Readers’ Views

Grateful for help

To the Editor:

Our heartfelt thanks to the Fairmont Police Department, Fairmont Fire Department and Martin County Sheriff’s Department for your swift, kind and professional response in our time of need. Your good work meant so much to us throughout the search for Bob. We’re grateful for the closure you were able to give us.

Jeannie Borowski and

the family of Robert Mielke

Fairmont

No more prairie dogs

To the Editor:

Those residents who exercise by walking on the bike trail have noticed the limited activity over the past year at the prairie dog exhibit.

The freezing and thawing of our Minnesota winters have done significant damage to the walls of our exhibit. Three different times repairs have been made. Last year, several large sections of concrete crumbled from the north wall. Repairs were made last fall and boards were used to prevent any escape by the remaining dogs. This spring, the cracks have returned and the failure of the wall is imminent. The Fairmont Exchange Club has made a decision that the condition of the walls are such that it makes it impossible to restock it with new dogs and the exhibit must be closed.

The exhibit was started in June of 2000 with the help of community contributions. The information obtained from the Theodore Roosevelt National Park at Mora, N.D., and the brochures provided by the University of North Dakota assisted club members learning how to manage the exhibit. They learned that the dogs received the nutrition and water from the grass and high protein oil sunflower seeds that they ate. They taught us that the risks of our exhibit would be similar to those of a colony in the grassland states of Nebraska and the Dakotas.

One dog was always the sentry watching for the shadows of an eagle or a hawk and barking as a signal for all dogs to return to their burrows for safety. The average life expectancy for a dog was three years. The reality of our seasons was that a very cold winter could cause a loss of dogs if they were exposed to a very deep frost. The large spring rains and floods could trap the dogs in their burrows and drown them as the water level increased. The prairie dogs always buried their dead in the tunnels. Over the 17 years, only one dog was removed after he had been stoned by teenagers amusing themselves.

Daycare children, tourists and grandchildren were entertained by the antics of the prairie dog pups as children tossed kernels of corn into the exhibit. They would bark and interact with small children as if there was a common understanding between them. One season, there were tourists and cars from 15 different states observed at the exhibit. An FFA chapter from northern Iowa made an annual visit to the exhibit for benefit to the members of their chapter. A photographer spent a whole Saturday taking pictures of the dogs in our exhibit that he was going to use as part of a display at his photo gallery in Baltimore, Md.

Unfortunately, for some unknown reason, there have not been any pups since the summer of 2008. The number of dogs has diminished each year and the two that were there last season had to have been at least 10 years old.

Over $7,000 was raised as funds through the corn feeders and used in part as contributions for Fairmont Youth sports, Fairmont Kinship program, Kids Against Hunger program, Fairmont Project Trust, Fairmont Prom Committee, Fairmont Cardinal Booster Club, flag recognition programs, and flag disposal programs. The Exchange Club wants to thank Unke Farms and Cargill Grain for providing us corn for the feeders the past 17 years and the many Fairmont residents who supported our exhibit.

April is the 69th anniversary of community service to the Fairmont area community by members of the Fairmont Exchange Club. We extend an invitation to any person interested in a community service club to join us at our weekly meetings held noon each Tuesday at the Fairmont Holiday Inn.

Ernie Nuss and

other members of

the Fairmont Exchange Club

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