Mandan News

Vern Davis: Farewell to an old friend

Hello from Morton County Parks. Sorry about not being here last month, but about the time the column was due I ended up under the weather – seems to happen every year and I get the flu shot.

As of today, all of our boat ramps are open – two with new docks. Thanks to North Dakota Game and Fish Department, we have new adjustable docks at Little Heart Ramp and Graner Park. They were installed this past week. Last year, there was still about 15 inches of snow all over and, according to my records, we never had them cleaned off until April 20. What a difference a year makes.

Now the sad part of my column. Last week we said goodbye to Duncan Warren. He was the director of Morton County Parks for about 20 years before I came on the scene.

As far as parks in our county, he was the “man with the plan.” He had a vision of what should be here and he saw to it that the vision materialized. When Duncan took over the parks, the western parks in the county were established – Sweetbriar, Crown Butte, Fish Creek, Danzig Dam and Nygren Dam were pretty much up and going. His vision was to use one of America’s greatest natural wonders, the Missouri River, to build a series of parks. During his tenure was built our crown jewel, Graner Park on land leased from the Corps of Engineers. Also along the river is Fort Rice Recreation Area, the Rifle Range, Little Heart Boat Ramp and the Steps area for access to the Missouri at the Heskett Plant just north of Mandan.

He also was instrumental in acquiring the old rest area, now known as the Fort Rice Campground.

Once these parks were in place, the infrastructure had to be built as well. The rural water, pavement, electricity, fish cleaning station and camper dump all had to be figured out, designed, built and paid for. This again happened because Duncan pushed, pulled and pleaded for them.

Once he had an idea for the parks, it came to fruition – right, mediocre or wrong. One of the former employees of the park system often said: “There are three ways to do things around here: the right way, the wrong way and Duncan’s way.”

Thanks to the vision of this man, now it seems that it was all “The right way.”

So, old friend, rest in peace, I’m sure the Good Lord will find something for you to do in His neighborhood.