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Editorial: January 2017

Conversations about the weather


Josh Kramer, NDAREC executive vice president and general manager
Josh Kramer

In North Dakota, we talk about the weather. The recent abrupt return of an “old-fashioned” winter sure has us buzzing.

The weather is our conversation icebreaker (no pun intended). Weather extremes usually impact our plans, moods and livelihoods, and talking about it – to anybody – is our special common bond. This is good, particularly in this age of the political and ideological differences that are making conversations hard to have. Laments about moving snow drifts, bundling against cold and driving icy roads even unites Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Libertarians – how about that!

Last month’s opening blast of winter seems to signal we’re going to stay very layered and tuned into road reports for several months. In winters like this one, it is important to be prepared, cautious, cooperative and thankful.

One thing I am thankful for is good neighbors and friends who are there to lend a hand, clear a path and look out for one another. As an Emmons County farm boy, I grew up knowing this is how we got through the winter. Now, as a city guy, with a busy young family, I take comfort in continuing to see this neighborliness.

I think we have all witnessed acts of kindness during these hard winter conditions.

There are the high school kids teaming up to help push a stranger’s car out of a snowbank – and we shake our heads, watching them do so without the benefit of coats, hats and gloves!

The aging and less agile folks among us certainly appreciate that generous neighbor who steers powerful machinery all around the block, making quick work of mountains of snow. Big thanks go also to that good Samaritan who stops for the stranded motorist along the snowy highway to make sure that those in the vehicle are getting the help they need.

It is such a blessing that these types of unselfish acts are so ingrained in our way of life. When we work together – look out for one another – a tough North Dakota winter becomes more manageable.

Beyond the random acts of kindness, there are many folks who “answer the call” to serve when conditions are oppressive. These include law enforcement, first responders, medical personnel, snowplow operators, and of, course, the dedicated lineworkers at our electric cooperatives. This is an indispensable class of servants who are trained and willing to brave adverse weather to assure that people are safe, healthy and warm. They deserve our special recognition, thanks and respect.

In particular, our local electric cooperatives, their line crews and office folks are vigilant on behalf of 250,000 North Dakotans connected to 61,000 miles of co-op lines. When a cooperative receives a call from a member whose power has been knocked out by a blizzard, the cooperative responds swifty – and safely – at all hours, to get power restored for their family.

The “thanks” from these grateful members are the best kinds of weather conversations we get to have.

Josh Kramer, editor-in-chief of North Dakota Living, is executive vice president and general manager of the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives, Mandan. Comments can be mailed to Josh Kramer, NDAREC, P.O. Box 727, Mandan, ND 58554-0727 or by email