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RYAN BAKKEN: Making Reynolds better

The Reynolds (N.D.) Betterment Committee got off to a slow start — literally — but has more than made up for it since.

The committee was formed to organize the celebration of the North Dakota town’s 125th birthday in 2007.


Upon further review, it was determined they were two years too late. The city’s 125th birthday was actually in 2005. Showing their resilience, persistence, sense of humor and improved math, committee members renamed the event the 125+2 Birthday Party and went on with the show.

The committee isn’t a one-hit wonder, however. It has continued and grown, offering a steady stream of events that entertain locals while also distributing profits to worthy, homegrown causes.

“We had a recap meeting after the first one and everyone agreed it was successful financially, well-attended, fun and got a lot of locals involved in their community,” said Jeff Lazur, the committee chairman from the start.

“It was a good kick-start, so we decided to keep the committee going,” he said.

The committee now annually sponsors six events, all of them of the homespun variety. They’re a Valentine’s Day dinner in February, a ham/turkey bingo and cakewalk in March, a one-act play in April, the Rib O’Rama Feed in July, a haunted house in October and a Santa Claus visit in December.

In addition to creating entertainment and buzz in the town of 300, the events in its seven-plus years have contributed $42,000 to local and regional groups. The money has gone to local causes that include college scholarships, area fire departments, the Veterans Park and the Park Board, among many others. And, its out-of-city-limits gifts include funds to help neighboring Northwood, N.D., recover from a tornado.

Small-town events’ benefits extend beyond the money raised, said Jen Rogers, another committee member.

“We want to make Reynolds a place to live, work, grow and play,” she said. “Having activities and getting people involved are important.”