. All the other trailers he’s built are prototypes to show prospective customers.
But he’s concentrating primarily on the emergency rescue market because nobody else is making anything similar to these trailers. All kinds of governmental organizations, such as search and rescue units, Indian reservations, Border Patrol and law enforcement agencies are looking at the trailers which can be custom-built for the customer. The basic price is about $4,500.
The problem with concentrating on government is that progress is slow. "The agencies have to have the funding in place and they have to budget for something like this," Savaloja said. "It takes forever. That’s just the nature of the beast," he says.
But now that he feels he can come out in the open, he expects there’ll be some orders coming in the next couple months. The first public display of the TerraCarry was at Marketplace in Bismarck in January. Three weeks ago, he had the trailer on display at the annual convention of the North Dakota county emergency managers. Two weeks ago he displayed the trailer at the ND Fire School in Bismarck. Last week he displayed it at the Minnesota Fire School in East Grand Forks, Minn. There are lots of people interested.
The trailers have a steel frame, dual wheels, an aluminum body, insulation and plywood on the inside. The interior is custom installed over the plywood. The interior can be stainless steel, nylon, aluminum, carpeted, vinyl rubber mats or just plain plywood, whatever the customer desires.
In designing the trailers, Savaloja obtained stock car scales to provide perfect balance. This is something of an involved procedure utilizing geometry and physics. Fortunately, a computer does most of this work.
Anyway, the trailer is perfectly balanced with a low center of gravity so it won’t tip over on a sidehill, for instance.
The trailer is only part of the package he’s offering. The TerraCarry ATV transport trailer can be pulled behind a pickup, for instance. It’s 6′ wide by 19’6" long. On the trailer are the ATV and the TerraCarry. Once at a location where the pickup cannot continue, the ATV can be driven off the trailer and the transport trailer hooked to the ATV. The TerraCarry can then be hooked to the trailer and the ATV can continue to remote areas with the trailer and the TerraCarry. A unit like this would be invaluable in the event of an airplane crash in a remote area. The trailer could be used to transport four bodies with a fifth body in the TerraCarry. Cost of the package, ATV, TerraCarry and the transport trailer, would be about $15,000.
A native of the Rolla-Hansboro area, Savaloja has a long history with law enforcement officials and search and rescue units. Among his first jobs was as Picton Township constable in northern Towner County. There was a poaching problem along the Canadian border and Savaloja held that job from
1971 to 1973. He’s been connected with law enforcement ever since. He was a special deputy under Ramsey County Sheriff Bert Roed in Devils Lake and later became a detective with the sheriff’s department.
He was a charter member of Lake Region Search & Rescue. He, Perry Horner, Bruce Burkett and Mike Hammond of Devils Lake attended a search and rescue diving school at Ft. Collins, Colo. in 1983. He went back in 1984 and obtained the certification as dive rescue specialist II. Although he doesn’t dive any more (he’s 59) he does occasionally get called out to help law enforcement officials. A pilot, he flew over the Wurgler National Wildlife Refuge in Knox Township in the spring of 2004, and found the body of a hunter who drowned there the previous fall.
The idea for an ATV trailer came to him when he was at the big motorcycle rally (he’s also a motorcycle buff) in Sturgis, SD, where he saw a small trailer behind a motorcycle. He built a trailer for dogs. Then he built a trailer to haul 300 decoys. That’s when the dual axle became a part of the plan. Because of his ties to search and rescue units and realizing the need for an all-purpose trailer, the TerraCarry sort of evolved from that.
He was living in Churchs Ferry in 2000, when he and most others in that town were bought out because of the threat of flooding. He was in the mobile home transporting business at the time and needed space to park his mobile homes, so he purchased five acres west of the Leeds Golf Club and an additional adjoining five acres from Terry Aronson of Devils Lake. Two years ago with the TerraCarry in mind, he quit the mobile home business and went to work full-time on his dream, with many 16-hour days.
Two steel buildings were constructed on the premises and Savaloja did all the finishing work. He constructed a third building himself and finished it. He plans to manufacture his transports and TerraCarrys in these buildings. When the orders start coming in he has a work force of local people lined up. He expects that at the beginning he will be able to turn out one transport unit per day and a TerraCarry every two to three days.
"I’m hoping we can provide a lot of good-paying jobs right here in Benson County," Savaloja says. "I think we’ve got a good shot at something big.
We’ve got a possibility of selling these things nationally."
He credits several individuals and organizations for getting as far as he has. "Without the $20,000 grant from the Benson County Job Development Authority, we’d never have this possibility," Savaloja said. He also got a $7,500 grant from the Leeds Economic Development Corp. and $10,000 for a market study paid for by USDA’s Rural Development and the Center of North America Coalition (CONAC) for Rural Economic Area Partnership (REAP). The market study was very positive, indicating there would likely be significant demand for his products.
He also credits the Small Business Development Center of the ND Department of Commerce. "Donovan Wadholm sat down at my computer and wrote a business plan for me in three hours," Savaloja exclaims. Joel Bleth, owner of Pump Systems, Inc. of Dickinson, a manufacturer of equipment for fire departments and the oil business, has provided invaluable advice. "I can’t say enough about North Central Planning of Devils Lake," Savaloja says.
"They’re the best in the economic development business," he said, referring to Denise Hendrickson and Rick Anderson, who helped him obtain a number of loans. "Laura Every of CONAC has pulled all kinds of strings to get us going, and Bill Davis of Rural Development has shepherded us through many problems," he says. You can imagine all the paperwork involved in a venture of this magnitude.
Further information is available on the Web site handled by Orness Creations of Devils Lake. The address is www.jackalopeconversions.com.
Savaloja’s wife, Annette has been a nurse at Mercy Hospital in Devils Lake the past 30 years. They have three children, Lynnette Savaloja of Minneapolis, Minn., Janelle Hanson of York and Mike Savaloja of Virginia Beach, Va.
The past two years Jim hasn’t brought home much income, but he’s confident that’s going to change. He’s a true entrepreneur, gambling everything on a dream.
But with this product, it sure seems like he’s got at least a good shot at success.
Savaloja sits on an ATV with his prototype TerraCarry attached behind. This particular TerraCarry is outfitted as a communications trailer for use in remote areas. The TerraCarrys can be customized for many activities: recovering bodies, firefighting, communications, etc.
S.F. Buckshot Hoffner of Bismarck (center), formerly of Esmond, received the Lifetime of Caring Award at the Missouri Valley United Way annual meeting in January. Hoffner currently is the executive director of the Missouri Valley Historical Society and the creator of Buckstop Junction, a turn of the century replica of a North Dakota town located on the east edge of Bismarck. He was honored for his many years of service to the community of Bismarck. Previous recipients of the award include former Governor Art and Grace Link and the late State Senator Evan Lipps. Joining Hoffner at the ceremony were Benson County natives Roger Wetzel (right), formerly of Oberon, who served as master of ceremonies for the event, and Bob Black (left), formerly of Esmond.
‘Tar Wars’ at Leeds
Left to right are Dr. Brian Selland, respiratory therapist Allan Meckle and Terri Stoll of the Heart of America Medical Center presenting "Tar Wars" — a tobacco education program to Leeds fourth graders.
Leeds fourth graders Kevin Slaubaugh and Jesse Hoffert complete a "Tar Wars" activity about the dangers of tobacco.
Lions take 2nd in District 7
The Minnewaukan-Leeds Lions boys basketball team took second place at the District 7 Class B Boys Basketball Tournament at the Sports Center in Devils Lake. Left to right are cheerleaders Courtney Larson, Amanda Smith, Brittnee Tarang, Whitney Streyle, Amber Bracken and Karlee Gronos. Team members, second row: Reid Haagenson, Kenny Schmid, Mike Armentrout, Mike Torgerson, Mike Tofsrud, Daniel Harkness and Ben Cline. Third row: Tyson Hollybull, Ben Grann, RJ Darling, Travis Kirkeide, Cody Biby and Jarl Braaten. Fourth row: Aaron Longie, Antone Eback, Jay Anderson, JD Demarce and mascot Nik Severson. Standing in back are Assistant Coach Jeff Walen, Head Coach Ron Carlson and Assistant Coach Charlie Bisbee.
A group of Minnewaukan students participated in the Junior High Music Festival at Central Middle School in Devils Lake Feb. 25. The girls’ vocal ensemble included, left to right, Alexis Buckmier, Shayna Sherman, Bobbi Grann, Suzie Treetop, Kylee Rallo, Shantel Miller and Beth Beecroft. They received a star rating for their performance of "One Song."
Bobbi Grann, left, received a star rating for her vocal performance of "Amazing Grace." Beth Beecroft, right, was also awarded a star rating for her vocal rendition of "She’s Like a Swallow."
Beth Beecroft, left, and Alexis Buckmier, right, played a clarinet duet entitled "Fugetta" for which they received a star rating.
Other instrumentalists performing at the festival were trumpet soloists, Isaac Swiftbird and Bobbi Grann. Isaac played "Vega" and Bobbi played "Cygnus." Each received a rating of excellent.
Scouts hear about Great Britain
The Maddock Brownie and Junior Girl Scouts celebrated Thinking Day Feb. 28.
This is a day set aside for scouts across the world to think about each other and to celebrate membership in this worldwide organization for girls, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.
The first year Brownies received the world pin. Members collected money for the World Friendship Fund.
Guest speaker Sandra Gilbert of Maddock gave a presentation about Great Britain. She told about school (students finish by age 16), getting a driver’s license (age 17), about the Royal Family, sports (some are different from sports in the USA), and English terms that sound American but have a different meaning. She gave a snack for each person called a "biscuit" in England, but was actually a type of sugar cookie. She answered questions after her presentation.
This week, March 6-12, Girl Scouts around the world will celebrate Girl Scout Week and the birthday of Girl Scouts, March 12, 1912. The founder of Girl Scouts was Juliette Low of Savannah, Ga.
The Pine to Prairie Council at Grand Forks and Fargo provide help and activities for Girl Scouts and volunteers. The Girl Scout cookie sale is being completed with delivery in April. This is the primary fund raiser for the Girl Scouts and sales in Maddock were termed "very good," due to the girls.
Brownie leaders are Helen Foss and Chris Lauinger. Junior leaders are Becky Hestdalen and Dorothy Wisness. Joyce Rasmussen is cookie chairman.
Members of the Brownie troop are pictured. Left to right, back row, are Shelby Brandvold, Alyssa Nystrom, Renae Lauinger, Maria Sears, Kaylee Tollerud, Kenadi Lee, Hailey Kallenbach and Megan Olson. Front row: Jessica Hill, Alexis Gigstad, Micki Brandvold, Allyson Lauinger, Natalia Wright, Nora Duren, Kayla Melaas, Ashley Risovi and Sandra Gilbert. Not pictured is Alyssa Armentrout.
Junior Troop members are, left to right, back row, Rachel Olson, Ashley Foss, Breana Buehler, Courtney Hestdalen, Carah Hestdalen and Sandra Gilbert. Front row: Mylee Kenner, Gabrielle Rehling and Katherine Sears.
Not pictured are Sara Schwanke and Savana Nystrom.
The Benson County Mathcounts competition was held Feb. 9 at the Benson County Courthouse in Minnewaukan under the direction of Jean Olson, Benson County Supt. of Schools. School teams consisting of 6th, 7th and 8th grade students from Maddock, Minnewaukan, Leeds, Four Winds and Warwick were in the competition. Pictured left to right are first through sixth place individual winners: Beth Beecroft of Minnewaukan, Erin Leier of Maddock, Kaidi Kenner of Maddock, Elliott Gunderson of Leeds, Beau Buehler of Maddock and Bobbi Grann of Minnewaukan.
The Maddock team placed first. Left to right are Kaidi Kenner, Samantha Kaul and Beau Buehler, eighth graders, and Erin Leier, seventh grade. Holly Kraft is the coach.
The second place Minnewaukan team consisted of, left to right, Beth Beecroft, Bobbi Grann and Dallas Welch, eighth graders, and Jacob Cline, sixth grade. Not pictured is the team’s coach, Darlene Thompson.
Members of the Leeds team are, left to right, Elliott Gunderson, Dustin Paulson, Kayla Bingham and Josh Owens, all eighth graders. Duane Jacobson is coach.
Warwick team members were, left to right, Leland Cavanaugh, eighth grade, Edmund Peterson, seventh grade, Maressa Redfox, eighth grade, and Craig Brown, seventh grade. They are coached by Lorraine Michels.
The Four Winds team consists of, left to right, Natasha Longie, Miranda Belgarde, Stevie Ironshield and Britney Redroad. Their coach is Mary Ross.
Cat in the Hat
Minnewaukan Kindergarten students had a Cat in the Hat art project in which they made hats to wear during the day. Left to right, front row are Brandon Alberts, Talissa Ami, Will Chaske Jr., Mayan Fox and Brett O’Connell. Back
row: Angela Young, Shaylynn Martin, Evan Thompson, James Lovejoy Jr., Aiana Richotte and Xavier Lenoir.
Pre-kindergarten students model the hats they made in honor of Dr. Suess’
birthday March 2. Left to right, front row, are Shirley Driver, Haley Hewitt, Larissa Fox and Brenn Alberts. Back row: Cody Walen, Kalen Nestell, Bryer Erickson and Joran Redfox.
Brett O’Connell reads a story to the Cat in the Hat.
Lost is found
Lawrence Berg of Devils Lake, formerly of Warwick, holds his 1937 BCATS class ring which had been lost for several years. The ring was found and turned over to the Benson County Sheriff’s Office. Deputy Jeff Bercier brought the ring to the Farmers Press in hopes an ad could be put in the paper. However, close examination with a magnifying glass revealed the initials LVB on the inside of the ring. The Maddock History Book revealed only one person with those initials in that class. Berg said he paid $7.50 for the ring back then.