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Williams County
Road budget likely hit hard by oil revenue drop
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Williams County is going to have to deal with a 40% cut in oil revenue for next year’s budget, one of the County Commissioners said Monday.

David Montgomery, who was re-elected to a fifth term last month, spoke Monday, Dec. 7, to the Williston Rotary Club. He talked about the issues facing the county, including a drop in oil production that has hurt government funding statewide.

Montgomery said the drop in money from the state’s Gross Production Tax will mostly affect money for repairing and improving roads.

The county only budgets about $13 million annual from oil production and uses any extra for road work. In 2020, the county spent about $30 million on road construction and repair.

“I hope the Legislature will at least maintain what we have,” Montgomery said. “We do have a cushion in our reserves. It’s certainly not anything like the Legacy Fund, but it’ll help us moving forward.”

Even with the drop in revenue, though, the county is in decent financial shape, Montgomery said, and that’s because county is entirely debt-free.

“For us that’s huge, because over the past 10 to 15 years we’ve constructed over $100 million in building projects alone,” Montgomery said.

Most of the needs for buildings have been met now, leaving roads as the primary project.

“Roads have always been an issue, is it better now?” state Rep. Patrick Hatlestad asked Montgomery.

He said things have improved, but there are still roads built in the 1930s or 1940s that the county has to work on.

“As you know, it all takes money,” Montgomery said. “We’re going to continue to obviously spend as much as we can to not only maintain but improve them.”

Looking ahead

The U.S. Census wrapped up earlier in the fall and North Dakota will find out the count in the spring, likely in April, Montgomery said.

“Williams County has a reorganization board and once the census numbers are out, the reorganization board will start their process of going together,” he said.

Every 10 years, with the decennial census, the boundaries of the county’s five commission districts must be redrawn. The goal is to make sure the population is approximately equal in each district.

Because of the change in population over the last 10 years, Montgomery said he expects some changes will be needed

“I would tend to believe in 2021 there’s going to be some realignment of the district boundaries,” he said.

The first time the new boundaries will be in play will be 2022 and in 2024, when the District 4 seat is up for election, Montgomery won’t be on the ballot. He said Monday he expects his fifth term to be his final one.

Montgomery has plans for the rest of his term, and he hopes that the county can make progress on behavioral health soon.

Williston and Williams County spend about $1 million each year just transporting people to behavioral health facilities statewide.

“I would really like to see us have some type of facility or agreement out here that would be beneficial for our behavioral health,” Montgomery said.

Sidney woman shares the power of pie
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Whoever wrote the song, “I’d like to teach the world to sing,” probably forgot an important lyric.

What about teaching the world to bake pies?

Crazy cool, decorated pies. The kind that make jaws drop when they’re placed on the table.

Those are the kind of pies that Carli Karren, a Sidney, Montana woman bakes. And those pies recently rose to top ranks in a world bake-off internet competition — even though Karren comes from a much less populated area than most of her competitors.

Karren noticed the advertisement for the contest on Facebook. She read the rules. Realized her chances of winning an online popularity contest like this were pretty slim.

“But I wanted to go for it anyway,” she said. “I’m always telling my kids if we only participate and do the things that we know we’re going to be the best at or win, then we wouldn’t really be participating in very much.”

So she put both hands into some pie dough, made another pie, and decided that she just had to go for it any way. It was time to teach the world to bake pies. Her way.

Karren made it through not just one round of this online popularity contest, but two. She nearly made it through the third round, too. That would have put her in the quarter finals, where professional judges would have helped decide the next winner.

Her loss was a narrow margin. But it doesn’t hurt, Karren says. Not even a little bit.

“Even though I didn’t win, I realized I had an incredible support system, full of people who care about what is important to me,” Karren said. “And having that knowledge is better than any monetary prize. I just feel so blessed still!”

Karren started baking pies 11 years ago, after she and her family moved to a home in Miles City that happened to have a nice, fat rhubarb bush in the backyard.

It was beautiful, but Karren had not one clue what to do with it. She called her mom.

“Pie,” her mother told her. “Make a pie with it.”

Karren didn’t have a recipe for that.

“Just google a recipe,” her mother suggested.

So, with Aunt Google’s basic rhubarb pie recipe, Karren kept on making rhubarb pies with that Miles City rhubarb plant.

Then, when she moved to Sidney, her backyard suddenly had two rhubarb plants. That meant — you guessed it — twice as many pies as before!

One day, on impulse, Karren started playing with the dough as she was making a pie. She cut ribbons with serrated edges using cookie cutters, then twirled it around on the top, like a great big flower. It was so pretty!

“My husband was like you should make another one,” Karli recalled. “So I did. And I started sharing them on Facebook.”

She started using all sorts of cookie cutters to decorate the pies. Then, two years ago, she thought, “Why can’t I color these? It would be so pretty.”

So, that’s just what she did. Looking back at that pie now, she doesn’t think it was all that great. Especially compared to what she can do now. Yet, people on Facebook loved it at the time.

“They’d never seen anything like it,” Karren recalled.

One day, as she was looking up a paper weave for a craft with her kids. another light bulb went on. This was the next step for her transformative pies.

She used the technique to start weaving words and other designs into the tops of her pies.

“Hope,” read one pie.

“Give Thanks,” read another.

“(The paper-craft pies) started this year for a teacher in Fairview with breast cancer,” Karren added. “I just really wanted to make some beautiful pies for her. It turned out even better than I expected.”

Karren doesn’t plan to start a business with her amazing pies.

“They just take so much time to make, it’s not worth it to sell them,” she said. “It’d be hard to charge someone that much for a pie. But if I can give a pie away for a good cause and it raises $325 or even $30, that is worth my time, because it is going to help that family.”

With her prize money, Karren had planned to buy a camera system for pie videos and get Lasik eye surgery. She might still get those things, despite not winning the competition.

In the meanwhile, though, she has started a Youtube channel to share her methods for captivating pies. That way, others can use them as she does, to transform not just pies, but how the world around the recipient feels. Giving a pie like this is like giving someone love in every slice. It doesn’t really matter whether the flavor is apple, cherry, or rhubarb then because love tastes amazing in every flavor you can savor.

“People think these pies are hard to make, but, if you have a pizza cutter and a ruler, you can do it,” Karren said. “All it really takes is time and courage.”

That’s the spirit for teaching a whole world to sing in perfect harmony. In a very delicious way.

Meanwhile, Karren is sharing both her recipe for perfect pie crust and that original Rhubarb pie recipe with Sidney Herald readers. So enjoy, share, and use your pies to help change the world for everyone you love.

Perfect Pie Crust

- 2 cups of flour

-4 shakes of salt

-1/2 cup butter flavored crisco

-1/4 cup water

(-up to 1/4 cup more water)

Mix flour and salt. Add in crisco. Cut in crisco until it becomes somewhat of a crumb mixture. (I use my kitchen aid and this takes 15 seconds) If you’re adding color to your crust, add it in the water first and mix. Add 1/4 cup water (or colored water) to the flour. Mix. Add up to 1/4 cup more using 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough holds together. If you use the entire 1/2 cup it won’t be as flaky but easier to design with if you’re designing a fancy topper.

Split in half and roll out between 2 sheets of parchment paper. No need for cooling or resting the dough, you can use it right away!

To use multiple colors, make half the recipe at a time and add in your different color to each half recipe.

Baste top crust with milk and sprinkle on sugar.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

1 lb fresh strawberries

2 cups chopped fresh rhubarb

3/4 cup sugar

5 Tablespoons of flour

Mix, pour in prepared pie shell, top with crust topper, baste with milk, sprinkle with sugar and bake at 375 F for 25 minutes. Check to be sure crust isn’t browning too quickly. Check every 10 minutes up to 65 minutes total bake time. Add foil of needed. Pie is done when the filling is bubbling.

Or with frozen ingredients:

3 cups frozen strawberries

4 cups frozen rhubarb

3/4 cup sugar

6 Tablespoons flour

Microwave your rhubarb and strawberries until thawed completely and hot. Strain and press them (Or your pie will be runny) Microwave again for 1 minute and strain and press again. Add sugar and flour. Set aside while the sugars juice the strawberries. Your filling should be a crazy pink color. If it’s red, add 1 TBS of flour. Pour into prepared pie shell and bake as mentioned above.

CHI pharmacy director honored by state association as Bowl of Hygeia 2020 recipient
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Dave Sandberg, pharmacy director for CHI St. Alexius Health Williston has been honored as the Bowl of Hygeia 2020 award recipient by the North Dakota Pharmacists Association.

“Dave’s hard work and commitment continues to be recognized state-wide by his colleagues and is now being honored through this prestigious award,” said Dan Bjerknes, president of CHI St. Alexius Health. “This well-deserved recognition is just one more way our patients can be assured they are receiving high-quality care right here in Williston.”

Sandberg was born and raised in Tioga and graduated from Tioga High School in 1967. He graduated from NDSU college of Pharmacy in 1972. Sandberg is married and has three children and seven grandchildren. In his 47 years as a licensed pharmacist, Sandberg has worked in retail and hospital pharmacies. He has also experienced three oil booms in Northwest North Dakota during his life.

The Williston Herald spoke with Sandberg about the award and his career.

Name: Dave Sandberg

Job: Director of Pharmacy at CHI St. Alexius Williston

What made you choose your career?

Helping individuals and families maintain their health. (I) liked Math and Chemistry.

What’s the most difficult challenge of your role?

Currently dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenge to maintain adequate drug supply to treat the disease. Also preparing for the arrival of the COVID vaccine after it has been approved.

What motivates you?

Being part of the health care team and contributing to the health care needs of our community and region.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to do what you do?

Job Shadow a pharmacist, reach out to a college of pharmacy and get information on the requirements for a degree in pharmacy. It will be one of the best most rewarding careers you can experience.

American State Bank and Salvation Army give back with "Fill a Forgotten Stocking" drive
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American State Bank & Trust Company has been partnering with the Salvation Army for over a quarter century to help bring Christmas to youth in the area that might otherwise go forgotten.

ASB has been collecting gifts for its “Fill A Forgotten Stocking” drive, accepting gifts for those youth ages 13 to 18 years old through Dec. 17. The Salvation Army will then wrap and distribute the gifts to area teens in need this Christmas. ASB Assistant Vice President and Marketing Office Debbie Richter said often times it’s a lot easier shopping for younger kids, leaving out the teenagers whose interests have moved beyond toys.

“It’s hard to shop for teens, because you want them to be happy with what you give them,” Richter told the Williston Herald. “I know that they are happy with any gift they receive from us, but it’s just nice to be able to get things that they really look forward to.”

Richter said most gift suggestions include items such as ear buds, hoodies, graphic t-shirts, books, board games, computer games, sports equipment and more. She added that most drives focus more on the family as a whole, or just younger children, making ASB’s program all the more important to the area.

“We don’t want anyone to feel left out, because Christmas is a terrible time to feel like you’re not important just because you’re older.” said Capt. Rachel Irvine of the Salvation Army. “

“This just helps to fill in that gap between the little ones and the adults or seniors,” Richter added. “It’s just something that makes it special for the teenagers.”

Richter said the bank is thankful every year to get an additional boost to their giving tree from Williston Middle School’s Students Against Destructive Decisions group, who fundraise every year to shop for gifts for the campaign. Richter said that while the group is not able to shop themselves this year, they are still raising money to donate, which the Salvation Army will use to purchase gifts.

Irvine said that the Salvation Army is seeing a lot of new families moving to the area, which has increased the need in the area. New families, and larger families with children over age five have made it difficult for the Salvation Army to make sure all needs are being accommodated; which is another reason Richter said it’s important for ASB to continue the yearly program.

“American State Bank has been in this community for going on 115 years, so taking care of our community is really important to us because the community has taken care of us.” Richter said. “We do as much as we can to give back, and it’s always been that way. We’re happy to help people, and we're thankful for our customers and community business partners.”

Unwrapped gifts can be dropped off at the Main Office of American State Bank at 223 Main Street. For questions, contact Debbie Richter at 701-774-4100.

First-responder toy drive Saturday, Dec. 12 at Walmart
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Police and other first responders will be putting on a toy and food drive for families in need on Saturday, Dec. 12 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Walmart parking lot in Williston.

People can get raffle tickets for each toy donated or food contribution. The donations will all go to local charities.

To cut down on congrating, people are asked to stay in their cars, a first responder will come collect donations.

The toy drive is being supported by Walmart, Williston Auto, the Williston Police Department, the North Dakota Highway Patrol and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Daily COVID-19 test results
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4,824 – Total Tests from Sunday, Dec. 6

1,196,950 – Total tests completed since the pandemic began

365 – Positive Individuals from Sunday, Dec. 6

83,342 – Total positive individuals since the pandemic began

8.17% – Daily positivity rate

4,758 — Total active cases (-211 from Sunday, Dec. 6)

563 – Individuals recovered from Sunday, Dec. 6

77,562 – Total recovered since the pandemic began

304 – Currently hospitalized (-1 from Sunday, Dec. 6)

9 – New deaths from Sunday, Dec. 6

1,022 – total deaths since the pandemic began