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Stranded truckers receive generous meals in Dickinson

Local family and businesses come together to feed those affected by winter storm.

trucks
Trucks parked at the Henry Biesiot Activities Center during a winter storm that closed several roads in the area.
Ashley Koffler / The Dickinson Press
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DICKINSON — When a winter storm gripped the state, hundreds of truck drivers and other travelers found themselves stranded as I-94 and many other roads closed. In Dickinson, truck stops and parking lots filled up with semi trucks whose drivers were unable to continue their journey. While most who were fortunate to be safe and warm at home stayed there, the Betlaf family ventured out on Dec. 16 to fill the bellies of those who did not have the comforts of home. Jon Betlaf, along with his wife Lynn and son Brady Betlaf and their coworker, Colton Walters went from truck to truck in the frigid temperature and unforgiving wind, delivering 145 meals to anyone who wanted them, free of charge.

“We had our suburban full of food in to-go boxes and just opened up our hatch and started walking around knocking on doors,” Jon Betlaf said. “We just knocked on doors and asked if they wanted food and water. Quite a few people were more than eager to take food. Some of them said that I have food, give it to other people who need it. So we’d pass on down the line.”

He said they had to come to Dickinson to run their business, Jon's Home Comfort, so they thought they’d do a little extra. They found out where truckers were parking and drove all over town delivering the meals. Betlaf said that many restaurants were closed, making it difficult for stranded travelers to get a meal.

“You know what the truck stops got - it's just all candies and frozen foods,” Betlaf said. “We just thought it would be a good thing to do. I try to treat people the way I would like to be treated. It's a good gesture to do and a way to give back to your community.”

They called businesses in the area and secured some donated food they used in their meal preparation.

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“We just decided to make meals so we got some potato chips, that was sponsored by Braun distributing,” Betlaf said. “And then Cash Wise helped us with buns and desserts. The Wurst Shop, they gave some sausage and we donated sausage ourselves. Peterbilt gave us waters and we just gave everybody a healthy portion of sausage and a bun and a couple of desserts and some chips and gave it out to all the truckers who wanted it.”

Their kind hearts are complemented by their humble nature.

“You know, we didn't want to draw a lot of attention,” Betlaf said. “We're just trying to help people out.”

Ken Molitor, owner of The Wurst Shop in Dickinson, said he was happy to donate food to the stranded truckers. In the past, he had found himself in similar situations when he drove a truck.

“Many times I found some place to pull over and waited the storm out,” Molitor said. “My hat's off to the truckers. It's not really an easy job. Consider it this way - they're people that are away from their home a big share of the time. They face every kind of road condition there is and they still get the products through.”

He said he donated about 20 pounds of country style sausage.

“I feel like it comes back 10 fold one way or another,” Molitor said. “If you don't support the community then the community won't support you. We aren't like big box stores and all that stuff. We are part of the community.”

Ashley Koffler is a Killdeer, North Dakota native and Dickinson State University graduate, with a Bachelor’s Degree in writing, and minors in journalism and psychology. Formerly working in Community Affairs for Roosevelt Custer Regional Council for Development, her reporting focuses on the Dickinson city government, community features, business and agriculture — among others.
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