Red River Valley
September-October 2000

A Look Ahead…

President’s Message

LWV public meetings are held in the Sons of Norway Lodge, 722 2nd Avenue North, Fargo, meeting room behind the cafeteria. Members and guests who wish to go through the buffet line and eat together (in the lodge meeting room) may do so at 11:30 a.m.


August 25, 2000 5-8 PM
Billi Jo and Marc Zielinski Day Send Off

See Peace Corps President article for details.

September 1, 2000 12-1:00 p.m.
First Friday at Sons of Norway

Celebrating 80 Years of League: National Convention Update Speakers: Delegates Billi Jo Zielinski, Andrea Johnson and Suzanne Dobbins will be reporting on the June annual meeting of LWVUS.


Weekends September 7 through 24, 2000
F-M Community Theatreıs presentation of
An American Daughter
by Wendy Wasserstein

Set in Washington, the play involves a female political appointeeıs difficulty in being confirmed. ND political candidates will present curtain speeches and there will ³talk back² sessions after the play facilitated by the LWVRRV.


September 29, 2000 11:00 AM
Sons of Norway
All America City Award Celebration Public Address to the League of Women Voters

Speaker: Chris Gates, President, National Civic League This event will conclude the two day formal community celebration.


October 6, 2000 12-1:00 PM
First Friday at Sons of Norway

Children at Risk: the Effects of Abuse on Children Rape and Abuse Crisis Center Speaker Voter Education


October 6, 2000 7-9:00 PM
ND Dakota Gubernatorial Candidate Debate

Channel 13 and Channel 4

October 19, 2000 6:30 PM
Hjemkomst Museum Clay Co.

Commission Candidates:
Minnesota District 9 Senate, House 9A and 9b Candidates 7:30 PM This meeting is jointly sponsored by the LWV, the F-M Chamber of Commerce and the Senior Connection.


Dear Friends,

This year is a hallmark of a year as we celebrate 80 years of the League of Women Voters!

The First Friday programs will earnestly uncover emerging issues--from campaign finance reform to the effects of violence on children, from health care to natural resources, from human rights to agricultural policy. Your planning committee, Julia Jones and Mary Davies, have formulated stimulating First Fridays. There will also be a special program on Sept. 29, featuring the President of the National Civic League, who will be in our community celebrating the All-America City Award designation received jointly by Fargo and Moorhead in June 2.

Our voter education opportunities will be greater than in some years past. I am delighted that we have formed a positive partnership with Prairie Public Broadcasting to extend our impact on Election 2000 coverage. Another new and exciting partnership is that with FM Community Theatre. We were approached due to our credibility in voter service and our integrity and non- partisanship.

I believe our League base will continue to grow and strengthen Suzanne Dobbins will continue her tireless pursuit of enriching our Membership. If you have a friend or a colleague whom you think would be a natural Leaguer, forward her or his name to Suzanne and who will mail an invitation to membership.

The Observer Corps will see new leadership with co-chairs, Carol Sawicki and Betsy Vinz. who are committed to training be League ³watchdogs.² They will build upon the solid foundation poured by Gini Duval, who is wholeheartedly political this year.

We welcome recently named board members Kathy Kvalog, Elizabeth ³Betsy² Vinz, Janel Sandvig, Colleen Hermann, Barbara Headrick, and Janet VanAmberg.

Thank you for the encouragement and friendship you have given me during my tenure with the League. You should be be proud of yourselves--it is so telling you you cultivate and support young leadership to create a sustaining and viable resource for our community.

Keeping my dues current,
Billi Jo Zielinski,
Proud League President 1999-2000


Editor’s Corner

No doubt you notice something different about this newsletter. My partner, Donna Chalimonczk, was unavailable to do her usual fine job of formating the material due to a family emergency in Colorado. My skills as a publisher need more lessons. Because there was time sensitive material that I thought you should receive, I decided to forge ahead. With all our wonderful new members there is probably someone out there who could act as a substitute publisher in future emergencies. If so, please contac me for future reference. Audrey Richmond, 235-3904
Observer Corps

Peace Corps President

As you may know Billi Jo Zielinski , our League President, and her husband Marc have accepted an invitation to serve in the U. S. Peace Corps in Turkmenistan departing in September, 2000. Get out your map! Turkmenistan is located in Central Asia and is a former Soviet Republic. They are committed to a two year tour and a three month intensive preservice training period.

The couple has been very active in the community and beyond. Billi Jo became a League member in 1996, and soon became a director of the board. She co-chaired the 1997-98 Voter Service area, was elected treasurer in 1998-99 and from 1999 to the present has capably served our League as President, a capacity within which she implemented such evolutions as developing a League of Women Voters of the Red River Valley which now includes Moorhead and Dilworth, Minnesota in addition to Fargo and West Fargo, ND.

A ³Send Off² committee including Leaguers and organizers, Sue Petry and Julia Jones, have planned Billi Jo and Marc Zielinski Day on August 25, 2000 with two opportunities for friends to say good luck and good bye for now to the Zielinskis. First, at Fargoıs Lindenwood Park Kiddieland Shelter 5:00 to 8:00 PM: The grill will be hot! We will have soft drinks,plates, napkins, utensils and condiments. Bring something to grill and a dish to share. Recreational activities will be available. Then, at 21st Amendment Bar, 520 1st Ave. N. 9:00 to Midnight: There will be music and festivities. Come to one or both locations!


Voter Education for Election 2000

The League of Women Voters of the Red River Valley is partnering with Prairie Public Television, North Dakota Public Radio and to provide the most comprehensive election coverage in the history of Prairie Public Broadcasting. As part of the coverage of Election 2000, Leaguers are cordially invited to be part of a select studio audience at a live debate of North Dakotaıs gubernatorial candidates, Heidi Heidkamp and John Hoeven. A cross section of North Dakota voters are also receiving invitations.

Date: Sunday, October 15, 2000 at 7:00 to 8:00 PM
Place: Prairie Public Studios, 207 N. 5th St., Fargo
Contact: Matt Olien, Plains Talk Host/Producer
by September 15, 2000
By phone: 701 239-7576 or 800 359-6900.
By email:

The event is a partnership including LWVRRV, Prairie Public and CBS Ch. 4 (KXJB) in Fargo. Channel 13 and Channl 4 will broadcast the event live. The audience will have an opportunity to ask questions of the candidates during the second half of the debate. The next evening, a half-hour special entitled The Next Governor will provide informative, objective portraits of the gubernatorial candidates. Please consider being a part of the live audience and the whole of this most ambitious project.

LWV Convention
Impresses League Secretary

I was privilidged, along with Billi Jo Zielinski and Andrea Johnson, to attend the national LWV convention in Washington, D. C. this past June. I was so impressed with the passion and excitement among the delegates!

A major item of interest was the election of officers. Although the nominating committee had chosen individuals who were not currently serving on the board, the delegates overwhelmingly showed their approval of the current board and re-elected President Caroline Jefferson-Jenkins in addition to electing Margaret Brown (our national board liaison from Wyoming) as First Vice President, and Faye Simon as Second Vice President.

Like the LWVUS , our local chapter has been reinvigorated. We have re-established a strong infra- structure, successfully worked to increase our membership and created a positive image for ourselves in the community. Like the national level, the next step is to focus on Program and Education. If you are interested in seeing the entire LWVUS program, please check out our website at

We also had the opportunity to attend informative workshops and cultivate new friendships with other Leaguers nationwide. The advice and assistance I have received from these colleagues has been invaluable! I sincerely hope more of our members take advantage of the wonderful opportunities to be presented at the 2002 convention in Florida!

Suzanne Dobbins, Secretary of LWVRRV


Travel to Saudi Arabia

Not in my wildest dreams did I think that some day I would go on an Islamic pilgrimage, the Hajj, to Saudi Arabia. In March, 2000, an opportunity presented itself. Five members of my family and myself decided to join a tour group for the journey. It was an experience that has left a mark no other travel has.

As a child in India, I recall my father and uncles talking about the pilgrimage as something they dreamed of doing but it was beyond their reach. Airfares were too expensive in those days. Most pilgrims went by boat which meant several days through rough seas. Hotel accommodations and the food and water served there were poor . Some pilgrims were known to return suffering from diseases such as cholera, typhoid or dysentery. A handful died upon their return.

Conditions have improved tremendously. I was impressed by the cleanliness at the hotels, the service, the organizations at the various towns of the pilgrimage and the eradication of contagious diseases. Security was good and police were everywhere as 1.8 million pilgrims descended from all over the world.

Islamic architecture was breath-taking especially in Medina and Mecca featuring minarets, calligraphy engravings, different colored marbles and gold inlays.

The most unusual feature was the Jidda international airport. It is designed like a row of tents open on all sides. Plane take offs and landings were deafening. There is no announcement or postings of arrivals and departures at the airport. Nor were the gates marked in numerical order as they are in the west. Luggage went through security but there was no one screening it. When we arrived at Jidda Airport our passports were taken away by authorities and returned prior to boarding the bus. The Istanbul Airport on the other hand was like any other sophisticated airport in Europe.

The return flight through Istanbul to Chicago took 14 hours. The addition flight and wait time from Chicago to Minneapolis to Fargo seemed much longer than when I left. But it was worth it--a once in a life time pilgrimage, one of the five pillars of Islam.

Sherbanoo Aziz

Fargo Airport Authority Board

Activities at the Hector International Airport are increasing. Items I found of interest that have been approved are:

  • further 5-year option for the Northwest Airline e-ticket service center
  • northern improvement and extension of a road for safety. It is the only airport that has too much traffic close to a runway
  • a recommendation to include future need for more gate space in the preliminary Operations and Maintenance Budget for 2001

Mr. Sweeney of Jet Center gave a briefing on the occupancy of the new south general aviation hangar. It would be used by NDSU engineering students in collaboration with the Center to give an opportunity for a hands-on instructional program. In addition to the hangar, classrooms and a parking lot will also be built. A five-year lease was approved at $1000 per month, renewable for up to 15 years.

Sherbanoo Aziz, Observer


Fargo City Commission

On May 30, topics of discussion were: home businesses and rezoning issues involving a proposed warehouse/ office and the location of new cell phone towers. The mayor did allow people in the audience to talk at length, expressing their opinion. One home business permit was granted conditionally and one was not based on location, traffic and parking concerns. The rezoning requests were denied and the cell phone tower issue was returned to the Planning Commission.

In a very short agenda on June 12, two items didnı t appear to have been discussed by the commissioners before the meeting. In some ways there was the most citizen input that I have seen into the commissionıs decisions. The two topics concerned the noncompliance of a North Fargo dental office with city rules and objections to a potential land purchase by Pete Sabo. The commission decided not to change the zoning of the dental office as the owner requested and to set a deadline for compliance with regulations. In the latter matter , the commission had previously approved the sale of land to Sabo but agreed to have inspection of his other properties in response to complaints about their condition from people living near the land to be purchased. In its June 26 meeting, the commission refused the sale of the property to Sabo. The complaints of the two neighbors seem to have been the stimulus for the city to pay attention to the landlordıs delinquency in following city directives and rules.

Carol Sawicki, Observer

Moorhead City Council

Highlights of the 5/1/00 meeting were discussion of renovating the old American Legion Building and the problem of train noise. Several council members wondered if they shouldnıt wait to see how the building might be used in the future before going ahead with renovation plans. A vote to ban train whistles in Moorhead passed on a 4-3 vote. Those in opposition stated worries about accidents and wanted to wait until ³quad gates² are installed.

In mid-July, there was a public hearing concerning the June 19th flood. It lasted over an hour with lots of interesting information presented by staff and FEMA representatives. In the city of Moorhead, 1720 residences were damaged as a result of the torrential rain: 1000- clear water, 414-sewage and 350-a combination of the two. This was more water damage than that received from the 1997 flood. People at home could view the hearing on cable television and call in questions.

Following lengthly discussions on August 7, the Council agreed to a two-week extension of the cityıs proposal to locate Trollwood performing arts programs at M. B. Johnson Park. One member voiced his concern about the costs of financial and in-kind services that would be made available, in view of the projected costs of flood mitigation projects under consideration. (Ed. Note: Fargo School Briefs say the decision on a site is to be made on August 22.)

A second lengthly discussion concerned MN State University Moorheadıs five-block parking expansion project. MSUM presented plans for parking lots, street lighting and beautification. Several council members expressed their frustrations about the cityıs inability to deal with certain MSUM issues because the property is under state rather than city control. This is a long standing problem for which there seems to be no solution. Betsy Vinz, Observer Moorhead School Board In April, the Indian Education Committee reported and encouraged the Board to hire more Native American teachers. There was also a report on the Reading Recovery program (an intensive one to one remedial reading system). The district will be able to recoup part of the costs by providing training to neighboring school districts. In late May, it was reported that an exchange program has been set up whereby Moorhead Senior High and Moorhead State math teachers will teach on each otherıs campuses. A college math course will be taught right at the high school. Summer school was discussed. There is a remedial program at the Junior High , extended school year classes for special education students and help for students who need it to pass the graduation standards tests. Testing is offered in the summer. A draft of the progress report on the 5-year plan (1998-2003) will be mailed with end of year reports cards

Naomi Rice, Observer


People Notes

Legendary Leaguer Lois Cassavant is recovering more slowly than she would like from what may have been a slight stroke in April. Among the most frustrating aspects has been the prohibition of her driving. She will seek approval before the end of the month to restore her wheels.

We will miss long time member, Sylvia Hove, at our meetings. In varying degrees of ill health since the final devestation of her beautiful home in the 1997 flood, Sylvia died early in August. She was for many years the executive director of the Southeastern North Dakota Community Action Agency as well as very involved in the social, political and cultural scene in Fargo and the state.


Meet New Member Colleen Hermann

Selected to attend the January, 2000, ³Leaders of Today and Tomorrow² conference in St. Paul , Colleen Hermann automatically became a member of LWVRRV. A junior at Concordia College , she is majoring in Political Science and Communication with a public relations concentration. Becoming active in our League immediately, Colleen will serve on the League Board this year representing a new collegiate chapter.

She is interested in learning more about the political process at the city level and becoming more active in the community. Her special concerns are environmental policy and womenıs issues. She is a member of Concordiaıs Forensics team and Campus Democrats and is known among friends for her ³dry² sense of humor. Colleen looks forward to meeting other women in our organization who have her goals and interest.

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