Living history

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20 years ago

Excerpts from the Sept. 25, 1997 Pioneer Journal

• Candidate drops out, primary cancelled

The special primary election scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 30, to select a Republican candidate to run against Mary Ellen Otremba will not be held, according to Wadena County Auditor/Treasurer L.G. Durkee.

A pair of Republican candidates, Barb Schmitt and John Blashack, filed for that party's opening for the special primary. Blashack dropped out of the race Monday, leaving Schmitt to run against Otremba in November.

The November election will fill the seat left vacant when District 11-B representative Ken Otremba died earlier this summer.

Blashack said the decision to drop out of the race was made following a conversation with his wife and eight children, who range in age from preschool to college.

"It was pretty simple, really. We discussed it with the children and they said the weight of it was simply too heavy," Blashack said. "Some family members weren't ready for it and they expressed concerns about being in the public eye."

Blashack is a bertha area dairy farmer. He also works at Harms Brothers Manufacturing in Bertha and serves on the East Otter Tail Soil and Water Conservation Board, the WestMinn Resource Conservation Board and is active in promoting economic development issues, conservation practices and water use issues.

"I'm still active in those," he said. "There are a lot of issues there that need to be covered."

40 years ago

Excerpts from the Sept. 28, 1977 Pioneer Journal

• Lightning bolt apparent cause of hayshed fire

A bolt of lightning was the apparent cause of a pole hay shed fire late Wednesday night on the Robert L. Fisher farm 1.5 miles north of Verndale on County Road 22, a Verndale fire spokesman said.

Destroyed in the blaze, which was reported by Fisher's neighbors about 10:30 p.m., were over 4,000 bales of this year's alfalfa hay and another 1,000 oats straw bales.

The electrical bolt also rendered telephone service at the Fisher home useless and firemen were summoned by a neighbor.

Verndale's main fire crew worked for over two hours to protect an adjacent barn and other farm buildings from being destroyed. Four firemen remained at the scene until 7 a.m. Thursday.

The pole hay building with metal roof was a total loss, firemen said.

• Freight car fire investigated

The Wadena police department, along with the State Fire marshal, are continuing their investigation into a railroad freight car fire at the Homecrest plant at 1 a.m. last Friday.

A night watchman, Bill Hirsch, was treated and released for smoke inhalation at Tri-County hospital, Wadena Fire Chief Gene Reger said.

Patio equipment in a Burlington-Northern car at the plant was damaged.