Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 7/6

Jul 6, 2012

"The Declaration of Independence"
Painting located in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol, artist John Trumbull

Dear Friends,

Just a few days ago we celebrated the Fourth of July and our Nation's Day of Independence.  As we gathered with friends and family over hotdogs and fireworks, we also marked an important day that celebrates our nation's commitment to liberty.  This week the 7th District experienced more severe storms, and you can find information below to prepare for the high heat that many folks are already experiencing in our communities.  The farm bill discussion draft was released recently, and I look forward to our continued work on a bipartisan solution.  Finally, we'll acknowledge a number of local towns who are hosting their 125th Birthday celebrations this year.


Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District

Declaration of Independence

"The Declaration", mural by Barry Faulkner

This week we celebrated our Nation's Day of Independence.  The Declaration of Independence is one of the more significant documents that established our nation's commitment to liberty.  The original document, signed by our nation's forefathers on July 4, 1776, can be viewed today in Washington D.C. at the National Archives. 

The National Archives building is open to the public for free from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and reservations are not required.  For more information, please visit the website for the National Archives at

Extreme Weather in 7th District Continues

Photos courtesy of Bemidji Pioneer (top left and top right)
Photos courtesy of Laurie Swenson, Notes from the Northwoods (bottom left and bottom right)

Intense storms and winds continued in the 7th District this week.  Bemidji and surrounding areas were hit particularly hard earlier this week.  Downed trees and branches trampled power lines and thousands of residents were left without power.  Crews from the Minnesota Department of Transportation have cleared the roadways and continue to work clearing ditches.  The next phase of the cleanup will involve neighborhood cleanup to gather residents' wood and logs that have been cleared in the last few days.

FEMA Urges Residents to Use Caution When Faced With Extreme Heat Conditions

The National Weather Service has issued excessive heat forecasts for Minnesota and other parts of the Midwest, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) urges all residents to remain cautious and vigilant of these extreme heat conditions.  The National Weather Service has issued excessive heat warnings and advisories in some areas, and a heat index potentially reaching 100-105 can be expected in the warning and advisory areas. To view current warnings and advisories please visit

Here are a few tips for dealing with extreme heat:

  • Stay indoors as much as possible and limit exposure to the sun.
  • Stay on the lowest floor out of the sunshine if air conditioning is not available.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Check on family, friends, and neighbors who do not have air conditioning and who spend much of their time alone. It is especially important to check on the elderly, disabled and those with functional needs.
  • Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles.

Extreme heat brings the possibility of heat-induced illnesses, including severe sunburns, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and even heat stroke. Please do not hesitate to seek medical attention if your conditions are severe.  Listen to your local weather forecast and use caution in times of extreme heat and high humidity.  To learn more, visit

Tax Exemptions: Deadline to Sign Up for Webinar

The IRS will host a free webinair on July 25, 2012 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time that explains federal tax rules of interest to churches and religious organizations.  IRS specialists will participate in discussions regarding the do's and don'ts of staying exempt as well as cover other important topics.

To register, visit

If you have any questions about the webinar, you can email


The House Agriculture Committee released a farm bill discussion draft, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (FARRM), on Thursday. Congress needs to complete work on the 2012 Farm Bill before the current bill expires, otherwise we jeopardize one of the economic bright spots of our nation’s fragile economy. This legislation brings us yet another step closer to achieving this goal and I am pleased to have worked with Chairman Lucas in this effort. We have a commodity title in place that will work for all parts of the country as well as continued support for the sugar program and my Dairy Security Act. I have long believed every government program must contribute toward deficit reduction and while I would have found other ways to accomplish the bill’s nutrition savings, the bottom line is that, working together, we need to keep this farm bill moving forward. There will be challenges ahead, but we will pass the bill out of Committee next week and, if the House leadership gets this right and brings the bill to the floor, we will ultimately finish the bill in September.

To learn more about the bill, visit

Sen. Amy Klobuchar and I held a press conference in Moorhead to provide an update on the farm bill. With the Senate passing its version in June, and House action expected next week, I'm optimistic that we'll have a strong, bipartisan bill that will work for all sectors of agriculture, and help reduce the deficit.

Cities in the 7th District celebrate 125 years

Map of Minnesota c. 1887, published by A.A. Brand and included in "General Bankers and Brokers Traveler's Guide to Minnesota."

This summer, a number of cities in the 7th District will be celebrating their 125th Anniversaries.  In their honor, this week's newsletter will reflect on the history of some of these towns that many families and friends call home.


Wendell c. 1909
Photo courtesy of Grant County Historical Society

The community of Wendell began in 1887 when the Minneapolis and Pacific Railway Company built a depot in the northeastern corner of Section 32 of Stony Brook Township.  The railroad chose the name for the site in honor of Judge Joseph H. Wendell of Wright County.  Wendell’s founding father is considered to be Kittel Olson, a Norwegian immigrant who homesteaded the land on which the village sits.  By the fall of 1887, Wendell had two general stores, two grain warehouses and a blacksmith shop.  The village grew and prospered along with the farming community surrounding it, and Wendell was incorporated in 1904.  The population at that time was estimated to be 148.  Early on, Wendell gained notoriety through two well-established social institutions:  its baseball team, started in 1888 (just a year after the town was founded) and its concert band, started in 1899 at the H.P. Hanson farm just south of Wendell.


Sophie's Millinery Shop, Fertile c. 1888
Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society

The first settlers to Fertile arrived in 1879.  Knute Nelson, his brother Einar, and their uncle Lars Bolstad emigrated from Norway and established their claims in the Fertile area just days after their arrival in Polk County.  For the next few years, homesteads in and around the area were quickly claimed by many early settling families.  Otto Kankel, a miller by profession, purchased a flour and grist mill on the Sandhill River just south of Fertile.  The mill became a popular meeting place for those who brought grain to be ground, and soon a small boarding house was built near it.  The plat for Fertile was drawn up in 1887, and a vote was taken to give the new settlement its name.  The annual Polk County Fair has been held in Fertile since 1900.


Main Street, Wheaton c. 1917
Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society

Daniel Thompson Wheaton of Morris was the namesake for this community in Traverse County.  A surveyor for the Fargo and Southern Railroad, Wheaton suggested the town be named Swedenburg instead after the Swedish owners of the site, but they preferred to name the area instead after him.   The city was incorporated as a village in 1887 and had 180 residents.  Main Street was lined on both sides with wood sidewalks, and a telephone line connected the drugstore and doctor's residence.


The city of East Grand Forks was previously known as Nash after the fur trader and government mail carrier W.C. Nash.  The establishment of a post office in 1873 led the town's name to change to East Grand Forks.  In its early years, East Grand Forks was a lumbering center with one of the largest sawmills in the country, producing forty million feet of lumber annually.  The Red Lake River was an excellent option for transporting the logs.  Once the timber was exhausted, the community turned to agriculture.  Located in the Red River Valley, this town enjoyed a rich agricultural area that yields grain, sugar beets, sunflowers, soybeans and potatoes each year.


On March 5, 1886, the Willmar and Sioux Falls Railway Company organized to construct a railroad from Willmar to Sioux Falls, Dakota Territory.  The location of Maynard was perfect for a railroad town, and the community's way of life became intricately linked with the future of the railroad.  The name "Maynard" was chosen by the head of the railroad line, John M. Spicer, after his brother-in-law and associate.  Once established, the town quickly grew as the elevators and railroad became important commerce.  In 1902 the village was home to five elevators, blacksmiths, hardware and grocery stores, as well as banks and a post office.  In 1887 the town was incorporated, and in 1911, the residents authorized their first volt transmission line and electricity was available in Maynard.


Tyler c. 1909

The Tyler area first began to develop when the Chicago Northwestern Railroad Company sent 11 men to establish a depot station for the new railroad.  As they held the first village meeting in the fall of 1879, the name was selected for the village in honor of a prominent businessman at the time, C.B. Tyler.  The town's population was at 178 when the village of Tyler held its vote for incorporation as a town.  Utilities were soon provided to citizens, with the first water tower built in the late 1800's and electric lighting in 1909 (although twenty-four hour electrical service was not available until ten years later).  Businesses at the time of Tyler's incorporation included four grocery stores, two hotels, and a town butcher shop.  Early settlers lacked farm machinery so their main crops were turnips, potatoes, and some corn.  Today the agricultural community centers on cash crops like corn and soybeans as well as livestock.  In September 1963, the city of Tyler held its first Aebleskiver Days in celebration of its Danish heritage.


Like many other communities in the 7th District, Gibbon got its start as a railroad town and was incorporated in 1887.  The town's namesake was General John Gibbon, a Civil War hero who was wounded during Pickett's Charge.  The old Gibbon City Hall, still standing today and listed on the National Historic Register, was constructed in 1895.  The city was largely composed of the descendents of German and Scandinavian immigrants, and for a time residents were known for their love of dance.  Today they are proud to support a refurbished city park, a beloved baseball team, and three churches within the city limits.