RYAN BAKKEN: This is why residents need to stay off the dikes
Several recent writers to the Herald's Mailbag have questioned why they can't climb atop the Grand Forks dikes for a look at the flooding Red River. I have their answer: One day, you'll be merely satisfying your curiosity. The next, you'll be usi...
Several recent writers to the Herald's Mailbag have questioned why they can't climb atop the Grand Forks dikes for a look at the flooding Red River.
I have their answer:
One day, you'll be merely satisfying your curiosity. The next, you'll be using a coffin cover as watercraft.
You know that Grand Forks is always trying to keep pace with Fargo. They get a dome; we get a dome. They go D-I; we go D-I. They experience fine dining at the HoDo; we get a second Red Pepper.
So, without a strict no-dike-climbing edict, Grand Forks inevitably would have a copycat of Saturday's drama in rural Fargo. That's when a Detroit Lakes, Minn., man was navigating the swollen Red in a fiberglass casket cover with homemade oars.
You probably guessed this already, but he also wasn't wearing a life jacket. If someone believes that frolicking in a casket in a raging river makes sense, it's not a big leap to forgo a flotation device.
Or, maybe he was practicing for the open casket at his viewing.
Whatever his plan, he created quite the stir. Because of the dangerous conditions, he could have been fined $40,000 by the Coast Guard. However, he was let go with a warning.
So, to recap, a man was boating (casketing?) in a flooding river, sans life jacket, during a time when emergency personnel are otherwise preoccupied. And the fine is $40,000 less than it could have been?
What would it have taken to trigger a fine? Tubing? Water skiing? Nude water skiing?
Last week, Grand Forks Mayor Mike Brown signed an emergency order stating that dike trespassers could be fined $1,000 and serve jail time.
The response in the Mailbag from river-watchers was immediate. The city is being pompous, a killjoy, an overprotective mother and heavy-handed, the letters-to-the-editor said.
The reaction is a sign of the times, as more people don't want government telling them what they can or can't do.
Let's be honest. It's doubtful that a $1,000 fine -- or even a $1 fine -- would be assessed to anyone merely sightseeing from atop flood protection. The city's priority was covering its posterior.
But that was before Saturday. Now, a second reason for the mayor's threat is to protect our waterway from social climbers rowing a casket.
Reach Bakken at (701) 780-1125; (800) 477-6572, ext. 125; or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org .