Outdoor workers brave the elements during Grand Forks' cold snap

There’s good news in the forecast. Saturday, look for temperatures as high as 29 in Grand Forks, followed by highs of 20 on Sunday, 33 on Monday and 25 on Tuesday.

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Tyler Erdmann and Sue Johnson work with a customer at Bob's Oil in Grand Forks earlier this week, when temperatures fell below zero for consecutive days. (Kevin Fee / Grand Forks Herald)
Kevin Fee / Grand Forks Herald

GRAND FORKS — Casey Holweger and his crew shave their facial hair in the winter.

“I shave so I don’t have to pick those icicles off,” said Holweger, working outside when it was 17 below zero earlier this week. “Otherwise it doesn’t take long to steam it up.

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Casey Holweger, of Holweger Construction, says cold weather makes outside work a challenge. But, he says, "the sun is shining — that's a plus."
Kevin Fee/Grand Forks Herald

“We all wear no facial hair in the wintertime around here, otherwise it gets stuck.”

Holweger owns Holweger Construction, among many businesses in Greater Grand Forks trying to navigate the recent cold spell. Temperatures throughout the week were frigid, with Wednesday’s high only reaching zero, but lows falling into the double-digits below zero.

Holweger and his employees are working on the Highland Grove Apartments near South 15th Street and 40th Avenue South. The company is doing the framing work for the project alongside general contractor Blackpoint Building Group.


In general, Holweger is unfazed by the cold temperatures. He prefers to work outside.

“We’ll probably go warm up our fingers if we’re outside every half hour or hour,” he said. “I like to be outside, so I don’t mind. As long as it’s not windy I can handle it. If it’s windy, it doesn’t matter how many layers you have on.

“But the sun is shining — that’s a plus.”

When talking about the cold, he is quiet around the crew.

“I’m the owner, so if I have a grim look on the day, guess what it wears off on everybody else really quick? So I try to smile.”

While some members of his crew were working inside at another Highland Grove apartment complex, Holweger was outside.

“Like I tell the guys, I’d rather go home sick and tired than broke and hungry,” he said. “We’re all here trying to get the job done and making some money before going onto the next one.”

Holweger has been framing four 20-unit apartment complexes at Highland Grove. The only trouble he’s run into is 4 feet of snow that fell on one of the floors of a complex. The crew had to shovel it out. Snow is actually worse than the cold, he said, unless the wind picks up.


“If it were windy, we wouldn’t be here today, at least not outside,” he said. “If it gets too bad, we’ll just call it a day and sit and drink coffee at home.”

Holweger said he has a good crew of workers. Sometimes, when winter hits, he loses some to the conditions.

“We seem to go through the guys in the wintertime,” he said. “It’s not for everybody. I’ll take it.”

Sue Johnson and Tyler Erdmann work for the only service station that pumps gas for customers on a regular basis in Grand Forks – Bob’s Oil.

“You have your good days and bad,” Johnson said. “This is not bad compared to last year, when it was brutal. This year it may be 20 below zero, but get the sun shining and it’s less worse than if it’s more cloudy and gloomy. Then it’s just more raw and damp.

“When you have the sun at least you have some heat on your body.”

Erdmann says he’s fine as long as the wind isn’t blowing. The cold, he said, “does make it easier to go home and rest after the day. It kind of beats you up.”

Friday’s high will be around zero, according to WDAY.


There’s good news in the forecast, however. Saturday, look for temperatures as high as 29 in Grand Forks, followed by highs of 20 on Sunday, 33 on Monday and 25 on Tuesday.

Kevin Fee is a freelance reporter for the Herald.
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