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Slow volunteer response yields 35,000 bags in Fargo

A lack of urgency has translated into a lack of volunteers early on in Fargo's attempt to make 1 million sandbags for this spring's flood fight. By early Monday night, about 100 volunteers had made 35,000 sandbags at the city's garbage utility bu...

A lack of urgency has translated into a lack of volunteers early on in Fargo's attempt to make 1 million sandbags for this spring's flood fight.

By early Monday night, about 100 volunteers had made 35,000 sandbags at the city's garbage utility building, dubbed "Sandbag Central."

They were joined by about 20 Cass County Jail inmates and a handful of firefighters running two of three available automated sandbag-making machines.

Enterprise Director Bruce Grubb said the facility could hold 200 volunteers at any given time. He said the goal is to make 100,000 sandbags a day.

Sandbags will be made from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily Monday through Saturday until the goal is reached.

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To perk up the volunteer effort, the City Commission voted 5-0 on Monday to approve the Denny's Bucks for Bags program started by Mayor Dennis Walaker. The program encourages residents to give time to sandbagging to earn cash for their nonprofit groups.

On Monday morning, City Commissioner Mike Williams was tying off bags.

"We've got a good crew going here," he said. "We'll be at our million in no time."

Doug Halberson, who with other inmates wore bright orange jackets and pants, stacked bags on pallets. He started before

8 a.m. and figured to go as late as 5 p.m.

"Good people here. Everybody's pitching in," the Fargo man said.

They also accumulated good time: a day off sentences for each day worked, said inmate Erik Lavik.

"It's like a two-for-one," Lavik said.

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Cass County correctional officer Derek Hodges said the program was working smoothly.

"They can't wait to get out. They enjoy doing it," Hodges said of the inmates. "It's their community, too."

Claudia Elser of West Fargo had a day off and prepped sandbags for filling.

"I thought I'd be a little proactive this year," she said, adding that it doesn't feel like a flood emergency.

"Everyone says it seems so early," Elser said. "But it isn't."

Related Topics: 2010 FLOODSMOORHEADRED RIVERRED RIVER VALLEY
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