By Marvin Baker, a new weekly column in The Kenmare News
Posted 3/10/15 (Tue)
It’s been 16 months since I first came to Kenmare to work at this newspaper replacing Caroline Downs who has since moved to Alaska.
There has been a lot of interesting news to report in that short amount of time and it doesn’t appear to be changing in the least.
That’s one of the things I really like about my job; gathering the news and presenting it to the readers of The Kenmare News.
I’ve always liked Kenmare and I wanted to reveal that in this space sometime ago, but thought I’d wait, just in case that thought pattern would change, but it hasn’t.
Periodically through the 1980s and into the early 1990s, I made frequent trips to Regina, Moose Jaw and Medicine Hat and always passed through Kenmare going to Canada and coming back.
What an interesting community, but at the time I didn’t know a soul, it was merely a cosmetic appeal, which I always thought, compared well to other communities in North Dakota of the same size in population.
But since coming to work here and meeting a good portion of the people living and working here, my thoughts about this community are reinforced.
A stable economy, agriculture well represented, a variety of churches to choose from, a proactive public school, and that part of North Dakota that’s been forgotten in some places but not here, friendly people, are all reasons to enjoy this community.
Because I’m a journalist, in 16 months I’ve met and interacted with movers and shakers, emergency responders, merchants, farmers, politicians and students.
One day I was on assignment at Kenmare High School and happened to arrive in that short, three-minute time window between classes. As I was walking toward my appointment and navigating through waves of students moving to their next class, I heard several of the students greet me by my first name. It seemed strange at the time but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that these kids are a class act and should be recognized for their social professionalism.
It’s a learned behavior and I can see from meeting many of their parents in the business world that this community has been that way for a long time.
So for those who have lived here all their lives and sometimes feel the complacency, take a close look around you and appreciate the people of this community. They’re most often going to be good people who are close friends and trustworthy neighbors.
For those of us who make the daily commute to Kenmare to work, I’m sure you feel as I do, that it is a privilege and honor to be working in such a community that has among the best people in the state of North Dakota.
And for those who are passing through as I once did, there’s more to that cosmetic appeal than meets the eye and it would behoove anyone to stop for more than gas and a burger and see what Kenmare really has to offer.
One of the things that most travelers along U.S. Highway 2 will miss, is downtown Kenmare. That’s where this community has really changed, and for the better.
The west side square is a marvel for any small town in the state and larger communities often feel the envy of what Kenmare has done in razing numerous old buildings and replacing the empty space with modern store fronts, ease of shopping and merchants who appreciate your business.
Driving past the west side square on my way to work every day and working downtown, I’m able to observe the patterns of business along the west side of the square.
Take advantage of having these new store fronts in town. Use them, shop there, pick up what you need, drop by for the best coffee and saurkraut soup in North Dakota, make it a destination.
With the old Danish Mill as a backdrop and music playing on strategically positioned speakers around the square, it’s a great place to enjoy good shopping and conversation with friends.
In my civilian and military careers, I’ve had the opportunity to see many of North Dakota’s small towns and trust me, most of the leadership in those communities would be willing to give up their first born to have what’s now available in downtown Kenmare.
There are many communities that struggle financially and many take a lot of pride in one or two buildings on their historic main streets.
Here, it’s a fourth of downtown. A remarkable achievement, just like the people here who go out of their way to show their kindness.