The Good Life – March-April 2021

TheGoodLife

On the cover – Mark Empting - Clay County Sheriff and Fire Chief of Dilworth Fire Department. Local Hero – Vietnam Veteran Russ Stabler. Dad Life – The Dad Bod. Body Art and more in Fargo-Moorhead’s only men’s magazine.

FATHERS | DAD LIFE

The Dad Bod

WRITTEN BY: PAUL HANKEL

What is Dad Bod?

Dad bod, in its simplest terms,

is the body profile that a male

acquires when he's comfortably

settled into his late 20’s/early 30’s.

Dad bod males are those who

look like they were, at one point,

physically fit, however have now

succumbed to 2-for-1 appetizers

and thick dark beers. The easiest

reference would be Andy Dwyer

from Parks and Recreation.

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How is Dad Bod acquired?

The answer is in the name, at least

in my situation: by becoming a dad!

Weekend flag football leagues, a

semi-consistent gym schedule,

and twice per week martial arts

lessons gave way to hasty fast

food dinners in between my son’s

sports lessons. Running 10k races

for charity was replaced by visible

back sweat from putting together

my son’s new bedframe.

My Fitness “Journey”

For the last nine months, I’ve

found myself using the pandemic

as an excuse to not use my gym

membership. I chalked my lack of

attendance up to not wanting to

possibly get sick and wanting to

social distance. In reality, I was

just being lazy and, due to plenty

of craft beer and couch time, found

myself quickly crossing over from

dad bod to just plain fat.


A few situations confirmed this status for me:

- I caught myself exhaling and grunting whenever I

sat down or stood up

- I was no longer able to simply bend down and put

on my socks, I had to put my foot up on the coffee table

or do this awkward backward bending pose

- I was visibly sweaty and winded from bringing the

groceries inside (in one trip of course, because I’m a

male)

- There was a dark period, during the pandemic,

where I was one of those people who gets the ridiculous

50-ounce fountain sodas from the gas station

Needless to say, I needed to revisit an active lifestyle.

So, like millions of adult men, I spent the last week

of December 2020 watching motivations work out

videos, featuring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, to get

myself pumped up about my cliché New Year’s goal

of getting back in shape. New year, new me! I also

bought hundreds of dollars worth of at-home gym

equipment on Amazon and, at one point was literally

days away from ordering a Peloton. After finding

out that dumbells are impossible to purchase online

during a pandemic for some reason, I settled on a

heavy bag, some resistance bands, pull up bar, foam

rollers, one of those massage guns, a fitness tracker,

and sweatproof headphones.

Surprise, surprise, the third week in January came

and went and my resistance bands were gradually

gathering dust on the floor of my room. So, I decided

to reactivate my gym membership, in the hopes that

the sense of community would motivate me. In reality,

I would show up, walk or half jog a few miles, shoots

some hoops in order to relive my glory days of being

backup point guard on my high school basketball

team, then hit the sauna. Needless to say, it was

unproductive.

To Summarize

In short, I’ve found that a hybrid model of exercise

works best for me. As someone who is on the road

half the week, it's not always feasible or possible to eat

correctly or hit the gym every day. I’m not going to dive

heavily into recommendations, as I am the furthest

thing from qualified and am in moderate shape at best.

However, I will defend to the death the sexiness and

appeal of the modern dad bod and all of its benefits

(we are the best cuddlers and our beer guts make an

excellent pillow). After all, if you can’t handle me at my

20 pounds overweight then you don’t deserve me at

my 10 pounds overweight!

A word of caution though pontoon season is rapidly

approaching, and no one wants to be that guy that

wears a shirt to hide the rolls. Cheers! •

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MARCH-APRIL 2021

Contents

VOLUME 8 • ISSUE 5

02

06

10

12

16

18

24

26

30

FATHERS // DAD LIFE

THE DAD BOD

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A

SNOW REMOVAL GUY

YOUR SAYING IT BAD

ABUSED EXPRESSIONS, WORDS AND TERMS

BODY ART

PERSONAL SELF EXPRESSION

TASTY RECIPE

VENISON & MUSHROOM GALETTE

ON THE COVER // MARK EMPTING

SHERIFF OF CLAY COUNTY AND FIRE CHIEF

OF DILWORTH FIRE DEPARTMENT

GROW YOUR GARDEN

REGARDLESS OF YOUR LIVING SITUATION

HAVING A BEER WITH

CHIEF METEOROLOGIST ROB KUPEC

LOCAL HERO

VIETNAM VETERAN // RUSS STABLER

4 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com


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CONTRIBUTING WRITERS

Meghan Feir

Paul Hankel

Katie Jenison

Jeffrey Miller

Krissy Ness

Alexis Swenson

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Men’s Magazine.

urbantoadmedia.com / THE GOOD LIFE / 5


PHOTO SUBMITTED BY: RYAN SHERBROOKE

WRITTEN BY: KATIE JENISON

PHOTOS BY: URBAN TOAD MEDIA

It’s no secret Mother Nature can

be unpredictable, especially when

it comes to Midwest winters. We’re

no strangers to heavy snowfall and

white-out conditions. Since we are

used to the snow, it can be easy to

take clear roads, driveways, and

sidewalks after a snowstorm for

granted — but it doesn’t happen

by magic. It’s all thanks to hardworking

snow removal crews willing

to sacrifice sleep and family time so

the community can safely get from

Point A to Point B.

It may come as a surprise to some,

but planning for a snowstorm starts

long before the first flake falls. The

process begins with a contract that

determines just how much snow

needs to fall before snow removal

occurs. Contractors refer to this

threshold as a snowfall trigger.

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Clear roads, driveways, and parking lots are all thanks

to hard-working snow removal contractors willing to

sacrifice sleep and family time so the community can

safely get from Point A to Point B.


These triggers can vary from property to property

and typically depend on the client’s level of liability.

Commercial properties like grocery stores and strip malls

usually have a zero-tolerance trigger, which requires

snow removal for even a light dusting. Residential

properties such as apartment buildings usually require

removal for snowfall over an inch.

PHOTO SUBMITTED BY: RYAN SHERBROOKE

There are many moving parts when it comes to preparing

for snow events. Dedicated triggers make it easier for

contractors to coordinate snow removal efforts when a

storm occurs. They can plan routes and schedule crews

based on their clients’ triggers and how much snowfall

is anticipated. That said, we all know how fickle the

weather truly is. Things can change at any time, and

contractors have to keep a close eye on the weather.

Depending on the storm, snow removal crews will

typically wait to head out once the snow has stopped.

Until then, they stay busy preparing the equipment.

From snow plows to payloaders, each piece of equipment

undergoes extensive safety inspections. Crews will also

perform necessary maintenance to ensure equipment is

in optimal working condition before leaving the shop.

Most snow removal takes place at night when there are

fewer obstacles to contend with. It certainly makes the

job a little easier, but it requires crews to adjust to a

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PHOTO SUBMITTED BY: RYAN SHERBROOKE

new sleep and work schedule. Shifts

frequently run on a 12-hour swing,

so if there’s time, crews will try to

grab a little shut-eye before their

overnight shift starts.

Once the snow stops, it can take

anywhere from 8 to 24 hours to

clear. If a snowstorm lasts for

multiple days or is accompanied by

high winds, it can take even longer.

While some snow events may only

produce a few inches, the wind

can cause large snowdrifts to build

up. To combat long-lasting storms

and blowing snow, contractors will

perform a quick pass while waiting

for the storm to end. At that time,

they’ll clear residential driveways

and aisleways, entrances, and

emergency exits at commercial and

multi-family housing properties.

Snow removal isn’t a walk in the

park; it’s a fairly demanding job.

Snow removal isn’t a walk in the park ...

Crews work long hours operating heavy equipment and

shoveling by hand in often freezing temperatures. The

job also comes with a long list of dangers.

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Crews work long hours operating

heavy equipment and shoveling by

hand in often freezing temperatures.

The job also comes with a long list of

dangers, which is why contractors go

through meticulous safety training.

They’re also taught how important it

is to be aware of their surroundings

at all times.

One of the most obvious dangers they

face is drivers crowding snow plows.

Drivers tend to be impatient when

dealing with a slow-moving plow. To

prevent an accident from occurring,

plow drivers will pull off to the side

when they can to let vehicles pass

safely. In addition to other drivers,

snow removal crews have to be

aware of stationary obstacles such

as fire hydrants and utility boxes.

Contractors also have to keep an

eye out for signs of kids playing in

snowbanks. Large piles of snow are

the perfect place for kids to sled,

build forts, and dig tunnels. However,

there is a hidden danger to playing

in snowbanks, especially when snow

removal crews are out and about.

Only when the snow has been

cleared do crew members call it a

day. If they’re lucky, they’ll be able to

head home to enjoy a warm meal and

catch up on sleep. Some may only

get a short break before they have

to go back to work for a regularly

scheduled shift.

Despite the long hours and physical

demands of the job, snow removal

contractors find it rewarding. They

enjoy stepping up to the challenge

that each snow event presents and

take pride in a job well done. It is

a rigorous and time-consuming

process, but snow removal crews do

what they do to make our lives easier.

How can we return the favor?

Remember to give plows and

equipment operators plenty of space,

and if you can, park your vehicles in

the garage. Above all, try to be patient

and understanding. Snow removal

crews are often underappreciated,

but a kind word or a friendly wave

can go a long way. •

urbantoadmedia.com / THE GOOD LIFE / 9


Your Saying It Bad

WRITTEN BY: MEGHAN FEIR

Ahhhh, the mighty eggcorn. You may

have never heard this word spoken,

but its meaning is relevant to every

human tongue.

Eggcorns are frauds—misconstrued

words created from a

misunderstanding or mishearing

of the actual thing. People have

butchered some terms and

expressions for so long that it’s

actually more common to say them

incorrectly.

Before you feel judgment as you read

the following list of the commonly

misspoken, please know that I have

my own issues. This is written by a

girl who perpetually, by accident

utters, “hit the nail on the hammer,”

instead of “hit the nail on the head.”

Are you guilty of the following

speech crimes? It’s never too late to

retrain your brain and trade in your

eggcorns for the real steal.

Nip it in the butt

Abused expressions:

WRONG: For all intensive purposes

RIGHT: For all intents and purposes

Thine ears are full of trickery and doth deceive you.

This eggcorn takes the cape. This phrase was originally

taken from “to all intents, constructions and purposes”

from sixteenth century English law. It essentially means

“virtually” or “in every practical sense.”

WRONG: Nip it in the butt

RIGHT: Nip it in the bud

You’re nipping what in a butt? Nipping something “in the

bud” doesn’t sound any more reassuring. This phrase was

first recorded in the 1600s, and to “nip something in the

bud” means to kill or destroy in the first stage of growth.

WRONG: Case and point

RIGHT: Case in point

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I’ve said this incorrectly for 30 years. I am 30 years old. This phrase isn’t that dramatic

of an error, but the next time you need to emphasize that what you said is true, try to

remember your case is “in” the point you just made.


WRONG: One in the same

RIGHT: One and the same

Throw everything you just learned about switching

“and” with “in” and toss it in the paper shredder of

your mind because it’s the opposite with “one and the

same.” “Case in point” and “one and the same” are not

one and the same.

I could care less

WRONG: I could care less

RIGHT: I couldn't care less

When someone says, “I could care less,” you know they

actually do care. How can you tell? Because they’re

literally saying they care and have the capacity to care

less than they do. If you really don’t give a rat’s clap about

something, remember to say “couldn’t.”

WRONG: Taken for granite

RIGHT: Taken for granted

Don’t give me a stone-cold glance when I tell you, but you’re not being taken for

“granite.” Unless someone is mistaking you for a granite statue (are you really that

chiseled?) or kidnapping you to be used as a kitchen counter, they’re not taking you

“for granite.”

Abused words and terms:

WRONG: Irregardless

RIGHT: Regardless

KIND OF WRONG, YET NOT: Escape goat

RIGHT: Scapegoat

Ahhh, “irregardless.” My favorite aggravation is when

arrogant CEOs say this during meetings right after they’ve

brushed you off with an aggressive hand wave. They may

wear the pants of the company, but that doesn’t mean

they passed English class.

WRONG: Warshing

RIGHT: Washing

One of my darling grandmas says this. It’s common in

the American Midland dialect. One theory for how this

mispronunciation started dates back to a protestant

group called the Scots-Irish. They kept moving around

for religious freedom and eventually sailed from Ireland

to America in the 1700s for the same reason. They really

did a number on Warshington when they got here.

WRONG: Expecially

RIGHT: Especially

Since when did “es” make an X sound in modern English?

SINCE NEVER.

WRONG: Expresso

RIGHT: Espresso

Once again, people getting an “es” mixed up with an X. I

don’t know which came first, the mispronunciation of the

word or the stupid, punny phrase of “Expresso yourself”

printed on coffee mugs and homely nightgowns for

women.

You know all those animal sacrifices made by various

religions throughout time to atone for sins and pay honor

to God or the gods? That’s where the phrase “scapegoat”

came from. It’s hard to say “escape goat” is incorrect

because “scapegoat” is honestly just a shortening of

“escape goat.” So whatever. The goat doesn’t get to

escape either way. It dies.

WRONG: Card shark

RIGHT: Card sharp

The evolution of this term is exactly like a game of

Telephone. It started out in England as “card sharp”

because of “sharpers,” a term used for cheats, swindlers

and rogues. But we hear what we hear and “card sharp”

became “card shark.”

WRONG: Supposably

RIGHT: Supposedly

I know Ds and Bs look similar, but please take care of

your letters and show respect. Don’t call me a D for

telling it like it is.

For all intensive purposes

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PERSONAL SELF EXPRESSION

WRITTEN BY: KRISSY NESS

PHOTOS BY: URBAN TOAD MEDIA

Body Art is an expression of one's

self, from head and body piercings

to body branding and scarification.

The history of body art goes back

as far as the 9th century BC.

The oldest mummified body had

ear piercings from 7-11 mm in

diameter, proving that body art is

at-least 5,000 years old.

People from all over the world

partake in body art for cultural

purposes or personal reasons. In

recent years the look of gauged

ears and face piercings have been

widely popular. If you take a look

around your community, you can

see people ranging from young

to old with their personal touch

when it comes to piercings. I have

had many piercings over the year,

from a nose ring in my left nostril

to gauged ears, which I have since

let close up and heal. Currently, I

have two piercings in each ear, and

my conch pierced on my right ear.

The conch is a band of cartilage

the stretches across the ear.

I had the chance to speak with

Chuck Kesler, a professional body

artist who has been working in this

industry since 1999. He began his

career at Sterling Rose in Fargo,

North Dakota, as an apprentice,

and worked there for three years.

After leaving Sterling Rose, he

opened Dead RockStar with his

family - a tattoo, piercing, and

alternative clothing store. "This is

when and where my interest in the

sterilization process began," said

Kesler.

In 2007 Kesler joined the

Association of Professional

Piercers and has attended many

of their conferences. "I was pretty

excited to be the first in North

Dakota to join this Association,"

exclaimed Kesler. Joining the

APP lit a fire under Kesler to

continue to grow his knowledge

in sterilization, sanitation, and the

art of body piercing.


Kesler has performed many exotic

piercings and body branding/

scarification in his career. One of

the most exciting piercings I saw

was the Rhino. This is where you

get a stud pierced through the top

of your nose cartilage mimicking the

horn of a rhinoceros. Another piece

of body art that caught my eye was

a back corset. Yes, it is exactly how

it sounds! Two rows of hoops are

pierced into the skin on either side

of the spine and ribbon is thread

through it creating the look of a

corset.

Body branding is essentially like a

tattoo where you lay out a stencil

and burn the design into

the body. Where-as

scarification

uses

14 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com

a scalpel and the design is cut into

the body.

"We have a lot of farmers in this

area, and they come in to get their

farm logos branded onto their body,"

Explained Kesler. "With this area

being so conservative, you would

not think you would get as many

people in for this kind of work."

I was fascinated to hear this bit of

information. When I think of body

branding, a local farmer is not the

first place my mind goes, but I am

pleasantly surprised to hear it!

In 2014 Kesler encouraged local

promoters to join him in his idea

for a tattoo and body art convention

in Fargo, North Dakota. With

enthusiasm

from his

professional

colleagues, he

began the Rough

Rider Ink &

Iron Expo.

Each year

it has grown into an event many

people look forward to, including

me!

One thing Kesler and I discussed

was the more psychological l reasons

people come in for piercings. Kesler

studied psychology a Minnesota

State University Moorhead, and he

took that knowledge with him as

he continues his professional body

art career. "I am always looking to

understand the root of the one's

decision to get a piercing," explained

Kesler. "Some of my clients who

come in are there because of body

image issues or are the victims of

rape and abuse. Some of the goals

being to take back their body and

make their own choices with what

they do with their bodies."

"WE HAVE A LOT OF

FARMERS IN THIS AREA,

AND THEY COME IN TO

GET THEIR FARM LOGOS

BRANDED ONTO THEIR

BODY." CHUCK KESLER


This idea is something I had never

really given much thought to,

although it makes total sense. I

applaud these individuals who take

such measures to reclaim what is

theirs.

In my opinion, this is a positive

quality in someone modifying your

body. Kesler is genuinely interested

in why you are there and how he can

better your experience.

As the years passed, Kesler found

himself in a kind of stagnant place;

his passion for body art was still

there but less enthusiastic.

"That is when I decided I need to

make a change," explained Kesler.

"When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, it

renewed my passion for working in

this business."

Kesler is in the process of opening

Chuck's Body Art, in Moorhead,

MN. His mission statement,

Passion for Promoting Safe and

Sterile Procedures, has followed

him throughout his career and

will continue in his new space. "I

am hoping that my reputation will

prompt clients to follow me to my

new location," expressed Kesler.

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Venison & Mushroom Galette

RECIPE AND PHOTO SUBMITTED BY: JEFF BENDA

You will need...

- 1/4 pound venison steak, thinly sliced

- One refrigerated pie crust

- 8 ounces Bella mushrooms, sliced

- 1/2 cup ricotta cheese

- 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

- 2 teaspoons minced garlic

- Fresh thyme and rosemary

- 1 egg, beaten

My 5-year-old daughter

and I had fun making

this quick and easy

dish together to turn a

North Dakota Whitetail

bottom round steak

into something golden

brown and bubbly. My

wife was impressed

when she got home!

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Saute steak

in the pan for one minute with butter,

and season with salt and pepper or your

favorite steak seasoning. Set aside. Saute

mushrooms and garlic in the same pan for

two minutes. Set aside. Roll out pie crust

on pizza pan. In a bowl, mix ricotta cheese,

Parmesan, and 1 tablespoon each of

fresh thyme and rosemary. Spread ricotta

mixture over pie crust leaving two inches

around the edge. Spread cooked steak and

mushrooms over it like you would if making

a homemade pizza. Fold pie crust sides

over and brush with egg wash. Bake for 20

minutes until golden brown. Sprinkle with

fresh thyme and rosemary. Serve warm.

urbantoadmedia.com / THE GOOD LIFE / 17


ON THE COVER | MARK EMPTING

Sheriff of Clay County and

Fire Chief of the Dilworth Fire Department

WRITTEN BY: MEGHAN FEIR

PHOTOS BY: URBAN TOAD MEDIA

Mark Empting, fire chief of the Dilworth Fire Department and the new sheriff of Clay

County, has a long history with the area surrounding Dilworth, Minn. As a kid in the

‘70s and ‘80s, the small town of Dilworth was different than it is now. The railroadcentered

community is still close-knit and welcoming, but back then the residents

consumed a lot more spaghetti.

Growing up on the south side of the tracks in an area dubbed “Little Italy,” Empting

was primarily raised by his mom and grandparents, all full-blooded Italians. That part

of the community was where many Italian immigrants had settled a few generations

before.

Neighboring the rambler-style home his dad had built, Empting and his family were

surrounded by aunts, uncles and cousins.

“I lived within a stone’s throw of them. You really couldn’t get away with much in

Dilworth because everybody knew you,” Empting said. “I had family in darn near every

corner. It was a small town and you knew everybody. If I did do something wrong, it

didn’t take long for mom to hear about it. By the time I came home, she’d already had

a phone call telling her what had happened.”

"It was a small town and you knew everybody. If I did do something

wrong, it didn’t take long for mom to hear about it. By the time I came

home, she’d already had a phone call telling her what had happened."

Despite the unnerving sapience of loving yet watchful eyes, Empting’s childhood had

a lot of freedom.

“It was a time where you left the house at 10 in the morning and came home at dark.

It was fun. If your mom needed to get a hold of you, she knew about one of five places

she could call,” Empting said.

18 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com


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ON THE COVER | MARK EMPTING

After he turned 5 years old, his parents divorced and his

father moved to the Iron Range in northern Minnesota

where he worked as a roadmaster for the railroad.

Empting’s mother worked at The Academy, a modeling

agency in Fargo. When she was at work, his siblings and

he would walk to their grandparents’ place, a building

downtown that held his grandfather’s barbershop below

and their apartment above.

During the many days he spent at the barbershop,

Empting could look across the street and watch the

activity brewing at City Hall and the Dilworth Fire

Department. He would even go over to talk to the

firemen. As time went by, his admiration grew as he

imagined the adrenaline rush of answering the call to

help people in their greatest time of need.

Adrenaline junkie

In 1991, only a month after turning 18, he joined the

Dilworth Fire Department. Still in high school, Empting

would occasionally have to leave class during a fire call,

but he was dedicated to his new role.

Thirty years later, Empting has experienced his fair

share of danger. Going into a burning building is always

precarious, but some situations have been particularly

hazardous.

"Probably the hottest fire I’ve ever been in

was a house fire where we were searching

for animals. When we were in there it got

so super hot it was melting the shields on

our helmets.”

“Probably the hottest fire I’ve ever been in was a house

fire where we were searching for animals. When we were

in there it got so super hot it was melting the shields on

our helmets,” Empting said. “It’s been some great times.

Any member of a fire department is going to be kind of

an adrenaline junkie. That’s one of the reasons you get

into it. Those are actually fun times because you’re out

there helping the community. It’s the worst time of their

life, but you’re able to help them out a little bit.”

For the past 7 years, Empting has been Dilworth’s fire

chief. He stays out of the burning buildings now to

direct the situations at hand, but the knowledge and

experiences he has under his belt make him a vital asset

to everyone’s safety.

20 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com


ON THE COVER | MARK EMPTING

Clay County Sheriff Mark Empting and Cass County Sheriff Jesse Jahner teamed up to raise awareness for Veterans and the homeless

population in our community. They braved the arctic cold blast while sleeping outside on the evening of February 5th at the

Moorhead American Legion Post 21.

“I don’t necessary go in anymore to do stuff like that, but

I’m coming on the scene to make sure people are being

safe and that they have the resources they need to put

the fires out,” he said.

Up to the challenge

Along with his pre-established desire to help others in

need and satisfy his desire for an occasional adrenaline

rush, Empting soon figured out the next step he needed

to take and enrolled at Alexandria Technical College for

law enforcement in 1993.

“Law enforcement always piqued my interest as well,”

he said. “I saw some of the things that law enforcement

did when I would work alongside them in the fire

department, so I went to Alex Tech and graduated from

there in ’95.”

In 1997, Empting started working for the Glyndon

Police Department and served Glyndon and Dilworth

before being hired by the Clay County Sheriff’s Office in

2002. He was promoted as a shift commander in January

2014, and less than two years later, he was promoted to

patrol lieutenant and then patrol commander to oversee

the entire patrol division.

Another milestone in his career happened this January

when Empting was elected sheriff of Clay County. “It’s

been a great and joyous career,” he said. “I wouldn’t

and couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I’ve had the

opportunity to mentor and teach new officers coming in.

That’s one of the things I’ve really enjoyed. It’s been fun

for me, growing and learning, and I learn things from

them every day as well.”

Building trust

In all his years of serving, Empting, like every fireman

and officer, has faced a lot of pressure. But in today’s

tumultuous times, tension has been elevated to new

heights.

“Right now the profession is definitely getting a little

tougher and harder, but we’re really unique here in Clay

County because we do have a lot of strong support from

our community members. They support our mission,”

Empting said.

Part of their immediate action plan this year has been

to implement body cameras and more protective gear.

“Before we rolled these out, I definitely wanted to talk to

our staff to get their ideas and thoughts—and their buy-

22 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com


in, quite frankly. It was easy,” he said. “They wanted

body cameras to protect themselves and the county,

and it holds us more accountable too. Everybody was

happy to have them.”

As officers continue to get nationally scrutinized

because of devastating incidences of misconduct and, in

some cases, only partially revealed storylines, Empting

hopes Americans will come to a few realizations.

“I think a lot of our community already understands

that we are human beings and there are times we do

make mistakes. I’ve made plenty of mistakes over my

life and career, but I’ll be the first one to admit them,”

he said. “I understand you’re human, but it’s how you

address the mistake. Do you accept responsibility,

learn from it and move forward? I can work with that.

In our political climate, we don’t see people being

willing to say they messed up.”

While it’s difficult for law enforcement to anticipate the

future, some goals remain constant for Empting and

his team.

“We have such a great community here in Clay County.

We need to continue to work on maintaining their trust

and building the trust of people who aren’t comfortable

around us,” Empting said. “We continue to look at

what we can do to strive for excellence, what kind of

equipment and things we can give the staff to make

their lives easier and better, what we can do for the

community and how to better serve them. It’s not

necessarily a 5-year-plan, but it’s a daily plan where

you’re always looking for better ways to serve the

community and those who are working for you.”

Living the good life

From the seeds of servitude planted in a small-town

boy’s heart to the harvest of those dreams benefiting

the same community, there’s no doubt Empting’s roles

are a huge part of his life’s calling. If he could change

anything about the direction he’s taken, he wouldn’t.

He already believes he’s living his best life.

“I truly appreciate the support for the sheriff’s office

and the area I work. I don’t want to take that for

granted,” Empting said. “‘Living the good life’ is what

I’m doing right now, seriously. I enjoy our community

and the people that are a part of this team. They make

my life a good life. I can’t ask for a better group of

people than I have here. It’s been great, especially as

sheriff, and I can’t think of doing anything else.” •

“It’s been a great two years, especially as

sheriff, and I can’t think of doing anything

else.”

urbantoadmedia.com / THE GOOD LIFE / 23


GR

W

YOUR GARDEN

WRITTEN BY: JEFFREY MILLER

F

ew things are more satisfying

than being immersed in

nature. Hiking, hunting, bird

watching, skiing, the list is

endless. Growing your own food

ranks among the easiest ways to do

so.

Productive gardens can range from

a planter on an apartment balcony to

24 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com

an acre of land on a rural farmstead

and nearly anything in between.

Regardless of your living situation,

you can grow some of your own food

each year.

Container gardens are simplicity

at its finest. A wooden or plastic

container (don't use metal as it

heats up too much in the sun) with

holes drilled in the bottom to let

water flow through and filled with

potting soil can be used to grow such

vegetables as tomatoes, peppers,

herbs, or many other plants. The

downside is there is limited space.

While the amount of food that can

be grown in a single pot is small in

terms of weight, it's huge in terms of

satisfaction!


Regardless of your

living situation, you

can grow some of your

own food each year.

Larger gardens yield more food and more work. It's

easy to get excited and plan a large garden in a backyard

in the spring, with the warm sun in your face and your

hands in the fertile soil. Reality hits in mid-summer,

when the weeds seem to be growing by feet each day,

the heat hangs in the damp air, and mosquitos try to

drain the gardener of every drop of blood. Too often,

the garden is abandoned to the weeds.

My significant other Melanie and I garden over a halfacre

of land on our rural homestead, Cottonwood

Bend Farm. As we both have full-time jobs, along

with summer kid's activities that seem to consume a

large portion of every week, we struggled to keep up

with the garden. That is, until we started using woven

landscape fabric.

The same fabric we use at the Soil Conservation

District for newly planted tree rows, it allows water

to filter through and smothers weeds. After laying the

fabric down in the Spring, we simply cut holes and

plant transplants into the soil. For crops that grow

from seed, such as okra, green beans, carrots and

many others, we cut rows a few inches wide by many

feet. Using a triangle garden hoe, a furrow is dug for

the seed bed and the seeds are introduced to their new

home.

Moisture is the key to a lush garden. The fabric keeps

the soil from drying out prematurely, especially on

hot, windy days. While we still water when the skies

remain clear for weeks at a time, it is better than

watering every few days. When Mother Nature smiles

and provides abundant moisture, our work is even less.

For the most part, people today are cut off from

their food source. We simply go to the grocery store

and buy what we consume, giving little thought to

how difficult it is to grow fresh, healthy crops. By

investing time and effort into growing our food, we go

from being a bystander of the natural process to an

active participant. Digging in the soil, planting a seed,

nurturing the crop as it grows and finally harvesting

the fruits of the labor not only nourishes the body but

also the soul. It also reminds us of the work required

to feed our country and our world. This spring, I

encourage you to plant a garden and grow some food

for your table. I can guarantee you will gain a new

appreciation of the natural world!

urbantoadmedia.com / THE GOOD LIFE / 25


HAVING A BEER WITH | ROB KUPEC

“IN SECOND GRADE

WE DID A UNIT ON

WEATHER AND

YOU HAD TO KEEP

A WEATHER DIARY.

WHEN THE MONTH

ENDED, I MADE A NEW

ONE, AND I JUST KEPT

GOING.” ROB KUPEC

26 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com


HAVING A BEER WITH

ROB KUPEC

Born in Willimantic, Conn., an old

mill town on the eastern part of the

state, Rob Kupec knew he wanted to

be a weatherman by second grade.

Years later, he went to school for

meteorology in Albany, N.Y. But

before he started working in the

industry he worked other jobs, like

as a coffee salesman and an assistant

restaurant manager.

For nearly 19 years, Kupec has been

a recognizable face in the Fargo-

Moorhead area, bringing the forecast

to thousands of homes. At KVRR

FOX, Kupec has been the chief

meteorologist for 8 years, fulfilling

his lifelong dream of tracking the

weather for a living.

On a perfectly appropriate day of

fluffy flurries, Kupec and I met at

Drekker to chat about his life. Read

WRITTEN BY: MEGHAN FEIR

PHOTOS BY: URBAN TOAD MEDIA

on to find out if he’s ever had a ghostly

encounter and whether or not circus

peanuts candy should survive the

year.

Good Life: Are farmer’s almanacs

legit or a bunch of malarkey?

Rob Kupec: They’re a bunch of

malarkey. There’s some interesting

data and good weather history,

but the predictions

are not very good.

GL: Why did

you want to be a

meteorologist as a

kid?

RK: In second grade

we did a unit on

weather and you had

to keep a weather diary.

When the month ended,

I made a new one, and

I just kept going. My mom took a

map of the U.S. and laminated it for

me. I’d take a dry erase marker and

make the daily weather map in my

room. Then we had a huge blizzard

in 1978. Nobody saw it coming. We

were in school and all of sudden we

were going home. I was like, wow,

how did nobody see this coming?

GL: Who was your

meteorological hero?

RK: When I’m presenting the

weather, I can identify things

I do that I totally ripped

off from my youth.

Growing up, there

was this guy on the

radio station named

Norm McDonald. He

would occasionally do

the weather in different

voices. He’d be like,

THE GOOD LIFE / 27


HAVING A BEER WITH | ROB KUPEC

“Oh, it’s my brother Igor,” and he’d

do the weather in a Russian accent.

Not only was he a goofball, he was a

super good meteorologist. Some of

the techniques I use are definitely

similar to his.

GL: Why did you move from Albany

to Moorhead?

RK: We moved here in 2000 for my

wife’s job. When she was looking

for a job, we didn’t want to move

any farther west than Minnesota,

so we stuck to that within about

nine blocks.

GL: What did you do after moving

here?

RK: For the first two years I was

the stay-at-home dad, and I didn’t

realize what a freak I was. We were

out at some event and somebody

said, “Oh, you’re that stay-at-home

dad that lives across from so-andso,”

and I was like, “What? This is

how I’m known around town?” I did

that for two years. When my son

was really young, he thought the

mother was always the one who

went out and worked. He was like

There’s a kid at preschool whose

mom stays home.” He was shocked.

GL: How did you finally get into

meteorology?

RK: When my son got to

kindergarten, my wife was like,

“Maybe you should get a job.” I told

her I’d like to be a meteorologist,

so I took a few broadcasting

classes and one was taught by

Kevin Wallevand. He had me set

up a meeting with John Wheeler.

We kind of clicked and he said they

could probably get me in as the

fill-in guy. One night after Monday

football, they let me do the weather,

and there I went.

GL: What nationality is the last

name Kupec?

RK: Kupec is Slovak and means

merchant. I’m a real mutt, though.

The biggest thing I am is Italian.

My great grandfather came from

Italy. We took a trip to Italy and

went to the town he was from. It

was the most amazing trip. Not far

from where I grew up there is a

cemetery where my other relatives

are who fought in the battle of

Bunker Hill—Revolutionary War

heroes. When I go back home

into the wooded areas that used

to be the farmsteads of where my

ancestors were, it’s a weird feeling.

“AT WORK WE HAVE A VENDING

MACHINE, AND ONE DAY CHUCKLES

SHOWED UP. I THOUGHT, ‘IT’S NIRVANA

AT WORK.’” ROB KUPEC

28 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com


And walking through the streets of

that little town in Italy—it was just

amazing.

GL: Do you have any traditions?

RK: After doing the genealogical

research, we’ve kind of implemented

a Slovak Christmas Eve. When

my son comes home, he wants the

Slovak Christmas Eve. We have

sauerkraut soup, which is actually

really delicious. You’re also supposed

to put out a plate in case a traveler

comes, so we always set the table

with an extra spot.

GL: Which food should be canceled?

RK: Circus peanuts. Who ever

thought that was a treat? They’re

terrible. I do have affection for oldschool

candy, though. At work we

have a vending machine, and one day

Chuckles showed up. I thought, “It’s

nirvana at work.” I put the money in

and that row wasn’t working in the

machine. The people at the vending

company must have thought I was

a lunatic because I called them

and said, “You put Chuckles in the

machine, but I can’t get them. You

need to come fix it.”

GL: Do ghosts exist?

RK: From personal experience,

no, but I have known people who

have very convincing stories. In my

hometown there was this old place

called the Windham Inn. It dates

back to the 1700s. The story was

that a woman who had lost her baby

would walk up the road through the

Windham Inn where she used to

live. My middle school teacher lived

there. She came home one day and

her photo albums were scattered

about and all the pictures of kids

were taken out of the photo albums

and spread on the floor. She seemed

like a very normal person, not a nut.

GL: What does living the good life

mean to you?

RK: It means having the ability

to travel and see new places, but

always having a place to come home.

In my 50s I can envision retirement

somewhere near a large airport. I’ll

also have a camper and travel around

with my dog and wife. That would be

the good life for me. •

urbantoadmedia.com / THE GOOD LIFE / 29


LOCAL HERO | RUSS STABLER

LOCAL HERO: RUSS STABLER

Being human and taking care of one another

WRITTEN BY: ALEXIS SWENSON

PHOTOS BY: URBAN TOAD MEDIA

30 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com

Russ Stabler, 72 year old Vietnam veteran, has lived

more life than most. In October 1967, Stabler enlisted

in the military 23 days shy of his 18th birthday. The

transition was made easier because he'd already

learned discipline and respect from having a good

upbringing.

"I did not like the idea of being drafted. I enlisted in

the Air Force because my dad was in the Air Corps

and my uncle was Air Force, so I figured that was the

logical step: become Air Force," said Stabler.

He originally applied to be an Air Traffic Controller.

"The Air Force in their infinite wisdom said, 'You're

going to control traffic son, but it ain't going to be in

the air,'" said Stabler.

As a cop on the ground, Stabler pivoted, making the

decision to apply for K-9 school to become a Sentry

Dog Handler. "My dog, Prince, didn't like anyone,

including himself. I think he got up in the morning

and bit himself just to prove how mean he was. I

called him Devil. He bit me three times and I was his

best friend; the one who fed him," said Stabler.

Unfortunately, Prince was put down two and a half

years later and Stabler then became a Security Police

Officer. In his 20 years in service, Stabler served in

Germany; Wyo.; Vietnam; Thailand; Hampton, Va.;

and Grand Forks, ND. He held various roles including

Airman and Missile Police Officer on a Security

Response Team.

In his two tours in Vietnam, Stabler served with the

Marines for a year and then the Army for a year. As

he was previously trained in explosives he assisted

his team (first the Marines, then the Army) in blowing

up enemy items including weapons and food. During

his second tour in Vietnam, Stabler was shot in the

leg and sent to a hospital in Thailand to recover.

After recovering, Stabler was stationed on a base in

Thailand issuing bedding and overseeing Change of

Quarter duties.

Stabler has always been fond of animals and even

living in Vietnam couldn't change that. His 11 ½

foot "pet" cobra named Charlie was especially fond


Stabler prefers not to be called a hero.

RUSS STABLER PICTURED FAR RIGHT.

For him, that is a designation reserved for the 58,000+ names on the Vietnam Veterans

Memorial Wall in Washington D.C.

of Stabler and would listen to Stabler's commands to

lay down and stay put. "I would feed him white rats

and he would curl up right next to me. He scared more

than one supervisor when they came up the wrong way.

Nobody would mess with me," said Stabler.

Back in the states, Stabler was a Security Response

Force Leader responsible for securing the ammunition

and weapons storage area at Langley Air Force Base.

Due to his experience in Vietnam and Thailand, he

was certified as Air Base Ground Defense. He quickly

became a flight trainer, teaching individuals to pass

their Quality Control exams. In the time that Stabler

took over the training, the pass rate increased from

25% to 98%.

When stationed in Grand Forks, Stabler was a

Security Escort Team Camper Alert Team Chief in the

Missile Squadron before moving into the role of Fire

Team Flight Chief. Stabler became a Master Security

Police Officer and eventually achieved his 9 level or

superintendent skill level designation.

Among the many medals and recognition Stabler

received from serving, the most impressive is the Air

Force Commendation Medal. Still, Stabler prefers

not to be called a hero. For him, that is a designation

reserved for the 58,000+ names on the Vietnam

Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington D.C.

AFTER THE VIETNAM WAR

Stabler met his wife, Nancy, in 1976 and married the

following year, 1977. After living in Grand Forks, ND

for several years, in 2009, the couple found themselves

settled in Hunter, ND. Sadly, Stabler's wife passed

away in 2015.

urbantoadmedia.com / THE GOOD LIFE / 31


LOCAL HERO | RUSS STABLER

His marriage

"A lot of our friends were saying our

marriage wouldn't last a year. Well, they

were right. It didn't last a year. It lasted 37

½ years. I told her I wanted her for another

150."

"A lot of our friends were saying our marriage wouldn't

last a year. Well, they were right. It didn't last a year. It

lasted 37 ½ years. I told her I wanted her for another

150," said Stabler.

Upon retiring from the military in October 1987,

Stabler earned a degree in teaching through which

he taught middle school in western ND for two years.

At the prompting of others around him to further his

education and demonstrate progress in his career,

Stabler went back to school for his Master's degree

in Modern European History with a minor in Asian

History.

Stabler is also an ordained minister. After earning his

two degrees, Stabler "needed something else to study"

and was naturally drawn to the field.

"I relearned my faith and my faith in God."

"Over in Vietnam, you get to thinking because you're doing things that you're taught by the

Bible are wrong. But you're taught in the military to do them. And you do them without

thinking."

"I relearned my faith and my faith in God. Over in

Vietnam, you get to thinking because you're doing

things that you're taught by the Bible are wrong. But

you're taught in the military to do them. And you do

them without thinking. You ask yourself why God has

abandoned you. He's supposed to help me with these

things and the help is not there. But, I have learned

that He's always been there. I just wasn't asking the

right questions," said Stabler.

LEARNING TO BE A HUMAN BEING AGAIN

Returning to the United States after serving in Vietnam

was challenging for Stabler. He sought to numb the

negative memories and emotions that consumed him

by drinking.

"I came back from Southeast Asia a very disillusioned

individual. I had no faith in humanity whatsoever. I

wanted nothing to do with people; the less I had to

interact the better off I was. Sure, while I was drinking

I'd forget. But, then I'd wake up the next morning and

the problem was still there," said Stabler.

Through classes offered at the VA including anger

management and behavior management, Stabler

realized what happened is never going to go away.

However, he made the choice to learn how to deal with

it.

"Thank God I have my fellow veterans because I got

folks I can talk to. We've seen things we didn't want

to see and done things we didn't want to do, but we

are learning to live with it. We're learning to be human

beings again. This means not being a vengeful, angry

32 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com


" Thank God I have my fellow veterans

because I got folks I can talk to."

"We've seen things we didn't want to see and done things we didn't want to do,

but we are learning to live with it. We're learning to be human beings again."

person at everybody and everything. We've learned not

to dislike somebody because of the way they think,"

said Stabler.

It's an ongoing process, one that Stabler works

through daily. "I've got a dark side that I keep pushed

to the back and I never want to let that individual out

again. My joking around is hiding a multitude of sins.

It's keeping that guy in the back of my head in check,"

said Stabler.

TAKING CARE OF ONE ANOTHER

For Stabler, the biggest takeaway from serving in the

military is his sense of responsibility and commitment.

urbantoadmedia.com / THE GOOD LIFE / 33


LOCAL HERO | RUSS STABLER

"It doesn't matter what kind of day it is; it's a

wonderful day because you're still alive."

34 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com


"If you're going to commit to doing something, you

need to do it 100%. Be there when you're supposed to

be there. Do what you're supposed to do," said Stabler.

Today, Stabler remains committed to taking care of

his brother and sister veterans and their families.

He currently volunteers at the Fargo Veteran Affairs

Information desk on Mondays and Thursdays. On

Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, Stabler is at

the Fargo National Cemetery fulfilling his duties as

Chaplain and Squad Leader for the Memorial Honor

Guard.

Furthermore, he serves as Region 5 Director for the

Air Force Security Forces Association, secretary for

the Vietnam Veterans State Council, a member of the

North Dakota Veterans Legislative Council, a member

of the Compassionate Contact Corps, and a member of

the North Dakota Veterans Home Foundation Board,

Inc.

Stabler represents the Vietnam Veterans of America

on the ND Veterans Home Foundation Board. The ND

Veterans Home Foundation was created in 1987 to

build a permanent endowment for the North Dakota

Veterans Home to enhance the quality of life of

veterans.

The Home is located in Lisbon, ND. The Board supports

special programs and purchases equipment including

aromatherapy, medical equipment, touch screen TVs,

and a baby grand piano. Ideas in the pipeline include

a memorial garden and a separate building for hosting

BBQs and entertainment.

THE GOOD LIFE

Stabler places great importance on listening to and

seeking to understand one another, even if points of

view differ greatly. He also maintains that keeping a

positive perspective is crucial.

"Every day that we get up, that day is our gift from God.

What we do with that day is our gift to God. You go to

bed at night and you thank God for helping you through

the day. You get up in the morning and you thank Him

for letting you get up and for letting you live your life.

It doesn't matter what kind of day it is; it's a wonderful

day because you're still alive," said Stabler.

For him, this is all part of how he embodies the good

life. "The good life to me is showing how people should

be and the good that people do in this world and in this

community...to take care of one another," said Stabler.


urbantoadmedia.com / THE GOOD LIFE / 35

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