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Associated Press, Published June 12 2011

Small town along South Dakota-North Dakota border welcomes water

POLLOCK, S.D. – In this community that once was doomed by an intentional flood on the Missouri River, residents now welcome the rising water on Lake Oahe.

Located just south of the North Dakota border, the South Dakota town of 241 people was caught in drought only a few years ago. A boat ramp had to be extended to get to Oahe, and the conditions put a serious dent in the hunting and fishing business, which Pollock leans on heavily.

“It was the next thing to dry,” said Arthur Dienert, who owns the Lakeview Motel and is a town historian.

The water started to creep back the past couple of years thanks to generous snowfalls and rain.

Now the water is back in a big way, and the boat ramp extension to get to the river is 10 feet under, resident Les Sjomeling said.

“We’ll have fish in here no matter how high the water gets,” he said.

The past couple of weeks, the town has bustled with activity from out-of-town anglers. Ervin Dienert – Arthur’s cousin – co-owns a bait shop and room rental business and said business has been good.

“They have a lot of people here fishing,” he said. “Last week one day, there were probably 75 boats on a ramp here.”

Gerry Grueneich of Ellendale, N.D., started fishing Oahe in 1979 with a group of anglers that now numbers 36 from all over the country. Grueneich and some of his companions were buying licenses Wednesday and preparing to head onto the water.

“It was terrible,” he said of the drought years. “It wasn’t very good at all.”

The flooding, he added, could make it tougher to catch fish. But in the long run, it will be better.

“It’s going to be tougher fishing in there now with all the trash in there,” he predicted.

For Pollock residents, the flooding, which remains well below the town, is better than the alternative.

“It’s better off with this, really,” Delores Kluckman said. “When it’s down low, it hurts the economy. At that time, we lost business because they depend on the hunting and fishing.”

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