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Published January 05 2011

Oxbow move no chip shot

OXBOW, N.D. – Kathy Elhard may have waited longer to play through than any golfer in history.

More than seven months after purchasing her new home at a Cass County flood buyout auction, Elhard watched Tuesday as professional movers slowly hauled the brick rambler across the Oxbow Country Club golf course.

She and her husband, Dallas, bought the 2,193-square-foot home May 27 for $16,500, after the county paid $345,215 to remove it from the floodplain.

But the city didn’t want damage done to its new roads and trees along Oxbow Drive when the house was moved. The country club agreed to allow the house to be moved across part of the course, but not until the soil’s frost depth was at least 6 to 8 inches to avoid ruts in the course, Oxbow Mayor Jim Nyhof said.

“We wanted to have as little impact as we could but still work with the county to get them moved,” he said.

Two additional buyout homes at the same end of Oxbow Drive near the Red River are tentatively scheduled to be moved Jan. 19, Nyhof said.

A total of 12 homes in Oxbow were bought out following the 2009 record spring flood that inundated much of the city and forced dramatic evacuations by airboat. After the three homes are relocated this month, the only remaining buyout in town will be a twinhome purchased for salvage, Nyhof said.

The buyouts will make a big difference in the city’s efforts to protect against spring flooding, which appears likely, Nyhof said.

“It’s going to save us a huge amount of work from trying to protect that whole area of the community,” he said. “It’s an area that took a lot of manpower and usually resulted in a bad result.”

For Elhard, watching her home roll across the golf course on a rack of steel beams turned a long-awaited dream into reality.

She and her husband sold their home in Pelican Rapids, Minn., before buying the Oxbow home. They were initially told it had to be moved out by July 15.

In the meantime, they rented a house, but it sold the day they moved in and they had to be out in four weeks. They rented another house on Sand Lake, but that also sold and they had to move out in October. They’ve spent the past three months in a Fargo hotel.

“You have no idea what we’ve been through,” Elhard said Tuesday, holding a video camera to record the move for posterity.

Tim Thein of Thein Moving Co. said the Clara City, Minn.-based company has hauled a home across a golf course once before, but it was in the summertime.

Tuesday’s subzero temperatures didn’t help the process, slowing the flow of oil and hydraulic fluid in the trucks and dollies bearing the home’s 130-plus tons and making it hard on the moving crew, he said.

Still, the move went smoothly, Thein said.

“The guys at Oxbow did a very nice job cleaning the snow off for us, and we had frozen ground,” he said.

It will take about three days to move the house 45 miles to Tamarack Lake near Pelican Rapids, and it should be settled on its new foundation by early next week, Thein said.

Elhard said she and her husband went the buyout route instead of building new because they thought they could get more home for their money.

“(It’s) a little bit cheaper. A little more stress, though,” she said. “It’s been a long haul.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528