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12/23/2009 – News

Volume 126, Number 47           Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

Leeds native serves as peacekeeper in Kosovo

Leeds native Captain Brock Larson is currently serving with KFOR 12, a large peacekeeping task force stationed in Kosovo, a sovereign nation that used to be a part of Yugoslavia. The mission of KFor-12 is to keep the ethnic Serb and Albanian residents of Kosovo from murdering each other and providing security so the population can move around in a safe and secure environment. KFOR 12 is made up of about 2,200 troops, 700 of whom are North Dakota National Guardsmen.

Larson grew up a long way from Kosovo — in Leeds. His parents are Gary Larson of Leeds and Sally Eielman of Blakely Island, Wash. He is a grandson of the legendary farm implements and aircraft wheeler-dealer G.D. "Bud" Larson who died in June of 2009 after a long history of business in Benson County.

Brock Larson graduated from Leeds High School in 1991. He was active in basketball, football, track and the pep band. He went on to UND and earned a BS degree in education. He also earned a 2nd lieutenant’s bars through ROTC upon graduation. He entered the US Army in January of 1996.

His first assignment was as a recruiter for ROTC at UND from January through April. From April through September he attended the Ordinance Officers Basic Course at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Md. In September he went to Fort Hood, Tex. where he was a platoon leader with the 62nd Engineer Battalion.

From October of 1996 to April of 1997 he was deployed to Bosnia with the 62nd Engineer Battalion of the 1st Armored Division. Bosnia is not terribly far removed from Kosovo. He spent six months there before returning to Fort Hood, where he was promoted to Captain. He later served at Fort Lee, Va.

In November of 2000 he was deployed to South Korea, where he was the company commander of the 3rd Maintenance Co. near Suwon, South Korea.

He spent a year there until returning to the states and Fort Carson, Colo. There he was the maintenance officer for the 7th Infantry Division for about 17 months. He also spent a year at The Pentagon in Washington, DC as a maintenance officer.

In July of 2005 he was released from active duty and returned to North Dakota where he took up civilian life as the Lisbon branch manager of RDO Equipment for a little over two years. He then became general manager of the Future Vision partnership, headquartered in Kathryn, a job he held for almost two years.

He joined the ND National Guard in March of 2009 and was assigned as the maintenance officer of the 141st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade in Fargo on a part-time basis.

He joined the guard just in time to help in the flood fight in Fargo and Grand Forks. While doing that he became a full-time National Guard soldier.

In July he attended a three-week training school for information officers.

He is currently serving as tactical information officer at Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo. He’ll be there until Aug. 1, 2010, when he will return to National Guard headquarters in Bismarck where he’ll be the International Partnership director on the joint staff.

In his job, he controls the content and flow of information given to the media, at meetings with Kosovar civilians, mayors, police or simply by coordinating what our soldiers are saying to the people of Kosovo. He attempts to synchronize the messages being put out on the battalion level and to make the information consistent.

Everything about Kosovo is non-typical, he says. It’s not an operation that military personnel are ordinarily familiar with. "We work closely with the youth by getting soldiers into schools and youth clubs and teaching English as a second language. To reinforce this we have a monthly magazine publication called K4U that our soldiers distribute to Serb and Albanian schools while they are out on patrol. We work with both the Albanians and Serbs to show them how the institutions of Kosovo are effective and capable and in some cases facilitate the cooperation between the two.

"If there are concerns that we sense throughout the communities, such as H1N1, we have numerous radio stations that we broadcast from and we will script our shows that gets a message or public service announcement distributed. We also conduct civil military operations .

. . where we conduct engineer assessments of a school, bridge or some other infrastructure and submit that project for funding through European Command. Once approved, we bid out the projects and local contractors complete the work."

Here are CPT. Larson’s observations on agriculture in Kosovo:

The average farm in Kosovo is less than one hectare (2.47 acres).

Some farmers have multiple tracts and move from field to field over the main highways, which are poor, to say the least. The crops consist of corn, wheat, tomatoes, cabbage and peppers.

Farmers practice mainly subsistence farming with little to no level of investment and production. Farming is mostly organic in Kosovo and most of what is produced is consumed on the farm, so grain elevators are non-existent. Because of their organic practices the ground is extremely fertile. Farmers markets along the road are seen regularly selling vegetables.

Five-bottom plows pulled by a 50-100 horsepower open cab tractors are the norm. Farmers seed their crops by using a broadcast spreader attached to the back of the tractor. To harvest, corn is cut with a sickle and bundled to dry or the corn crop is left standing and farmers let their cattle open graze the stand.

The only sign of modern farming is one older John Deere tractor sitting on the side of the road with a for sale sign on it.

Family farms are much like the US, in that they are handed down from father to son, generation after generation.

Capt. Larson and his wife, Shar (Wagner) Larson, a native of Mandan, have been married for 15 years. They have two children, Gavin, 7 and Camie, 4.

Leeds native Captain Brock Larson is serving in Kosovo with KFOR 12, a peacekeeping force of about 2,200 troops, of which about 700 are North Dakota National Guardsmen.


Ambulance gets big loan

The Leeds Ambulance Service has received a $50,000 low interest loan to assist in the purchase of a new $153,000 ambulance, which has been in service approximately six weeks. The loan came from the Dakota Certified Development Corporation (CDC) and the Impact Foundation.

According to Pat Traynor, executive director of the Impact Foundation, that organization "is deeply committed to maintaining critical health services in the rural areas of North Dakota." Larry Mandigo, president of the Dakota CDC said his organization "is proud to be a part in assisting Leeds Ambulance Service in their growth."

Left to right are Paul Peterson, secretary-treasurer of the Leeds Ambulance Service; Patrick Reinke of Fargo, commercial loan officer with Dakota CDC, who presented a facsimile of the $50,000 check; Rio Himle, president of the Leeds Ambulance Service; and directors Curt Jacobson and Lowell Haagenson. Not present is director Jana Darling.

Leeds soldier’s photo takes second in KFOR photo contest in Kosovo
Spc. Joshua A. Dodds of Leeds, a member of the ND National Guard, surprised even himself recently when a photo he snapped on a whim while on mission in Kosovo was judged second best in a big photography contest.

In fact, it was a clean sweep for America as three US soldiers took gold, silver and bronze in the KFOR Chronicle, KFOR-wide photography contest. The contest is open to the thousands of multi-national soldiers that make up NATO’s peacekeeping force in Kosovo. Over 200 photos were submitted for the contest.

Dodds is a print journalist with the 116th Public Affairs Detachment in Bismarck. His submission was a picture highlighting two generations of Kosovo Serbs (a grandmother and grandson) walking on a street in Strpce, Kosovo. He was honored for his effort by Brig. Gen.

David Harris with a special coin from the general and a SanDisk SANA View 8 GB MP3 player.

Dodds was on a mission, escorting an American photojournalist, when he took the photo. At the time the photojournalist was helping Dodds with adjustments on his camera, when Dodds noticed the subjects that would become his award-winning shot.

He lifted the camera and opened the shutter just in time.

Dodds is the son of Lyle and Darlene Dodds of Leeds and the grandson of Harold and the late Helen Jorgenson, formerly of Leeds and York Township.

Spc. Joshua Dodds, left, accepts his second place award for photography from KFOR (Kosovo Forces) Chief of Staff, Brig. General David Harris on December 16 in Pristina, Kosovo.

Taken while on a mission, Dodds’ photo depicts a Serbian grandmother and grandson walking away on a back street in Strpce, Kosovo.

House leaves Minnewaukan
This house was the latest to leave Minnewaukan as a result of a flood insurance buy-out. The house was built in the 1970s by Oscar and Deanna Hanson and a number of people lived in it over the years, most recently the late Harry and Evelyn Cline, followed by Deb Dyste. The house was transported to a farm south of Mayville by Carrington House Movers. This was the seventh house to leave Minnewaukan under flood insurance buy-outs. Under the program another house and the Trinity Free Lutheran Church were relocated in Minnewaukan.

Presidential card
Leslie Bowman of Leeds holds the Christmas card she received from President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama. Mrs. Bowman doesn’t know why she got the card, but she did make some phone calls in support of the Obama campaign prior to last year’s election.

Benefit planned for surviving children
Devils Lake Journal
Heidi Jo Anderson might be gone, but she’s certainly not forgotten.
The 24-year-old Devils Lake High School graduate and a single mom died in a traffic accident east of Maddock a couple months ago.
Tragically, she left behind three young children — two daughters Hannah May (4) and Annisyn (2 months) and a son, Terran (6).
At the time, Heidi had been living with her mother, Tammie Pforr, in Maddock. Tammie is married to Blair Pforr.
Hannah May and Annisyn were in the car when their mother died, but were uninjured.
Now, Heidi’s surviving sister, Hannah, and her friend, Mandy Thomas of Devils Lake, are extending a helping hand.

They’ve got a pancake and sausage fund-raiser scheduled for the three children January 10 at the KC Hall in Devils Lake.

Serving will run from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

"We were best friends," says Hannah. "Now it’s me. We lost a sister, Amy, to cancer seven years ago."

Tammie Pforr saw her family grow by three when she took in Heidi’s children.

It was not only a big adjustment for her, but for Blair as well.

"He’s really a good dad," says Hannah, who has a child due the end of this month.

"It was really something for them to bring those three kids into their home."

Tammie is a paraprofessional in the Four Winds school system, and Blair works in construction.

Mandy and Hannah are close friends and it was their idea to hold the fund-raiser.

It will be an emotional time, though. Even though the children are young, they know something happened and comprehend the situation.

"Hannah May talks about her mom at times," says Hannah. "And now my mother needs to be a mom again and Santa and all the other stuff."

"We’re trying to make it as comfortable as we can, even with her family growing by three almost overnight."

There will also be a silent auction on January 10 and an Anderson Children Benefit account has been set up at Bremer Bank in Devils Lake. Donations can be sent to Bremer Bank, PO Box 927, Devils Lake, ND 58301. Supplemental funds are provided by Thrivent Financial.

When Heidi Jo Anderson died in a car accident near Maddock a couple months ago, she left behind daughters Hannah May and Annisyn and son Terran.

Students of Month
Students of the Month for November at the Warwick Elementary School have been named. They are, left to right, Jozey Retzlaff, Taschella Feather, Kalista Jackson, Kaylean Lohnes, Douglas Lawrence, Julia Hill, Cylas Jacobs and Truth Robertson. Not pictured are Peyton Azure and Shaun Brown.

Perfect attendance

Warwick Elementary School

Perfect Attendance

(November 2009)

Pre-K, Mrs. Moxness: Khloe Cavangaugh, Nevada Rue, Shelby Stevenenson.

Kindergarten, Mrs. Gjovik: Hillary Archambault, James Charboneau, Shanese Jetty, Douglas Lawrence.

Kindergarten, Mrs. Leith: Hansome Bird Horse.

Grade 1, Mrs. Freeman: Marlin Demarce, Trinity Feather, Jaztin Hunt, Keyen Omen, Cole Smith.

Grade 1, Ms. Olson: Nathan Cavanaugh, Julian Hill, Kalista Jackson, Benjamin Longie, Mena Robertson, Mark Shaw.

Grade 2: Jackson Delorme, Mallory Demarce, Gary Feather, Klint Georgeson, Kory Georgeson, Addison Greyhorn, David Mandan, Justice Robertson, Truth Robertson, Sydney Tollefson.

Grade 3: Samantha Archambault, Jordan Bertsch, Tachella Feather, Angel Georgeson, Shanae Jetty, Madison Leaf, Chandler Redfox, Talin Redfox, Gionni Robertson, Markki Shaw.

Grade 4: Sage Bertsch, Traysen Feather, Julia Hill, Kasa Lohnes.

Grade 5: Kristina Archambault, Michael Denne, Katelyn Omen, Aiana Richotte.

Grade 6: Jace Baker, Paul Lawrence, Isaac Owlboy.

Near Perfect Attendance, Grade 1: Nathaniel Azure.

Red Ribbon Week
Students and staff recently participated in Red Ribbon Week at the Leeds School. Educational lessons on "Saying NO to Drugs" and staying drug free were planned and presented by students in the Family and Consumer Sciences classes. Elementary students participated in a coloring contest. The winners were, bottom row, second grader Jarrel McGarvey; middle row, left to right, sixth grader Taylor Bisbee, third grader Caitlyn Blazer, first grader Kearyn Nelsen and fourth grader Danielle Schwanke; and top row, kindergartener McKenna Tofsrud and fifth grader Kaylee Lybeck.

Staff and students in grades kindergarten through twelve participated in "Brain Gym" activities.

Shoots big deer
Taylor Bisbee, daughter of Charlie and Tamie Bisbee of Leeds, is shown with the first deer she shot with her bow and arrow. She shot it on December 10. She is 11 years old and enjoys hunting.

Entertains at home
The fifth and sixth grade band from the Maddock School, under the direction of Chris Fuge, presented a Christmas concert at the Maddock Memorial Home December 18.

Students from grades seven through twelve and school faculty, under the direction of Rachel Markestad, surprised Main Street businesses in Maddock and residents at the home with caroling December 16.

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