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WDAY: The News Leader

Published March 30, 2011, 09:19 AM

Area businesses to be affected by the new diversion plan

Most of the Oxbow, Hickson, and Bakke area is made up of homes, but the new diversion plan would still significantly affect a few businesses. That means a complete loss of livelihood to employees. This doesn't even include the sheer number of farmers who will no longer have land.

By: Travis Skonseng, WDAY

Hickson, ND (WDAY TV) - Some homeowners in Hickson, Oxbow, and the Bakke Subdivision are urging project leaders to reconsider a Minnesota option. About 450 people learned more about the new plan at a meeting in Kindred tonight.

The Minnesota 35k option is the Army Corps preferred plan, but local leaders are pushing for the North Dakota 35k option. The Minnesota option would cost about 400 million less, be done a year earlier, and have more of a benefit, including not have any effect on the three threatened communities. Homeowners want more studies.

DENNIS BIEWER - Bakke Homeowner: I guess we're asking to take the time, just forget about worrying about making deadlines. If we're not worried about the extra year it takes to build it in North Dakota let's take that year to think about doing more studies.”

It was a feeling among many in the crowd. Kindred's Superintendent flat out, saying his district is taking the brunt of the problem for Fargo - Moorhead. The district recently passed a 14.8 million dollar referendum.

It will pay for closing the Davenport school, renovating the current school in Kindred into an elementary, and building a new middle and high school. The new diversion plan is estimated to decrease enrollment 20 percent in Kindred.

STEVE HALL - Kindred School Superintendent: “It just goes to show the emphasis that the Kindred School District is taking with the impact of flood retention and the impact of the cities of Fargo, West Fargo.”

Most of the Oxbow, Hickson, and Bakke area is made up of homes, but the new diversion plan would still significantly affect a few businesses. That means a complete loss of livelihood to employees. This doesn't even include the sheer number of farmers who will no longer have land.

We've heard from the homeowners. So we thought it'd be interesting to get reaction to this unsettling news from businesses owners, employees who along with residents will be forced to relocate.

Just off Cass County Highway 81 sits the Knickerbocker Liquor Locker. It is a well known establishment.

MIKE BICE - Knickerbocker Owner: “I bought it as a retirement project, but now that doesn't look like it will happen.”

The only bar in Hickson has been around since 1973. It is owner Mike Bice's livelihood the past 8 years, but tonight his future is bleak.

MIKE BICE - Knickerbocker Owner: “It'll take my business, my home, and obviously my whole customer base.”

You can see by these new Army Corps maps, the diversion threatens to wipe out the Knickerbocker. It is just one of hundreds of impacted properties in Oxbow, Hickson, and the Bakke subdivision.

MIKE BICE - Knickerbocker Owner: “There's nothing left in southern Cass County, south of a mile north of Hickson so to speak.”

The frustration flows a few blocks north to another business: Paul Bunyan's Tree Service. It has about two thousand trees and works for people across the region.

AARON MONSON - Paul Bunyan Tree Service: “We do a lot of business in Fargo. It's just a nice location out here.”

Caretaker Aaron Monson just found out his employment could be on the line. The business, next to the Red River, would close.

AARON MONSON - Paul Bunyan Tree Service: “It's the old classic water thing. You don't have enough or you have too much.”

Bice and others believe the new alignment fits in perfect to Fargo's plans. They call the change political.

MIKE BICE - Knickerbocker Owner: “In my mind, I don't see the phantom of this because I'm bigger and I live somewhere else that I should squash smaller communities. I don't think in North Dakota or the United States, that that's how we should be or what we do.”

Another meeting is planned at the West Fargo High School tomorrow night, starting at 6:30. A presentation follows the open house at 7:30.

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