I hold the exulted title of Kittson County Top News Examiner. I wear it like a crown of thorns. That’s because Kittson County is the most boring county in Minnesota, and I’m a news man.
Full disclosure: I actually live just a few thousand feet outside of Kittson County in Roseau County, but I was graced with the title of Kittson Top News County Examiner because I get my mail in Kittson County. For the record, Roseau County is not boring. It’s got it all goin’ on, man, relatively speaking.
But Kittson County? Sheesh! For a hungry news guy, this is like being on a permanent broth diet. Nothing much happens in Kittson County. It has a total population less than 5,000 people, 4,691 to be exact.
There is no town — what towns there are — bigger than 1,100 people. That would be Hallock, county seat, population 1,196, a dreary little berg if there ever was one — especially on a frigid January day of 20-below-zero. Oh yeah! Hallock!
I live eight miles outside of Karlstad, population about 700, which bills itself as “The Moose Capital of the North.” Now here’s what’s ironic about that, and I’m not making this up: All the moose are dead.
Well, almost all of them. The moose used to be thick as mosquitoes around here, but global warming took care of that. In the mid-1980s, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conducted a study and found some 4,000 moose in these parts. A new study done a couple of years ago found about 180, and the report suggested these would soon be dead, too.
It’s a mystery, but they think global warming is the culprit. The winters up here have been unusually mild for the past 10 or 15 years, and moose don’t like that. Hotter temps also makes it easier for parasites, woodticks, and diseases to thrive and infest moose. Thus, their demise.
An important note: Most people in Kittson County will get angry with you if you suggest global warming killed off the moose because most people here are of good conservative stock politically, and as you know, conservative ideology does not allow for the existence of man-made global warming, no matter how many scientists sign on to the fact.
But I digress. Lets get back to boring.
Consider this about Kittson County:
* There is not a single movie theater in the entire county.
* There is not single Chinese restaurant.
* There is not a single fast food joint, such as McDonald’s or Arby’s.
* There is not a single bowling ally.
* There is only one small, man-made lake. (It’s pretty nice, though.)
* You can only get high-speed Internet if you live in or very near one of the tiny towns.
* There are no book stores, new or used.
* Shopping mall?(Ha, ha! yeah, right).
There is one natural lake in Kittson County which goes by the enchanting name of Skull Lake. If you consider a fetid, weedy, mosquito infested stretch of muddy swamp a lake — well, go ahead.
In short, anything you might like about a larger city will not be found here. Sure, that’s okay with a lot of folks, In fact, that’s what they like about Kittson County. But I’m just saying.
Many tens of thousands of acres of this large county is taken up in the growth of sugar beets. These are vast acres of heavily government subsidized plots tended by rather wealthy farmers, and the sugar beets are processed into nutrition-free white sugar, a commodity which competes on a market usually glutted with sugar from other producers around the world, and which also contributes to our nation’s obesity epidemic.
For a newsman like me, it’s egregiously difficult to look out across a vast plane of green leafy sugar beet tops and find some news that readers here on the Examiner site will be willing to read.
Sure, in desperation, I’ve written a couple of sugar beet stories, and I’m grateful to all 10 of you who read that story. Based on the pay-per-view formula of Examiner, I estimate I earned 6 cents. Let’s just call it a nickel. So, hey, thanks for the nickel, everyone.
I hand it to myself for being clever, however. Despite living in the most boring county in Minnesota, and being the Kittson County Top News Examiner, I have managed to post almost 100 stories here so far.
Sometimes I pray for another Bigfoot sighting. A few months ago, some jokers down in Beltrami County thought they might have caught a picture of Bigfoot on one of those automated trail cameras — it looked to me like a blurry picture of a guy in a snowsuit — but that story garnered an incredible amount of viewers, and I cashed in pretty darn good that time.
Yes, I know, I know, that story was not based on news originating here in Kittson County, but what do you want from me? Do you want me to fake a Bigfoot sighting in Kittson County so that I can attract some readers and make enough money for a tank of gas or a bag of groceries?
Don’t tempt me.
Anyway, yes, as the Kittson County Top News Examiner, I have had to be creative and prowl for news that is, shall we say, a bit more regional, at times. I suppose I could hope for some kind of gruesome, sensational murder, which does happen here occasionally — but what kind of guy do you think I am?
A lot of you might be thinking: “Jeepers, Ken! You have a negative attitude! You are actually in a unique position among Minnesota Examiners. You live in the far boonies! You can write about what life is like in the Minnesota Siberia, while all those slouching Twin Cities writers post their shallow stories about the latest art show at the Guthrie Theater, or that incident where someone found a severed head in the toilet of South Minneapolis slum apartment!”
Well, it’s easy for you to say that. That’s what I try to do. I try to bring the unique flavor of Minnesota’s most boring county to the rest of Minnesota, and the world. But the fact is, people vote with their clicks. They like to read about what’s happening with the airlines in the Twins Cities, the Twins, the Vikings, Brett Favre, the fine restaurants, the local entertainment scene, the fine arts scene, the bowling allies, the crime — oh the lovely juicy crime! — but I don’t have any of those thing here.
I live a thousand feet from Kittson County. I’m the Kittson County Top News Examiner. I’m a news man. I don’t harvest sugar beets. I harvest news. I try to sell news. There’s no government subsidy for that. If I was a beet farmer, I’d be living in Antarctica. All the government subsidies in the world couldn’t make a stinking beet grow there.
SEVEN WILD MINNESOTA TEAS IN SEVEN DAYS! DON’T MISS IT!