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2/10/2010 – News

Volume 127, Number 1           Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

Man with county roots dies in earthquake
A 25-year-old Lutheran seminarian with Benson County roots perished in the severe earthquake in Haiti on January 12.
Dead is Benjamin Judd Ulring Splichal Larson, 25, of Duluth, Minn. Ben, his wife, Renee Splichal Larson and his cousin, Jonathan Larson, all three Wartburg Theological Seminary students certified for ordination, were in Haiti learning from and working with the people of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Haiti. They were staying in a guest house at St. Joseph’s Home for Boys on a mountain near Port au Prince. The building collapsed on all three, but Renee Splichal Larson and Jonathan Larson were able to escape. Ben was buried in the collapsed ceiling on the resurrection dance theater floor and died after singing a verse of a hymn.
Renee and Jonathan were forced to flee down the mountain. They returned to the ruined building on Wednesday but were unable to find Benjamin. After spending the night in a trash-filled lot with faithful, singing and praying, surviving and dying Haitians, Renee and Jon safely returned to Minneapolis on Friday, Jan. 15. Benjamin Larson has roots in Benson County and even deeper roots in the Lutheran Church. Ben is a great-grandson of Emma Ploium, who was born in a sod house three miles west of Maddock. She married Lutheran Pastor Edwin Ulring. Ben’s great-great-grandfather, John Ploium was killed by lightning at Immanuel Lutheran Church seven miles north of Maddock in June of 1897. Ben’s parents, Rev. April Ulring Larson and Rev. Judd Larson, are both Lutheran pastors in Duluth, Minn. In fact, she is a former bishop of the Lutheran Church in Wisconsin.
The magnitude 7 earthquake struck late afternoon January 12, flattening much of the capital city of Port au Prince, which had some two million residents. This was the worst earthquake to hit the country in 200 years and more than 200,000 people died. Larson’s family said workers were hired by the Evangelical Lutheran Church’s International Disaster Response Team after US government officials said it would take them at least a month to recover Ben’s remains. Renee Larson told the ELCA news service that the workers removed multiple layers of concrete to free her husband’s body.
"It’s a relief that they have found Ben," she said. "It’s a huge gift that the people (took) the time to get Ben’s body out so we can grieve and bury him." The US military carried his remains to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. His funeral was held January 30 in Duluth.
Ben was born Feb. 27, 1984 in Storm Lake, Iowa. His early years were near Waterville, Iowa, Rochester, Minn. and then La Crosse, Wisc. He is a graduate of Central High School in La Crosse and of Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. He was to graduate in May from Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa. He married Renee Splichal of Garrison on Dec. 29, 2007 in Garrison.
He played the guitar, mandolin, trombone, cello, piano and nearly any other instrument he could get his hands on. He sang in Central High School Robed Choir and Grand Central Station show choir. He sang in Luther’s Nordic Choir for three years. He also wrote songs. He enjoyed playing table tennis, baseball and football. He was a diehard Vikings fan. He also enjoyed canoeing, hiking and outdoor activities.
Survivors include his wife; his parents; his grandmother Marilyn Larson of Prairie du Sac, Wisc.; two sisters, Katie (Seth) Larson Ode of Lauderdale, Minn. and Amy (Peter) Larson Calhoun of Salt Lake City, Utah. He was preceded in death by his grandfathers, George "Judd" Larson and Joseph "Joe" Ulring; and a grandmother, Aleta (South) Ulring. A memorial service was held at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. The family asks that memorials be directed to the ELCA Disaster Response for Haiti, ELCA Global Mission for the Eglise Lutherienne d’Haiti (, St. Joseph’s Home for Boys (, or Wartburg Theological Seminary. Information for this story came from the Duluth News Tribune, the Bismarck Tribune, The Jamestown Sun, Minnesota Public Radio and other Internet sources. Harris Togstad of Maddock provided information on the Benson County connection.

Benjamin Larson is shown singing in church last year. He was to be ordained as a Lutheran pastor in May, but perished in the earthquake in Haiti January 12. He has roots in Benson County.

Power line nears completion
Crews have nearly completed construction of a new power line to the Devils Lake Outlet at Round Lake, about three miles south of Minnewaukan. The new line is needed to feed power to the new pumps which will more than double the capacity of the outlet. The photo was taken Saturday, Feb. 6 on a typical winter gray day with no sunshine to delineate the horizon.

Win savings bonds
Winners of US Savings Bonds at the financial aid meeting held at the Maddock High School February 1 are pictured. Ramsey Bank and the North Star Community Credit Union co-sponsored the event. Winning the $50 US Savings Bonds were Kara Kallenbach, left and Mylee Kenner.

Contest winners
Cindy Rondestvedt of Devils Lake, left, was the first place winner of the Spirit Lake Casino and Resort’s chili contest. She received $300. In the center is the second place winner, Jason Rundquist of Bismarck. He received $200. Winning $100 for third place was Misty Cavanaugh of Tokio, right.

Morgan Leapaldt is shown with her pen and ink drawing entitled New York, New York.
Morgan Leapaldt artwork on display in Leeds
Leeds High School senior art student Morgan Leapaldt will be the featured artist in a public exhibit of her career work at the United Community Bank in Leeds from February 23 through March 5. There is no charge to view the display and the public is invited during regular business hours.

Leapaldt’s show will include a variety of media, including watercolor, glass painting, acrylics, colored charcoal, colored pencil, fabric construction, ceramics, lead, collage, pen and ink, comic construction and more.

According to Leapaldt, "My favorite to work with is colored pencil and I don’t enjoy painting as much as drawing. I like the feeling of having more control when I draw." Most of Leapaldt’s art is based on photographs that she’s taken of her pets, places she’s visited and friends.

Her senior final project, a highlight of the show, is a pen and ink drawing from a trip to Las Vegas appropriately titled New York, New York.

She has been active in visual arts since she was a child and began taking classes in high school at the Leeds School. She has received credit in basic art and advanced classes in design, lifetime crafts, drawing and painting.

The Leeds school offers the opportunity for art in grades K-12, though Leapaldt transferred to Leeds as a freshman and has been an active artist in class and outside class as well. She has assisted groups in poster-making, cards, signs, FCCLA and classroom projects for younger students.

Morgan plans to attend Moorhead State University following graduation, working toward a major in graphic design and a minor in business. When not in school, one can find Morgan working at Chad’s Amoco in Leeds, scrapbooking, babysitting, home decorating or shopping.

Oberon School holds Title I night
The Title I Parent Activity Night was held at the Oberon School on January 28. More than half the students and their parents attended. The kindergarten through third grade students read "The Gingerbread Man" story to their parents. They colored a gingerbread man by a glyph chart and also colored and assembled a moveable gingerbread man. The fourth through eighth grade students folded, cut out and decorated paper snowflakes.
A meal was served for parents, students and staff. After the meal, students and parents decorated their dessert. The kindergarten through third graders decorated gingerbread men and the fourth through eighth graders decorated snowflakes. Everyone enjoyed decorating and eating the cookies. Door prize drawings were held. The parents won a $25 gift card and the winners were Jay Deckert, Martina Whitetail, Yvonne Thumb and Anna Scott. Students won a $5 gift card and the winners were Ryilee Littleghost, Jaden Whitetail, Anthony Demarce and Hunter Ebach. The next scheduled Parent Activity Night will be held March 29 and the activity will be book bingo. Staff that assisted with the evening were Sandy Swenson, Corey Ploium, Kenny Ploium and Paula Deckert.

Left to right are Tyren Dubois, Nathanial Dubois, Martina Whitetail, Tieonna Dubois, Kenny Ploium and Deborah Jackson. Students are working on their gingerbread man activities.

Bailey Thumb, McKenzie Scott, Nakia Hill, Darica Deckert and Raylene Scott show their decorated cookies.

Raylene Scott decorates her paper snowflake.

Students are pictured doing their gingerbread man activities at the Oberon Title I Parent Activity Night. Left to right, front row, are: Jay Deckert, Jacen Deckert, Debra Herald and Hunter Ebach. Second row: Monica Baker, her toddler son, Destanee Black, Felix Black, unidentified family friend, Robert Cavanaugh, Renee Cavanaugh and Betty Smith.

Debra Herald, Louise Demarce, Cheyenne Demarce, Wyatt Ross, Tina Ross, standing Annie Howard, Robert Cavanaugh, Renee Cavanaugh, Deborah Jackson and Hunter Ebach decorating their cookies.

Fishing for words
Though they are not ice fishing, the kindergarten class at Leeds has been fishing for sight words as they learn new words every week. Jarrick McGarvey, Kurtis Nelsen, Holdyn Kersten, Kimi Ritterman, McKenna Tofsrud, Desidy Schwanke and Kylee Hansen have fun fishing.

A.J. Weixel pulls in his "catch" as Cody Jorgenson and Kaleb Demontigny watch. Cassidy Hansen, Maliyah Bowman and Abby Zettler watch Sloane Follman reel in her fish.

Create 4-H brochure
Pictured left to right are Julissa McGarvey, Jesse Hoffert and Tyler Blegen, members of the Leeds Town and Country 4-H Club. Their club won this year’s Benson County Traveling Trophy for making the first ever Benson County 4-H informational brochure, which is available for distribution in the Benson County Extension office in the courthouse in Minnewaukan.

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