Volume 127, Number 15
Simonson’s lumber yard on the prairie a busy place
BY CONNIE KRAPP Northern Plains Electric
When you see where Lannie Simonson located his lumberyard, your first thought is, "Why there?" But brisk business begs a better question: "Why not?" Some say today’s technology is opening new doors for North Dakotans — that computers and the Internet allow anybody to do anything from anywhere.
But Lannie Simonson didn’t wait for Internet access to get started building his dream. His cabinet business is thriving these days, despite a national economic downturn that has the building industry in a tailspin. While builders farther east are hurting for work, Simonson says he has as many projects as he can handle.
Considering that his business is located far, far from a population center, it is rather remarkable that Lannie Simonson Building Company is this busy in a "down" market. It is rather evident, though, that his competitive edge is quality. Other players in the industry just don’t make cabinets like the ones that Lannie turns out. Or, at least, not many do. And that is the reason customers travel to a country shop perched on a sidehill six miles from even the smallest of small towns with their dreams.
Lannie Simonson Building Company (Simonson’s) first got its start in 1980 when Lannie’s uncle built a lumber supply businesses on the family farm west of Maddock. Lannie took over the business in 1996, adding cabinet making to the company’s prowess. In 1997, when it was obvious the business was outgrowing its facility on the farm, Lannie purchased five acres of land and built the first leg of the present 56- by 160-foot shop. He later added a 52- by 32-foot stain-and varnishing facility.
But it is what came after the building stage that has branded Lannie’s cabinets with a reputation of quality. His shop may be in the middle of the prairie, but it is furnished with equipment that would make the most pretentious or proud tool guru groan with envy.
Sure, you’re bound to see typical woodworking tools when you visit Simonson’s. But you’ll also see sophisticated tools such as a computer numerical control (CNC) router, a multifunctional tool that computerizes and automates.
"It took the place of three different machines," Lannie explains. "It is a line boring machine, a panel saw and drill, all in one."
To the novice, that may sound a little underwhelming, but when you watch the machine at work, it becomes evident that the machine is almost like a robot — once it is programmed from its partnering computer, it drills holes, sands, cuts and shapes wood to absolute precision. "We put this machine in last year and find it saves us lots of time," Lannie says. "And the results are perfect every time."
Lannie’s customers have come to expect that perfection. "The custom work we do now is mostly upper end," he says. "We are installing kitchens in houses that cost upwards of $250,000. Our most expensive kitchen project was $80,000."
Lannie says his customers come from all over North Dakota. "The bulk of our work comes from Devils Lake and west," he says. "But we do see interest from just about everywhere."
While he offers free consultation and bids, Lannie says the customers that come to him want custom-built, solid-wood cabinets that will last forever.
"There are just fewer and fewer people in this business anymore," he explains. "Custom cabinetry is harder to find all the time." As integral to Lannie’s business as the custom cabinet component is, it is only part of the story of Simonson’s.
The building supply component, launched years ago by Lannie’s uncle, still thrives today. "We always have plenty going on around here, plenty of building," he says. "This summer is already shaping up to be a busy one."
This article originally appeared in the April, 2010 issue of North Dakota Living, the official magazine of the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives.
Lannie Simonson in his woodworking shop. (Photo by Kirsti Lukens, Northern Plains Electric)
Keith Smith, Simonson’s only full-time employee, operates the company’s CNC router. (Photo by Kirsti Lukens, Northern Plains Electric)
Students tour Fort Mandan
The junior class at Minnewaukan High School traveled with instructor David Salisbury to Washburn on May 12. They toured the Lewis & Clark Interpretative Center at Fort Mandan, viewing displays depicting preparations made by the Lewis & Clark Expedition during the winter of 1804-1805, Native American artifacts and other items of the times. They also toured the fort and got a glimpse of life on a military post in the 1800’s.
Posing at the statues of Lewis, Clark and Sakakawea near the interpretative center are, left to right, Miriah Thompson, Jacob Cline, Cody Greywater, Chandra Anderson, Alex Beecroft, Dalton Longie and Amanda Kraft.
Raise funds for MS
The Multiple Sclerosis Walk was held in Fargo on April 17. The Walk had more than 1,000 participants and raised in excess of $100,000 for the North Central Chapter of the National MS Society. Co-captains of the Xtreme Walkers, Sarah (Hanson) O’Connell of Minnewaukan and Janet (Hanson) Thornton of Valley City (both formerly of Sheyenne), had a team with 11 members that participated in the walk. The team walked six miles in support of family members battling MS. Left to right are members of the team from this area: Janet Thornton of Valley City and Brandi Weed, Carren Anderson, Sarah O’Connell and Brett O’Connell, all of Minnewaukan.
Students in pre-kindergarten through sixth grade at the Warwick School who had perfect attendance in April are pictured with elementary principal Steve Jacobson. Left to right, back row, are Mr. Jacobson, Jordan Bertsch, Samantha Owlboy and Sage Bertsch. Middle row: Trinity Feather, Samantha Archambault, Peyton Azure, Kristina Archambault, Kalem Jackson, Marlin Demarce, Keyen Omen, Cole Smith, Jace Baker, Jackson Delorme, Julian Hill and Nathan Cavanaugh. Front row: Hillary Archambault, James Charboneau, Cylas Jacobs, Nevada Rue, Tayshaun Black, Morgan McKay and Shelby Stevenson.
Students of month
Warwick’s Students of the month for April are pictured. Left to right, back row, are Samantha Owlboy, Raeann Leaf, Julia Hill and Gionni Robertson. Middle row: Mackenzie Robertson and Nathaniel Azure. Front row: Quanesha Charboneau, Genevive Little, Carter Charboneau and Justice Robertson. Not pictured is Robert Little.
Maddock community raises funds for MCEF
The Maddock Community Endowment Fund (MCEF) committee received some assistance in setting their funding goal for 2010. Earlier this year, the committee was surprised with an anonymous gift of a $13,000 pledge of funds to be paid on Dec. 15, 2010, provided the community of Maddock would raise a matching $13,000 on or before that date.
Dave Swanson said, "And with that $26,000 we then add to our investments through the North Dakota Community Foundation (NDCF). We will receive a match from NDCF of $15,000 so our community funding of $13,000 will grow to $41,000 in 2010. There aren’t too many opportunities like that around today."
Anyone wishing to help meet that match may remit funds to "MCEF" through any one of the committee members or mail to MCEF, PO Box 249, Maddock, ND 58348-0249.
Tom Gilbertson, MCEF committee member, reports that to date $3,800 has been received toward the community goal of $13,000.
MCEF committee members are Tom Gilbertson, Dave Swanson and Wanda Terpening. Additional 2010 grant awards will be announced in the Benson County Farmers Press.
Each year, the MCEF grants funds to worthy community projects and programs and as the MCEF grows, the gifts returned annually to the community continue to grow.
Pictured above are Deedra Poitra (left), Janine Gigstad (center) and Tom Gilbertson (right). Deedra and Janine, White Drug employees, are shown presenting the community of Maddock with a $500 donation from White Drug for the matching funds efforts. Gilbertson accepts the money on behalf of the Maddock Community Endowment Fund.
Minnewaukan fourth graders have learning session about furs
BY LYNDEE HESER
The Minnewaukan School fourth graders had a special guest on Tuesday, April 13. Mrs. Heser’s dad, John Hoiland, a farmer and avid hunter and trapper from Glenburn (a town about 20 miles north of Minot) visited the class to teach the students about wildlife in North Dakota. This fur demonstration was the perfect ending to a unit of study on ND habitats and animal adaptations.
Hoiland works at Hensen’s Taxidermy in the winter months skinning various fur-bearing animals. He shared his knowledge of wildlife with the students and brought several different pelts with him. The students were able to see and feel furs from a red fox, beaver, raccoon, mink, weasel, skunk, muskrat and coyote, along with many others. He also brought pelts of animals that do not roam in North Dakota, including a Canadian lynx, timber wolf and even a kangaroo. The pelts all came from Hensen Fur and Leather of Minot.
Students asked questions and received treats like homemade venison jerky, candy and trinkets like rabbit’s foot, arrowheads, rattlesnake toys and Native American jewelry.
This is the fourth year Hoiland has given a fur presentation to the Minnewaukan fourth graders.
Shown with furs that John Hoiland, Mrs. Heser’s dad, brought are, left to right, back row, Mrs. Heser, Brenn Alberts, Nick Greywater, Frank Gourd, John Hoiland, George DeMarce, Kalen Nestell, Marissa Volk and Raquel Vivier. Middle row: Sierra Herald, Shirley Driver, Jeremy Rainbow, Joran Redfox, Skyla Cavanaugh and Renae Alberts. Front row: Malia Brien, Louie Blacklance, LaShae Martin, Miranda Littleghost and Talson Yankton.
Frank Gourd is pictured with a pelt on his head, as John Hoiland makes adjustments.
LaShae Martin and Shirley Driver check the various pelts.
Minnewaukan students visit Capitol
BY LYNDEE HESER
On May 11 Mrs. Heser’s fourth grade class traveled to Bismarck for the day. The trip capped off a year of studies centered on North Dakota.
On the way to Bismarck the students were entertained by playing "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire North Dakota," a game based on the popular game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. The game allowed the students to complete trivia questions based on what they learned when studying the state of North Dakota.
The first stop in Bismarck was at the Heritage Center. There the students explored the various periods in North Dakota’s history. The students’ favorite exhibit was of the mastodon skeleton. They also completed a Heritage Center Scavenger Hunt that allowed them to answer questions on the various exhibits like the mastodon, Native American life, homestead life and life in North Dakota during the Great Depression.
Next the students toured the State Capitol. Students saw the Theodore Roosevelt Rough Rider Hall of Fame, the Memorial Hall, the House of Representatives, the Senate, the Supreme Court, the Monkey Room and the 18th floor observatory. The students’ favorite stop at the Capitol was in the Supreme Court and riding the elevator to the 18th floor.
The Monkey Room is actually a fire exit and the room features California walnut walls. The wood is very rare and the Capitol building accidentally received one-third of the world’s supply. The wood is known for its wild animal veneer. When the students looked closely they could pick out monkeys, horses and other animals in the natural grain of the wood.
The last stop of the day took the students across the Missouri River to Mandan and to Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park. While at the park the class stepped back into the 1870’s and became guests at the home of General George Custer. The class marched up to the home and the boys even escorted the girls up the steps. After visiting Custer’s home the class marched on to see what life was like in the barracks. They were even able to lie down on the hard wooden beds and feel what it might have been like to be a soldier at Fort Abraham Lincoln.
The field trip continued on to see the On-A-Slant Indian Village. There the class received a tour of two earth lodges that were reconstructed to show how the Mandan Indians lived. The tour guide also educated the group on the Dakota language.
The day ended with a quick supper stop of pizza and they were back on the bus for the ride back to Minnewaukan.
Minnewaukan fourth graders are shown in front of the State Capitol. Left to right, back row, are Miss Hakanson, Raquel Vivier, George DeMarce, Jeremy Rainbow, Marissa Volk, Nick Greywater and Mrs. Heser. Middle row: Skyla Cavanaugh, Sierra Herald, Tiffany Thomas, Renae Alberts, Louie Blacklance and Frank Gourd. Front row: Joran Redfox, Malia Brien, Kiara Lovejoy, Miranda Littleghost, Shirely Driver, LaShae Martin and Brenn Alberts.
Minnewaukan fourth graders are shown on the steps of Custer’s house. Left to right, back row, are George DeMarce, Louie Blacklance, Jeremy Rainbow, Joran Redfox, the tour guide, Nick Greywater, Marissa Volk, Frank Gourd, Miranda Littleghost, Renae Alberts and Miss Hakanson. Front row: Mrs. Heser, Brenn Alberts, LaShae Martin and Kiara Lovejoy.
Minnewaukan fourth graders are shown in front of the earth lodges. Left to right, back row, are Sierra Herald, Renae Alberts, Shirley Driver, Marissa Volk, Skyla Cavanaugh, Jeremy Rainbow, Frank Gourd, Nick Greywater and Raquel Vivier. Middle row: Joran Redfox, Louie Blacklance, Malia Brien, Tiffany Thomas and Mrs. Heser. Front row: Brenn Alberts, LaShae Martin, George DeMarce, Miranda Littleghost and Kiara Lovejoy.
Shown in front of the bark-covered tipi at the Heritage Center are, left to right, Tiffany Thomas, Skyla Cavanaugh, George DeMarce, Nick Greywater, Sierra Herald and Malia Brien.
BY LYNDEE HESER
On May 12 Mrs. Heser’s fourth graders toured the Benson County Courthouse as part of their study of local government. The students have spent the year studying the state of North Dakota.
Clerk of Court Lana Johnson led the students through the offices of the courthouse. Students were able to step inside various vaults.The highlight of the field trip was the tour of the courtroom. The students were able to sit on the judge’s bench, in the witness stand and various other places in the courtroom as Ms. Johnson explained the judicial branch of county government. The tour ended with refreshments and time for questions.
Mrs. Heser’s class is shown surrounding the judge’s bench. Left to right, back row, are Lana Johnson, Skyla Cavanaugh, Raquel Vivier, Malia Brien, Louie Blacklance, George DeMarce, Joran Redfox, Frank Gourd, Kalen Nestell, Renae Alberts, Jeremy Rainbow, Marissa Volk, Talson Yankton and Shirley Driver. Front row: Tiffany Thomas, Kiara Lovejoy, LaShae Martin, Brenn Alberts and Sierra Herald.
Weather perfect for Joe’s Annual PTSD memorial ride
Joe’s 3rd Annual Memorial Ride 2010 took place Saturday, May 15.
Organized to honor Staff Sergeant Joe Biel, the ride focuses on veterans helping veterans deal with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Biel, a member of the ND National Guard Trailblazers, suffered from the disorder and took his own life April 26, 2007.
Riders and fellow platoon members from Minot joined those from Camp Grafton at the Spirit Lake Casino & Resort. As the group traveled east, more riders joined in. Stops were made at the VFW Post 3817 in East Grand Forks, Minn. and Hillsboro, then on to the final destination in Moorhead, Minn.
Approximately 50 bikers took part in the ride, basking in the perfect weather. Spouses, girlfriends and friends also joined in, either on motorcycles or in chase vehicles. Those on last year’s ride said the cold temperatures and snowfall weren’t missed this year.
Organizers SPC David Young and SSG Matthew Leaf are already planning for next year’s ride. Those interested in taking part are asked to go to www.trailblazermc.com. The Web site also features information on PTSD, as well as video and pictures from previous rides.
SSG Matthew Leaf leads part of the group down I-29 to Fargo. Among the riders were veterans from Vietnam, the Gulf War, Afghanistan and Iraq.
Those taking part in the memorial ride posed for a group picture prior to departing for Moorhead. Spouses, girlfriends and friends were also part of the ride, either on motorcycles or in chase vehicles. Everyone agreed travel conditions were much better this year.