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September 2020: Reader Reply

Tell us about a first responder in your community who deserves special recognition.

Curtis Wiesz, vice president of the Northern Plains Electric Cooperative board of directors, has the EMS “Star of Life” symbol tattooed on his wrist. He volunteers with the Fessenden Ambulance Service as an EMT.
Photo by NDAREC/Clarice L. Kesler

There is an individual in our community who I feel deserves recognition as a first responder.

This man comes first to mind when there is an emergency, a fire siren or any other need that requires a helping hand in our area. He stands tall and has a compassionate, kind, caring heart when it comes to an immediate need!

Gary Rising deserves such recognition for his many years of giving himself in time of need. We are so lucky to have him in our community. Thank you, Gary!

Brenda Maus
Member of Goldenwest Electric Cooperative


An amazing first responder I know has been volunteering for over 30 years. He started as an emergency medical technician (EMT), but through continual classes and training has become a volunteer firefighter and member of the crash-and-rescue team.

Whenever his beeper sounds, day or night, he’s off to help, be it a stranger, neighbor, friend or (heaven forbid) a family member.

He volunteers for many other things, too, such as community projects, school events (even if his kids are no longer in school), and in his church. For the church, he monitors the thermostat in the winter, sweeps snow, helps with dinners, sings in the choir, and helps with whatever else needs doing.

Even if he has a full-time job, he always has time to lend a helping hand to someone in need.

Yes, this responder is truly exceptional. How do I know? He is my son-in-law, Stuart Dolan of Ray.

Alice Pfau
Member of North Central Electric Cooperative


Years ago, there were many small farms. My folks would take freshly baked cake to the neighbors on Sunday, visit and play cards. Nowadays, the smaller farms are gone. We may know the names of our neighbors, but we don’t have the personal connection like we did in the past. We don’t want to “bother” them or intrude on their busy lives.

In August 2016, I had the opportunity to meet a neighbor for the first time. I was very ill and the first responder was Tracy Stangeland. Time passed, with no further contact until the fall of 2019, when we again needed emergency care. Tracy was our first responder again.

After the incident, I spent most of my days at a Fargo hospital keeping vigil. My husband stayed home to tend the livestock. One day, I returned home briefly to take care of some family business. Tracy had come for a visit. She knew my husband was home alone, fending for himself, and probably not eating well. She brought him homemade lasagna and bread. Having met her only twice, I was overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness of this young woman.

As the crow flies, Tracy lives about 4 miles from us. It is comforting to know that not only do we have a competent first responder so close, but also a kind, compassionate neighbor willing to go above and beyond her duties to help on a personal level.

Lona Lutz
Member of Northern Plains Electric Cooperative


OCTOBER: It’s Co-op Month! Tell us what you like best about your electric cooperative!
Deadline for submission: Sept. 14
NOVEMBER: Pay tribute to one of our veterans by sharing a story about the sacrifices they made while serving.
Deadline for submission: Oct. 14
We want to hear FROM you: Submissions should be no more than 250 words, typewritten or in legible handwriting. Include your name, complete address, daytime phone number and name of your electric cooperative. Note: Magazine staff reserves the right to make editing changes and cuts. We pay $25 for each letter we print. Email to or mail to READER REPLY, North Dakota Living, P.O. Box 727, Mandan, ND 58554-0727.