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Across The Lake

Our legislators in St. Paul have to be envious when they look towards Bismarck and see the problems their North Dakota counter-parts are facing. In the last couple of weeks, they've been holding hearings on taxes. On reducing them, that is. Different legislative bills and they won't all be passed as first written, but the net result of those being studied could mean as much as half a billion less in revenue to the state and of that, the lawmakers there are considering almost all of that in property tax reduction, the rest in cutting personal income tax rates. The difference is largely their oil wealth, but also a habit of living within their tax income.

In all that early coverage on the Japanese earthquake, photos of the tsunami included one showing those huge cargo containers being tossed around like match boxes. You see those shipping containers on railroad cars and they really do look huge. You wonder about them aboard ships and how big those ships must be. Then you note a newspaper article about a Danish shipping company, Maersk Line. It's just ordered 10 new vessels to carry those cargo containers -- 18,000 boxes each or 2,500 more than the biggest one now afloat. Daewoo will build them in South Korea.

Next time your travel takes you to Fargo, if you go by way of Detroit Lakes and see one of the long trains hauling the huge cargo boxes, you might do a little mental calculation. If those 18,000 containers were stacked two high and loaded four to a railroad flat car, how long a train would be required to move them and how long would it block the crossing?

Was anyone really listening? Every speaker wonders about that and if someone was listening, did they actually hear what was being said. Andra Vaughn maybe had that same question in mind after arranging the appearance here of Sarah Panzau. Panzau is the woman whose sports career was cut short by her auto accident when she drove home drunk several years ago. Vaughn said high school students who heard Panzau were still talking about it and coming up to Vaughn to say 'thanks' for arranging the program and for bringing bus loads of Kelliher and Northome high schoolers here to hear her, too.

It's not like she bought a lottery ticket -- it was just a box of Keebler crackers and it wasn't gambling -- she just opened the box and it wasn't anything other than good fortune that made her recognize the slip in the box was a winner and it wasn't until she had the check in hand that Lorraine Warden knew she really had won $5,000. And as a minister's wife and assistant administrator at the elementary school, odds are she'll find a good use for the money.

After the excitement at home died down, Warden recalled something she'd done years ago. Curious about all the promotion given the old Publisher's Clearing House prize awards, she sat down and wrote them a letter. Do they really give out all that money, she wondered, so she wrote and asked. Sounds like she's still waiting for an answer -- which made that check from the Keebler people all the nicer.

How about this year's Iditarod Trail winner? John Baker and his sled dog team not only won this year's grueling event, but did it by shaving exactly three hours off the record of almost nine days that it takes to complete the 1,150 mile race from Anchorage to Nome. Baker is also the first native Alaska musher to win in more than 30 years and the first Eskimo to win. His eight day, 19 hour, 46 minute outing won him a new truck as well as a $50,400 cash prize. Bet his dogs are eating well these days.

Thoughts while drying the dishes... Been asked many times recently who'll take "my spot" on the Beltrami Electric board. First, it isn't "my spot" at all -- it's just the one I've occupied since co-op members elected me nine years ago. Second, you get to pick the next person to occupy that spot, starting with the nominating meeting Tuesday night. I'll be there --hope you will be, too.