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MARILYN HAGERTY: Grand Forks welcomes newly elected Mayor Mike Polovitz in 1988

Twenty-five years ago, UND President Thomas Clifford was lamenting that the low faculty salaries made it hard to recruit experienced professors. "We simply have to raise our salaries, or we will not be in the market," he said in a talk before pro...

Marilyn Hagerty

Twenty-five years ago, UND President Thomas Clifford was lamenting that the low faculty salaries made it hard to recruit experienced professors. "We simply have to raise our salaries, or we will not be in the market," he said in a talk before professors.

"We think it is time for businessmen and industrialists to contact the state Legislature."

The Herald reported on Clifford's speech at the beginning of April 1988. And this newspaper also carried a photo of Jeff Dickson and his 5-year-old son, Jeff, heading back to the tractor after a short break.

Dickson was one of the first farmers in the fields near Gilby, N.D. He decided to harrow to get lumps out of the soil before warmer weather made it harder.

Here in Grand Forks, the focus was on the race for mayor, with H.C. Wessman being challenged by Mike Polovitz.

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Just fewer than 8,000 ballots were cast in the April 5 election in which Polovitz unseated Wessman.

Polovitz triumphed by more than 400 votes. He said, "I feel a real sense of responsibility." And he pledged to devote at least 40 hours a week to city business.

This was to be a departure from the part-time mayor status in Grand Forks. Wessman had a busy schedule as part-time law student at UND and chairman of the UND physical therapy department. And that became an issue in the campaign.

Wessman promised a smooth transition. And Polovitz quickly held a meeting with Pat Owens, the mayor's assistant, who later became mayor of Grand Forks. And though it wasn't considered a ground swell, nine votes were penciled in for Owens as mayor in 1988.

Before leaving office, Wessman cited the city's accomplishments during his eight years as mayor. These included the completion of Columbia Road overpass, the growth of the UND Center for Aerospace Sciences and the extension of the city sales tax.

In the 1988 elections, Mary Larson, Nikki Seabloom and challenger John Schmisek won three-year terms on the School Board. Dennis Herbeck and Marilyn Korbach won seats on the Park Board.

On April 20, 1988, Polovitz and seven new council members took office.

They included Ken Polovitz (a son of Mike Polovitz), Jerry Hoeppner, Bruce Hanson, Bob Hanson, Doug Carpenter, Frank Coe and James Johnson.

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Other names in the news 25 years ago:

• Grant Gross was editor and Nancy Omdahl associate editor when the Dakota Student newspaper at UND celebrated 100 years in existence.

• Rich Glas, the new UND basketball coach, was busy with recruiting and conferring with Dave Gunther, whom he succeeded. Gunther had moved on to the post of assistant athletic director. Glas was reported to be seeking Scott Guldseth, the rising star from Edinburg, N.D., as a player. And Guldseth did sign up with UND.

• Another name in the news was Serge Gambucci, who at 65 was retiring from his role as teacher and coach at Central High School. His teams had won 10 state hockey tournaments with his sons, Jim, Bill and John playing on his teams.

• Terry Paukert, who played both tennis and hockey for Gambucci, said at the time, "He is what we hear of as a modern-day Bobby Knight."

As April drew to a close 25 years ago, North Dakota was leading the nation in wind damage to farmland. The topsoil moisture was the lowest in 20 years with no rain in sight.

Reach Hagerty at mhagerty@gra.midco.net or (701) 772-1055.

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