Lloyd Omdahl: Economic development initiative stalls
"Order! Order!" bellowed Chairperson Ork Dorken as he opened a special meeting of the Homeland Security Committee in the historic ZCBJ community hall. The town's 12 electors were giddy with expectation, looking forward to three major economic development reports.
Old Sievert was sitting in the skeptic's lounge in the dark side of the hall, ready to do his usual naysaying. Garvey Erfald sat up front next to Ork as an honor for coordinating the initiative for the past six months.
"Dorsey Crank was assigned the job of putting us in the public eye so economic developers around the world would know we're here, ready to go." Garvey announced.
Crank stood up and cleared his throat.
"Well, we had a stroke of bad luck," he started. "We were going to get this guy Jourden on CNN who goes to Parts Unknown to do a feature on our town. We were barely ahead of Rabbit Run, Idaho when Jourden quit the program.
"He didn't quit," corrected Little Jimmy, the online college student. "He heard that heaven was a part unknown so he went to look."
"What is this kid talking about?" Old Sievert grumped.
"Jourden just exercised his option," Orville Jordan, the retired depot agent, reported while nervously shifting his green eye shade from one side of his head to the other. "Enough said."
Garvey was quick to change the subject.
"Next, we have a report by Josh Dvorchak on our entrepreneurial demonstration project," Garvey announced.
Josh bounced up, wiped his nose on his sleeve and launched into his report.
"The state has been closing rest areas so we figured that opened the rest area market for private enterprise and so we decided that an outhouse would be a good business venture," Josh proudly
"Well, we built this one-holer...."
"A one-holer!" barked Holger Danske.
"Well, we designed it so you could add another hole if business was brisk. In fact, it was designed to expand up to four holes. Unfortunately, business has been slow because traffic is moving fast."
"Yeah, at least 10 miles faster since the state closed the rest area," Holger noted. Nobody caught the humor.
"We were planning a grand opening, maybe offer a special the first week. Unfortunately, somebody leaked and the sheriff said we couldn't do business on public property.
"We told the sheriff we would name our first outhouse 'Right-of-Way' but he wouldn't compromise so we sold it to Oskar Himinnsen — the new farmer from Finland — who is going to remodel it for emus."
"So far, so bad," Old Sievert gloated. "Room for one emu if it backs in."
"It's worse than that," Josh continued. "We have 480 rolls of Charmin to deal with."
Garvey rolled his eyes and announced the third initiative.
"Madeleine Morgan was In charge of promoting the women's market," he announced.
"Healthy fruit is the big need these days," Madeleine analyzed. "Seeing as how blueberries, strawberries and raspberries are already on the market, we decided to bring something new — the underrated rhubarb."
"Rhubarb can't do it alone," Old Sievert laughed. "Without strawberries, you just have rhubarb."
Madeleine was undaunted.
"We figured we could plant 1,118 rhubarb per acre and 22,360 in 20 acres would be a viable start."
"Do you have a backup plan?" asked Einar Torvald skeptically.
"Yes, if the rhubarb don't sell, we will rent the field to Skip O'Kelly's cows..."
"Rhubarb leaves are poisonous," warned Little Jimmy.
"We have a second backup plan. Dry the rhubarb leaves in the old blacksmith shop and hire Cubans to roll cigars — a new smoke - Rhubarb Royals."
"Don't forget the strawberries," advised Old Sievert as he started a stampede for the door.
Lloyd Omdahl writes a weekly column that is published in the Herald.