As part of KCCM's Our Home Town series, this program is a sound portrait of Dunn Center, North Dakota. Highlights discussion with residents on their mixed feelings towards coal development in the area. Includes a segment on a town meeting. About Our Home Town series: KCCM Radio in Moorhead, in conjunction with the North Dakota Committee for the Humanities and Public Issues, produced a series of twenty-six half-hour programs that documented attitudes and character of life in five North Dakota communities (Strasburg, Belcourt, Mayville, Mott, and Dunn Center). The programs were produced as sound portraits with free-flowing sounds, voices and music, all indigenous.
Read the Text Transcription of the Audio.
What do you think about this gasification? Would you like to see it happen around you? Well, as far as Prosperity is concerned as I would think it would create a lot of jobs, but I hate to see our country go down. I mean our beautiful land of beautiful feels hate to see that but we need we need something else besides what we got here. Emo rehberg is expressing the mixed feeling that many residents of Dunn Center North Dakota have about coal development in their community in many respects the choices based in Dunn Center population 107r decisions. We are all facing how much energy can be developed. And what is it cost in terms of reduced land for food production and how will further Industrial Development affect the overall quality of life. in this program in the series titled our home town, you will hear a town meeting with residents and Chuck group of the natural gas pipeline companies cuz some of these issues These programs are made possible with funds from the North Dakota committee for the Humanities and public issues that are produced by Minnesota Public Radio Station kccm. The interviewer is John ydstie join mrs. Middlestead who with her husband just operate the 200 Cafe in Dunn Center. Sure is hard to know how much to cook in the place like this and how little or how much I cook it. then again in walks 30 What do you think about this gasification? what we think of as Tell me what I should think. I think it's. because look at the other state. They are mining iron. They are mining copper and we could good out of all that so don't you think that's why we should care. with those other states eastern states where they don't have starting to hurt one bit to share with other. The Polar Express cast the lucky one who have cold war some states not have any I have I had about 30 men eating in here every day. Two years ago. They're all cool. Tester can geologist from Florida, Texas. Android visiting adalah, they came in with a bring their maps in here in Fred him out on the table order coffee at dinner time. I always knew that I could cook for 30 for sure about with the whole with the local guys eating. The time here every time you got the cold like one big Solid Rock. That's the way I was about to 10 to 12 miles tall was quite a ways East but only 2 miles west. Put in the town itself is sitting on cold bed. I'm hoping it'll And that should help there should be good people as well as everybody seems to think there's more bad people but I think it's more good people. I look for real. Good people to come in. I don't look for bad people. I look for the church to fill out. There will be some. Engineers and there'll be some geologist in on the group and they'll be some. If there's bad once we just have to get us a better cop. better police force maybe a doctor and maybe a would be nice to have all that. Once Upon a Time my night was very little once upon a time doing it. Look how it grew even even New York was very little on the pilgrims arrived wasn't it? Look up New York is today. Well, maybe. Is it sounds real good with the bad? Not that this community couldn't stand a little bit of something like that. I said, I think we're we're just two smaller Community right now cuz there any future here. I said I can't see anything else progressing. I can meet at the farmers are going to get bigger and bigger but I said outside of that. Just have to wish for the cold to come in. If our grocery stores and our Cafe are the type of stores that they should be we wouldn't have any trouble other than the fact that I would never go. I really don't think I'm saying whatever girl but I mean, I think the town would stay alive. But that was cool on the other hand, be alive, but maybe too much so, I don't know. It just stop. I'd I don't know what to think about this girl coming and I really don't they they are trying to help us. Do you know I'll find out about the impact of it will be in everything but it's really hard to realize what it will be in your life. I'm not going to let my kids run out and play without me knowing where they are. I'll probably have to stay in the yard the other night. We were coming home. There was three or four of us. Ladies. Then we had one drink. I think if there was coal gas station in the area. I don't think I would even dream of walking into a bar without my husband and then maybe I think about it will probably have to be entertainment in homes and things you wouldn't feel like you could go to the bar Uptown, you know where you know, the bartender and everybody in their know you do, you know, they're just like family just like you going in the car because there's nobody that's a stranger. I wouldn't want to go out at night. I think if there is a lot of people from what I've read another areas, I wouldn't want to even say drive out to a friend's house 6 miles out in the country at night. What if I had a flat tire? You don't know who's in the county now, we know who's in the county more or less. And that you're not afraid to go any place. I think I would be afraid to travel alone and stuff like that. I don't think it would have to necessarily change the quality of life. I'm sure we would have to. Except other ideas another and change, of course by 2,000 to 3000 people isn't all that great. I'm sure that we could adjust and I think it sounds like I'll be alright if it doesn't get any more than that. I don't know. my shelf if there's that many comes in here whenever you so many gangsters and crooked people move in your home. Be safe latest a lot of people don't think about that. All they want to do is think they're going to I don't like to think they're going to do make more money or have more fun or how do you feel overall at the gas station right now? Do you want to see it? No, I really don't. I'm getting too old for that. I would rather. Kids Town I'd like to see the time. the population of cobalt 500 but I kind of like to see a girl 3,000 or anything like that because I'd be a stranger in my own town. I don't know whether I am made up my mind whether this if his tongue grows at Big that I'll stay here at my retirement or if I move out someplace I decided that now I suppose they'll be a few people. the last to move if you're going to dig coal down 150 feet all the way around around your farm buildings sway know if I was going to live in there until we get the dirt pulled back in there again, and even then it was 22 court hearing on first when you get to roughly speaking coach. It's just like any line of progress is bound to hurt. Somebody can't help it engineer talked one time at a welder's invention that helped build the Panama Canal. Any kind of progress over steps on somebody's feet can't get around it. But if it helps more people than it hurts like it's going to go ahead with the community. I don't know what effects it would have on the community. This community is is so tightly knit. It's not so tightly knit that we won't let anybody else come in we welcome anybody wants to come in. But I mean if if something happens where it gets so that you can live around here. It's almost seems to me that if everybody leaves who can all have to go to another spot because it's we're so close. So we probably can't get along with each other if they don't come in and do to us. What do you mean by unless you know? I had the way I understand it. There's so many younger on married workers. And then there's a lot of riffraff a lot more local policing problem stuff like this. I mean our quality of life and I don't know how possible that's going to be with that many people. They all come in Mushroom on you community like you guys all know each other and if somebody steps out of line back in line because they'll be ostracized socially from a community if they don't, you know, if it's somebody does something in the community that everybody looks down on, you know about it right away. When you have a bigger community of people who don't know each other in that, you know, your interpersonal relationships aren't as close. It's it's just, you know, you end up having to formalize a lot of that into laws and rules that you don't you don't know how formalized that way. How do you feel about the prospect of coal gasification around in summer and looking forward to it? If it's set up right? I think it's going to be very very good for North Dakota and particular could land can be worked and reclaimed brought back to the state of was before so it doesn't hurt the farming issue that much. I think it's going to be very good though. A lot of the farmers will benefit the town will benefit the educational facilities will grow can I don't think you can turn that much like I say if the land is brought back to where it was. little bringing many dollars that this community hasn't seen for a long long time and it could hurt as far as the main business will be gasification won't be farming was Lionel be in mining. So why the farmers are going to be either working for the gas station or just retire? And a lot of my pretty young to retire. And actually farming is the only business they know. So I could leave a lot of homes displaced. and a lot of people are going to probably have to shift around I kind of don't like to see that but then again you have to figure that the the people need to go asportation. Without a condom. He's going to go down. Do you want to see the coal come? I don't know. I don't know that answer. Imma, look it up to say from from a by private. Financial end of it. I would like to see it come. whether the good went went to that money with offset the mother problems. I don't I don't know. Money-wise I would say yes. Play understand it in these other places not the workers of companies, but the bigger guys that run things up. What would you call an executive? They don't live in the factories are like they don't go on live in Dunn Center it. That's where the factory is are killed. Are they go to Dickinson or Bismark are some good enough for them to take their money and everything, but no they go to Dickinson or Bismark and spend their money, you know, darn. Well, they're making 20 30 or more thousand a year, but they're not spending any of it in the community where they're making their money and I didn't want to go to do that. You should spend at least your Lively. But like I said we go to Hawaii any place you want to spend their money, but basically we still do our shopping and things we try anyway to do me and I won't I'm going to be best that I live in the Bismarck and come out here or if I live out here and go to Bismarck. I've got at this point. with it Show me I got an answer to one of your problems. We got a policy that says if you have a company car sign to you. You will live within a 20 mi radius of that plant. You're not going to work for our company as one of our bosses. If you can't, you know live within the framework that we set out as policy damages to driving for your family. You got everything right there and the little towns don't have a chance of getting that stuff because the people that can spend that kind of money and go to the nightclub and go bowling every night of the week if they want to and stuff like that. They can set up a bowling alley or a nightclub because all the people that got the money to spend her in the bigger town already that when we get or lose makes a lot of difference in our economy. We'll just think of one family leaves and they do their shopping at the two-story. How much does groceries cost per month? The minimum is 150 or that stores going to lose $150 a month. You know, that's a lot of money just for the grocery store. You know, like when you talk about that, there are our local people who are kind of gift card that call money. I think it's sort of like it's raining outside and it hasn't rained for years and you know, the only thing I have to catch a raining or our little Tin Cups because that's all that you know, after all these dry years. That's all the amount of capital. I've been able to generate so that you know, that's all I can afford to buy with a little Tim cups. Somebody who stepped outside of my desert, you know, it is sitting over there with huge gigantic pots and you know water tanks and they're going to bring those in here and they're going to be the ones that I meet the money. I mean I'm worried about I'd love it if the local Merchants make money, but I'd be real upset if it's a if it's a shopping centers, you don't like you no gas can't compete with the to the 200 Cafe can't compete with a country kitchen, you know, that's it. That's a fact of life and we all know it can just afford, you know to put up a country kitchen. That's the next question it, you know, if he can't then where can he borrow the money to do it. Do we have the financial resources in this region? So fast can go out and build a country kitchen that that's some of the problems that we have to keep in mind when you talk about everybody getting rich. It just seems to me like we're looking pretty good. And I just wonder if you like with all the advantages of coal if it's gone off that the disadvantages because We're making good. Let me know also, there's going to be some benefit, you know that North Dakota and the areas will make you note to the rest of the country. And today. These are the kinds of considerations that have to be really looked on there. You know, what are we now contributing our fair share not not just in terms of energy, but I was amazed to realize how much Sports in the state. In fact, most of the electricity we making this state goes out of the state already. The oil that we produced here. Let me throw something out if I'm A-Okay all of the things that you require for your daily life. How many of those come from another state? I don't know but we have to think about these things, you know Detroit provide something that's very vital to most of us. And that's in the form of automobiles are clothing know. I don't know I suppose I've got something on today that's a byproduct of the petrochemical industry. And when we talk about development plant that are going to resolve as a part of this rather than just you know, the methane gas that's going to be sent, you know to our Market. Are you in our market area and we are not selling gas to the Steel Industries, but those people that are you know, working in the Steel Industries have some of the requirements for you no electricity for heating their water drying their clothes cooking their food eating their houses. So we're going to supply them some of their required things they in turn do some other things and getting metals of different types. which you know begin to make our lives, but they are today so It looks to me like that those of us in this country are dependent a great deal on one another some of us provide protein food supplies. Some people in other areas provide other things that we require. So I guess maybe this is the the point that I'm looking at it, you know that the United States does have some energy requirements some petrochemical requirements just so happens that there's coal, you know in North Dakota and then can we develop that coal for it can be processed, you know to provide some of these things return the land back to those people that are going to use it for agricultural production. We don't have a positive answer to say yes, we can from the information we have at this point. It all tends to make us think yes, we can a lot of money have a lot of financing we're sitting here and we do not have a lot of money. We don't have a lot of financing. We don't have the lawyers to protect us, you know, if you guys decide you wanted to be the bad guy. And you know, there's no protection for us really basically like the legislature like state of North Dakota will do its best I suppose but still most of the power is in Fargo and Grand Forks. Those people are surprised they could care less what happens to the western part of the state general fund for the state of North Dakota, which will be prorated. Factories and the problem. I don't think you've ever seen me before but one of the things that natural gas pipeline has to do is show you something about our credibility. One of the things I'm going to be around here. Hopefully to continue is you know, what natural gas pipelines projects going to be about To give information to those of you in the area about the decisions and the information as We Gather it and also to be aware of your concerns so that you know, we have some way of feeding this back into the policymakers and the general look at it. The other way we won't have these meetings at all and When we hear from other points of view, okay, that's why I'm here is to give and to receive from you, you know your concerns than some of the things we we will look at I suppose from our point of view. We're trying to develop a project using this land for Wilhite you come out there and he sat there and so we told him what he thought of what it would do to a person. If you come out in mind, like if you had we'll just say prince in. And he would start in mining where you keep on mining there until the thing was gone. If you were already paying income tax why you says we'd be crippling you and one of the meetings and every place that I have had. When we set up our machine, but it's so big and so cute that we keep on mining Witcher. I knew without asking him see that would happen. But I would he come out and tell you all know you wouldn't do it, but it's never showed up as one of the other meeting. At their word if they say something that's true and when you're working with big companies and millions of dollars, but have everything going black and white. Otherwise, you haven't got a leg to stand on. Some of the things that I heard his since I've been here a short time. when people came by from Lowe's companies that were Leasing and this one person said those slick talker could make you see the moon at High Noon. Well, I don't know about that special feeling for the land here on the farm and they were here blames, Northfield. And I think that's going to be ruined if I think it will. If they put it back, would you miss the way it looks now? Yes because it could never put it back the way it was. They might do a pretty good job, but it'll never produces like it was just too productive, you know what to bring it in its in matters of dollars and sense. It just doesn't figure out in the long run and I don't think I'll ever reclaim it for granted, you know, the hills in the interest of quietness and the aloneness and stuff. But after this coal gasification thing to you just come to realize that it's it's precious and you may lose it some day and you just really start to appreciate it now at least this my feelings If it came through in mind colon, put the land back. Would it be the same? You're on your heels wouldn't be there. The land itself wouldn't be the same to begin with when you mind the area and you take out 50 feet of coal and put the land back to going to be 50 feet lower than it was before and what's going to happen to Spring Creek and Knife River and Lease reverser. Probably only 10 ft below the surface or surrounding areas to begin with. What were they going to drain into mean? It's going to be to my notion end up to be all swamp when you take out that much and settle equate down Reclamation almost impossible in a semi-arid region like this because we just about don't get enough rain fact, it has to be 10 in or greater in order for a Reclamation of any kind workin weed ardleigh last summer. We've never even talked any chance of raining what's going to happen. There's nothing going to go over it has a tough time to Native grasses that have been here for ever and ever practically. Google what's going to happen after they tear it up and try to find something else that's new to this area. I mean, I can't see how they can reclaim it and that they haven't proven it to anybody really. That I know of and nobody seems to be satisfied with what they've come up with so far. A lot of the people around here have released their call. Did they go into the leases with the idea that I would ever be mine? Just know you didn't realize what they were giving up and nobody know what I'm sure they didn't do because of everybody I've talked to has the deepest regrets that they've ever least 20-year Lisa Cena with options to renewing 20 years is probably only five years gone off. At least now, there's 15 years left and there's nothing absolutely nothing you can do about it to break that lease until the 20 years are up and by that time maybe or cold will be gone. It's it's a hopeless helpless feeling for just about everybody and we feel it. We know it's probably coming but I don't think we really feel it until the day they come in and start to start to do it on somebody's land that's close to think. It's going to happen coal gasification. Yes. it's going to have to happen because We have taken from other states. They have given us well mine's iron mines copper mines Minnesota area and so forth to the people of a community, I've lost a lot too and they had to give up to the rest of world with are the rest of the nation but we as a state have something to give to the rest of the nation. I suppose you're going to have to give it. A year if they want to know we can probably slow it down. We can probably delay it. But in time too, I'm sure the federal government if it gets to that point will step in and say Hey, you know, you've got to school and you've got to give it up and we need it and that's it. And I mean that's that's all you can do about it. We can slow it down be late. Maybe we can get some good things out of it, but I know we can't stop. I suppose the good Lord put the cold out for a purpose today. And I imagine that they're not maybe maybe not but with the expectation that people would use it. So I believe now if they do a proper job of replacing the soil. Play Ain't No Reason Why that it's going to go to put here for a purpose of a stocked but by somebody different than us, but I wonder if it time yet for her to take it out. I don't believe it's here yet. You've been listening to residents of Dunn Center North Dakota population 107 discuss the prospect of cool development in their area. This is the last program in the series titled our hometown which explorer the values and character of life in small towns are produced by Minnesota Public Radio station kccm with buns from the North Dakota committee for the Humanities and public issues series producers are John ydstie Dennis Hamilton and Bill Sebring is that copies of these programs are available from kccm your comments about this series are most welcome. Our address is kccm, Concordia College, Moorhead, Minnesota 56560.