2013: A year of curveballs

As I write this column from my future in-laws’ kitchen table in Harlowton, Mont., I can’t help but reflect on how much this year has meant in the grand scheme of my life.

This was the year I got engaged, received a life-changing promotion, remembered what it was like to live with a college student when my fiancée decided to go back to school for licensing in her field of study, adopted a military dog with about two weeks notice and, just when I thought things were settling down in time for the holidays and a boatload of changes coming at work, I lost my grandpa just days before Sarah and I were called to Montana to visit her ailing grandfather.

This year has taught me — if nothing else — that no matter how positive life can be, there is always a negative to balance out life and, for lack of a better term, bring us back to reality.

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The loss and celebration of a family patriarch

Clarence Monke

Nothing good can come from a 6:45 a.m. phone call from you mother.

When I answered, it was clear she was upset. Instantly, I knew something in my world was about to change. Then she said it. … “Honey, Grandpa died.”

I was silent for a few seconds as I listened to her quietly cry on the other end of the line.
“Grandpa died?” was the only response I could muster, almost in a childlike voice. What she said didn’t seem real. It was early enough in the morning, I wondered if I was dreaming.

I wasn’t. Reality quickly began to sink in. One of the men who I considered a hero in my life was gone.

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Constructive homecoming: Boom helps Dickinson native return home, coordinate major projects

Marc Mellmer, an operations coordinator for JE Dunn Construction in Dickinson, stands on the outside of the St. Joseph’s Hospital construction site. Mellmer, a Dickinson native, has climbed the ladder with JE Dunn is now part of the management team in charge of more than $250 million worth of construction projects in western North Dakota.

At just 29 years old, Dickinson native Marc Mellmer has found himself at the forefront of western North Dakota’s construction boom.

As an operations coordinator for JE Dunn Construction, Mellmer is responsible for building the new St. Joseph’s Hospital in Dickinson and numerous other infrastructure projects. All told, Mellmer estimates he and his management team will oversee about $250 million in vertical construction in western North Dakota over the next three years.

“My goal is not to leave,” Mellmer said with a smile. “I don’t plan on moving JE Dunn out of here ever — if I had it my way.”

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