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Commuter community II

As long as Matt Borud can remember, Gooseneck Implement in Kenmare has had employees who commute to work from other communities.

1/31/17 (Tue)


Running like a Deere... From left; Gerry Knutson, Rusty Brown, Maria Ely and Terry Mertz are four employees of Gooseneck Implement in Kenmare who commute to work every day. Gooseneck has 41 employees and 15 of them are commuters. Four of the employees drive in from Bowbells, 12 miles, and two from Carpio, 26 miles.

Editor’s note: This is the second of a four-part series about people who commute to work. More specifically, it targets Kenmare which had 419 people driving into the community in 2014, the most recent year statistics are available. In this second installment, we talked with several employees of Gooseneck Implement who drive into Kenmare for their jobs every day.

By Marvin Baker

As long as Matt Borud can remember, Gooseneck Implement in Kenmare has had employees who commute to work from other communities.

Borud, the store manager of the John Deere dealership, said 15 of the 41 employees at Gooseneck are commuters.

Terry Mertz is one of those commuters. He comes in from Grand Forks on Monday and makes the trip back home on Friday night.

His Monday morning trip is about four hours and all but 39 of the 270 miles are four lane highway.

“I leave myself plenty of time,” Mertz said. “I leave Grand Forks by 5 a.m., so I’m here by 9.”

During the week, he stays in a condominium he purchased in Kenmare. In the busy season, however, he’s in Kenmare seven days a week.

Mertz the service manager, said he makes the trek because of the job opportunity.

“You just go where the opportunity is,” Mertz said. “You have to see it that way.”

Mertz has been employed at Gooseneck Implement nearly four years and said he has never had a situation in which he couldn’t get to work.

However, there have been times when he has stayed put because of poor weather conditions. He said if it’s bad, he’ll make a decision and simply not go out on the road to risk himself or others.

During one trip, he recalls driving over the top of a deer that had been killed on the roadway.

Mertz, whose wife is a teacher in Grand Forks, calls Kenmare a “nice town.” While here, he gets involved in what he calls a lot of things going on in the community, taking part in fund raisers and other events.

Maria Ely is on the road a lot and doesn’t mind her 52-mile commute from Minot.

Having grown up in Columbus, and having made numerous trips to Minot over the years, she feels she knows U.S. Highway 52 well.

In addition, part of her data management job requires her to travel to Stanley, Keene and Plaza, as well as Kenmare.

“I don’t mind it. I have to go anyway,” she said. “If it’s bad, they let me stay in Minot.”

She likes living in Minot because she has been there long enough to feel as if she’s part of the community and, there is more to do in her free time.

She said her boyfriend lives in Kenmare, so Gooseneck Implement isn’t her only draw to the community.

“I listen to talk radio on the way to work and zone out with coffee,” Ely said.

For a young woman, she has seen her share of bizarre happenings on U.S. 52.

Ely saw a semi go into the ditch north of Carpio and jump the railroad tracks. It was later discovered the driver had a medical emergency and lost control of his vehicle.

Shortly after she left Minot one morning, she noticed a moose wandering around in the United Community Bank parking lot in Burlington.

And in another instance, she was near New Town waiting to make a left turn, when somebody came up behind her, drove into the ditch and passed her on the right side.

Ely said it’s the craziest thing she’s ever witnessed.

Sales representative Rusty Brown has a 38-mile drive from Stanley, which he says takes him 41 minutes.

But unlike Mertz and Ely, Brown travels mostly county roads with the exception of a short stretch on N.D. Highway 50. Otherwise, it’s Mountrail County Road 8 and Ward County Road 1.

Brown said Gooseneck Implement has a large geographical sales area so he is used to the commute because he’s on the road a lot.

“Commuting is a nice time to reflect and transition from work to home,” Brown said. “On the way, I set my goals for the day and on the way home I wind down.”

Brown said he likes his work and likes working for Gooseneck Implement. He also chooses to live in Stanley so as far as he’s concerned, the commute is part of working at a job he enjoys.

Recently, Brown’s been seeing two moose on a regular basis.

“I see them often on County Road 1,” he said. “It’s one of the joys of my job, to get to drive around and see that.”

However, there have been times when his commute has been dicey because of inclement weather.

“I have had to take different routes because of snow drifts, but I’ve always been able to get here,” Brown said. “You have to be careful and use your head, but it sure is good for snowblower sales.”

Gerry Knutson has a short commute, driving into Kenmare from Bowbells. He is one of four Gooseneck employees from Bowbells but doesn’t carpool because it seems everyone’s schedules differ.

A parts man at the dealership, Knutson has been working in Kenmare 10 months. He admits there have been a few days that have been tough because of the weather, and one day he had to wait a couple of hours to leave home, but did make it to work.

He hasn’t seen anything weird on his Bowbells-to-Kenmare commute, but in a previous job saw an electrical transformer explode and burn on a trip to Stanley.

“I don’t mind it, it’s a good wake up time,” Knutson said. “I used to drive 40 miles when I worked at EOG in Stanley.”

According to Borud, safety will always be a priority when the weather gets rough. In both the Nov. 29 and Dec. 7 storms, he told the employees if they can’t make it, it’s not a big deal, but it can be a burden if too many people are absent at the same time.

Borud said there have been seven or eight people who have come from out of state who turned out well and moved here permanently. Most people, however, have local ties.

“We seem to retain people with local ties,” Borud said. “And it definitely helps Kenmare with more people coming into town for their jobs.” ... Read EVERY WORD on EVERY PAGE of The Kenmare News by subscribing--online or in print!