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Farmers Independent
Bagley, Minnesota
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June 5, 2013     Farmers Independent
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June 5, 2013
 

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Wednesday June 5 2013 FARMERS INDEPENDENT, Bailey, Minnesota- Pale 12 Gerald Wraa, Sr. of Leonard honored for his 60 years of service to Clover Township (Editor's note: This story was slow in coming, as Darlene Sawyer encountered foul weather nearly every time she managed to make an appointment to see Mr. Wraa. Those who know him know that he lives on a long narrow road through the woods, and when the snow gets deep, there isn't much way to make contact.) By Darlene Sawyer Gerald Wraa, St., age 91, of Leonard has spent 60 years serving on the Clover Township Board in northern Clearwater County where he and his wife Edna reside. He was honored at a reception last fall held in his honor by the Clover Township residents and town board.. According to the Bureau of Statistics, Clover Township has a total area of 17.6 square miles of which 17.1 square miles of it is land and 0.6 square miles is water. Its population density was 6.8 people per square mile, and 59 housing units within that area. The census of 2000 showed a population of 116 people (49 households and 29 families). The first handwritten entry in the Clover Township books is dated the 12th day of April, 1924. The handwritten entry by C. H. Hagen reads: "Special election held for the purpose of voting on the proposition of issuing to the state of Minnesota, the bonds of said municipality in the aggregate sum of $900 bearing interest at the rate of 4.5% per annum. The proceeds thereof to be used for the purpose of building telephone lines in the town of Clover. It was carried by 18 votes for and 3 votes against." Another handwritten entry is dated March 22, 1940 and written by Guy Davis, clerk, and Walter Stoker, Chairman.: "Ted Richardson qualified for supervisor for three years for the town of Clover; Adolph Westhy qualified for supervisor and his bond approved; Walter Stoker was appointed chairman of the town board of Clover for the coming year; Nick Nelson was appointed road overseer for the town of Clover. Wages for road work decided to be the same as last, year-twenty cents (20 cents) an hour for men and twenty-five cents (25 cents) per hour for road overseer and twenty cents (20 cents) per hour for teams. Elmer Stenlund qualified and gave bonds as Justice of the Peace for two years; Mike Nelson qualified and gave bonds for road overseer for one year; Guy Davis qualified and gave bonds for town clerk for two years." "Being that it was decided at the annual town meeting March 12, 1940 that all telephone subscribers with township-owned telephones buy the phones from the township at $1 per year until the set purchase of $7 was paid. The town board by resolution decided that those who wished to pay cash in full for this phone before July 1, 1940 would get their telephone for $6, a discount of $1 being allowed for cash. Tom Torgerson and Elmer Stenlund were appointed fire wardens for the coming year. Decided for the clerk to send for a new clerk book and Justice manual. There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned." In 1952, Gerald was appointed for two years as the Clover Township clerk, then was elected to that office for the next 58 years. Gerald explained, "My responsibilities back then included keeping records of monthly meetings with the three township supervisors and the township treasurer, working out orders which would be given to the treasurer, keeping roads maintained (back in those days people volunteered to keep up the roads), and keeping watch over the two country schools -- Pine Hill and the West School -- in our township. Most of our meetings were held in our home. Our elections are held in March, but some town boards combine their elections with the November elections." "Some of the changes came in the early 1950's when we appointed a road overseer and a telephone overseer. The telephone lines had been extended to Clover Township." Gerald continued, "Those were called 'party' lines and there was a lot of 'rubbernecking.' We appointed a fire warden who was quite knowledgeable in giving permits because he knew the township well. Thomas Swanson became our township assessor and he assessed personal property, and continued assessing after the state abolished the position. We had our own constable, too. He looked like a lawman as he was 6'4". His name was Henry Flom." "Back then," added Gerald, "it was my job to verify bounties forbear and wolves. I took a piece of carcass and did the paperwork and the hunter would get paid $25 for a bear and $15 for a wolf. The state eventually ended the bounty system in the 1960's. I helped settle disputes, too, but I don't remember having to settle too many of those. We were very frugal with people's money. I never received over $250 a year for my work." Through the years, the township structure has changed a lot. According to Gerald, "One of the most significant changes came in the 1970's when the State of Minnesota tried to reform the state into regions. They tried to break up the township structure, so we formed a township association with all the other townships in the state. We hired two lawyers, too. After we did that, all of a sudden the state started sending Clover Township (and other townships) a gas tax refund that amounted to about $6,000 a year for us. It was money that we should have been getting all along, but the state had kept it. It's supposed to be 'government by the people for the people' but big government is slowly diminishing our local power. Voting has changed, too. The state forced us to have our Clover Town Hall handicapped-accessible. But, we can't use it for voting now, anyway, because the voting has changed. We used to have our voting in the two country schools (we'd shut school down for Election Day), but now we have to travel all the way to Clearbrook to vote on a machine. I think the old way of voting was the most accurate. When the state closed our two country schools in the early 1940's, Clover Township bought one of the abandoned schools as a town hall. The biggest changes are the state and federal regulations imposed on the townships." At age 91, Gerald enjoys good health. He was born and raised on a farm in Winsor Township to Gilbert and Maudie Wraa. He attended the Winsor School through all eight grades (no high school back then). After his schooling, he enlisted in the Conservation Corps (CC) and served at Camp #705 at Pike Bay, near Cass Lake. His group's specialty was mainly forestry as they planted over one million trees in the Chippewa National Forest. For another two years, he worked construction until 1942 when he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. His basic training was at Great Lakes, IlL He was assigned to the USS Charles Ausburne and traveled over 100,000 miles to points all over the world. They were part of seven combat campaigns and saw a lot of combat in the Pacific theater. In 1946, he was part of the U.S. Forces who spent six months occupying Japan after Japan's surrender. Then he returned home to Winsor Township in Clearwater County where his father farmed. Romance beckoned, too, as he met his future bride, Edna Davis, at a Dahike barn dance located between Leonard and Bagley in 1946. When he saw her standing across the dance hall, he told his buddy, "I'm going to marry that girl some day." Edna and her family lived in Clover Township, and her father, Guy Davis, was the Clover Township clerk at that time, but he was ready to retire. They married in 1947 and celebrated their 66th wedding anniversary onMay 31.To earn a living, Gerald and his bridle lived in Clover Township, where he farmed, logged, hauled pulpwood, trapped, and worked construction periodically. He added, "I did a little of everything. I even got to help build the smokestacks at Cohasset and the pulp mill at Grand Rapids. I started smoking cigarettes at the age of 8, but quit when our first son was born." Gerald and Edna raised three boys -- Gerald, Joel, and Steve. They have seven grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren. This past year their son Joel (in keeping with family tradition) was appointed as Clover Township clerk to replace his dad. His position will come up for re-election in another year. The other members of the Clover Township board include three supervisors, Ken Brein, Eldon Baanrud, and Bob Wasson, and Treasurer Benny Erickson. Edna smiled as she recalled her father's motto, "If a job is once begun, never leave it 'til it's done; Be it great or be it small, do it well or not at all." Both her dad Guy and her husband Gerald tried to live by that rule in their positions as Clover Township clerks. In retirement, Gerald and Edna are enjoying their rural home, and don't have any big plans or bucket lists. Gerald is a member of the Clearbrook American Legion, and they have enjoyed traveling through the years -- especially to attend military reunions in various parts of the U.S. Protect your engine with Cenex lubricants BAGLEY CO-OP ASSOCIATION Diesel Fuels, Gasoline, Propane, Lubricants i Gn YOUR WHEELS ALIGNED NOWI i Fuel Assistance Vendor 2] 1 So. Main, Bagley 694-6228 Gerald Wraa, Sr, and his wife Edna of Leonard with an old Clover township clerk book. : UC ., Barb 00tes i iii ii ii ,   / Ii i Cedar octagon Standard Treated Lumber picnic table Picnic Table Only $395 On]y$89 SAVE 20% Sale ends June 15th! We have the Products for any Project! 'l cAsH  cARRY PR'c'NG' DELIVERY AVAILABLE FREE ESTIMATES BUILDING CENTER Hwy. 2 W Bagley. Call: 218-694-6292, Toll-free: 1-800-793-3492 www.vlptwoodbuildingcenter.com Find Hidden Treasure ! Read the Classifieds Check out our fishing tackle and water toys! 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