Christmas will be merrier for 38 families in Oliver County this year. Approximately 30 volunteers spent Dec. 19 at the Center Civic Center packing "Gifts of Love" baskets filled with a turkey, fruits, vegetables, bread, milk, macaroni, soup, paper products and toys. LaVerne Hoffman, chairperson for the program, said the Center-Stanton Public School, the community's churches and a donation from ChristKindlemarkdt contributed toward the program.
BNI Coal summoned the Oliver County Rural Fire Department and the Hazen City Fire Department at 11 a.m. Dec. 10 to assist with a fire in the "Big Jake" dragline working five miles southwest of Center. "Our employees put the fire out in 15-20 minutes," Jeff Forsberg, Safety Director for BNI said. "We sent the Hazen department back, but kept Oliver County's at the site to monitor the situation for about an hour. We really appreciate their quick response."
After tabling it twice and revising it, the Center-Stanton Public School Board approved the Housing Incentive Program at the monthly meeting Dec. 15. In the program the board will put $2,000 per year into a special account for each qualified teacher employed by the district for five years. If at the end of that period a teacher owns a home within the district, that teacher will receive $10,000 plus interest. One-half of that incentive pay will be given to teachers that rent a home in the district or live outside the district but send students to the Center-Stanton school.
Oliver County auditor Barb Fleming issued certifications of election to Commissioners Kent Albers and Dwaine Helmers during the monthly meeting of the Oliver County Commission Dec. 4. Albers, serving District 1, and Helmers, serving District 3, were re-elected to four-year terms in November. The commission plunged into a crowded agenda. They tackled two issues brought by landowners. Tony Heidrich asked about an easement so that he can place a fence on land that had formerly been part of a road that is no longer being used. He would like to run his fence straight to the present road thus adding nearly half an acre.
They filed into the Oliver County Courthouse meeting room wearing suits, dress clothes and overalls. They came from out of town, courthouse offices and the shop. They all came to congratulate Francis Pulver, Oliver County Road Supervisor, for his 23 years of service to the county and community. Barb Fleming, Oliver County auditor, organized a surprise retirement party for Pulver Dec. 4 inviting friends, associates and county employees.
There was no excuse for missing a great Thanksgiving dinner in Center this year. The United Methodist Church hosted a Community Thanksgiving Potluck Dinner at the church Nov. 30. "I thought it would be a nice mission project for our community," Sharon Anderson, a United Methodist member said.
The cost of eating continues to rise, and the Center Meals on Wheels Program is beginning to feel the effect. Next year the Mandan Meals on Wheels Program will not help fund the one in Center, which operates out of the Golden Age Club. Delphia Nelson appeared before the Center City Council at their monthly meeting Dec. 1 to ask for help. According to Nelson, president of the Center Golden Age Club, Mandan's program has been sharing grant money with Center, but with rising operating costs, Mandan doesn't have the funds to allocate to Center. Nelson, who also serves on the Mandan Golden Age Services Board, said the amount Center's program will receive this year from Mandan is $7,321.08, and the projected cost to operate the program in Center for 2009 is $11,535.
As families and friends across America gather for this Thanksgiving Day holiday, blessings and thankfulness come to mind. As is often said, sometimes it is the simplest things in life, and often life itself, that seem to so often be taken for granted. But as someone who knows better recently said, "things happen in life, things that always seem to happen to everyone else. Not you." No one knows better about those "things" than people who have experienced it, people like Tanya Ginther, Dillon Schramm and Carlyle Sailer.
People in Center aren't exactly dancing in the streets, but they are smiling more when they fill up their tanks at the Corner Express. The price of gas there dropped to under $2 on Nov. 18 for the first time since March 2005. The peak price was $3.99 in July-August 2008. Ten percent ethanol is now $1.95, regular unleaded at $1.99, premium at $2.25 and diesel at $3.04, not counting the nine-tenths of a cent.
It's that time of year again, the holidays, and area food pantries, the Oliver County Food Pantry and the Gifts of Love project, are getting prepared. The Oliver County Food Pantry is ready to offer families emergency food assistance year-round, not just during the holiday season, but Sally Jons, president of the Center based group, said that they get busier this time of year.