Volume 125, Number 6
Minnewaukan native retires from HP after 26 years
Editor’s note: This article, which appeared in the Hawley (Minn.) Herald concerns Minnewaukan native Howard Hansen. He is a 1970 graduate of Minnewaukan High School and is the son of the late Carl and Edith Hansen of Minnewaukan. Carl Hansen was Benson County Treasurer for many years. Howard’s wife, Diane is a 1974 graduate of Minnewaukan High School and is the daughter of Clifford and Lillian Johnson.
BY JIM FAWBUSH The Hawley (Minn.,) Herald
There are four words used to describe the Minnesota State Patrol Core
Values: Respect, Integrity, Courage and Honor. As a member of the state patrol, Hawley resident Howard Hansen has brought life and meaning to these four words as he served and protected people while averaging about 35,000 miles a year for 26 years on Clay County roads.
Hansen enjoys the falling snow this winter in a more relaxed way because he knows his telephone won’t ring with another emergency call to which he has responded during his more than three decades in law enforcement. He retired from the Minnesota State Patrol on July 17, 2007. Many of his former partners were present at the retirement party in Detroit Lakes, Minn.
Troopers’ lives are filled with life-and-death experiences when they are called upon to be helpful and Hansen’s time with the patrol is no exception. He received a life-saving award in the early 1990s. It involved a farm accident and he helped to keep the injured party’s airway open until help arrived.
"I can remember my first fatal accident just like it was yesterday, two young kids killed by a drunk driver. This sort of thing sticks with you. I remember the weather related things most of all. That’s when all the senseless stuff starts to happen," Hansen said.
Hansen moved to Hawley in 1994. He and his wife, Diane, have two children, Michelle, who lives in Barnesville and does speech pathology for the Fergus Falls school system and Jared, who is a motorcycle technician at the Fargo Harley Davidson store. "We built a house here and put the kids into the school here which really worked out well for us. I like Hawley. I’ve made a lot of good friends here and it’s a good place to be.
"I owe my family a lot, especially Diane. I would have never survived a career in law enforcement if it wasn’t for them. There have been a lot of missed holidays and a lot of missed weekends when I have been working, a lot of messed up Christmases when I have not been home to open the gifts. It’s been a good career but it is time to be out of the squad car," Hansen said.
In retirement, Hansen is looking into doing work as a security officer but, "Whatever I do, it is not going to involve a squad car and it is not going to be nights, weekends or holidays," he chuckled.
Hansen’s record includes hitting two or three deer and smashing his squad car four times. "Two were done intentionally in pursuit to get that guy off the road at all costs so he wouldn’t hurt someone else and you need the car to do that sometimes," Hansen said.
At accident sites, Hansen has also had his vehicle hit. One collision totaled his squad car when he was in it while a tow truck was pulling another vehicle out of a ditch. His squad car also had a less severe hit on one of the bridges on Interstate 94.
He has had numerous close calls. He saw a semi sliding sideways toward him. "I remember one time there was a lady in the back seat after a crash. I said, ‘We are going to get hit,’ and just as it got to my car the good Lord must have grabbed it, because it moved out and went by my driver’s door about six inches away. It jack-knifed into the ditch," Hansen said.
Hansen was born in Rugby and grew up in Minnewaukan, where he graduated from high school. He wanted to become a trooper at a young age.
"I grew up interested in law enforcement, thanks to a neighbor on the North Dakota Patrol. His name is Roger Brumfield and he died a couple of weeks ago. I had a lot of respect for him. He inspired me to get into law enforcement, although I didn’t start out in law enforcement.
My mom would always tell the story about me coming home from school one day telling her that one day I was going to have a (squad) car like that," Hansen said.
Hansen also had an interest in architectural drafting that led him to the ND State School of Science where he completed a two-year course in the subject. He graduated from the school of science in 1972 and got a job with a lumber company with 10 lumber yards throughout Minnesota.
He worked in Bemidji for the first year and a half and then he was transferred to assistant manager of a yard in Montevideo for three-and-one-half years. "That’s where I started to get the law enforcement taste full strength. I became acquainted with several police officers in Montevideo and I joined a reserve police unit," Hansen said.
After serving on this police unit for three years, Hansen applied and was hired for the police department in Morris in 1977. At this time, an applicant needed two years of school to be on the force. Two months of training in Minneapolis were required before employment.
Licensing of police officers became effective in 1979 at which point two years of law enforcement schooling were required. Active police officers before this time were grandfathered into departments. He worked for four years in Morris.
Hansen then applied to the state patrol which was his goal in law enforcement. In 1981, he was accepted and went to training for state troopers. He graduated from rookie school in May, worked the area of the Twin Cities for three weeks and then was assigned to Project 20, a federally-funded program for speed and DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) enforcement in Minnesota. In September of 1981, Hansen came to the station in Moorhead which includes all of Clay County.
Training and education are continuous for troopers. For example, in addition to learning about changing legal regulations they have to be recertified as first responders annually and have to qualify twice a year with firearms. There are also classes in driving for pursuit and intervention.
Operations and equipment have changed significantly since Hansen joined the state patrol. Communications among agencies has improved. Hansen had one radio with the state patrol, Clay County’s frequency and Moorhead’s frequency could be monitored in his vehicle. Each of these agencies had to be monitored separately. As the radios changed, agencies could talk to each other directly.
"The GPS (Global Positioning System) came out a few years ago and were installed in our cars. It didn’t mean a whole lot until we got our computers installed. We started getting laptops around 2000 and I got my first video camera about three years before I retired," Hansen said.
Vehicles have always been two-wheel and rear-wheel drive in Hansen’s career. He said even the SUVs (Sport Utility Vehicles) are built this way. He doesn’t understand why the state doesn’t have these SUVs in four-wheel drives but the Chevy Impalas are now front-wheel drive.
"Actually, rear-wheel drive is a lot better as far as I am concerned for high-speed driving. When we grew up, it was, ‘You always drive by the seat of your pants,’ and you can’t do that with four-wheel or front-wheel drive because by the time you feel it, it is too late. With rear-wheel drive, you could react to it and usually stay out of the ditch," Hansen said.
Now the Minnesota State Patrol has an air wing with helicopters in the Duluth, Bemidji and in the Metro Area of the Twin Cities. Also, motorcycles are a part of the patrol since 2007.
The speed limit was dropped to 55 miles per hour (mph) in the late 1970s. Hansen said if the limit was dropped back to 55 mph now it would have more of an impact in terms of violations. He said some two-lane roads are currently 65 mph if the roads have paved shoulders among other guidelines. Interstate highways have a 70 mph limit and 55 mph within city limits. He said the problems start when road conditions are questionable.
The blood alcohol limits have also changed since Hansen started as a trooper. They were .10 and are currently .08. There is more training now for drug enforcement.
Court time was on Hansen’s schedule once or twice a year to be present for trials involving traffic and DWI violations. However, things have changed over the years. "We see a lot more of the drug-involved violators out there now. That’s what these younger guys are facing now more than we ever did earlier in my career. A lot of drugs are being transported up and down the highways," Hansen said.
Accident scene reconstruction has also changed with the introduction of surveying equipment and computers. "We used to use a tape measure, paper and pencil," Hansen said, "All troopers are trained to reconstruct an accident."
Hansen is a member of the Minnesota Troopers Association. He said this is the troopers’ union, bargaining is done through this association and troopers can decline the payment of dues. He said bargaining is always an issue. He remembers that in the 1980s they went to arbitration and won and the legislature refused to honor the agreement.
"Negotiations are pretty much a struggle every time we do it. As a matter of fact the contract that should have come into effect July 1, still hasn’t been agreed upon," Hansen said. "It’s part of state politics, so I guess it’s that way every place." Hansen said these negotiations mainly regard salary and insurance. Equipment negotiations are part of the overall budget and take place through the administration office in St. Paul.
Currently, in the Detroit Lakes District Office 2900, there are 36 troopers, led by Captain Bruce Hentges, and three lieutenants, Mike Hanson, Dan Vickmark and Chuck Backes, six radio communicators and three support staff. The district office includes stations in Mahnomen, Moorhead, Fergus Falls, Wadena and Alexandria. The telephone number is 218-847-1584.
Minnewaukan native Howard Hansen has retired after 26 years as a Minnesota Highway Patrol trooper.
Minnewaukan native Howard Hansen is pictured in uniform beside an old-style patrol car during his early years with the Minnesota Highway Patrol. Hansen lives in Hawley, Minn. with his wife, Diane, also a native of Minnewaukan. He is a 1970 MHS graduate and she is a 1974 graduate.
Leeds elementary slumber party
The Leeds School elementary students met their reading month goals and were rewarded with a pajama/movie party. They watched the movie "Snow Buddies" and enjoyed Oreo blizzards. All the Leeds elementary students are pictured at their slumber party.
Students study China
Welcome to "The Year of the Rat." The second and third graders at the Leeds School have been studying China and learning about the Chinese New Year. They ate stir-fry with chopsticks and made dragon puppets as a culmination of this social studies unit. Rochelle Hansen and Grace Nybo use chopsticks in eating their stir-fry.
Students make Chinese dragons. Left to right, in the back row, are Garrett Johnson and Arnikka Thompson. In the front are Rochelle Hansen and Dani Schwanke.
Third graders are shown with their Chinese Dragons. Left to right, back row, are Grace Nybo, Josh Bowman, Gary Redetzke and Andrew Follman. In the middle row are Ricky Jorgenson, Dalton Onerheim, Erin Jorgenson and Kaylee Lybeck. In front is Spencer Follman.
Second graders are shown with their Chinese dragons. Left to right, back row, are Braydon Follman, Arnikka Thompson and Dani Schwanke. In the front row are Ryan Wangler, Rochelle Hansen and Garrett Johnson.
Andrew Follman uses his chopsticks.
Look out state, here they come
The Four Winds Indians boys’ basketball team is once again preparing to travel to the state Class B tournament. Taking the Region 4 crown last Thursday with a 51-35 win over the St. John Woodchucks earned them a third straight trip to state. This year the team goes to Fargo to face the Region 3 champs, the LaMoure Loboes at 1 p.m. on Thursday, March 13 in the Fargodome.
Pictured are the champs of Region 4. Back row, left to right, are assistant coach Doug Yankton, assistant coach Dean Dauphinais Jr., Zack Alberts, Scott Bull, CJ Ironheart, Wambli Dubois, Murle Richotte, Joran Black and head coach Rick Smith. Front row: Rock Baer, Ryan Brown, Chuck Lovejoy, Demery Lawrence, Travis LaRock, Oliver Dauphin-ais, Jay Lovejoy and Darryl Three Irons.
Lybeck on academic team
Leeds High School senior Katrina Lybeck has been named to the 2008 ND Academic All-State Gold Team and will be part of the Parade of Academic Champions at the state Class B boy’s basketball tournament in Fargo on March 14.
The teams are selected by the ND Association of Secondary School Principals. Students are selected based on overall grade point averages, ACT or SAT test scores, extracurricular activities, community involvement and leadership qualities.