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Defending Richland and Wilkin counties May 2nd, 2013

Defending Property Rights

Richland-Wilkin Joint Powers Authority
Original Publication Date:
May 2nd, 2013
Wahpeton Daily News

Republished with permission from:
Cash Aaland, Richland County resident and board member Mndak Upstream Coalition

Two years ago I didn’t know the names of my county commissioners, didn’t know which legislative district I lived in, or the names of the individuals representing my neighborhood in the North Dakota Legislature. I knew the name of one of my township supervisors only because he was the guy I needed to call to get the road maintainer to clean up my gravel driveway.

I am somewhat embarrassed to admit this ignorance, but it also speaks to the quality of life I and my neighbors enjoyed. You get to know your leaders when you need their help. I lived in Richland County for 10 years without a thought of bringing a gripe to my state or local government.

The problem that brought me and my neighbors to our leaders was not local to our neighborhood. It was not about taxes, drains, zoning or flooding. The problem came to us from Cass County and Fargo’s plan to drain their growth area, flooding our community so they can further develop the flood plain. The idea that one community can destroy another purely for its own economic gain still seems unconscionable to me.

About two years ago, members of my community approached the Richland County Commission and asked for their help. To say the commissioners stepped up would be an understatement. That some of us are preoccupied, even obsessed, is a natural reaction for those of us threatened with the loss of our homes and life investment. That these commissioners would jump in, shoulder the load and devote as much, or more, of their time in response to our request was overwhelming and still warms my heart to think about. Perry Miller, Sid Berg, Dan Thompson, Tim Campbell, Jason Heitkamp and State’s Attorney Warren Stokes, thank you. With all the meetings, repeated trips to Bismarck, strategy sessions, phone calls, arm twisting, cheerleading, horsetrading, pep rallies, time, stress, emotional commitment, still more meetings and an occasional cussing – you guys have gone above and beyond. I still don’t know the political stripe of some of you, but you’ll have my vote forever.

Senators Larry Luick and Jim Dotzenrod, Representatives John Wall, Clark Williams, Jerry Kelsh and Bill Amerman – thank you. You took on a Goliath for us, giving as good as you got. Standing up for us, you showed the whole state what is, and what is not, the “North Dakota way.” Your efforts got our allies out west to see through the distortion and misinformation created by Fargo’s media and political machine.

Wilkin County Commissioners Stephanie Miranowski, Lyle Hovland, John Blaufuss, Robert Perry and Neal Folstad – thank you. Together with County Attorney Tim Fox, you have seen we don’t lack for fire, determination, knowledge and defiance in the face of an overwhelming challenge.

Finally, I want to say thank you to the Daily News. You give us the vehicle to successfully combat a big city money media campaign. At one point, our opponents even conceded that we were winning the fight for public opinion.

Permanent flood protection for Fargo does not require the destruction of our community and with your continued support I am confident we will win this argument.

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