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Bob Lind, Published May 27 2013

Lind: Business competition across state borders is nothing new

A story reported recently by The Forum and others told of the signs the Greater North Dakota Chamber has erected in Minnesota promoting North Dakota’s business climate, a move that has upset some Minnesotans.

Folks around Havana, N.D., know this is nothing new.

Gordon Phillips, Havana, writes that in 1952, some merchants in Britton, S.D., just over the North Dakota-South Dakota line from Havana, had a big sign erected near Havana promoting their businesses, and giving a shortcut to Britton that would bypass Havana.

Gordon, then in high school in Havana, and knowing of the fuss this sign created among Havana’s business owners, wanted to drive out to see it before going to a movie one night with his girlfriend, but she said no; he could see it later.

So the next noon, the two left school and drove out to see that infamous sign.

But it was gone. It had been cut down and burned.

At the site where the sign had been, Gordon and his girlfriend found the sheriffs of both Sargent County, N.D., where Havana is located, and Marshall County, S.D., where Britton is located.

“We asked the Sargent County sheriff if he had any evidence of who destroyed the sign,” Gordon says, “and he said only that they had a sharp axe and good gasoline.”

Update: Gordon’s girlfriend? She became his wife; they’ve now been married 59 years.

Who destroyed the sign? Gordon says the case was never solved.

Neighbors isn’t suggesting Minnesotans resort to this. No, this is only a story of the signs of the times, past and present.

If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107; fax it to (701) 241-5487; or email blind@forumcomm.com.