Sweet and “Sunny’ summer: Joe Nichols headlines Roughrider Days concert

FNS Photo by Brian Basham
Joe Nichols shakes hands with some fortunate women in the front row of VIP seating Aug. 7, 2010, at WE Fest in Detroit Lakes, Minn.

Every day this summer has seemed sunny and 75 for Grammy-nominated country star Joe Nichols.

He has one of the top songs of the summer, recently got to spend some time on tour with his wife and two daughters, is with a new and burgeoning record label that specializes in country music, and has a new album dropping this fall.

The singer with such No. 1 singles as “Brokenheartsville,” “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off” and “Gimme That Girl” will be in Dickinson on Wednesday as the headliner of the Roughrider Days Fair & Expo concert that begins at 8 p.m. with Restless Heart opening for Nichols.

“Honestly, things have been going pretty great for me lately,” Nichols said. “I can’t complain about anything.”

Nichols’ single “Sunny and 75” hasn’t reached the top of the charts but it has held steady with strong radio airplay and has a five-star rating on iTunes, where it is his second-best selling single behind his catchy 2005 hit “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off.”

“It’s a made-for-summer type of song,” Nichols said via a phone interview while in Oshkosh, Wis. “Hopefully the song is not only connecting this summer but for summers in the future and it’s played throughout every summer.

“It’s the kind of song you love bringing to radio. It’s a tempo thing for the summertime. We need songs like this on the radio. The track feels great, it’s well written. The vocals are beyond what I’ve done before.”

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Dear Mr. President, an invitation to visit North Dakota

Dear Mr. President,

I am writing to cordially invite you, Mrs. Obama, and your daughters, Sasha and Malia, to the great state of North Dakota.

It’s a little disconcerting to me, and I hope you as well, that you have yet to visit six states, including ours, during your nearly five years as Commander in Chief.

But hey, you’re a busy guy. I understand. It’s perfectly reasonable that you took time this week to visit Africa. Though I’m almost certain a flight to North Dakota would have been a lot more affordable for U.S. taxpayers.

But that’s neither here nor there. I’m writing to try and get you out to North Dakota, so let’s talk about why you should come and see us.

I know you like to golf. If you come out here, your first 18 holes at Medora’s beautiful Bully Pulpit Golf Course are on me, though I certainly haven’t had as much time to hit the links as you have over the past five years, so you’ll likely have the upper hand on the greens.

Perhaps we can talk a little business out on the course. If you have been listening and reading, you know that North Dakota is mentioned in the national economic and employment conversation on almost a daily basis.

We can talk about some of the highs and lows that have accompanied the recent oil boom in our state. I can tell you about all the people from different states, even countries, who moved to western North Dakota hoping to escape the economic woes at home while seeking their fortune or a better way to pay off their mounting debts.

Now, I know you’re not the biggest proponent of fossil fuels, but maybe it’s the North Dakotan in me that makes me naive enough to believe that if you came here, you might actually see some of the good things our state is doing for the national economy in relation to the oil, natural gas and coal industries.

In case you haven’t heard, North Dakota is doing pretty well these days thanks to oil and natural gas drilling via hydraulic fracturing. While California is bickering about what programs to cut, we argue about how to spend — and save — our money.

While it isn’t entirely green — I know that might bug you — the companies who do the drilling here are much more environmentally sound than they used to be as they help put a reliable energy source such as gasoline and diesel fuel in the tanks of roughly 250 million passenger vehicles in this nation. That certainly beats trying to find reliable alternative fuel sources, some of which have had a history of leading even government-subsidized companies into bankruptcy.

I’ve seen some of those electric cars. They’re pretty neat, but don’t they still have to be plugged in and charged at some point? While you’re here, you could explain exactly how we’re going to keep them on the road if the coal mines near Beulah that generate some of that electricity, particularly for our neighbors in Minnesota who use the majority of it, are shut down one day.

Then again, I guess if you’re worried about the coal plants jeopardizing our air quality — routinely ranked among the best in the U.S., I might add — we could just shut them down while you’re here. Though I’m not sure how you’re going to speak to North Dakotans without electricity from one of our coal-fired electrical plants powering your microphone and teleprompter.

People around North Dakota often say we’re like our own little country here. Though if you’re worried about meeting members of the “Flat Earth Society,” we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised how many of us out here in western North Dakota are environmental stewards without calling ourselves activists, hippies or lobbyists.

Speaking of the environment, as a father quite literally in the position to give his daughters the world, you are doing your family a disservice if you don’t give them the chance to see such beautiful American areas as Theodore Roosevelt National Park in the North Dakota Badlands and Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills of South Dakota, another state you have yet to visit during your presidency.

Now, I know you may have some reservations about visiting North Dakota. Or at least there are pundits out there who believe you do. John Harwood of the New York Times stated in a story published June 19 that North Dakota is the antithesis of your political base.

Sure we didn’t vote for you twice. But keep in mind that 141,278 people filled in the circle next to your name in 2008 and 124,827 did the same in 2012. In North Dakota, that’s a lot of people.

If you’re going to come here, we only ask that you don’t go to Fargo or Grand Forks. Sure it’s where the majority of your supporters live, but don’t you think it’s a little too cliché? I’m offering you a chance to be a man of the people and visit areas very few presidents ever have.

Plus, you already visited Grand Forks during your 2008 campaign. It’s time to come and see the rest of the state. There’s no use meeting a bunch of clamoring college kids and Minnesotans when you could see what all the fuss is about out here in the Bakken, where we are in the midst of the biggest story in North Dakota’s 124-year history.

You have more than three years remaining in your presidency, so I hope you make it a point to come and visit us here in North Dakota soon. After all, you’ve been missing quite a bit.

P.S. Keep in mind, the last president not to visit North Dakota during his time in office was Jimmy Carter. I’m sure you want to avoid any more comparisons to him.

Monke is the managing editor of The Dickinson Press. Email him at dmonke@thedickinsonpress.com or tweet him at monkebusiness.

Families recognized by Medal of Honor recipient at Patriot Guard memorial

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Clint Romesha of Minot, left, gives his speech Saturday at the Patriot Guard Memorial and Honor Ride at the Dickinson Recreation Center. To his left are family members of soldiers who lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Staff Sgt. Clint Romesha ended his speech Saturday afternoon at the seventh annual Patriot Guard Fallen Heroes Memorial and Honor Ride with words that spoke to the heart of everyone in attendance at the Dickinson Recreation Center.

“There’s an old saying that those who stay home serve also,” said Romesha, a U.S. Army veteran and the nation’s most recent Medal of Honor recipient, before receiving a standing ovation.

Romesha, a California native who now calls Minot home, was the guest of honor at the memorial that paid tribute to the families of four North Dakota soldiers who lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Happiness through a dog’s eyes

If we could only all be as happy as a dog. Have you ever seen creatures so cheerful?

When treated right, very little seems to get them down or break their spirits. They’re basically a walking, barking and itching smile.

Sometimes all it takes is a walk around the block, some food or a game of fetch and you have the happiest animal on the planet at your side.

I came to realize just how happy a canine’s life can be when we took our dog, Noodle, to my family’s farm last weekend. We figure he ran about 5 miles that day. By the time the day was done, he couldn’t stop smiling.

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Golfing gem: The Links of North Dakota deals with oil’s impact

Ronnie Swartz, the head professional at The Links of North Dakota golf course near Ray, stands on Hole No. 2 at the course on June 6.

RURAL RAY — When it began gaining national recognition more than a decade ago, the Links of North Dakota golf course was known for its Scottish flair that harkened back to the game’s earliest days with a tranquil setting along the banks and bluffs of northern Lake Sakakawea.

Today, the course that bills itself as the best in the state — and has hardware to back up that claim — is in the middle of the western North Dakota madness that is the Bakken Oil Patch. When people use the word “flare” there, it has a widely recognized and wholly different meaning.

Ronnie Swartz, the head professional at The Links, said oil’s impact on the area surrounding the course can be seen in plain view at dusk.

“You can stand up on pretty much any hole and see them,” Swartz said. “At night, it looks like the hillsides are on fire just from the flares blowing off the natural gas.”

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