I want to urge all residents of Fergus Falls to remain calm as we go through these trying times. Rather than panic, let us work together. I also want to reassure our citizens that the city of Fergus Falls is taking every possible precaution to ensure that the resources needed to meet this challenge are available. I recognize that as I write this message on Thursday evening that events will have changed by the time you read this. Regardless, I think it is important to inform those in our community of the steps we are taking, what resources are available, and how they can help in the efforts.
First and foremost, our chief of public safety, Kile Bergren, is coordinating with state and county officials along with local health care providers to coordinate our public health response. I am in contact with Chief Bergren multiple times a day, and I want to assure our residents that there is not a community our size in the United States that has a more competent and experienced chief of public safety than we have in Fergus Falls. Secondly, city administrator Andrew Bremseth has been working for several weeks with his staff to update the city’s pandemic plan to ensure the continuity of essential city services. City of Fergus Falls employees have risen to meet the needs of the people they serve during this time, in ways large and small, many of which will never be known by the general public. I cannot express how proud I am of our city employees and the people of this community.
During extraordinary times, the character of a people is revealed. America was forged through common sacrifice and a commitment to the greater good. Our ancestors ventured halfway across the world at great cost to meet global challenges and win two World Wars. A conversation this week with local historian, author, and friend R.C. Drews reminded me that in Fergus Falls, we have been through tough times. As he put it, “100 years ago the people of Fergus Falls went through hell.” Between 1917-20 the city dealt with a World War, the Spanish Flu Pandemic, and a cyclone that killed more than 50 people and destroyed two-thirds of the town. What did Fergus Falls do? We rallied, rebuilt and recovered.
Mayor Frankberg wrote a message in The Daily Journal to the citizens of Fergus Falls following these events. “I wish, as Mayor of the City,” he wrote, “to call your attention to some matters which I think are important….We are going to have a bigger and better Fergus Falls notwithstanding this calamity, if, we will but all now cooperate…we have been drawn closer together than ever…. Our interests are common…. let us unite and plan for the future of Fergus Falls. We thank God and take courage.”
Things happen in this world that are out of our control, but what we can control is how we respond. Never in our history have we been more accountable to one another than we are today. So let’s choose to follow safety recommendations. Let’s choose to check on our elderly neighbor. Let’s choose to spend time at home with our families, playing cards or doing a puzzle. We will get through this as a community, and we will be stronger for it.
Ben Schierer is the mayor of Fergus Falls.