MARILYN HAGERTY: Kindergarten drawing inspires Penny Pape for second time around

Dear Shirley, The weekend coming up will be like d?j? vu for Penny Pape of East Grand Forks. She's the woman who came up with the idea of building Sherlock Park playground nine years ago. And she has had a hand in plans for rebuilding beginning t...

Dear Shirley,

The weekend coming up will be like déjà vu for Penny Pape of East Grand Forks. She's the woman who came up with the idea of building Sherlock Park playground nine years ago. And she has had a hand in plans for rebuilding beginning this Sunday. You see, they had a fire there earlier this year.

I was wondering how Penny got the idea for the unique playground that allowed children to climb, explore, hide and seek. She said she first saw a playground like that when her dad, Arnie Storbakken, was working in Duluth 20 years ago.

She and her five siblings and families went over with her mother and enjoyed that playground. Later, Penny became the sparkplug for building in East Grand Forks. This weekend, she is involved the second time around because her daughter, Katie Nelson, is working as a coordinator with her.

And it was a drawing from a student in Katie's kindergarten class at New Heights Elementary School that convinced Penny to lead another drive for volunteers. The little girl drew a picture of a treehouse and then wrote, "I hope Sherlock Park comes back."


Well, it's coming back this weekend, Shirley, with the same spirit of volunteers working together that created it in the first place. There was a ribbon cutting eight years ago, Penny said, and she's anxious for the repeat.

It seems to me there has been a lot of improvement around the Forks lately. One of the best is the new terminal at Grand Forks International Airport that is named after former North Dakota Sen. Byron Dorgan.

I was out there a couple times during the past week. I like the signage that is so easy to follow. It guides you through the new roundabout. And it gets you easily to the parking areas where people can park free for the first 30 minutes. And a minimal fee for longer.

This is a total blessing, Shirley, especially when the cold north wins swoop down out there. You can sit in your car and await a cellphone call from the person you are meeting. Inside the airport, it is clear and light and uncluttered. And there are escalators that swoop you up to the second floor for security and boarding.

Oh, and the two baggage carousels are higher, making it easier to swoop off your luggage so it doesn't have to go around a couple times. About the only thing I don't like, Shirley, is the size of the boards that list flight times. They are so small, I will have to go over and check in with my eye doctor.

It isn't big as your airport in Tucson, but our new terminal is much more uptown than what we had before. There is a café and a bar on the upper level, but they were not open yet when I was there.

I see where the Chamber of Commerce is holding its business after hours out there today.

We've had a couple cool days this week -- a reminder of what's to come. The weather people are talking about the possibility of La Nina returning. Let me know what the weathermen down on the desert are telling you.


Love from your sister, Marilyn, watching the first gold leaves of autumn float down on the west bank of the Red River of the North.

P.S.: Your nephew, Bob, went over to the new Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., last Sunday for the Wall Street Journal. He said there were several thousand people there Sunday morning, including the families of the 40 passengers and crew members killed. And President Obama and his wife, Michelle, were there. All of a sudden, in the crowd, Bob saw Mike and Kitty Maidenberg. They lived in Grand Forks and raised their three sons here while Mike was publisher of the Herald. Now they live in Florida and he is retired, but he was attending the event on behalf of the Knight Foundation, which he joined when he left Grand Forks.

They live in Florida and travel mostly to the San Francisco area now where they have a half dozen or so grandchildren. Mike Maidenberg was honored here on the 10th anniversary of our Flood of 1997 for the work he did to revitalize Grand Forks.

Reach Hagerty at or (701) 772-1055.

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