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Omdahl: Homeland Committee tackles Christmas issue

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Omdahl: Homeland Committee tackles Christmas issue
Dickinson North Dakota 1815 1st Street West 58602

“OK! What is this business of another emergency meeting in the middle of winter?” pouted Holger Danske as he slammed the storm door on the community hall where the town’s 14 electors were congregating for a crisis session of the Homeland Security Committee.

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”Yeah!” exclaimed Einar Stamstead. “We just had one in January and didn’t even get to the emergency crisis, whatever it was.”

“We ought to pick up where we left off and decide whether or not to light the stove to get a little heat in this place,” teased Josh Dvorchak.

Chairperson Ork Dorken banged his Coke bottle on the make-shift head table, consisting of an old hollow-core door.

”Nonsense!” he exclaimed firmly. “This time we have to tackle this emergency crisis or quit meeting.”

“I am sure there are more options than just two,” opined Orville Jordan, the retired railroad depot agent.

“Let’s stick to the subject,” Ork demanded. “Dorsey Crank is the one who felt that we ought to have this crisis meeting.”

Dorsey stood up to address the group. He was nervous, never having spoken to such a large audience before.

“I was over to Sadburg for New Year’s and heard that the town was going to dissolve and sell the eight 6-foot canes that decorated Main Street every Christmas and I thought we might want to buy them seeing as how we don’t have anything that sensational in our town,” Dorsey explained in one long sentence and sat down.

“What would we do with eight 6-foot canes?” snorted Old Sievert.

He wasn’t much for gaudy Christmas decorations. He still used live candles on his genuine tree. The rural fire department was called to his place at least twice every Christmas season.

“We could hang ‘em on our street lights,” Dorsey suggested.

“But we got only seven street lights,” protested Garvey Erfald, the chief alert officer who used the street lights for his alert signals warning the community about terrorists in the area.

“Well, actually we got seven poles and six lights because the one over by the old blacksmith shop hasn’t worked for two years,” corrected Madeleine Morgan, the newcomer who had lived in town for only 15 years.

“That’s because nobody needs that light since the blacksmith family moved to Beulah 13 years ago,” Old Sievert explained. “There hasn’t been anybody to complain about the dark.”

“A 6-foot cane would be an improvement in that part of town,” noted Little Jimmy, the only elector too young for Social Security. He was taking college online with a major in archeology while his folks joined the Klondike gold rush.

“I ‘spose we could put up another pole so we would have eight but that would be a big drain on our town budget,” Holger surmised.

“Maybe we could have a special property tax levy for economic development because it would create a job for a day or two,” Little Jimmy offered.

“If we’re doing economic development, we need to keep our taxes low to attract business,” Garvey lectured. He had been to a county meeting where he heard that business would flock to any city with low taxes.

“Besides,” he added, “the town’s property valuation is so low that it would take at least 100 mills to get the money.”

“Let’s stick to the subject,” Ork ordered. “Do we want the Christmas canes or not?”

“A tax increase is a serious deal,” cautioned Josh. “Let’s have a committee of some sort to study this issue.”

Instantaneously, at least five electors seconded the proposal and everyone hustled for the door.

Ork had lost control again.

Omdahl is former North Dakota lieutenant governor and retired University of North Dakota political science teacher. Email him at ndmatters@q.com.

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