Editorial: Medora won’t be the same without its ‘First Lady’

By The Dickinson Press Editorial Board

MEDORA — Medora won’t be the same without Sheila Schafer.

It won’t be the same without her sitting on the porch of her log cabin home, greeting tourists with a wave and a smile. And it won’t be the same without the Fourth of July fireworks party on the cabin’s front lawn.

It won’t be the same without Sheila singing and clapping as she sits front and center at the Medora Musical — the show she and her late husband, businessman Harold Schafer, helped start 51 years ago that sparked the revitalization of the town that is now North Dakota’s biggest tourist attraction.

Sheila Schafer, the magical matriarch of modern Medora and the woman commonly known as the town’s “First Lady” died Wednesday at age 90 after fighting cancer and other illnesses for several years.

Sheila will be remembered for her class, charm and cheerfulness, and as an ambassador not only for Medora but also North Dakota.

Exemplifying the “magic” that many spoke of when they talked about her, Sheila hiked up Buck Hill in Theodore Roosevelt National Park on her 90th birthday — just the same as she had done for several years — before settling in for what would be her final summer in Medora.

Last July, she was honored as the Medora Musical celebrated its 50th anniversary. At a ceremony, Sheila recalled a lifetime of memories on the stage that she called one of the “most magnificent settings in the West.”

“Thank you for 50 years of great memories,” she told the audience.

In a couple of months, tourists will once again begin descending on Medora for the summer.

Every day, people will line the streets to shop, eat ice cream, visit museums and take in the beauty of the Badlands. Crowds will pack the Burning Hills Amphitheatre for the Medora Musical.

But something will be forever missing.

Without Sheila Schafer, summer in Medora just won’t be the same.


The Dickinson Press Editorial Board consists of Publisher Harvey Brock and Managing Editor Dustin Monke.


Editorial: Oil export ban repeal part of long game

In what has become dark days for the U.S. oil industry and the thousands of workers it supports, Congress provided some light this week by agreeing to repeal the American crude oil export ban as part of the 2016 spending bill. President Barack Obama signed the bill late Friday.

It’s a huge and historic moment for the sagging oil industry, which has seen prices bottom out to seven-year lows and drilling rigs stacked across the U.S. — in North Dakota and Texas, in particular — while thousands of oil workers lost jobs in the process.

North Dakota Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp played a key role in making sure this happened, working the folks on her side of the aisle alongside Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski to assure bipartisan support. North Dakota Republicans Sen. John Hoeven and Rep. Kevin Cramer also kept pushing their bipartisan colleagues. Hoeven called it a “win across the board.”

 While the bill is not without some major flaws — which we won’t go into here — the Republicans are happy because the oil export ban has been lifted and the Democrats are pleased because the bill included big tax breaks for wind and solar energy.

 Many energy analysts have theorized that lifting the oil export ban will serve to help prop up oil prices just enough to make drilling in North Dakota more profitable, thereby creating jobs and keeping our energy industry humming while ensuring gasoline prices stay manageable for the everyday American.

But, as The New York Times noted earlier this week, the impact of lifting the ban is “extremely complicated.” The main point is that repealing the ban allows oil companies to dictate who gets to buy their crude, whether it’s a refinery in the U.S., China or elsewhere.

Earlier this fall, MBI Energy Services CEO Jim Arthaud told The Press he often analogizes the oil export ban into farming terms. He said, in the simplest of terms, telling the U.S. it can’t export oil but we can export gasoline and other refined fuels is like telling farmers they can’t sell their wheat for export, but they can export bread.

“They know now if they produce this oil and if they market this oil, the entire world is available for them in this market,” Heitkamp said in a phone call with North Dakota media earlier this week
She added that killing the ban won’t have immediate impacts on the North Dakota energy industry and called it a “long-term fix.” She added that the recent oil price freefall “obviously amped up the intensity” to get it tacked on to the spending bill.

The senator is right when she says this is all part of a long game. We shouldn’t expect the ban’s repeal to be some sort of magic switch that cranks things in the Bakken back up to summer 2014 levels immediately. It’s going to help, even if it takes a while.

 Will it bring the energy success story back to western North Dakota? Only time will tell.

Editorial: The long rejection for Keystone XL  

Why did it take President Barack Obama seven years to reject the Keystone XL pipeline?

We’ll never know the answer to that question.

What we do know is that the president seemed pretty happy with himself Friday when he finally took a knee holding the political football he’d seemingly been playing keep-away with since his first term began.

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Editorial: New DSU president must bring pride, people back

Congratulations and welcome to Thomas Mitzel, the next president of Dickinson State University. Mitzel will become the newest leader in our community when he takes office in January, and a leader he will very much need to be.

Expectations have never been higher for an incoming DSU president. Mitzel will not only be expected to increase enrollment rather quickly, but also help the university establish a new and trustworthy alumni foundation, all while improving community relations.

We, and the rest of the community, want and expect DSU to return to its glory days. But there’s much Mitzel and his new staff must do before that happens.

He should listen to the needs of his faculty and staff, and weed out those who believe the status quo is the only way to go. He must convince the most hardheaded at his school that there are better ways of doing business than by ignoring problems and then wondering why problems linger for years.

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Editorial: DSU Foundation paying for mess it created

When rumors began to circulate about financial problems at the Dickinson State University Foundation, our reporting on the subject was unpopular with many university and foundation supporters.

We were asked by readers why we didn’t support the university and were told to stop picking on the foundation.

But, the more we reported, the more the foundation’s issues began to peel away and the quieter our critics became.

Now, we’re at the point where there seems to be little left to save.

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