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Trista Raezer-Stursa

Contributor, Dakota Datebook
  • On this date in 2000, the generous gift of half a million dollars by Roger Haas to the Germans from Russia Heritage Society was announced. Roger had come a long way from being a motherless farm boy who spoke German at home. Now a successful businessman in Portland, Oregon, Roger wanted to give back to the community he came from by honoring his roots.
  • Living your entire life in a town so small that it was practically a ghost town might bother some, but not Melvin Wisdahl. Born and raised in Corinth in northwestern North Dakota, Melvin still called the tiny town of 15 people home as of this date 1990.
  • It’s not often a major motion picture set in North Dakota or filmed here, let alone stare Hollywood royalty. On this date in 2000, the Bismarck Tribune reported on the excitement that descended on Medora as the town hosted 150 cast and crew members for the filming of Wooly Boys. It starred Peter Fonda, Kris Kristofferson, and Joseph Mazzello and followed the story of a Badlands sheep rancher and his grandson.
  • On this date in 1995, The Bismarck Tribune reported about the decay of the Fortuna Air Force Station. From 1951 to 1979 the station was an active radar station in the Air Defense Command that protected the United States from attack. The station was six miles from Canada and eight miles from Montana. The nearest town was Fortuna.
  • In 1984 president Ronald Reagan announced NASA’s newest program, the Teacher in Space Project. The program’s goal was to promote student interest in math, science, and space. Almost 11,000 teachers from across the country applied in the hopes of going into space on the shuttle Challenger. The applicants were narrowed down to two teachers per state and territory, and eventually to ten finalists.
  • On this date in 1995, the Bismarck Tribune reported on a most unusual postmaster. Gordon Vaagen, postmaster of Taylor since 1967, was a musical virtuoso. When not running the post office he was repairing and making instruments.
  • It’s not every day that someone refuses a $20,000 payment from the government, but that’s exactly what Adolph Shirley did. On this date in 1986, the Bismarck Tribune reported that Shirley refused payment for land he would lose to the Garrison Diversion.