FATHERS | MR. FULL-TIME DAD
NOT LETTING GO
WRITTEN BY: BEN HANSON • PHOTOS BY: URBAN TOAD MEDIA
Almost ten years to the day after my wife, Emily, and I
moved into our first home together, we packed up all our
earthly possessions and moved south … approximately
30 blocks. There were four of us to move this time
around, including our son, Macklin, and our dog, Lucy.
After ten years of accumulation, and now being fully
moved into a home roughly twice the size, it's amazing
how much we crammed into that first home.
Beyond the physical stuff — which we brought with us, for
better or worse — the move provided a wonderful
excuse to get lost in nostalgia over all the
intangible stuff we also crammed in during
the past ten years. We created enough
memories, learned enough lessons
and experienced enough "firsts" to
write a small memoir … minus all
the heroics and achievements one
normally reads about in memoirs.
And so, the hardest part of the
move wasn't physical, although
I'll never again be a willing
participant in moving a piano.
For me, moving felt like
forever walking away from
the set and setting of my life
as a full-time stay-at-home dad
— arguably the greatest time of
I will never again be greeted by those
seven steps up from the front door to
the living room, where Mack learned to
climb stairs, or the seven steps down to
the basement, where he was often too
adorably afraid to go by himself. I will
never get to chase Mack in circles around the
wall that divided the kitchen from the living
room. I'll never sit under our flowering
front tree with him on a blanket like we
did every sunny day before he learned to
walk. I'll never walk in to wake him up in his
old bedroom, where I put together his crib
not once, but twice … and then a third time,
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when he grew big enough to transform it into a toddler bed.
We'll never walk the same loop around the neighborhood
like we did every day, rain or shine, warm or cold just to get
out of the house for a while. I could go on, obviously.
In the days after the move, I fought hard against the instinct
to drive past the old house, because I knew I would never
make it without crying. Even now, months later, the only
way I will drive through the old neighborhood is if Macklin
is with me and he asks to see the house. (OK, I always bring
it up, but I let him make the final call.)
Last week he accepted my offer, and as we slowly crept by
the old house, Mack said something with a profound deeper
meaning: "I liked that house, Daddy. Yeah, it's a good house.
I like our new house, too."
A weight lifted off my shoulders … promptly falling directly
into my tear ducts. My 4-year-old simplified my feelings for
me, taking the edge off and giving me permission to keep
loving our old home, while still celebrating the beginning of
many new adventures in our new home.
In the weeks leading up to the move, Emily and I wondered
how Macklin would transition to the new house. Not
surprisingly, he handled it the best out of all of us … after
all, he's got the memory and attention span of a 4-yearold.
Emily compulsively painted our bedrooms. Lucy had
an accident the first time she smelled a trace of the prior
owner's dog, something she hadn't done in years. My
transition object was the lawnmower — I took extra care
getting to know the new yard, taking twice as long to mow it
as I otherwise would.
Macklin, however, settled
right in. We knew he was
over the whole move on
day two when he refused
to get dressed for the day.
"It's mine own home
to be naked in," he
declared. He was right.
We were home. •
urbantoadmedia.com / THE GOOD LIFE / 3
Volume 7 • Issue 3
FATHERS - Mr. Full-Time Dad
Moving On, Not Letting Go
Novembers in North Dakota
Hunting with Bret Amundson
More Than Survival
8 Ways to Make Winter (Kind of)
ON THE COVER - Dan Fuller
Fueled by Fighting Fire
Amidst Flame and Smoke,
West Fargo Fire Chief Dan Fuller
Keeps His Focus
Heavy Lifting for a Living
High Power Crane
HABW - Having a Beer with
Radio Host, Scott Hennen
Local Hero - Kevin Pallas
Equal Parts Heart, Humility
Fargo Police Sergeant Kevin Pallas
Leads with Inspiration, Kindness
Urban Toad Media LLP
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urbantoadmedia.com / THE GOOD LIFE / 5
WRITTEN BY: BRET AMUNDSON
PHOTOS SUBMITTED BY: BRET AMUNDSON
When I took a radio job at 107.9 The Fox in the spring
of 2000, I envisioned a future of recording studios,
Fargodome concerts and all the free pizza coupons I could
handle. What I didn’t realize is that the outdoor adventures
North Dakota had to offer would change my life forever.
I grew up in a hunting and fishing family that traces our
roots back to Canada and even Sweden. Farming on
the prairie near Norquay, Saskatchewan and then later
near Alvarado, Minnesota gave my ancestors ample
opportunities to live off the land with crops and wildlife.
Our farming days ended when my grandpa moved south
but the love of all things wild stayed strong.
We hunted western Minnesota for pheasants, near
Alexandria for ducks and northwestern Wisconsin for
Then real life happened. I went into the wild and wacky
world of radio. Don’t get me wrong, it included some of
the most exciting moments of my life, but it was my LIFE.
Most radio people will tell you that they don’t get much
of a chance to do anything else. I came to that realization
during one fall when the NDSU football team was really
gaining popularity. As much as I enjoyed watching their
success, I was jealous of the Saturday mornings my friends
were spending in the field, instead of tailgating. No offense
to the Bison Nation, but I was being pulled in a different
One fateful day I was summoned into my boss’s office and
notified that a format change was coming and that after
ten years in the same building, I would be searching for
new employment. Such is life in the radio “biz”.
I almost thanked them as I walked out. It was time for
something new. It was time to get back to what my family
spent most of their free time doing. But it wasn’t just
a knee-jerk response to my newfound freedom; it was
something inside me that was affected by a few hunting
trips across the state Teddy Roosevelt fell in love with.
I had a few friends that made yearly trips to western
North Dakota to hunt mule deer. Knowing that drawing
a muley buck tag for rifle was a long shot, I went into
Scheels and picked out a new bow. Soon I was walking
butte ridges in fresh snowfall, staring wide-eyed at the
beautiful expanse around me. I wouldn’t shoot a mule
deer that year, but the first-timer bow hunting experience
in that landscape caused me to leave the 30.06 at home
– by choice – ever since.
Duck hunting was what I enjoyed most growing up. I
even have a class ring from high school with a mallard
and shotgun shells on it. I bet you’d get expelled for
something like that now. Anyway, I loved hunting ducks.
I just wasn’t very good at it. I also didn’t hunt in a great
flyway and didn’t have many friends that did it either.
Most of my family had given up on green wings and
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focused on whitetails. So it was usually just me trudging
out to the slough and hoping to see something come
Then I moved to North Dakota.
I knew a few guys that hunted hard and were very good
at it. They had these crazy contraptions called “layout
blinds”. Us water hunters from Minnesota and Wisconsin
didn’t use them often, but in the prairie pothole regions,
you have more options for field hunting.
Dick Voight at KFGO lent me a blind the next morning I
was peering through the mesh top wondering what was
about to happen. As the sun crept over the horizon the
air filled with more ducks and geese than I’d seen in all
my falls. Again, my eyes were as wide as a wheat field
and as I shot holes in the sky, I thought to myself, “I need
to get one of these layout blinds.”
The Snow Geese
When people ask me what my favorite thing to do is,
I usually answer with “Snows.” They can be absolute
jerks 99% of the time, but when they do it right, there’s
nothing else like it. They’re the only waterfowl around
that can number in the thousands when they bomb into
your decoys. Their noise can drown out an ambulance
and the wariness the older birds often have makes them
tough to trick. While so much satisfaction comes from
a successful hunt, it’s not what makes me get weak in
the knees about them. It’s the sheer numbers of the
migrating birds that can be seen in one day. It’s mindblowing
when there are flocks stringing across your
entire field of view with endless more flocks behind
them, barking and squawking their way north in the
spring or south in the fall. And when it happens, there’s
just simply nothing else like it.
I’d heard about the spring migration from a few people
but anecdotal evidence doesn’t do the sight justice. So
one day, I drove west from Fargo, then south, then west,
then north a little, then west again until I saw a flock.
Then I stopped. I didn’t have a gun or a license or decoys
or an ecaller or even a camera that day. Just my eyes. I
parked on the side of that road for hours and watched
snow geese fly overhead nonstop the entire time. Again,
my eyes were lit up like the Fargo Theater sign and from
then on, I knew I’d be obsessed with these white birds.
Since those experiences, I’ve shot big deer with my
bow, traveled to Argentina for ducks and Saskatchewan
for snows, and while it all started with my family
introducing me to the outdoors, it was the Novembers
in North Dakota that changed my life forever. •
"Duck hunting was what
I enjoyed most growing up.
I even have a class ring from
high school with a mallard
and shotgun shells on it.”
- Bret amundson
urbantoadmedia.com / THE GOOD LIFE / 9
WRITTEN BY: MEGHAN FEIR
As soon as September hit, I knew something was different.
Last winter "done did me in," as it were. I’m not even being
that dramatic. Think of it this way: We live in a place where
outdoor festivals celebrating winter get canceled because
it’s too dangerously frigid outside.
Before you think, “Then just move, you snowflake,” please
hold on. I’m trying to make the best of the impending death
of all that’s still alive, like when I searched for “fun winter
activities” the other week. I kept stumbling on less than
mediocre “ideas,” such as drinking hot liquids to pass the
time, or using something called a telephone to talk to a
This is why I took the matter into my own hands. My husband
Tim and I decided to come up with a "Winter Sur-thrive-al"
list of activities we could do to stay sane from January to
March (let's be honest — May) when the temps are so cold
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it makes your snot freeze in your
nose. While I’ll apologize for the
name, I won’t apologize for the
ideas I’m listing because they’re a
lot better than telling you to drink
warmer than usual beverages.
Since it's unlikely the January
gales will carry us off to the island
urbantoadmedia.com / THE GOOD LIFE / 11
Whether you're married, dating, have living
relatives or know someone you can kind of call a
friend, make up a new tradition with them.
of Java, let’s make the best of our time on the frozen
prairie with yet another list of some not-too-bad ideas
for your loved or liked ones and you to do together this
Winter Sur-thrive-al Activities
1. Learn a language on your own or with a friend
There are plenty of apps and podcasts available that can
teach you other languages for free. Coffee Break Languages
podcasts and the DuoLingo app are two excellent options.
If you learn with a buddy, you can challenge each other and
keep the momentum going. Once you have some fluency
going on, you can also have secret conversations in public
and talk about other people in front of their backs, just
like my Spanish speaking friends did to me in high school.
Please note: When people stare, point and laugh, they’re
definitely talking about you.
2. Make up some traditions
Whether you're married, dating, have living relatives or
know someone you can kind of call a friend, make up a
new tradition with them. There's a reason people have
lasting traditions throughout their family lineage. It helps
people bond, and it's something to look forward to during
the season of depression (this excludes lutefisk).
3. Sleep in on a Saturday and watch cartoons
Maybe it's because my love for cereal as a child was an
unhealthy obsession. Perhaps it's because I still love and
protect my stuffed animals. Whatever the reasons are,
I still believe some Saturdays should be spent sleeping
in until at least 9:35 a.m., eating cereal and watching
4. Host dress-up dinner parties
Tim and I are big proponents of costumed dining (dressup
dinner parties). In the last few years, we've probably
had at least one every season with some of our friends.
You can make it a murder mystery, too, if you desire.
The main point is to have a theme, make sure everyone
dresses up, assign food or beverage items for people to
12 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com
bring, and see what strangeness ensues throughout the
evening. Remember to take pictures.
5. Plan a trip, big or small
You can take a little excursion during the months
aforementioned or plan ahead for a spring or summer
vacation. Having something to look forward to is of
utmost importance, and, if you do the planning early, you
don't have to spend your time indoors on your devices
hashing out all the details when you could be outside
planting asparagus or kayaking down the dirty ol’ Red.
6. Sunday dinner
This kind of ties in with No. 3, but consider having a
weekly or monthly ritual of feasting with those whom you
love the most.
7. Volunteer and help others
The Midwest is a brutal place in the fall, winter, and,
well, the spring, especially if you don’t have a warm place
to call your own. Help people and animals often. This
actually benefits you, too, and will give you a greater
sense of purpose. Even if you don’t volunteer at a soup
kitchen or a shelter, you can help the homeless by creating
care packages filled with everyday items. When you see
them on the street, you’ll be prepared. Maybe throw in a
blanket, some food, water, gloves, socks, and a Bible or
another book filled with reminders of hope — anything to
help people survive.
8. Get all kinds of cozy with your kids (or S.O.)
Don’t underestimate the power of playing games (not
mind games). Maybe Candy Land isn’t in your top 10,
but playing board games, working on puzzles, or finding
some other activity your kids will love helps you connect
and lighten up — unless you’re one of those crazies that
has to win every time in order to be happy.
Whether you choose to try any of these ideas or not,
make sure you set fun goals for yourself this winter. We
need little things to look forward to every day amidst the
simultaneously bland and busy weeks. Don’t just wait for
excitement; create it. •
urbantoadmedia.com / THE GOOD LIFE / 13
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THANK GOD I’VE NEVER
I’VE BEEN FORTUNATE,
AND NONE OF OUR GUYS
HAVE EVER DROPPED
– TODD BREIDENBACH
WRITTEN BY: BEN HANSON • PHOTOS BY: URBAN TOAD MEDIA
When you get into a conversation with a crane operator —
you know, the guys sitting in the cab running the big cranes
lifting giant beams, HVAC units or million dollar engines — two
questions always pop up: Have you ever dropped anything and
how in the world do you go to the bathroom?
According to Todd Breidenbach — owner of High Power Crane,
a regional crane company named in honor of his faith and jointly
operated with his wife out of Sabin, Minn. — it turns out the second
question is rather benign for most crane operators. They simply call for
a break, climb out and take care of business, as they’re operating mobile,
truck-mounted cranes. The tower crane operators, on the other hand, are
stuck hundreds of feet up in the air and can’t simply climb out when nature
“The crew gets breaks,” Breidenbach explained. “If you gotta stop and take a
break you just tell the guys, as there’s usually nothing pressing other than if you’re
holding a load in the air or if you’ve got somebody in a man basket that’s suspended,
you can’t get out of the cab… you can’t get out of the cab with a suspended load.”
As for that first question, you’d think for a guy who’s been lifting unwieldy objects
into the air the better part of two decades, Breidenbach would have at least one good
story to share about dropping something. Lucky for him and all his clients, no such story
“Thank God I’ve never dropped anything,” Breidenbach said with a noticeable sigh of relief.
“I’ve been fortunate, and none of our guys have ever dropped anything either.”
Fortunate, yes. Lucky, perhaps. But more so, the combined years of experience on Breidenbach’s
crew is absolutely the key element to the company’s record of safety and success. Lucky for their
customers, though, crane operators are required to carry a special kind of insurance.
“Once we have it picked up off the ground [on the end of our hook], basically we own it until
we set it back down again,” Breidenbach explained. “Our insurance covers anything you have
urbantoadmedia.com / THE GOOD LIFE / 15
“EVERY JOB IS DIFFERENT. IT TAKES
DIFFERENT RIGGING AND DIFFERENT
SETUPS. IT’S A DIFFERENT CHALLENGE
EVERY TIME.” – TODD BREIDENBACH
hanging off the end of your crane. MRI machines being
placed inside hospitals, for example, back in the day were
million dollar picks.”
Getting His Start
As one might imagine, Breidenbach didn’t just one day
wake up and decide to climb into “the upper” of a crane —
the control seat of the crane itself, vs. “the lower” where,
on a truck-mounted crane, you actually drive the crane
down the road to the job site. He worked his way up,
gaining experience on job sites, learning how to maintain
the cranes and set up the rigging required to operate a
crane and safely get the job done.
“I wasn’t really interested in cranes at first,” Breidenbach
admits, “I was actually working at the penitentiary in Sioux
Falls, S.D., as a stepping stone into a law enforcement
career. But I happened to see an ad in the paper for a crane
company and decided to apply for a rigger roll. Later on
the company announced that they needed a driver, and I
had a CDL, so I started helping move the cranes around…
eventually I started doing maintenance on the cranes, and
soon enough I started the process to become a certified
16 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com
Fast forward 20 years, and Breidenbach knows the
whole process start to finish and continues to do his
own maintenance on his fleet of truck-mounted cranes,
which range from the 50-ton crane he started his
company with, all the way up to his largest crane which
is a 265 ton.
On the Job
On any given day, Breidenbach and his crew from High
Power Crane can be found moving any number of large
items, including ethanol plant equipment, rooftop
heating and cooling units, trusses for new commercial
construction, large propane tanks, hot tub and even
“We’ve moved some crazy stuff,” Breidenbach said with
a chuckle. “Typically, a contractor calls us up because
they need something fairly heavy moved on a job site
and there’s usually some elevation involved, so they
need a crane to move it. A lot of the contractors when
building apartment, they’ll call us to set the trusses on
top of the building. A lot of heating and cooling guys will
call us to set their units on top of the roofs… take old
ones down and put new ones up.”
Like most things in life, there’s more to it than simply
picking things up and putting them back down.
When the crew pulls up to a job site, they get to put
on their detective hats and inspect the challenge
that lay before them. Every job is different, but more
importantly every job site is different, presenting
unique challenges for setup and rigging.
“Experience helps. The biggest thing with running a
crane is knowing where you can put it, where you can
set up and where you can’t, because every time you
pull up to a job site there are different challenges,”
Breidenbach said. “That’s what makes it so enjoyable
— every job is different. It takes different rigging and
different setups. It’s a different scenario every time.
“We just got done setting a 40,000 pound propane
tank,” he continued. “We came in with the right
amount of counter weights, the right size crane, the
right size pads and the right rigging. We were in and
out of there in about two hours. Everything went like
And that’s the good life for a crane operator. When
you’ve got a million dollars hanging off your hook,
clockwork precision is exactly what you need.
“I’ve been blessed to run my business alongside my
wife and a great team of operators,” Breidenbach said.
“I get to work with so many great customers I’ve met
over the years. Everyday, doing what I do, because I
love it.” •
urbantoadmedia.com / THE GOOD LIFE / 17
ON THE COVER | DAN FULLER
WRITTEN BY: ALEXIS SWENSON • PHOTOS BY: URBAN TOAD MEDIA
18 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com
Destined for Firefighting
Firefighting runs in West Fargo Fire Chief Dan Fuller’s blood. Much of
his family has served or currently serves in fire services including his
sister, dad, uncle and cousin. As a boy, Fuller knew firefighting was the
only thing he would do when he grew up. As proof of his dedication at
such a young age, he even has a small picture of his six-year-old self
dressed in a firefighter’s helmet and jacket tucked into a frame on his
Fuller found his start serving the public with the Police Explorers
in his hometown near Boston, Massachusetts. Police Explorers is
a career-oriented program that grants young adults the opportunity
to delve into a career in law enforcement by working with local law
enforcement. This program eventually led Fuller to a job working as
a Security Officer for one of the malls near his hometown. Since his
stint as a Security Officer, Fuller has acquired more than 20 years of
know-how in public safety with experience in law enforcement, fire
services and emergency medical services.
Fuller joined the West Fargo Fire Department as Fire Chief in 2015
after serving as a captain at the Minot Rural Fire Department, a
senior firefighter with the City of Minot Fire Department, and a
flight paramedic with Northstar Criticair in Minot, North Dakota.
Additionally, in July 1999, Fuller enlisted in the Air Force where he
served for 8 years active duty in Security Forces.
Focusing on Risk Reduction in Light of West Fargo Growth
In the time that Fuller has been West Fargo Fire Chief, the
Department has undergone significant growth in order to continue
effectively serving the rapidly growing West Fargo community. The
West Fargo Fire Department has transitioned from a 40-member, allvolunteer
force, to a combined paid on call and career staff system of
“What excites me most is being able
to shape and mold the department
to what works best for West Fargo,
while implementing nationwide best
practices such as Community Risk
Reduction.” – Dan Fuller
urbantoadmedia.com / THE GOOD LIFE / 19
ON THE COVER | DAN FULLER
Recently, the West Fargo Fire Department unveiled their
second-ever strategic plan to cover the years 2019-2023.
With this plan, the Department is anticipating more
energetic growth of West Fargo and initiating programs
to accommodate such. The plans include continued
community risk reduction, an additional fire station, and at
least 24 more personnel to be hired.
The West Fargo Fire Department has recently shifted to
heavily focus on increasing community awareness and
prevention about various hazards. They’ve transitioned
beyond presentations at schools to excite kids about fire
safety and instead aim to connect with the community by
attending community events, canvassing neighborhoods,
facilitating workplace fire safety training, and leading
trainings on active assailant situations.
According to the Department’s most recent strategic plan,
“The department isn’t just about responding to fires, but
rather, responding and reducing all hazards within our
community. While fire suppression, emergency medical
services, hazardous materials response, and technical
rescue are the major operational areas we focus our
efforts on, it is important to note that equal time should be
dedicated to Community Risk Reduction efforts.”
The plan continues to include that, “when an act of terrorism
20 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com
occurs, or a natural disaster strikes, the department will be
on the front line. That is a fact and an expectation of our
community, as well as communities across our country.
In addition to the response, if the department can reduce
the seriousness of an incident through Community Risk
Reduction, or even prevent it from occurring at all, then we
are bound to do so.”
To adequately carry out Community Risk Reduction
efforts, the West Fargo Fire Department is focusing on
potential threats that may arise in 2-5 years. Fuller wants
the community to know that, “issues that will come up in
six months have already been dealt with. We’re looking way
beyond that now.”
“What excites me most is being able to shape and mold
the department to what works best for West Fargo,
while implementing nationwide best practices such as
Community Risk Reduction,” said Fuller.
The Fuller Family
Fuller’s active family helps to ensure that he has a full, fun
schedule. He recently celebrated his one year anniversary
with Naomi, his wife, who works as a Registered Nurse
with Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota. Their
blended family of seven guarantees that the couple attends
at least two sporting events a week as their oldest three
kids are heavily involved in sports including lacrosse, football, track & field, and
basketball. Although the two youngest aren’t involved with sports yet, Fuller is
almost certain they will be.
Serving as West Fargo Fire Chief is, without a doubt, a team effort and Fuller’s
family plays a huge role in making it possible.
“My family supports me through understanding that, occasionally, Dad has to
leave for a fire or emergency and that, a few nights a week, I’m in meetings until
8 or 9 at night. When I am gone, my wife Naomi really supports me because she
stays here and takes care of five kids who are involved in several sports teams
and after school activities. My in-laws live in Fergus Falls, and they are great to
come and watch the kids when I have out of town meetings and Naomi travels
with me,” said Fuller.
Dan at age six.
“It is making a difference,
every day, and just maybe,
leaving the community in a
better place than when you
walked in.”– Dan Fuller
A Learner at Heart
Aside from reading in his free time, Fuller routinely seeks continued education.
“Continuous learning leads you to constantly look at the way you are and compels
you to make changes based on others’ best practices. In the fire department, we
are constantly changing to meet a moving goal of providing the best services
possible to the community. I am constantly changing and adapting my leadership
style to meet the demands of a growing organization and community and readying
myself for whatever is next in my career,” said Fuller.
He recently completed a four-year training course from the Federal Emergency
Management Agency’s U.S. Fire Administration’s National Fire Academy
Executive Fire Officer Program. The EFOP is a series of four graduate equivalent
courses with four applied research projects with concentrations on executive
development, community risk reduction, fire services in emergency operations
urbantoadmedia.com / THE GOOD LIFE / 21
ON THE COVER | DAN FULLER
“Much of my free time was spent on completing the applied
research projects for the course. Now that the course is
finished, I’m looking to fill that free time back up with more
advanced education,” said Fuller.
Next, Fuller has his eyes set on The National Preparedness
Leadership Initiative at the Kennedy School at Harvard
University. The two part course with class time in December
2019 and June 2020 will “equip leaders with the skills,
knowledge, and abilities to effectively lead during crisis in
the 21st century.”
Giving Back is The Good Life
The red lights, sirens, and big fire truck are assuredly
glorious parts of the job, but what consistently fuels the
West Fargo Fire Chief the most is more intrinsic.
“I’m passionate about serving the community. My whole
career has been about that – serving others. As I’ve gotten
older, have started to slow down a bit, and especially in the
role I’m in now, what keeps me motivated is the drive to put
others first,” said Fuller.
Fuller’s motivation to serve others expands outside of the
fire station on 1st Avenue as he proudly serves on the
Advisory Board for the Salvation Army, Sanford Health
EMS Education, and the North Dakota Fire Chiefs
Association along with being a member of the West Fargo
Exchange Club. Previously, he has served on the North
Dakota Firefighters Association Certification Advisory
Board and the Professional Firefighters of North Dakota.
“My favorite part of being on the Salvation Army board is
seeing the way how that organization does the most good
for those who are underserved in our communities. From
providing meals in their downtown center, to coats for kids,
22 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com
ack to school haircuts, and helping to
navigate the path from homelessness
to getting a roof over their heads, the
organization does a lot to help. Not
to mention their emergency disaster
services, who routinely help the
fire department with rehab of our
firefighters and help homeowners
who have suffered a loss of house,
food, clothing, etc.,” said Fuller.
When asked what the good life means
to Fuller, he thoughtfully said, “To
me, the good life means serving the
community you live in through hard
work and dedication. It is making a
difference, every day, and just maybe,
leaving the community in a better
place than when you walked in.”
In the short four years Fuller has
been Fire Chief, he, coupled with
collaboration from his entire team,
family, and the city of West Fargo,
is already helping to create a more
beautiful and safe West Fargo
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HAVING A BEER WITH | SCOTT HENNEN
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WRITTEN BY: MEGHAN FEIR • PHOTOS BY: URBAN TOAD MEDIA
Scott Hennen, the popular conservative host of What’s On
Your Mind? (aired on WZFG 1100 AM and stations across
North Dakota), has been a part of talk radio since the ‘80s,
but he started working in the radio industry years prior.
Hennen’s parents were on the air, enveloping him in a world
of entertainment, information and opinions. With radio
programmed into his DNA, Hennen began working at a station
part time before he turned 12 years old. By high school, he
was working full time at the local station in his hometown of
As we visited in Drekker’s Brewhalla, Hennen told me more
about his life, career and what’s on his mind.
Good Life: What’s one thing from your childhood you
wish would get popular again?
Scott Hennen: Atari video games. They were the most
primitive thing. You move the little square at the bottom
and you had to catch the Ping-Pong ball when it came on
the screen. That’s what passed as a video game when I
was growing up.
GL: If you wouldn’t have grown up with such an
influence in the radio industry, do you think you still
would’ve ended up in radio?
SH: It’s hard to say. I feel like it’s almost genetic
because you don’t know anything else. I had a very
good friend in high school whose dad was a funeral
director and they owned a funeral home. I would go on
a couple of “body runs” with them, as they were called.
I actually thought, “I could do this.” I was fascinated
by it and wanted to help people who were grieving. In
the conversations I had with people who had lost loved
ones, I kept thinking of what a tough time that would be
and how I hoped they had faith at that point. Funerals
often bring people to the faith that often wouldn’t
have come to it otherwise. They wonder where they’re
going. That was a way to connect my faith to another
profession. But all I’ve ever known is radio, so it was a
thought exercise more than anything.
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HAVING A BEER WITH | SCOTT HENNEN
GL: What is your faith?
SH: I call myself an Evangelical Catholic. I spent a lot of
my years as a Catholic thinking that just meant to go to
church on Sunday. Most of my adult years were just about
going to mass. My grandparents were devout Catholics.
My dad converted before he married my mom. My mom
was a very devout Catholic and a strong pro-lifer, so that
was really instilled in me, but honestly, it isn’t as though
we talked about Jesus a lot at home. I’ve since come to
have my faith grow and come to understand that no
matter if I’m Catholic or Protestant, it has to be more than
going to church. It has to be more than just being a good
person. It has to be about having a personal relationship
with Jesus Christ. And the more I’ve learned that the more
I’ve blossomed in the faith. I love the Catholic faith a lot
because it’s so rich. The first university was Catholic, and
healthcare — so much has come from the Catholic faith.
GL: What do you think is one thing people prioritize
too much these days?
SH: When I grew up, I’ll never forget my mom and dad
looking at a house that had two garage stalls when we
were going to move into a new house in Montevideo. That
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made me think, “We’re the Brady Bunch! We’re like that
house on TV!” Now it’s not uncommon to see four-car
garages. Honestly, I have nothing against people having
things. I have a three-stall garage at home full of junk,
so I’m not perfect in any stretch, but we're going down a
dangerous path as a culture, valuing stuff more than we
value what we can take with us, and it's none of this; it's
not a lake home or a nicer truck.
GL: If you were to turn into any celebrity for a day,
whose life would you want to live for 24 hours?
SH: I love Johnny Carson because he was such a great
interviewer. He was funny but you really learned
something about the person he was interviewing.
He had great interviewing skills. As a talk show host
and an interviewer, you know where you want the
interview to go, so you kind of push it that way, rather
than just letting it happen and ask a lot of questions.
My dad always said to just listen intently and don’t
worry about what you’re going to ask next, just listen
to them because in their answer you’ll get your next
GL: Well, I’m not doing that very well.
SH: You can’t! You have to go to the next topic.
GL: If you could start a secret society, what
would it be about?
GL: Would you want it to be secret, though?
SH: Well, you don’t want Jesus to be a secret,
but I think there are a lot of people that are
good people that really think they have all the
elements they need. “I go to church. I don’t steal
from anybody. I’m a good person.” But I’d love to
tell people that just being a good person doesn’t
mean they’re going to Heaven. You’re saved by
grace from God alone, and you get that from a
personal relationship with him. I'd say, “This is
the most important meeting you’ll have of the
entire week.” I'd want to get people to come who
wouldn’t if they knew it was about Jesus. By the
way, I love talking to people about it. What I don’t
like doing is forcing it on people. If it creeps you
out or you think I’m shoving it down your throat, I
get it. That’s fine. I would just love to have a nonthreatening
conversation about it without any
GL: What does living “the good life” mean
SH: I think everyone has to find their own good
life, but for me the good life is not far from what
I have. The time with family, the time building a
company with a great partner and the chance
I get to talk on the radio every day — that’s the
good life. You always want more time for more of
the things you love, so more time to do all of that
would make the good life even better. I love the
life I have. I really do. •
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Urban Toad Media and The Good
Life Men’s Magazine would like to
wish our readers and contributors a
happy and healthy holiday season.
Please consider donating to one of
these incredible organizations.
One less gift under your tree could
make the world of difference to
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LOCAL HERO | KEVIN PALLAS
Fargo Police Sergeant Kevin Pallas
leads with inspiration, kindness and innovation.
WRITTEN BY: ALEXIS SWENSON • PHOTOS BY: URBAN TOAD MEDIA
As a police officer, Sergeant Kevin Pallas is as humble as
he is good. The 56-year-old West Fargo resident has been
an officer for 23 years with the Fargo Police Department
and is presently serving in his 35th year as a North
Dakota Police Officer. Currently, he supervises the School
Resource Officer (SRO) program, Community Trust
Officer (CTO) program, Cultural Liaison Officer (CLO)
program and the Park Liaison Officer (PLO) program.
A Full Resume
Originally from Superior, Wisconsin, Sgt. Pallas still
upholds his status as a bona fide Cheesehead proudly
supporting the Green Bay Packers. Upon graduating
from Superior Senior High School, he attended the
Law Enforcement Academy in Hibbing, Minnesota from
1983-85, along with attending the Community College
in Hibbing as well. He received his first law enforcement
position as an officer in Bowman, ND in 1985.
“Being so young, the instructors always said, ‘Go where
you get hired first and get some experience.’ That ended
up turning into Bowman, ND. The southwestern town was
smaller - about 2,500 people, so that was helpful. It was
a busy little city just coming out of the first oil boom in
the mid-80s with a lot of travelers coming through for the
Black Hills,” said Sgt. Pallas.
The following year in 1986, he became
an officer in Wahpeton, ND through late
1996. He enjoyed his years in Wahpeton as
a patrol officer and was able to be the
first school liaison officer to the schools
while developing a crime prevention
program in the city as well and in January of
1997, he joined the Fargo Police Department
as an officer.
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LOCAL HERO | KEVIN PALLAS
Sgt. Pallas was initially drawn to Fargo because, “We
have so many different divisions. I knew that a larger
department is going to give a person more opportunities
to experience and challenge oneself. The more you
can do and experience, it’s fulfilling, and it gives you a
Sgt. Pallas was promoted to Sergeant in March of 2001
and has since served in several different positions
including in the roles of Defensive Tactics Instructor,
Police Training Officer, Training Sergeant, and the
Negotiator Team Leader for the Red River Valley SWAT
“Being in a larger, progressive department that really
is looking forward as our administrators do, there are
so many opportunities to be able to go into. We’re very
fortunate that we have support with our administration
as well as our city commission going forward with
having the best equipment, the best training, and the
best facilities,” said Sgt. Pallas.
With 12 officers currently reporting to Sgt. Pallas, he
maintains a full schedule. “I strive to keep the programs
that I oversee operating in the best way possible by
allowing new things to come into play, always looking
forward and not just settling on what we’ve done to
date,” said Sgt. Pallas.
Some of the projects that Sgt. Pallas is grateful to have
overseen include the Unity and the It’s Time music
videos, Fargo United, summer youth camp, an outdoor
activity summer program, and a collaborative school
assemblies initiative created with the CTO team.
With the CLO program, most recently, CLO
Vince Kempf and CTO David Carlson started a
New American swimming program. Through
the support of Sammons Financial,
the pair partnered with Concordia
College and Family Wellness Center
to offer swimming lessons for New
American children to help them
build confidence in the water.
The program was developed by
both officers after two tragic
drowning accidents during the summer of 2018 in the
FM area involving New American children.
At 18 years old, the SRO program serves as a resource
for the schools, to build relationships with the students
and do enforcement action when necessary. There
is an officer in each middle school and high school.
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Ultimately, the program acts as a liaison between the
police department and the school district. Contrastingly,
the PLO program is fairly new at just over a year old.
PLO Josh Marvig works to make a connection with
the parks, to be visible in the parks, and during park
engagements with the community.
Sgt. Pallas cites the most motivating part of his work
as the officers he supervises and works with daily.
“I’ve been a supervisor for 18 years out of my 23 years
here and working with officers that do everything
that they possibly can to provide the best service is
extremely inspiring. They always come up with great,
positive ideas. That’s what’s so inspiring about working
with officers who have vision, energy, excitement, and
youth, I might add. It’s fantastic seeing some of these
guys that are in their 20s and 30s have that energy
and motivation to make Fargo a better place,” said Sgt.
Coping With The Job
Working in law enforcement for 34 years does not come
without its challenges. As such, Sgt. Pallas has been
exposed to several difficult situations and experiences.
“Having somebody in my life
over the course of my career
who has been with me right
from the very start of the
academy – she’s been my
rock.” – Kevin Pallas
PHOTOS SUBMITTED BY: KEVIN PALLAS
“We see the darker side of things. Especially when it
comes to people hurting each other, people passing
sooner than they obviously should due to violence or
automobile accidents. Anything like that is always
tough to see. Abuse and domestic violence, of course,
are always difficult to be a part of too,” said Sgt. Pallas.
Resources available to Fargo police officers include
the Employee Assistance Program through the
Village available for communication needs and the
Peer Assistant Crisis Team which is comprised of
nearly a dozen officers available to be confided in and
for conversation when needed. Talking with those
resources, along with family, has proven extremely
helpful for Sgt. Pallas in working through some of the
tougher situations he’s been exposed to.
“I’m very fortunate; I’ve been married to the same girl,
my high school sweetheart, for my whole career. Kris
and I dated in high school and we got married a year
after graduation. Having somebody in my life over the
course of my career who has been with me right from
the very start of the academy - she’s been my rock. My
colleagues have been supportive as well. We’re very
close in law enforcement so to be able to talk through
things is important.
So, over the years to have that connection with my
wife and to be able to communicate with her has been
huge. I’m not necessarily sharing all the details, but I
am able to communicate generalities of some of the
darker things, and, of course, all the great things too,”
said Sgt. Pallas.
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LOCAL HERO | KEVIN PALLAS
Aside from the support, affirmation, and companionship
from Kris, Sgt. Pallas has also benefited in receiving free
haircuts. “Kris has been a stylist for over 25 years - she
does a fantastic job. I haven’t paid for a haircut in 27
years,” said Sgt. Pallas.
Celebrating 38 years together, the couple enjoys simply
spending quality time together.
“In the summer months we enjoy being out and about.
We bought a Camaro convertible a few years back and
treated ourselves for our 50th birthdays. We do some light
travel to Lake Superior and the countryside of Northern
Wisconsin to visit family and enjoy the lake.”
“We’ve been to well over 100 concerts since we’ve been
together. We enjoy live music from different genres. My
wife is a fantastic cook and baker. So, we like to experience
different foods and restaurants,” said Sgt. Pallas.
Although Sgt. Pallas’s track record is undoubtedly
impressive, what truly stands out the most about him is
his heart. In every role that Sgt. Pallas has held, he has
sought to lead with his whole heart while striving to do
his best each day on the job. Simply put, he’s the kind of
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“I couldn’t have asked for a
better career and being part
of a such a large picture of what
it’s all about. It’s about community
service and knowing that you have
made a difference in people’s lives,
along with getting to know people and
making connections. That’s priceless.”
– Kevin Pallas
police officer that any citizen would want to look out for
“I couldn’t have asked for a better career and being part
of such a large picture of what it’s all about. It’s about
community service and knowing that you have made a
difference in people’s lives, along with getting to know
people and making connections. That’s priceless,” said
In reflecting on his storied career, Sgt. Pallas highlighted
about the importance of developing close relationships
with family, friends, and people of the same mindset.
“In law enforcement, fire services and first responders in
general, because of the nature of the work, we just have
a different kind of closeness because we experience so
many things that are very sensitive. I won’t say that we
have a better kind of closeness because everybody in
their professions have their closeness. However, having
that relationship builds that - that good life of connecting
under a common purpose.
To me, the good life is knowing at the end of the day that
the work that you do means something at the end of a
career. It’s a “well done” and knowing that everything
that one would do has meaning when a career comes to
an end,” said Sgt. Pallas. •
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