MARILYN HAGERTY'S THAT REMINDS ME: Grand Forks tree tale reached N.D. Supreme Court in 1961The saga of the birds in the downtown trees played out 50 years ago between the Grand Forks City Council and Keith Bacon, manager of the Dacotah Hotel. At issue was the bird droppings along the south side of the building.
By: Marilyn Hagerty, Grand Forks Herald
The saga of the birds in the downtown trees played out 50 years ago between the Grand Forks City Council and Keith Bacon, manager of the Dacotah Hotel.
The building that housed the hotel still stands. It’s located on the northeast corner of the intersection of North 3rd Street and 1st Avenue North in downtown Grand Forks.
At issue was the bird droppings along the south side of the building.
The Herald reported on the “two gnarled old bird-filled trees alongside the Dacotah Hotel.” The council voted 8-7 to go along with the District and Supreme courts to remove the trees. The decision made against the wishes of Keith Bacon, manager of the Dacotah.
The trees sat on a concrete island, and the courts maintained they were on city property. Thousands of tiny birds nestled in the trees. Observers said the birds came at night to the south side of the hotel, where the tree kept them warmer.
The verbal battle went on until Nov. 27, 1961, when a Herald headline read: “City fells Dacotah’s trees; ends year-long battle.”
It was a quick and unadvertised job of removal, based on an order from city manager Alan Webster. Mayor Nelson Youngs had kept a low profile during the series of events.
Bacon earlier had procured a restraining order, but the courts upheld the city’s rights. Some 5,000 sparrows formerly in the trees fluttered out with the cut-down by the city crews, the Herald reported.
The birds fled and roosted on the hotel and on the City Park EZ across the street. Some of the birds sought refuge on the nearby Ryan Hotel street.
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The need for unity among sugar industry’s many factions and an expansion of the domestic basic quota were the prime topics at the Grand Forks Armory-Auditorium during the annual meeting of the Western Slope Beet Growers 50 years ago.
C. Einar Johnson, president of the organization, said there were too many diverse views. Of the 169 plants originally built for sugar products, only 63 still were in operation at that time, he said.
He talked of the lack of acreage control, and said, “Quotas are placed on beet factories, not on growers.”
Around 250 sugar beet growers unanimously approved proposed legislation that would create a beet sugar quota of more than a million tons in the coming five years. The proposal approved by Western Sugar Beet Growers had been prepared by Red River Valley Beet Growers Association and was to be presented to Congress in the coming year.
If approved, it would expand sugar beet acreage by 250,000 acres.
There was concern among some sugar beet growers that quotas would be reduced if U.S.-grown cane sugar overproduced. But Ole Homstad of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, who was speaking at the meeting, said that was not so.
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Around Grand Forks 50 years ago in November:
** The second annual Greater Grand Forks Potato Festival attracted hundreds for a two-city tribute to “King Potato.” There was a free beef barbecue.
And kangaroo court was held, with beardless men being chided for their failure to enter the beard-growing contest.
A new car was given away in a drawing. There was a stag party at the Riviera and a pancake supper. Mrs. Barbara Hangsleben was Mrs. Potato Queen.
** City Hall marked its 50th birthday in 1961. It was called one of the “proudest” buildings in the city. It had been dedicated on the chilly evening of Nov. 15, 1911. Mayor M.F. Murphy’s name headed those on the list on the plaque on the building.
** Plans were announced to open bids in February 1962 for the new $1 million bridge to be built over the Red River off Skidmore Ave. The project connecting Minnesota and North Dakota was to have state and federal funding.