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In the line of duty


Sun, Sep 17th, 2000
Posted in

Spring Valley men go west to battle forest firesBy Carol ThouinMonday, September 18, 2000

Reality television such as Big Brother and Survivor may have dominated the programming schedules this summer, but it was the stark reality of another kind that raged throughout the western United States.

Tens of thousands of acres of wilderness forest have exploded into what is being recorded as the worst fire season in more than 50 years. Years of fire prevention efforts across the country have left old growth forests over populated with trees and worse yet, thick with underbrush and debris that has added intense fuel to the growing fire of 2000.

It all began early in the summer with a controlled burn turned bad near Los Alamos, New Mexico. The out-of-control inferno resulted in more than 200 homes being destroyed. An uncommonly dry summer, coupled with deadly lightning strikes initiated countless other fires throughout the western states of Idaho, Montana, the Dakotas, Wyoming, Oregon and California. When it became obvious that the situation had grown beyond what local wildland fighting crews were able to handle, volunteers were summoned.

Jim Edgar and John Kelly answered the call. Edgar and Kelly, both of Spring Valley, work as Foresters for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Forestry Division located in Preston. With nearly 40 years of combined service under their belts, the two have become veterans of wildfire burns.

Kelly wears the hat of Cost Unit Leader, a vital behind-the-scenes operation that requires meticulous calculations of the costs of fighting each fire. Armed with his laptop and printer, Kelly began his volunteer stint in early June during the fire in Los Alamos, Mexico.

"In the heat of battle, people will sometimes make promises that they will do anything to put out a fire," said Kelly. "My job is to cut through all that, anticipating what the project will actually entail and what itís going to cost."

Foresters working for the DNR in Minnesota are given the option of volunteering out of state to fight fires. Theyíre paid for their efforts, but for safety reasons, canít work more than a 14-day stretch. After 12 days in New Mexico and with cost estimates defined, Kelly rested up before moving on to a fire in Nevada, then Idaho and finally Montana where he met up with Edgar who had been deployed to the same fire.

They found Montanaís big sky shrouded in a thick cloud of smoke .....
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Dad

Sun, Sep 17th, 2000
Posted in

Monday, September 11, 2000

Last week while tending my booth at the Minnesota State Fair I got the call Iíve always dreaded. "Sit down," my brother Derald said softly. "Dad died just a little while ago."

Waves of emotion. Deep sighs. Ti ..... 
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More on Weeds

Sun, Sep 17th, 2000
Posted in

Monday, September 18, 2000

OK, so I got a little carried away two weeks ago when I wrote about loving your weeds. Maybe tolerating some of your weeds is a little more appropriate. Maybe I have a really weedy garden this year and I know you do ..... 
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This work is not for the birds

Sun, Sep 17th, 2000
Posted in

Monday, September 4, 2000

I stand on the roof of our workshop holding the end of a rope. My husband has tied the opposite end around his waist so he doesn't slip as he hammers nails into our new metal roofing. Although I am alert to the danger ..... 
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Sun, Sep 17th, 2000
Posted in

"Please Donít Touch the Rattlesnakes!"By John LevellMonday, August 21, 2000

Rattlesnake! The single word most likely to elicit a response from those who live or play along the Root River State Trail, especially during these more temperate, ple ..... 
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A walk in the woods

Sun, Sep 17th, 2000
Posted in

Monday, September 18, 2000

Thereís always a welcome relief to a September. The kids are back in school, the humidity and temperature drop a point or two and even the pesky summer bugs are starting to disappear. Itís a perfect time for a walk i ..... 
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A Favorite Teacher

Sun, Sep 17th, 2000
Posted in

Monday, September, 2000

The sunlight is suddenly different. Insects seem to respect our peace and quiet at night a bit more than they did a few weeks ago. There is a scent of dust on sunny days and the air feels cooler and dryer than just days ..... 
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Survivors

Sun, Sep 17th, 2000
Posted in

Monday, August 28, 2000

This is a story about survivors.

No, it is not about the gameshow/psychodrama that was recently portrayed on CBS, where neurosis is a developmental skill highly valued by artificially created tribal groups.
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Samís bath

Sun, Sep 17th, 2000
Posted in

Monday, September 18, 2000

It was a beautiful Saturday morning, a day that you might expect to enjoy in June rather than September. My dog, Sam and I took a walk through the woods while my wife was entertaining some of her friends out on the d ..... 
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