John Lamb, Published September 22 2013
'Steaks' high for F-M diversion lawsuit
The 500 people who attended the fundraising dinner at the Christine Community Center definitely had something to chew on: how they would pay for a federal lawsuit filed against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The lawsuit, filed in August, claims diversion leaders didn’t need to expand the scope of the flood protection project that will damage farmland in North Dakota’s Richland County and Minnesota’s Wilkin County, both south of the Fargo-Moorhead area.
“Fargo has made a huge miscalculation,” Christine resident Cash Aaland told the crowd. “They think they can flood our community, Richland County and Wilkin County. But they can’t, and we’re going to stop them.”
Aaland, hoarse from talking so much, told the crowd that the court fight would be long and expensive and that money raised from the dinner would help the cause.
The dinner raised $40,000, the same as a similar fundraiser in April.
An organizer of the event and one of the most vocal opponents to the proposed diversion, Aaland, a Fargo attorney, wore a shirt that stated “We’re Not Fargo’s diaper.” Underneath, the words “Fargo Dam” had a circle and a slash through it. A few similar shirts were seen in the hall and stickers were handed out to those who gave to the freewill dinner.
The diaper comment was made by Richland County Commissioner Sid Berg, who feels Richland and Wilkin residents are being left out of discussions.
“This is not a Christian thing to do,” he said. “They think we don’t exist.
“We’re not against flood protection … We’re against this project. What’s proposed today is destructive to our community,” he said, calling the proposal a “boondoggle.”
Stephanie Miranowski, a Wilkin County commissioner, said the proposed diversion is, “more about economic development for Fargo than looking out for your neighbor.”
Diversion opponents favor a smaller project that would utilize upstream retention to hold flooding waters.
Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533