Mt Pleasant News
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Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Apr 23, 2018

Feuds can last forever

By Brooks Taylor | Aug 05, 2016

It may not be the Hatfields and McCoys, but some feuds seemingly never end.

Those feuds are passed down through generations. Sometimes, the reason for the feud is lost through the translation between the generations.

For example, my hometown in South Dakota was known as Dakota City at one time. However, when the railroad came through, the rails were not placed running through the hamlet, but two miles west.

So, what did residents do? They simply move the town. True story. All that remains of Dakota City is a rural cemetery where my grandparents are buried.

During the early years of my home county, a location had to be chosen for the county seat and the county fair. My hometown promised the second largest town in the county (at the time) that it would support the community’s bid to host the county fair if that community in turn would vote to build the county courthouse in my hometown.

Well, the neighboring community got the county fair but did support my hometown in landing the county seat.

Consequently, the county seat of my home county is located in a town which makes Lowell look like a bustling community. I’m sure you’ve heard of the saying, “spot in the road.” I know the originator of the saying was looking at the county seat of my home county when coining the phrase. The county seat community isn’t even incorporated.

Since that time, which stretches back well over a century, my hometown and the county fair community have more or less hated each other.

An interesting wrinkle recently was added to the feud. The hometown is the largest community in the county, not a booming city, but about New London size. Remember, this is South Dakota.

The county fair community hasn’t much going for it except the county fair. Several years ago, the town was facing school consolidation due to a shrinking student census.

Even though just 11 miles separate the hometown and the county fair community and the fact that my hometown has a new junior/senior high school, consolidating school districts with my hometown was viewed as an alternative worse than death. So, the county fair town picked another school district about the same distance. The chosen district, however, was even smaller than the one in the county fair town.

Guess what? The band-aid approach didn’t last long. The consolidated district is looking for another partner. Rumor has it that finally the two districts (my hometown and the county fair town) that should have consolidated in the first place may do so now.

In another life, there was a similar story. Two school districts in northwest Iowa entered into a whole-grade sharing agreement. The first year was rocky. I inquired of a student that first year how things were going. “They hate us and we hate them just as much,” was the student’s answer.

It was apparent. At athletic contests you would see students of the two school districts in the whole-grade sharing agreement seated on the same side of the gymnasium, but in different clusters.

The parents from the two districts took it much better than the kids. They didn’t have any problem sitting together cheering for their school.

Over time, the tension has eased. Three years after beginning whole-grade sharing, the two districts approved consolidation. Two years ago, another school district entered into whole-grade sharing with the new consolidated school. Soon, it will consolidate and there will be one school district in the county.

There is hope. Grudges can heal over time. Sometimes, it just takes a century…or longer.

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