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"CELEBRATE SUMMER" Look for our special edition in the June 29 edition of the Pelican Rapids Press!
Details on:
• Erhard 4th of July * Pelican Fest • Art in the Park
* Area county fairs • Vergas Looney Days * Cormorant Daze
And more......

A morning on the farm

Milk prices aren’t much to smile about these days, but there were no frowns in the crowd at Dairy Month event

By Louis Hoglund

Milk prices are nothing to smile about these days. But with all the happy faces and good cheer at the “Breakfast on the Farm” event June 25 in rural Pelican Rapids, you could hardly imagine the challenges facing milk producers these days.
With a crowd estimated as high as 500, it was perhaps one of the best-attended West Otter Tail County June Dairy Month gatherings ever.
Kids were everywhere, enjoying games and activities, while the large tents were filled all morning–as participants enjoyed breakfast prepared and served by the Pelican Rapids Area Lions Club.
The Tollerud family dairy operation hosted the event.  People lined up first thing in the morning, at 8:30 a.m.  The line for the farm-style breakfast was a city-block long most of the morning.
At $13.50 per hundred weight, milk prices are as low as they’ve been in about seven years.  The “break-even” price varies from farm to farm, depending on overhead costs, but with milk prices that low, few in the milk production side of the industry are recording profits.
Only three years ago, the price was $23 per hundred-weight.  read entire story. . . .

Morning on the farm

Stars and  stripes forever...?

Erhard’s four-decade 4th of July tradition...nevermore?

By Louis Hoglund

The Erhard gang that has rolled out the red, white and blue since 1976 has been “as great a group of volunteers as you’ll ever find.”
Great volunteers...but a wee bit weary.
That was the comment from Dave Ripley, who has been a part of the Erhard Independence Day committee for most of the past 40 years.
For several seasons, the “upstarts” who started the biggest little 4th of July celebration in the territory have been sending out the message: Is there a group of younger folks willing to step in and take over?
While the Erhard July 4th committee has appreciated the help from younger volunteers who have pitched in; there hasn’t been a core group willing to actually take over the large undertaking. Erhard’s modern 4th of July festival dates to 1976, when the community rallied to coordinate with the nationwide bicentennial celebration.  read entire story. . . .

Short school week generally earns ‘good grades’ in survey, report

By Louis Hoglund

Why a four-day school week?
The question was posed again, and the required report to the Minnesota Department of Education has been submitted on the Pelican Rapids School District’s four-day schedule.
The periodic reports–which include surveys of student families and school staff–have been required by the state since the schedule was first introduced in 2010-11.
Parents confirmed, through a survey, that 81 percent favored the four-day week, while 18 percent were opposed. Meanwhile, 77 percent of the teaching staff favored the four-day week.  Support staff, including food service, clerical and custodial, favored the four-day week by an 89 percent margin.
Four-day week saved
nearly $112,000 in 2016
Budget considerations were the primary reason for implementing the reduced schedule. At the time, the school’s operating revenue was steadily declining. Voters rejected three attempts to increase the levy, leading up to 2010.  This resulted in a string of crippling budget cuts.  read entire story. . . .

Images of summer

Prairie Lake group concerned with accumulated cars; water quality

By Louis Hoglund

Prairie Lake Association members members raised concerns on the accumulations of old vehicles and salvage materials in the lake  neighborhood, at the annual  meeting June 25.  
Annexation by the city of Pelican Rapids was even suggested, in hopes of sharper municipal “teeth” in cleaning up what Prairie Lake property owners contend is a “junkyard” that is not only unsightly–but a potential threat to water quality and the environment.
Responding to the concerns, essentially with one hand tied behind his back,   was Otter Tail County Commissioner Wayne Johnson.  Lacking stronger countywide “junkyard” and nuisance ordinances, there just isn’t much Otter Tail County authorities can do.
The issue has been magnified further, with the purchase of the former supper club property by Roger Schleske–where they fear further accumulation of autos and materials. Schleske operates auto repair and salvage related businesses.  Schleske’s enterprises have also been under scrutiny by the Pelican Rapids City Council, because of similar accumulations of stuff–plus real estate and rental properties that have been identified with deficiencies.  read entire story. . . .

Pelican school operating costs next year projected at $9.8 million

Deficit spending of $236,000 to chip away at reserve funds

By Louis Hoglund

If all the dollars come in the way they’re expected, the Pelican Rapids School District should end the 2016-17 fiscal year with about $1.63 million in the bank.
That is after some $236,924 in deficit spending.
The preliminary budget was reviewed at the June 20 Pelican Rapids School Board meeting.  Business manager Stephanie Winjum outlined highlights from the projected expenses and revenues for next year.
The school will spend about $16.9 million total next year–but that includes $4.3 million in construction and capital improvements, and nearly $2 million in  debt pay-off.
In terms of day-to-day operational expenses to pay staff and run the school, the annual cost is about $9.8 million.  The school is expecting about $9.6 million in revenues next year–thus the costs exceeding revenue by $236,924.  read entire story. . . .

Rent fees, use policies for new auditorium, gym  under review by Pelican school bd.

By Louis Hoglund

With a new gym and a new auditorium nearing completion, the Pelican Rapids School board is in the process of determining policies for use of the facilities–and what to charge.
The present facilities use policy dates to 1999, with outdated features–considering the brand new facilities, which may increase demand for community use.
Under the existing policy,  non-profit organizations are charged $50 in rental for use of school facilities. A for-profit organization is charged $100.
The board discussed changes at a work session June 20.
The rental fees are probably unrealistic, considering the added custodial, supervision and staff costs.
If a private promotor wanted to rent the new auditorium for a concert, for example, there would be added staff costs.  read entire story. . . .

July is season for boat parades and annual  meetings for area lake groups

Boat parades are a 4th of July tradition in the lake country, with many area lake associations hosting the processions.
The Independence Day boat procession hosted by the  Pelican Lake Property Owners Association is set for 8:30 a.m.
Summer is also annual meeting times for lake groups.  
The Franklin Lake Association is organizing a July 4 parade.  For contact information, call Kim Korynta at 701-799-8204.  
Meanwhile, the Franklin group has moved its July 23 annual meeting location to the Zion Lutheran Church, at 10 a.m.
The Pelican Lake Property Owners will also host its annual meeting on July 23, at 10 a.m.

Three-year contract with Pelican super OK’d

The Pelican Rapids School Board gave Superintendent Deb Wanek a  vote of confidence–in the form of a three year contract.
“Extremely happy” is how school board member Dena Johnson described the board’s view of the superintendent’s performance.
“In almost all of our criteria, she had excellent grades,” said Johnson of the performance review that accompanied the contract renewal.
Wanek was quick to credit others for the success of the district.  “I work with an excellent team,” she said at the June 20 school board meeting.
The contract will run through the 2018-19 school year. A salary increase comparable to the Pelican teachers contract, settled earlier this year at about 3 percent per year, was awarded to Wanek.
Under the terms of the contract, Wanek’s annual salary for 2016-17 will be $110,069.  In 2017-18, it will be $112,820.  In 2018-19, the salary will be $115,641.  read entire story. . . .

Minnesota Woman’s spirit rises

A Gathering of community, culture revives legacy of our ‘Lady of the Lake’ Nimuué  
By Louis Hoglund

She roamed the ancient Glacial Lake Pelican, drowned in frigid waters, and thousands of years of silt washed over her.  
The “Lady of the Lake,” now given the name Nimuué,  was reintroduced to her “hometown” in fitting fashion–during a torrential downpour.
“The  essence of Nimuué is here...it’s raining,” said Phletus Williams, the man who spearheaded the revival of interest in “Minnesota Woman,”  perhaps the state’s most significant archaeological discovery.  
She truly is a lake girl.
Only moments after artist Marcella Rose’s spectacular bronze sculpture was unveiled to the crowd at Sherin Park, the rains came shortly after noon–virtually ending the festivities that were scheduled for the afternoon June 18.
But the program and related archaeological activities were well attended in the morning.
Descendents of Minnesota’s other first citizens were well-represented at “The Gathering Day” to honor Nimuué.  The sounds of Native American drums and song launched the morning, with the White Earth Nation’s Smokey Hills Drum Group performing.
Presenting the colors were the White Earth Honor Guard
leading the way, followed by the VFW and American Legion color guard of Pelican Rapids.  read entire story. . . .

Uncovering Nimuué

Glacial Lake Pelican Woman.  Does the science conclude that our hometown girl is the oldest human being discovered in Western Hemisphere?

By Joan Ellison
Special Correspondent

Minnesota Woman, the skeleton of the young woman unearthed in 1931, has caught the imagination of the people of Pelican Rapids and beyond in the 15 months since a small group of interested folks first met at City Hall to form the Glacial Minnesota Woman Organization.
That was very apparent this last weekend, and especially in the talk Phletus Williams gave on Friday evening at Trinity Church. An audience of 130 attended the evening program.
For the last six years, Phletus has immersed himself in the history of Minnesota Woman. He studied the meager accounts of her discovery and the archaeological digs that followed it, trying to meld the woman of his imagination, Nimuué, with the real flesh and blood woman who died thousands and thousands of years ago.
Phletus drew most his facts from the research done by Albert E. Jenks PhD., the chairman of the University of Minnesota’s Department of Anthropology in the 1930s. He read and reread field reports from the digs.  read entire story. . . .

A journey to  the Korean ‘Twilight Zone’

The line of demarcation between communist North and free South was a surreal, dismal reminder of the Cold War for Pelican’s Rogelstad brothers  

By Louis Hoglund

So desolate and unreal is the brick and mortar landscape at the border of North and South Korea–it resembles the set of a strange post-apocalypse movie.
In a sense, the DMZ is precisely that–stark, dismal, other-worldly.
Pelican Rapids native Wayne Rogelstad had a first hand experience of the infamous Demilitarized Zone–which separates communist North Korea from the capitalist South.  The 1969 Pelican Rapids High School graduate and his wife Carol visited his brother Jon, a Navy veteran with a computer science background who has worked in a civilian security position for more than ten years in South Korea.
The brothers together shared a rare glimpse of one of the last remnants of the Cold War–one a visitor, the other as a resident.
Across the DMZ there sits a recently constructed three story building and surrounding structures, which the tour guide called a “propaganda” village.  read entire story. . . .

Despite lack of staff to fill shifts, Pelican pool to open with limited schedule

By Louis Hoglund

The  sounds of splashing, laughing and screaming of kids having fun in the water was expected to return to the Pelican Rapids city swimming pool this week.
The city pool was scheduled to finally open June 20, with a limited staff and limited hours.  Staffing has been the main stumbling block this year, as there have been few young people with Red Cross certification.
At the June 14 Pelican Rapids City Council meeting, park and streets superintendent Brian Olson reported that he had at least five lifeguards lined up.  Ideally, the city pool needs a dozen to fill schedules.
“It’s unfortunate, but the pool hours may be inconsistent,” said Olson. Typically, the summer schedule is seven days a week, from noon to 8 p.m.  read entire story. . . .

65 years of hauling

Milestone marked by one of greater Pelican area’s longest operating family businesses; open house set June 25

By Louis Hoglund

From coal to garbage–and other stuff in between–Ballard Sanitation has probably hauled just about anything over the past 65 years.
As one of the longest operating, family-owned businesses in the Pelican area; Ballard has good reason to celebrate on June 25.  For the 65th anniversary of Ballard Sanitation, an open house will be held at its Pelican Rapids offices–at 30 – 2nd Ave. NW, Pelican Rapids, from 3-7 p.m. on June 25.
The earliest roots of Ballard Sanitation date to 1951, when founder, the late Ralph Ballard, delivered coal to residents in the Pelican area.
The introduction of gas-fired furnaces began to erode the coal business–but instead of hurting Ballard’s hauling business, he found a new niche.
When everyone started taking out their coal furnaces, that meant they wouldn’t be able to burn all their garbage–a common practice 60-70 years ago. Consequently, somebody needed to haul their garbage away–and Ballard was set up to do the job.
The sanitation business has grown ever since. Maxine Ballard, who married Ralph Ballard in 1957 recalls a time when there were about 150 customers. Today, Ballard Sanitation serves nearly 4,000 customers in the greater Pelican Rapids area–including the townships and lake areas.
Ralph Ballard died in 1996, but the mother-sons operation has continued the family business–which now includes grandsons.  read entire story. . . .

City may remove  two businesses from industrial park sign for non-payment

By Louis Hoglund

Frustrated Pelican Rapids city officials are prepared to remove two signs from the larger, multi-business industrial park sign.
The council voted June 14 to remove two individual business signs if the city does not receive payment from previous invoices by the June 28 city council meeting. The businesses are Attachments International and Henry Building Systems.  
City officials, including Council members Steve Strand and CJ Holl, tried to reach an agreement–which included some price reduction as a concession.  
But the alternative proposal was voted down by the council when it came to a vote.  Mayor Brent Frazier questioned whether it was fair to all the other businesses in the industrial park, who have paid for their sign placements. Also, the owner of the businesses, Gerry Henry, asked for a concession that the cost of his sign would be “locked in forever” at the price. He also requested that the bill for the previous 12 months be forgiven.  read entire story. . . .

Minnesota Woman’s spirit rises

Minnesota Woman has been visual, literary, musical inspiration

By Louis Hoglund

“Be  careful...or you’ll become hooked, like we did.”
That was the warning about “Nimuué...The Minnesota Woman,” delivered with a smile by Sally Williams at the June 17 program at Trinity Lutheran Church.
The famous archaeological discovery was long ago–1931 during a road project–but the evening of art, history, poetry, science and music firmly revived the legacy of the Glacial Lake Pelican Woman for modern times.
Challenging the audience, Williams encouraged people to learn more about the greater Pelican Rapids area; “to start a dialogue with friends and neighbors; and explore the history of the area.”
“We’re passionate about Minnesota Woman,” said Williams, who with her husband Phletus Williams, were the driving force behind the revitalization of interest in the historic discovery. “And we’re passionate about Pelican Rapids and the land surrounding the city and Otter Tail County.”  read entire story. . . .

Highly decorated Vietnam  veteran presented colors in Pelican Rapids June 18

A highly-decorted Vietnam war veteran, Peter Thompson, was among the special guests at the “Gathering Day.” He is pictured second from foreground, with the full headdress. A Bagley area native and member of the Whtie Earth Honor Guard, Thompson was awarded six Purple Hearts for wounds sustained in six seperate combat incidents over an 18 month tour in Vietnam. Machine gun fire, land mine explosion and two seperate hand grenade explosions were sustained by Thompson, a platoon leader who enlisted in the Army in 1960, at the age of 17. With six Purple Hearts, all in direct combat, he is believed to have a national record. According to Thompson, there is a soldier with nine Purple Hearts–but not all were under enemy fire.


Nimuué unveiled Sculpture presented  to awestruck audience

The unveiling moment.  Artist Marcella Rose, right, lifts the cover from the Minnesota Woman sculpture June 18 , as the crowd presses in for view and photos. Complete with a pelican, a seashell, feathered headwear, and other items she was discovered with, the sculpture is Rose’s interpretation of what she might have looked like.
At left, Phletus and Sally Williams, who led the revival of interest in the 85-year-old discovery, react to their first viewing of the sculpture. Note Phletus, hands on head–astonished by the colorful bronze work–which is now on display at the Rose Gallery on Main Street, downtown Pelican Rapids. When a final display site is selected, it will be come the property of the city of Pelican Rapids.

‘Gathering’ re-established Minnesota  Woman’s place in state’s history

Artifact Road Show