Society news and notes

MSU grad named Minn. district judge

A Minot State University graduate was recently named to a district court judge seat in Minnesota. Eric P. Schieferdecker was appointed April 4 to a seat on the bench of the 9th Judicial District by Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton.

“Throughout his career, and through service to children and victims of crime, Mr. Schieferdecker has demonstrated his strong commitment to justice and to the betterment of his community,” said Dayton in a press release. “I am confident he will be an excellent judge.”

Schieferdecker is a former assistant attorney general for the state of Minnesota, primarily prosecuting murder, drug and implied consent cases. After graduation from MSU, he then graduated from the University of North Dakota School of Law.

He currently resides in Bemidji, Minn.

Niewoehner remains on funeral board

North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple has announced the reappointment of Dale Niewoehner, Rugby, to another term on the North Dakota State Board of Funeral Service. The term, his third, will run from July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2018.

The state board is made up of the North Dakota State Health Officer and three practicing funeral practitioners appointed by the governor. The board is the licensing and disciplinary agency for the profession.

Niewoehner operates the Niewoehner Funeral Home in Rugby, which he founded in 1972. He has funeral practitioner licenses in North Dakota, Minnesota and Illinois. He is a 1963 graduate of Upham High School and graduated from Worsham College of Mortuary Science-Chicago in 1967. He is also a 2002 graduate of Minot State University-Bottineau. He is a member and past president of the North Dakota Funeral Directors Association and served as its executive secretary for 10 years, among various other offices and honors held.

Niewoehner served on the Rugby Park Board, Rugby City Council and as mayor, totaling 30 years in municipal government. He is an active member of the Rugby Lions Club and an advocate for Amtrak services in North Dakota.

Magnuson to speak at Minot library

Award-winning author and journalist Stew Magnuson of Arlington, Va., will speak at the Minot Public Library April 21 at 6:30 p.m. about his new book “The Last American Highway: Journey Through Time Down U.S. Route 83: The Dakotas.”

Descending 1,885 miles down the center of the U.S. from Westhope to Brownsville, Texas, is U.S. 83, one of the oldest and longest of the federal highways that hasn’t been replaced by an Interstate. Magnuson’s book takes readers on a trip down the road and through the history of the Northern Great Plains. Explorers Pierre de la Verendrye, Lewis & Clark and Jedediah Smith are encountered, along with Chief Spotted Tail of the Brule Lakotas, TV sensation Lawrence Welk and rodeo superstar Casey Tibbs. The murderers, settlers, ballplayers and rail barons from yesteryear meet today’s truckers, oil rig workers and ghost towns as Magnuson launches his own Voyage of Discovery in a beat-up 1999 Mazda Protege.

Magnuson is also the author of “Wounded Knee 1973: Still Bleeding,” and “The Death of Raymond Yellow Thunder: And Other True Stories from the Nebraska-Pine Ridge Border Towns,” which won the Nebraska Nonfiction Book of the Year for 2009 and earned ForeWord magazine’s bronze medal in the regional nonfiction category. The Center of Great Plains Studies nominated the work as the Great Plains Book of the Year and the Writers’ League of Texas its nonfiction Book of the Year.

A native of Omaha and a graduate of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, Magnuson is a former foreign correspondent who has filed stories from Mali, Japan, Cambodia, Burma, Laos, Thailand and Indonesia.

He has traveled to all 50 U.S. states and visited or lived in 48 countries, including the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, where he served in the Peace Corps, and Peshawar, Pakistan, where he worked with the Afghan resistance in the late 1980s.

He has worked as a reporter for The Cambodia Daily, the Asahi Shimbun, Kyodo News Service, Space News, Education Daily, and is now managing editor of National Defense Magazine. He also contributes to other publications and maintains a blog, “The Highway 83 Chronicles at (

Historical group hosts meal, cleaning day

RUGBY – The Geographical Center Historical Society in Rugby will kick off its 2014 season with a sausage, dumpling and kraut dinner and a program on Teddy Roosevelt on Sunday, April 27, at the Rugby Eagles Club.

The free will community dinner, featuring sausage, dumplings, sauerkraut, carrots, rolls and kuchen, will be served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Fargo cartoonist and historian Steve Stark will give his Illustrated History presentation on “The Cowboy President” at 1:15 p.m. The program is free and open to the public.

Stark, who has performed as Teddy Roosevelt since 1985, will illustrate his tales of T.R. on a 20-foot roll of paper. Stark is known by school children as “Mr. History.” His appearance at last year’s spring kick-off was so popular, the historical society decided to bring him back, according to a press release.

Event sponsors include the North Dakota Humanities Council, Ramsey National Bank and Trust, and the Geographical Center Historical Society, which operates Prairie Village Museum in Rugby. Historical society vice president Linda Lysne is doing the cooking.

On Sunday, May 4, volunteers will gather from noon to 5 p.m. for the fourth annual Cleaning Day at the Prairie Village Museum in Rugby. Workers will help clean the 30 buildings that make up Prairie Village Museum, which opens for school tours on May 1 and to the general public on May 15.

Volunteers are encouraged to bring their favorite cleaning tools, including lawn rakes. Cleaning products will be provided.

“With everyone pitching in, and with lots of good food to keep us going, it’s a fun day,” said museum director Cathy Jelsing in a press release.

Service clubs and helpers of all ages are welcome. Museum membership is not required to participate. The event is hosted by the Friends of Prairie Village Museum.

Forgiveness program for STEM grads

College graduates employed in science, technology, engineering or mathematics-related occupations in North Dakota may be eligible for student loan forgiveness through the STEM Occupations Student Loan Program coordinated by the North Dakota University System and the Bank of North Dakota. STEM-related occupations include jobs in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The program provides loan forgiveness of up to $1,500 per year for up to four years. To qualify as an applicant for loan forgiveness, applicants must have completed an approved, STEM-related program of study through a board-approved college; have maintained a cumulative grade point average of 2.5 on a 4.0 grading system, hold a qualifying federal student loan or Bank of North Dakota DEAL Loan that is not in default; have been employed on a full-time basis in North Dakota in an approved STEM occupation for 12 months following graduation, beginning at least by July 1, 2013.

Applicants who meet these qualifications will be considered based on the date their application is received by the North Dakota University System. Applications will be accepted beginning May 1 through June 30. Award recipients will be notified by July 31. Applicants must re-apply annually for continued or new funding.

The STEM Occupations Student Loan Program was approved by the 2001 Legislative Assembly. The application materials and program information can be accessed online at (