Volume 122, Number 40
DOT assessing safety of intersection; lawsuit likely
BY STEPHEN J. LEE Grand Forks Herald
The North Dakota Department of Transportation (DOT) is conducting an internal investigation of the intersection near Minnewaukan, where a Colorado woman died Oct. 27, according to a DOT engineer.
The condition of the intersection, which has been criticized by local residents, was greatly improved the day after the accident.
Tanya Broden, 24, was driving from her home in Commerce City, Colo., near Denver to visit her parents in Leeds, N.D., when her car went off the road about 10:30 p.m. Oct. 27 and into Devils Lake, according to Capt. Keith Ternes of the ND Highway Patrol.
Broden (Broh-DEEN) had driven more than 800 miles that day, said her father, Curtis Broden. She was, in fact, only seven miles from the farm where she grew up south of Churchs Ferry when she lost her life in the same swollen waters of Devils Lake that three years ago forced her parents to move their farm- house into Leeds, 15 miles west of Churchs Ferry.
The rising lake also is why the intersection of US 281 and ND 19 three miles north of Minnewaukan is under construction as part of rerouting the two roads farther west.
The accident wasn’t discovered until the next morning when a passing driver spotted part of the car visible above the water.
Tanya Broden was engaged to be married, and between jobs at health clubs when she died, said Curtis Broden.
Difficult in dark
Broden’s parents and people who travel the same road regularly have questioned whether the intersection was safe, especially in the dark.
Curtis Broden said he had driven across the same intersection in September.
"When I drove it, I came up on it and hit the brakes pretty hard. I thought it was pretty hard to see," he said. "There are no markings or no warnings or flashing lights. A little bit of a curve."
As far as he knows, Tanya had never seen the intersection in the shape it was under construction before she drove it the night of the accident.
"It was very difficult in the dark, especially if you didn’t know it was there," Broden said.
Capt. Ternes, however, as well as DOT officials, say the under-construction intersection was not unsafe.
"Our position is that the construction zone is well-signed, with reduced speed, and drivers traveling through the area obeying posted speed limits and using appropriate caution should have no problem," Ternes told the Herald Oct. 28. "We haven’t had any other serious accidents in that area this year and it’s been under construction all summer."
Ternes said the preliminary accident investigation showed that Broden’s northbound car left the roadway at the northwest corner of the intersection. Her car ended up in 6 feet of water, 55 feet west of US 281 and 150 feet north of ND 19. It seemed clear she was driving faster than the posted speed limit of 25 mph to end up in that location, Ternes said Oct. 28. Ternes could not be reached Friday for comment.
Curtis Broden said a highway patrol official told him that the speedometer on Tanya’s submerged car was stuck at 45 mph.
Investigation under way
Several people who use the road regularly told the Herald it has been a bad spot where accidents seemed to be waiting to happen.
However, Brad Darr, the Devils Lake district engineer for DOT, said Friday, "I believe it was properly designed and signed according to our standards."
He also said that he and the DOT extend their sympathies to Tanya Broden’s family. Because of the accident, the DOT has "put together a team to investigate it," Darr said. "The investigation is not complete. I am not sure when it will be completed."
It is being done by a "traffic review team," within DOT, Darr said.
Construction on the new, more westerly route for US 281 and ND 19 to avoid the rising lake level began in early August, according to the DOT Web site.
It is scheduled to be completed this fall, Darr said.
David Sears, a Minnewaukan farmer, said he and others have been talking for months about how dangerous the intersection was, because a temporary ramp of gravel was built up to cross over the new east-west roadway of Highway 19. The steep ramp blocked a driver’s view of oncoming traffic on the north-south route and would have made it difficult to keep control of a vehicle traveling faster than the posted 25 mph speed limit, Sears said.
Sears said the DOT paved over the north-south US 281 route at the intersection Oct. 28, the day after Broden’s accident. "They leveled it down the next day and paved it over," he said.
Darr confirmed that the day after the accident, the north-south route of old US 281 through the intersection was paved, lowering the rise, or ramp, where it crosses Highway 19, and lines were painted on the lanes, Darr said. "It was in the normal course of the construction project," he said, and was not in response to the accident.
Lois Weed of Devils Lake said she "had kind of a scary moment" at the intersection Oct. 28, only hours before Broden’s body and her car were recovered from the lake.
Weed was driving from Devils Lake to Minnewaukan, approaching the intersection from the east. It was about 7 a.m. and still dark, and she went too far across the intersection in trying to navigate the corner to head south, then overcorrected and swerved back into the path of oncoming northbound traffic before getting into the correct southbound side of old US 281, Weed said.
"It was hard to tell where you were at in the dark," she said. "I just didn’t know where I was, and I am familiar with the road."
In the daylight, there was not the same problem, Weed said. When she came back through that afternoon, the intersection’s north-south roadway had been paved, Weed said.
Ternes said the intersection had the proper signs, including a sign about 1,000 feet south announcing the speed limit reduction from 45 mph to 25 mph, with the 25-mph zone beginning about 600 feet south of the intersection.
There also was a "bump" warning sign 233 feet south of the intersection to alert northbound drivers of the rise over the newly paved and upgraded Highway 19 roadway, Ternes said.
Sears and others who use the road say it would have been easy, however, to not notice the reduced speed signs and not see the sudden ramp over the intersection for a northbound vehicle on Oct. 27 in the dark.
Sears said in early September he talked with a DOT engineer who agreed with him that the intersection should have been improved during construction.
The engineer told him he had told others in the DOT that the ramp needed to be extended longer so it wasn’t such a sudden rise in the roadway, Sears said.
But the engineer told the Herald on Friday that while he talked to Sears about another matter, he does not remember talking to him about the intersection. The engineer also said he did not tell other DOT employees that the intersection’s temporary ramp was inadequate.
Sears said he called the DOT office in Devils Lake on Sept. 7 and that he spoke to a woman there and expressed his concern about the intersection being dangerous.
"Well, the whole story is that somebody put a ramp in the middle of a US highway that runs from the tip of Texas to Canada with no fair warning,"
Sears said. "Except for us locals. We knew what was coming cause you could see it every day."
Darr said Friday that he was not aware of Sears or anyone else contacting DOT, including his Devils Lake district office, and registering concerns or complaints about the intersection.
Curtis Broden said his family is considering legal action over the accident.
"We will probably have an attorney look at it and see what he says," Broden said.
As one travels north on US 281 north of Minnewaukan, the junction of ND 19 looms ahead. Traffic heading south on US 281 on the other side of the junction is not visible.
It’s hard to see in a photo, but as one gets to the crest of the intersection, US 281 does not go straight ahead from the ramp on the south side of the intersection, but rather angles to the left. It’s very easy for drivers to end up in the wrong lane going either north or south.
Goblins invade Memorial Home
Maddock Memorial Home residents dressed up for Halloween. Left to right, seated, are Albina Erickson, Brent Grondahl, Veloy Vallier, Dolores Benson, Mike Fritel, Bennie Marquart, Leo Marquart, Burton Melaas, Lorraine Hellerud, Eileen Gustafson, Ruth Nelson, Margaret Jacobson, Ellen Woyen, Joyce Vallier, Lillian Moran, Stella Benson, Dimo Christianson, Josie Kolsrud, Doris Lysne and Jerry Molgard. Standing are Ida Hofer, Leroy Garnaas and Lila Evenhus.
Students of quarter
Leeds High School announces its Students of the First Quarter of the
2005-06 school year. Students are selected for this honor based on their academic performance, cooperation, personal behavior, attendance, responsibility and school spirit. Left to right, back row, are freshman Kayla Bingham, daughter of Karen and Jerry Bingham; senior Bryce Zietz, son of Betty Anderson; and junior Hope Keller, daughter of Wanda and Raphael Keller. In the front row are 8th grader Brenna Stone, daughter of Kim and Kelly King; sophomore Lindsay Anderson, daughter of Karen and Greg Anderson; and 7th grader Logan Gunderson, son of Sue and Randy Gunderson.
Maddock High School volleyball coach JoLynn Jacobson had a team she can be proud of. Members of the team are pictured, left to right. Front row:
Karlee Kallenbach, Kimberly Randle, Kristina Trautman, Jessie Schwanke, Courtney Foss, Jalissa Hovland and Shannon Schloss. Middle row: Ashley Duren, Jillian Maddock, Alisha Knutson, Michelle Olson, Kaidi Kenner and coach JoLynn Jacobson. Back row: Elisa Buehler, Heidi Simon, Shana Tollerud, Danae Kenner and Renae Slater.
Maddock Bobcats take 3rd in district VB
District volleyball tournaments kicked off the end of October, with District 7 playing at New Rockford High School.
Wells County, the No. 1 seed, capped off the first round with a sweep as it took three straight from No. 8 Minnewaukan-Four Winds 25-18, 25-22 and 25-10. No. 2 Harvey eliminated No. 7 Midkota and No. 3 New Rockford-Sheyenne fell to No. 6 Lakota.
No. 4 Maddock knew going into the tournament that whatever team played at its best level would prevail and go on. Going into first round action (loser out) and pairing up against No. 5 Carrington, the girls knew who they had to dominate and stop. The Bobcats earned their way to the semifinals in a 3-1 victory. Carrington won the first game 25-21 and then Maddock attacked the net and won the next three 25-22, 25-21 and 25-16.
Maddock’s individual stats for the match: service aces – Renae Slater 3, Jalissa Hovland 3, Shana Tollerud 1, Danae Kenner 1; assists – Slater 45, Heidi Simon 2, Karlee Kallenbach 2, Kenner 1; kills – Tollerud 22, Hovland 12, Simon 8; digs – Hovland 31, Tollerud 25, Elisa Buehler 22; blocks – Tollerud 3, Hovland 1.
The first match of the semifinal action on Oct. 28 pitted the Bobcats against the Wells County Bears. The first game was a little rocky with the top-seeded Bears struggling to put together a good run. The Bobcats would not give up the easy points and kept hammering away as they went on to take the game 25-21. The next three games the tide switched in favor of the Bears half of the court. The Bobcats were digging up the Bears spikes to try and get the offense going, but Wells County never let up 25-18, 25-23 and 25-18.
Maddock’s individual stats for the match: service aces – Hovland 13; assists – Slater 38; kills – Tollerud 20; digs – Kenner 23, Kallenbach 23; blocks – Tollerud 3.
Wells County’s individual stats for the match: kills – Weigelt 19; assists
– Bibelheimer 27; service aces – Bibelheimer 4; digs – Weigelt 9; blocks – Melby 3.
The other semifinal winner was Harvey, which swept Lakota.
Harvey was the District 7 volleyball champion and Maddock took home third place honors with scores of 25-22, 25-15 and 25-20. The Bobcats came out smashing the ball time after time into the opponent’s court. The back row was digging up everything that the Lakota Raiders threw at it and with the adrenaline running high, it carried over to the setters who set the ball picture perfect for the hitters to continue their attack at the net.
Maddock’s individual stats for the match: service aces – Hovland 3, Slater 1, Tollerud 1; assists – Slater 27, Kallenbach 6, Tollerud 1, Hovland 1, Kimberly Randle 1; kills – Tollerud 13, Hovland 10, Simon 7; digs – Buehler 20, Tollerud 17, Hovland 16; blocks – Tollerud 5, Simon 2.
Lakota’s individual stats for the match: assists – Johner 8, Haugland 5; kills – Haugland 5, Nelson 4, Kuchar 4, Dahl 3; blocks – Kuchar 3.
Maddock compiled a record of 15-11 during regular season play and districts.
Maddock made its first region appearance since 2003. The 2005 regional tournament, which was at the Harvey High School, opened up on Nov. 5 with Harvey taking on St. John and Rolla-Rock Lake (second in District 8) tangling with Maddock. Wells County and Adams-Edmore and Langdon and Lakota clashed in the nightcap.
The Rolla-Rock Lake Bulldogs (28-5), who were making their 11th straight region appearance, scored a three-game sweep (25-19, 25-18 and 25-12) against the Bobcats in the opening round. The Bulldogs kept Maddock from generating any rallies.
Maddock’s individual stats for the match: kills – Tollerud 10, Simon 6, Hovland 3; assists – Slater 15; service aces – Tollerud 5, Slater 1, Simon 1.
Rolla-Rock Lake’s individual stats for the match: kills – Guilbert 17, Cahill 8, Nelson 4; assists – Unger 28, Rush 5; service aces – Unger 1, Cahill 1, Nelson 1, Rush 1, Guilbert 1.
Every team in Region 4 was tough. The region featured some of the top individual players in the state in the likes of Danielle Guilbert of Rolla-Rock Lake, Maria Weigelt of Wells County, Christy Schauer of Langdon, Shana Tollerud of Maddock and Alison Huseth of Harvey.
Farmers Union sends volunteers to help
Rebuilding pasture fences, clearing downed trees and restoring hope among residents of Tylertown, Miss., was the mission of 27 North Dakotans who volunteered for a relief project organized and sponsored by the ND Farmers Union.
"We helped out a lot of people whose fences would not have been repaired,"
said Gary Smith of Maddock. "We had a wide variety of volunteers on this trip and we all worked well together."
In all, the North Dakotans rode more than 3,500 miles down and back on the Farmers Union bus. The North Dakota volunteers included college students, an eighth-grade girl, retired women, active farmers and ranchers and an employee of the city of Fargo.
The North Dakotans assisted Walthall County farmers and ranchers with cleanup efforts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The extra help came at a critical time, according to Adam Lamar, Walthall County Extension Agent.
"Y’all certainly lifted the spirits of everyone you came into contact with during your four days of hard work here," he said.
With 40 dairy farms, Walthall is the state’s leading milk production area.
Many dairy farms were without electric power for one to four weeks after the storm and producers have struggled with the additional costs involved in keeping their operations running. Because of the widespread damage, extra help is hard to find.
In response, North Dakotans loaded chain saws, fencing equipment, and other materials for the two-day drive to Mississippi. During their time in Walthall County, the volunteers collectively cleared downed trees and rebuilt or replaced an estimated 12,500 feet of pasture fence for eight livestock producers.
Farmers Union continues to raise money for Operation Dakota Giving – Sharing Our Harvest. To date, over $16,000 has been raised and matched to provide food aid to relief feeding centers in coastal areas. To assist with ongoing relief efforts, mail tax-deductible donations to: Operation Dakota Giving, North Dakota Farmers Union Foundation, P.O. Box 2136, Jamestown, ND 58402-2136.
Minnewaukan students, left to right, are, back row: Majenta Nelson (5th grade), Jordan Every (5th grade), Errin Ambers (6th grade), Christiana Cloud (6th grade), Rachael Tollefson (6th grade) and Mrs. Heser. Front row: Nevada Feather (5th grade), Austin Erickson (4th grade), Lacey Grann (4th grade), Penny Mudgett (5th grade) and Marty Kueffler (5th grade). Not pictured are Danny Bellanger (6th grade) and Chelsea Rallo (5th grade).Mrs. Heser’s Success for All (SFA) class at the Minnewaukan School worked on a star-studded writing assignment. Each week the students complete a writing goal.
Local school students write to stars
Last week’s adventures in writing assignment required students to practice writing friendly letters. As a result, each student picked his or her favorite famous person or star to write to.
In the letters the students explained why they wanted to write to them and ask them four interesting questions. Students also needed to follow the format of a friendly letter. The letters were then mailed to the stars’ fan mail addresses. The students are anxiously awaiting responses.
Some of the letters were sent to stars like Toby Keith, Tim McGraw, Lindsay Lohan and other teen music and movie idols.
Maddock music students
Students from Maddock who were chosen to perform at the Northwest Festival of Music in Minot are pictured. Left to right, front row: Karlee Kallenbach, Trish Simon, Elisa Buehler, Kara Gutormson, Jessie Schwanke and Isaac Engels. Back row: Trina Midstokke, Ashley Duren, Renae Slater, Heidi Simon and Erin Markestad.