Mayor the man to know in Fertile – Grand Forks Herald

At a chance meeting in late July at Fertiles Town Hall, Wilkens offered to take the Herald reporter on a spur-of-the-moment tour of the town, with stops that reflected the past, present and potential future there. It was a time for him to talk about his life, first as a farmer, then watershed district administrator and civil servant. Nearly 77, Wilkens walks with a cane and the cart eases his way around town.

I've always tried to help people make the world a better place at the end, Wilkens told the Herald at a stop in front of the Sand Hill River Watershed District building, on the towns main street. It was one of the first stops, after checking in with businesses along North Mill Street.

On the watershed board out there, we built almost 100 miles of ditches to make that land worth something. Im pretty proud of that," he said.

Wilkens established that district in 1974 and retired from it more than 40 years later. Those ditches helped the district alleviate repeated flooding to farmland in the area. Around 2000, he served a term on Fertiles city council, where, he said, he learned about town governance and votes.

You got to have one more than half, Wilkens said, continuing the tour.

The golf cart next pulled up at Fertiles new RV campground, just north of the Polk County Fairground. Its so new it doesnt have a name, but it has water and electrical hookups for visitors, and WiFi will be put in soon. Its still rough around the edges, but Wilkens said they will add some shade trees and picnic tables. A contest is being held to name the new campground, which opened on Aug. 1.

Driving through the campground, Wilkens pointed out a dumpster, placed there by Stuhaug Sanitation.

He just brought that there and said there wont be any charge, Wilkens said. Thats Fertile.

The golf cart continued, stopping at the city park and the recently acquired skating rink. The plan is to pave it so it can be used for rollerblading in the summer. A small splash park -- a concrete edifice spraying water for kids to run through -- is there as well, and daycare providers watchfully looked on as kids, wet and dry, played in the park.

Wilkens hesitated slightly before answering why he became interested in local government.

I dont know; Ive just always been civic-minded, he said, somewhere on a hiking trail in the Sand Hill Recreation Area. The park is just minutes away from Fertile and not usually open to golf carts -- Wilkens made an exception for the tour, and his leg.

While pointing out locations that would make nice camp sites, he spoke of the busy agenda in his first term and other recently finished projects, including an overhaul of the towns water mains. Despite the expensive project and because of the coronavirus pandemic, the town has stopped collecting late fees on overdue water bills and wont shut off a households water for unpaid bills.

Wilkens said he ultimately would like to serve another term as mayor, though it took time to reach that decision. People, he said, havent told him to not run, and hes told he is doing a good job.

Well, I don't feel like I'm doing it. I'm just trying to guide and herd and do a little pushing, in a nice way," he said, before ending the impromptu tour back at the town hall.

Go here to read the rest:
Mayor the man to know in Fertile - Grand Forks Herald

Related Post

Comments are closed.