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The Power of Progress

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2017 reminded all of us that since the first shovel of dirt was moved to plant the first seed, agriculture has been the bedrock of the economy for our area. The historic rebirth of the energy industry has been an added blessing to the economy of western North Dakota and the state as whole, but the catastrophic drought that occurred in 2017 reminded us all of the lead economic position farming and ranching is for the people of North Dakota.

Area farmers and ranchers watched as clouds came and went without delivering enough rain to sustain their crops and pastures. Heartbreak was felt by all as neatly planted fields were plowed under or harvested for hay to supplement pastures decimated by the drought.

2017 could have been a record year for excuses for not starting new projects, businesses or not investing in southwest North Dakota.

Today as we begin our annual Progress editions, recounting the 2017 accomplishments of people, business, government and organizations, the exact opposite occurred. The pioneer spirit that led immigrants to cross oceans and wide prairies to establish roots here remains as strong as ever. The Power of Progress sections published the next eight Sundays will chronicle that spirit of folks pulling up their boot straps and going to work investing in the places they call home.

The Women's March around the country the last two years has created a lot of conversation, both positive and negative, depending on your viewpoint. There is no controversy on the contributions area women contribute and invest in their communities every day. In the coming weeks we will seek to feature a many of them on these pages.

Today's section will focus on Dickinson with stories about local businesses new and old, housing, Deb Nelson of DLN Consulting for the good work she and her associates do every day and the historic $500,000 they sought and received to help the people of southwest North Dakota.

Next Sunday, we will focus health and the communities to the east of us: Richardton, Taylor and Hebron. Scheduled is a feature on the Stone Mill Co. that provides flax, chickpeas, lentils, quinoa and radish seeds to the nation and world. The section includes a feature on Misti Vogle, principal at Richardton/Taylor High School; Hebron stories about Dakota Community Bank and a retiring pottery teacher; and health stories about leaders at CHI.

In week three, the Power Of Progress section will focus on communities to the west of us on Interstate 94 — South Heart and Belfield — and business stories. Scheduled are stories about the new addition to South Heart School, and the district's elementary school principal. Stories about Belfield's new ice rink and businesses in Belfield, South Heart and Dickinson will fill out section.

The Power of Progress section four will focus on New England and Beach, and manufacturing. Scheduled is an update on the New England women's prison, New England's community playhouse, and a longtime principle who is retiring. Kristen Hedger, vice president of Killdeer Mountain Manufacturing, will be interviewed about KMM.

Bowman, Hettinger and education will be our focus for week five, with stories scheduled about Bowman Mayor Lyn James, and Bowman County Development Corp. Executive Director Teran Doerr. There will be stories about Country Media, and new businesses in Hettinger and Bowman. The section will also feature a story about Dickinson State University's Marie Moe and her role at the university.

Killdeer, Watford City and energy will be the focus of the Power of Progress section six. Dunn County Emergency Manager Denise Brew will be profiled. There will be stories about the new post office, new owners of the Ford dealership, Keane Energy and SM Fencing.

The Power of Progress week seven will feature agriculture and the communities of Mott and Regent. Future Farmers of America high school 4 H clubs will be featured, including profiles of their leaders. There will be stories about the new school addition in Mott-Regent, and new businesses.

The last section is all about leisure and North Dakota's favorite vacation spot: historic Medora and Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Scheduled are updates on new businesses in Medora and an update from the Medora Foundation on the new hotel. We will also have stories about the new Stark County Veterans Memorial, the Pit Strength Barbell Gym and the Methodist Church.

We will publish our first ever "30 under 30" section the last Sunday in March. We are seeking 30 superstars under the age of 30 who are making a difference in our area in businesses, education, government or nonprofits. Please send the name who you think we should feature and why to Bob Carruth at