Volume 126, Number 6
Westad keeps Esmond Locker Plant going
BY SHELL EYL
Little towns in Benson County, and all over the state of North Dakota, are struggling for survival. It’s been that way for so long we’ve come to accept the slow death of these tiny communities and the businesses that used to thrive in them as a sad, but inevitable fact of life. But that is not necessarily true.
Esmond is a good example. Maybe the town itself isn’t as booming as it used to be, but you will find it has a unique history, filled with interesting people if you take the time to stop and check it out. It’s not only the population numbers, but the optimism and hard work of individuals that make or break the future of a community.
The Esmond Locker Plant is an example of the viability of a business in a small town. It takes good customer service, common sense and lots of good old fashioned elbow grease, but these businesses can succeed.
The Esmond Locker Plant was originally built in 1952 as an expansion of the Esmond Creamery. The concrete blocks came from Ove Lunde’s block factory near Cranberry Lake north of Esmond.
Lunde’s construction crew put up the building. Mike Lauinger Sr. did the carpentry work.
According to "the keeper of local legends" Gene Reierson, the guys who built the locker were unwillingly paid, in part, with stocks in the creamery business. The business has switched hands a few times over the years, but has always managed to stay afloat while other businesses went belly up. The abandoned creamery building next door will testify to that.
The early managers of the locker plant are not known, but Nick Heisler was the manager until he was forced to retire because of health reasons in 1956. The creamery sold the locker plant to Harry Pierson in 1956, who in turn sold it to Gary Stadum in 1963. In 1964 Gary’s parents, Art and Ida Stadum, bought the business from him when he took over the family farm.
The business thrived. They added on in 1971 and by 1976 they had 175 lockers available for meat storage, six employees and a widespread reputation for processing quality meat.
Art’s daughter, Eileen Vetter and husband Richard took over the business in 1978 when her parents retired. The Vetters sold the business to Dennis and Regina Goetz in 1987.
The Goetzes had owned the only grocery store in town for many years and Esmond residents still recall that sad morning in October of 1982 when the store and caf? burned to the ground. They operated the locker plant until retiring in 1998.
Greg and Marilynn Wolfe bought the business in 1998. Her brother, Richard Goldade soon took over ownership and ran a successful business for the next eight years. When he and his partner, Joan Jacobs decided to move their operation they bought the former Skybergs’ Meats in Devils Lake.
It looked like the Esmond Locker Plant had finally seen its last days.
Willard Westad and Denise McGath of rural Maddock heard the place was for sale and decided to give it a go. Willard, who also owns Westad Auction & Appraisal, was reared on a farm and has years of FFA experience. So he knows how to slaughter and butcher. Denise is his assistant and day-to-day brains of the operation.
They bought the business in the spring of 2008 and spent the summer fixing, updating and remodeling the place. The wood floor was replaced with concrete and the countertops are now portable stainless steel that can be moved around and torn down for much more efficient cleanup. The Esmond Locker Plant re-opened for business in October of 2008.
How is business so far?
Well, they are licensed for custom exempt processing only, which means they can slaughter and process meat for private individuals, but can’t sell meat over-the-counter — though they plan to become licensed for that in the future. They’ve slaughtered and processed over 104 animals, mostly beef and pork, since the doors opened October 1.
Or as Willard said, "We’ve been busier then heck." People have brought animals in from as far away as Willow City and Goodrich. Not bad for a small town business!
The locker plant is open from around 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. They rent meat lockers to the public for $55 a year. The lockers can hold about a half a beef or approximately 200 lbs. of meat. Wednesday is kill day and they can slaughter about 7 to 8 animals, depending on the size. So they ask that customers call ahead and schedule a date and time before loading their livestock. They make sausage, burger and pretty much any cut of meat the customer wants. They will even process venison, if it is skinned and boned before it is brought in. The phone number is the same as it has always been: 701-249-3493.
The operation is inspected four times a year by the US Department of Agriculture to insure cleanliness and safety.
As an icky, yet interesting side note: Have you ever wondered what happens to all the parts of an animal that don’t end up in your freezer? They get put into 50 gallon drums and picked up by a place called West End Hide & Fur out of Jamestown. From there it can become anything. Who knows — this year’s Bossy the Cow is probably next year’s leather work boots.
So we can shrug our shoulders, write these little towns off as dead and gone and take our business elsewhere. But we cheat ourselves out of something special if we do, because the future of small town businesses is really very bright if given a chance to succeed.
Willard Westad and Denise McGath are the operators of the Esmond Locker Plant. They took over last fall and have been "busier than heck." They live on his family farm near Maddock.
Tankers collide near Mwkn
An accident March 5 at about 7:28 a.m. four miles south of Minnewaukan on US Highway 281 resulted in the collision of two semis, one carrying propane and one carrying diesel fuel. Conditions were extremely slippery after rain fell and froze on the highway. Hans Wallin Jr., 59, of Argusville was traveling north in a 2007 Peterbilt pulling a propane tank and while trying to negotiate a curve at slow speed, gravity pulled his vehicle into the southbound lane and eventually onto the west shoulder of the highway. Richard Sabinash, 58, of Jamestown was also traveling north in a 2001 Freightliner pulling a load of diesel fuel. While trying to negotiate the curve at slow speed, gravity also caused his vehicle to sideswipe the propane semi. Both vehicles ended up parked beside each other on the west shoulder of the highway. There was about $20,000 damage to the Freightliner and about $10,000 damage to the Peterbilt. According to the ND Highway Patrol about two gallons of diesel fuel leaked from the petrol tanker. Both vehicles were towed from the scene after the diesel fuel was pumped into another tanker. There were no injuries.
Chuck Paulson is Benson County’s new director of emergency services, replacing Gene "Shorty" Hager, who retired from that position December 31. Paulson lives on a farm near Bisbee and has experience in electronics and paperwork in hospitals. He worked at MeritCare Medical Center in Fargo and the Towner County Medical Center in Cando. He works 20 hours a week in his new position with an office at the Benson County Highway Dept.
The Leeds first and second grade students participated in a traveling gingerbread project. The students chose friends and relatives from different cities and states to send a letter and a cut-out gingerbread man. The gingerbread men came back to the students decorated by their friends and families in clothes that told a little about the state. Many of the gingerbread men came with postcards and letters. "We had one gingerbread man that traveled all the way from Paris, France along with some European money, books written in French and postcards," said Mrs.
Kavili, second grade teacher. "The students had so much fun writing the letters and receiving their gingerbread men from their friends and family and learning all about the different places." The gingerbread travel board shows all the places he traveled.
Members of the classes are pictured, left to right, front row, Kim Nelsen, Hailey Gunderson, Shelby Follman, Jarrel Jorgenson, Macy Engstrom, Katlyn Bingham, Alea Manley and Madi Dulmage. In the second row are Reganne Ritterman, Ashley Thayne, Callie Lawrence, Timothy Thayne, Tristin Burtchell and Camee Wangler. In the third row are Caitlyn Blazer, Luke Pepple, Nathan Elverud, Keaton Nelsen, Declan Ritterman, Jacob Peifer and Evan Follman.
Girl Scouts learn about Africa
The Maddock Brownies and Junior Girl Scouts celebrated Thinking Day on March 2. This is a day set aside for Scouts around the world to think about each other and to celebrate membership in the world-wide organization for girls called the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS).
Emily Nolden, a first year Brownie, received a World Pin and her first "Try-It," Girl Scout Way.
Guest speaker was Addie Mathison of Maddock. She shared with the girls some of the culture and the experiences when she and her husband, Lu, served as missionaries in Cameroun and Chad, Africa. She showed pictures of the people, told about the food and showed items they used for cooking.
There was a display of materials used for clothing and a map wall hanging. She taught the girls a song in the Fulani language. A short DVD was viewed showing life in Africa and the dangers for children with the scorpions and snakes, etc.
She served an African food with ground meat and peanut butter over rice that the African people would serve for company.
This week the Scouts will observe Girl Scout Week, as March 23 marks the 97th birthday of Girl Scouts, founded by Juliette Low.
Brownies leader is Helen Foss and the Junior leader is Robyn Risovi. Helpers are Joyce Rasmussen, Mary Ann Williams and Deb Pierson.
The Scouts just completed another annual cookie drive. They sold 1,667 boxes of cookies! Top sellers were Abigail Grossman and Kristi Medalen.
Members of the Maddock Girl Scouts Brownies and Junior Troops are, left to right, front row, Emily Nolden, Abigail Grossman, Charity Dosch, Greta Duren and Talissa Aabrekke. Second row, Kenzie Randle, Marissa Lunde and guest Addie Mathison. Back row, Taylor Foss, Kristi Medalen and Ashley Risovi. Junior members not present are Faith Dosch, Rebecca Johnson, Hannah Pierson, Emily Sears and Delores Williams.
Wins essay contest
Katie Rice, a home schooled eighth grade student, placed first in the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post and Auxiliary’s Patriots Pen essay contest entitled "Why America’s Veterans Should Be Honored." She received a $500 US Savings Bond, a check for $200 and a plaque. Left to right are Commander of VFW Post 757 Loren Knutson of Harlow, VFW Post 757 Auxiliary President Inez Klein of Leeds, Katie Rice of Maddock and District Chairman of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Voice of Democracy and Patriots Pen chairman Richard Hagel.
Katie Rice with parents John and Barbara Rice of Maddock at the West Fargo VFW on January 24.
The Minnewaukan Fffishtival was held March 7 with a fair crowd in attendance in the chilly weather. Only three fish were caught in the fishing contest. Dave Christensen of Maddock caught a walleye weighing 2.9 lbs. and Joe Clifton of Minnewaukan caught a walleye weighing 2.26 lbs. Lisa Nihill of Devils Lake caught a 3.7 lb. northern.
A large number of vendors filled the halls of the Minnewaukan School as they displayed their wares at a large flea market.
Minnewaukan Librarian Cathy Burkhardsmeier and Connie Ambers, a member of the city council and the council’s representative on the library board, serve coffee, cider and freshly made donuts in the Minnewaukan Community Club’s big tent.
Steinhaus heads nutrition council; Arnold to be next
Jenny Steinhaus has been named president of the ND Nutrition Council. Steinhaus recently earned her Master of Science Degree in Nutrition, Health and Exercise Sciences from NDSU and is a licensed nutritionist. She is a Benson County NDSU Extension agent.
The purpose of the ND Nutrition Council is to improve the nutritional health of North Dakotans through the promotion of accurate and current nutrition information, and to support nutrition professionals in their roles as educators and health advocates.
Esmond native Holly Arnold is the president-elect of the organization. She is the daughter of Milton and Darlene Erickson and the daughter-in-law of Helen and Louis Arnold, all of Esmond.
The annual conference of the NDNC will be held at the Grand International Inn in Minot April 15-16.
The keynote speaker this year is Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, Ph.D, M.P.H., R.D. from the University of Minnesota Public Health. She will be addressing family meals and disordered eating in adolescents, helping a teen make healthy choices about eating and exercise in a weight obsessed world.
For more information on the nutrition council visit www.ndsu.nodak.edu/ndnc/.
Cat in the Hat visits
Rep. Corey Mock of Grand Forks and Rep. Ben Vig of Aneta are joined by Josh Askvig of the North Dakota Education Association for Read Across America day on March 2. Left to right are Mock, Askvig and Vig.
Iditarod at Leeds
The Leeds Elementary School is gearing up to take part in the 2nd annual Iditarod race on Monday, March 16. There will be two Iditarod races, a shorter one for kindergarten and first grade students and a longer one for grades two through six. Students will follow and log the progress of the teams throughout the Iditarod. The event is organized by school staff and parent and student volunteers. Third graders involved in the race are, left to right, Rochelle Hansen, Arnikka Thompson, Braydon Follman, Cody Dickey, Garrett Johnson, Ryan Wangler and Dani Schwanke. Mayor Lloyd Himle has proclaimed March 16 as Leeds Elementary Iditarod Day. Local sponsors are Jan’s Stall Mall, B&H Oil, United Community Bank, Tracy’s Market and Chad’s Amoco.
The first through third place individual winners in the Benson County Mathcounts competition held February 18 at the Minnewaukan School are pictured. The contest was organized by Benson County Superintendent of Schools Jean Olson. Left to right are Katherine Sears of Maddock, first; Mylie Herman of Leeds, second; and Chelsea Rallo of Minnewaukan, third.
First through sixth place individual winners were, left to right, Katherine Sears of Maddock, Mylie Herman of Leeds, Chelsea Rallo of Minnewaukan, Zach Eyl of Maddock, Traci Owlboy of Warwick and Brady Stoll of Leeds.
The Leeds team took first place in the event. Left to right are Kevin Slaubaugh, Mylie Herman, Brady Stoll, Joe Strand. All participants are eighth graders except Mylie Herman, who is a 7th grader. Coach April Anderson is on the right.
The team from Maddock took second place. Left to right are Katherine Sears, Katelynn Engh, Renae Lauinger and Zach Eyl. All are eighth graders except seventh grader Renae Lauinger. On the right is coach Jeff Jacobson.
Minnewaukan was the third place team. Coach Cindy Knowlen is in the rear center. Contestants were, left to right, Demrae Ami, Nevada Feather, Jordan Every and Chelsea Rallo. All are eighth graders except Demrae Ami, a seventh grader.
The fourth place team was from Warwick. Coach Rita Kaeding is in the center rear. Left to right are Autumn Redfox, Samone Motley, Eddy Acalan and Tracy Owlboy. All are eighth graders.
Four Winds of Fort Totten took fifth place. Coach Mike Babinski is in the center. Left to right are Willanette Goodshot, Ilana Greybear, Babinski, Lee Lenoir and Colten Laroque. All contestants are seventh graders.
Benson County spelling bee winners
For the first time in memory sisters will represent Benson County at the state spelling bee in Bismarck on March 27. Sixth grader Maria Sears (right) is the Benson County champion and her sister, eighth grader Katherine Sears (left) is the runner-up. They are the daughters of Jerry and Marianne Sears of the Harlow area.
Eighth grade winners are Sara Schwanke of Maddock, left, first place and Katherine Sears of Maddock, second place. The spelling bee was held February 28 at Minnewaukan under the direction of Jean Olson, Benson County Superintendent of Schools. Trophies were provided by the Benson County Farmers Press. Photos were taken by Sherri Thompson of Minnewaukan.
Seventh grade winners are, in order of first to fourth place, left to right, Kaleb Westad of Maddock, Justin Johnson of Maddock, Taryn Bjerke of Leeds and Katelynn Green of Minnewaukan.
Sixth grade winners are, in order of first to sixth place, left to right, Maria Sears of Maddock, Julissa McGarvey of Leeds, Kalvin Slaubaugh of Leeds, Larse Azure of Oberon, Arlette Lohnes of Minnewaukan and Emily Thumb of Oberon.
Fifth graders, in order of first to sixth place, left to right, are Nora Duren of Maddock, Tessa Sherman of Minnewaukan, Adam Fischer of Leeds, Lisa Lohnes of Minnewaukan, Jaydin Risovi of Maddock and Mathias Follman of Leeds.
Fourth graders are, left to right, Lin Ella Pistol of Maddock, first place; O’Shea Red Fox of Minnewaukan, second; Jarin Alberts of Fort Totten, third; Taeya Thomas of Minnewaukan, fourth; and Bryann Robertson of Oberon, sixth. Not pictured is fifth place winner Spencer Follman of Leeds.
Third graders, in order of first through sixth place, left to right, are Dani Schwanke of Leeds, Sierra Herald of Minnewaukan, Keringten Lee of Maddock, Sage Bertsch of Warwick, Charles Black of Fort Totten (not pictured) and Rochelle Hansen of Leeds.
Second graders, in order of first through sixth, left to right, are Abigail Grossman of Maddock, Harley Walking Eagle of Fort Totten (not pictured), Danae Allery of Minnewaukan, Brady Kallenbach of Maddock, Dylan Littlewind of Fort Totten (not pictured) and Darrie Longie of Minnewaukan.
First grade winners, in order of first through sixth, left to right, are Marissa Gourd of Fort Totten, Mady Sears of Maddock, Jenna Makes Good of Fort Totten, Gunnar Hagen of Maddock, Jerral McGarvey of Leeds and Kory Georgeson of Warwick.
Leeds 8th graders connect with community readers and leaders
February was National Reading Month and Leeds 8th grade students spent a week interviewing community members and recording reading habits as part of a classroom project under the direction of Sheila Moser, the English teacher at Leeds High School.
Matthew Ellison interviewed Bob Smeltzer of Leeds who said he uses reading to help him get information for hunting and fishing. He likes to read Field & Stream magazine because he enjoys reading about hunts. Sitting in his favorite reading spot, his chair, he enjoys reading before bedtime. He estimates that he reads over 100 magazines a year and about six hours a week.
Jody Gullickson was interviewed by Kevin Slaubaugh. She is a busy reader, averaging about 40 books a year. She likes to read on the couch when no one is home and her favorites are horror and mystery books, though her favorite book, The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks is more of a romance story. For work, Jody needs to read preschool directions and craft directions.
Jacob Eback recently interviewed Jason Tracy, owner of Tracy’s Market in Leeds, who said he uses reading in his career quite a bit. He reads through sale ads for his store, marketing and business plans.
Personal reading includes newspapers, magazines and books such as his favorite, Wolf on Wall Street. Reading in his favorite location, his den, he reads about six to 10 books per year, but seven to 10 magazines or newspapers per week.
Danielle Redetzke of Brinsmade spent some time with Peggy Bingham last week, finding out about how Peggy uses reading in her life. "Reading is a skill I use every day. I have done day care for more than 30 years and am sometimes the first or only person to read to children. I have found that a child is never too young to read to. The younger you start, the more children are interested in reading. I even had one child who loved homemade stories." Peggy’s favorite place to read is in the tub, but she seems to read everywhere, reading approximately five books a week. Her favorite book is still The Diary of Anne Frank, though she has read it numerous times.
Andrew Bowman interviewed Alan Remeika. Alan enjoys reading about machines, but his favorite book is Crypted Hunters by R.L. Smith because it has a lot of adventure. At home on his couch, he reads about 10 books per year.
Chelsi Olson investigated local reading habits by interviewing Carla Bjerke, bookkeeper and office manager at the BTR Farmers Co-op Elevator at Niles. Carla said she needs to have good reading skills to do bookwork. In her spare time, she likes to read books by James Patterson because "I like suspense and trying to figure out who the bad guy is." In the summertime, she likes to read at her desk in the sunshine, but in the winter, in her favorite chair. Chelsi found out that Carla reads about 20 hours per week, totaling about 20 books per year.
Sue Gunderson, interviewed by Jesse Hoffert, has a couple favorite authors: Sandra Brown and Debbie Macomer "because their books have a little mystery while at the same time a little romance." Sue likes to read in her chair or bed in the evening, reading 15-20 books per year. She also reads magazines and direction manuals for hairstyles and perms, necessary information for her career as she owns her own beauty shop.
Josh Blegen interviewed Sandra Bartle. She’s retired and enjoys reading for self-help and entertainment. She likes to read the Bible, cookbooks, cooking magazines, newspapers and novels. "My favorite book is the Bible because it includes everything and is uplifting." Her favorite place to read is in bed and she reads about two books a month, reading about an hour a day.
"I read the directions on perms, how to use products, recommendations . . ." said Cindy Gronos when interviewed by Brady Stoll. "When I started, (as a beauty operator), I read directions for everything."
Along with career reading, Cindy also reads newspapers, gardening books and Inquire. Her favorite book is Audrey Rose because it is full of suspense. Brady found out her favorite time to read is while she is traveling, though she reads about an hour a week even when at home.
Kyle Nelsen of Leeds, when interviewed by eighth grader Meghan Jorgenson, said he spends about 10 hours per week reading. He can be found reading in his favorite place, his basement, with his favorite book Understanding Exchange Traded Funds. He likes this book "because it is the book I am reading now." For his career, Kyle said, "I use reading in my career to learn stuff about the business world. I also read business books for my personal reading."
After the Rain by Chuck Logan is a favorite book of Kelly Fischer, a new member of the United Community Bank staff who was interviewed by Leeds student Seth Bisbee. "I like this book because it takes place in Cavalier County and that is where I grew up and it tells about different places and locations that I am familiar with," stated Fischer. "My favorite place to read would have to be in my living room." Fischer uses reading a great deal for his career because "if I don’t read or interpret my customer’s information properly I can jeopardize their financial status or the bank’s financial status." Fischer also likes to read on the Internet where he reads The Forum and checks the sports scores, totaling about 20 reading hours per week.
Stopping at Jan’s Stall Mall, Joe Strand interviewed Jan Engstrom, owner of her own business in Leeds. She spends quite a bit of time reading, as she does research on antiques. For personal reading she reads newspapers, magazines, books and information on the Internet.
Her favorite book is related: The Official eBay Bible. She uses that book a lot because some of her business takes place on eBay. She likes to read in bed and totals about 12 books per year. She said she spends about 20 hours a week reading for personal and business needs.
Eighth grader McKenzie Silliman sat down and visited with Deb Toso, an employee at the Devils Lake Journal. Silliman found out that Toso reads quite a bit for her career, such as "I have to read ads that go into the The Peddler and make sure there are no errors on them." She also reads the newspaper five days a week, some magazines and occasionally a book. When asked about her favorite book, Toso said, "Marley and Me, because it was so heart-warming and a great story about a family. Marley was such a memorable dog. Also, the story made me laugh and cry. Even if you’re not a dog lover, this is a great book. I recommend it to everyone."
Dylan Torgerson talked to Betty Anderson, owner of the floral shop in Leeds. She said she likes to read mystery stories, sitting near her fireplace. She also reads newspapers, magazines and instruction manuals for her job.