April 3, 2017

It’s time to finish this…

Posted in Friends of Stone Bank, Fundraising, Life, Main Street, Photos, Pictures, Promotions/Contests, Recommended Reading, Renovation, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , at 12:29 pm by stonebankblog

Let’s face it. WE are living in historic times! It was a winter of historic snowfall in Bottineau, but our friend Spring is finally pushing the snow into memory. It’s time to seize the moment and get back to the important work of enclosing the Stone Bank.

Of course, it’s always about the bottom line. That’s the challenge. And we are asking our classmates in the BHS Class of ’72 to lead the way. How? It’s easy.

front window

We are challenging each member of the Class of ’72 to donate $100 to restoring the Stone Bank. We have lost five classmates far too young, and it would be marvelous if each of us donated in memory of those friends as well.

Those $100 donations would bring $7,000 to a project that really needs a financial shot in the arm. Together, we can give the project a boost and inspire giving from others with ties to Bottineau.

Why the class of ’72? Good question. Well, two of your classmates have been doing the heavy lifting on this restoration project. Joe Whetter, is a stone mason and an amazing advocate and partner on this project. I (Sharon Kessler) founded a nonprofit, have coordinated fundraising and planning to advance the project since 2011.

Now, we really need your help. It’s easy to give online. You can give by credit card through PayPal, Razoo or GiveMN.

Or you can send a check: Touchstones, Inc., PO Box 272, Bottineau, ND 58318

The time is now. We can’t do this alone. We need to make progress on the building in 2017 to keep the structure from deteriorating. It has been open to the elements for a couple of years. We need to show community participation and interest to generate grants — so your contribution really does make a difference. In total, we need to raise $58,000 to enclose the structure. Can you help?

Frankly, we are at a point in life, where many of us are thinking about legacy — the difference we made in the world. The good we will leave behind. This is a great chance for you to help preserve a piece of Bottineau history and make it useful for future generations of those who will call Bottineau home. Your $100 gift added to those of other classmates really will make a difference.

Please make a gift today, so we can move forward with restoring this community treasure. Let’s get this done, together.

sk joe at bank 2

Joe Whetter and Sharon Kessler, BHS Class of ’72

We would love to hear from you. Please send a note, your ideas and memories of Bottineau for the blog to touchstones.inc@gmail.com. Guest blog entries are also welcome.










November 30, 2013

NaBloPoMo Finale (whew)

Posted in Bottineau, Friends of Stone Bank, Life, Photos, Pictures, Volunteers tagged , , , , , at 1:41 pm by stonebankblog

The moment you’ve all been waiting for … our last post for National Blog Posting Month 2013.

Stone Bank Project, Bottineau, ND

Admiring a gorgeous sunset near Bottineau, N.D., is a nice way to close NaBloPoMo.

Before we close out the month, we’d like to thank everyone who shared this journey, commented and sent photos. Your input made it a lot more fun to come up with 30 daily posts. Don’t be shy — we are always open to ideas, photos and commentary for months without a theme.

We also need to thank a few more wonderful Stone Bank friends — who are there when we need them. They have championed our project, worked for little or no pay and have been total rock stars!

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Of course, there are countless others who have stepped up, donated and said a kind word. It’s good to pause and remember that this really is a community project — and we are grateful for every kindness and courtesy. We truly wouldn’t have made this happen without you.

But we are not done. So, stay tuned. Dedicate a stone. Buy a T-shirt. Wish us well.

We wanted to end #NaBloPoMo with a bang. So, here it is.

Stone Bank Project, Bottineau, ND

What can you say? Our Stone Bank friends and volunteers are dynamite.

Thanks for your support.

November 28, 2013

Time to give thanks for the Stone Bank’s bedrock

Posted in Bottineau, Friends of Stone Bank, History, Life, Volunteers at 12:17 pm by stonebankblog

We interrupt this series of daily missives by Stone Bank blogger Sharon Kessler to bring you a Thanksgiving message — by her husband and guest Stone Bank blogger Mike Dorsher. …

The Stone Bank Project is thankful for — and indebted to — many people. You can see some of them in the slide show below, but they also include many unseen supporters who have made financial donations from near and afar. They even include everyone who has read this blog, given it a “Like,” left a Comment or just contributed good wishes and karma to our quest.

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But there are two people, in particular, without whom this project would now be a pile of rubble. Rather than a piece of history being preserved, the Stone Bank would now be a relic of history were it not for these two people.

One them is Joe Whetter, whom we usually simply refer to as our “stone mason,” but he is much, much more. Joe is the brawn and brains of the Stone Bank restoration that you see today. He has put his blood, sweat and gears into disassembling the back 20 feet of this structure, stone-by-stone, and now rebuilding it, block-by-block — plus an 8-foot addition for handicap accessibility. With a small crew of helpers under his direction, Joe has hand-carried some of the bank’s 400-pound boulders in the bitter cold and snow, he has poured pilings and cut sidewalk in the rain, and he has hand-shoveled mud in the heat of summer — all for sporadic pay of his heavily discounted bills. I don’t know what is more amazing — to see this grandchild-raising ex-Marine who’s pushing 60 engage in hard labor like a ball-and-chain prisoner or that such a man resides within the same town as the Stone Bank, that he and my wife were Bottineau High School classmates — and that they’re still talking to each other.

We owe a great, BIG thanks to Joe today. But even Joe would readily acknowledge that there would be no Stone Bank Project today without my wife, Sharon Kessler. She walked past the Stone Bank every day on her way to and from Bottineau High School, and she never forgot it, even after going off to UND and living with me in Bismarck, Madison, Washington, DC, Wisconsin, England and the Twin Cities. When Karen Larson told her the back of the Stone Bank was crumbling and the City Council was about to condemn and raze it, they formed a nonprofit, Touchstones, Inc., to raise funds and save it. In the 2 1/2 years since then, Sharon has poured hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars into the Stone Bank Project — in addition to her full-time (plus some) job in the Twin Cities at Minnesota Philanthropy Partners. None of Joe’s work on the site would have been possible without her grant writing, fundraising, organizing — and blog posting.

So today, as we all give thanks for our family, friends and fortunes small and large, those of us who are friends of the Stone Bank Project should pause and give thanks to Joe and Sharon, too. That process started a couple months ago when Cenex recognized Sharon with a $50 gift card from its “Tanks of Thanks” program. I will close this guest post by letting you read the Cenex-edited version of what I wrote then (click on the image to see it full size). Tomorrow, Sharon will be back here with the penultimate installment of National Blog Posting Month.


November 23, 2013

Now, I Call That Support!

Posted in Fundraising, Life, Photos, Pictures tagged , , , , at 12:17 pm by stonebankblog

Imagine our surprise when we recently passed through Fargo — thought we’d stop for a bite to eat and found the Hotel Donaldson draped in bras! (And not open for lunch.)

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This is what I call a really uplifting fundraiser. Of course, the symbolism is obvious — it’s a breast cancer fundraiser.

We chatted up someone at Hotel Donaldson and they told us that this fundraiser has brought in $400K over several years. Fantastic.

Of course, Bras on Broadway has a Facebook page. Learn more about the history of this cause over there.

It’s not only a great visual — it clearly has engaged the community in the cause.

If I thought putting my bra in the window of the Stone Bank would bring in donations — I would do it. I swear. But it would have to be a really good contribution.

Let’s just say, I am not unhooking my bra just yet.

Day 23 of National Blog Posting Month is now in the books. Have a great day.

November 22, 2013

Day 22 — A Heavy Sky

Posted in Bottineau, Life, Photos, Pictures tagged , , , at 11:55 pm by stonebankblog

Fall is upon us and we are having some grey days.

Stone Bank Project, Bottineau, ND

Sjule Road near Bottineau, ND. Make the right turns and you will end up outside the Stone Bank on Main Street in Bottineau.

In it’s own way, it’s a gorgeous time of year. (No whining, please.)

So, drink it in. Put another log on the fire. Enjoy it.

It’s Day 22 of National Blog Posting Month — and we are kicking back for the evening. Hope you are, too. And here’s a shout-out to all the folks participating in National Novel Writing Month. I tip my hat to you. Hope your word counts are rising and your plot is good and thick.

Thanks for reading the Stone Bank blog.

November 16, 2013

Rockin’ the Chocolates

Posted in Life, Photos, Pictures tagged , , , at 2:19 pm by stonebankblog

OK. I know. The Stone Bank has almost nothing to do with chocolate. But, it’s Day 16 on National Blog Posting Month and I want to talk about chocolate.

Why? Because in some odd twist of fate, I received a box of gorgeous chocolates on the first day of NaBloPoMo — and I promised myself not to finish them, until month’s end. Wish me luck.

Excellent chocolate. Beautiful chocolate.

Chocolate so gorgeous, a person may be reluctant to indulge. For a while , at least.

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These chocolates are as decadent as they are beautiful. Of course, Christopher Elbow has a website.

We also have some great chocolate-makers in North Dakota. Widman’s is the real home of chocolate-covered potato chips. Red River Valley grown potatoes dipped in chocolate — dark, milk, white and peanut butter. Don’t waste your time on (Johnny-come-lately) Lay’s, get the real thing from a fourth-generation family business.

Widman's chippers

Look. Mmm. Widman’s never disappoints.

Do you have a favorite chocolate shop? Where is it and what is your chocolate of choice?

Thanks to my friend Karen for the wonderful chocolates. I am savoring every single one. And I vow to not finish the box until the end of NaBloPoMo!

November 11, 2013

Shake a Veteran’s Hand

Posted in Bottineau, Friends of Stone Bank, Life, Photos, Pictures, Updates tagged , , at 10:51 am by stonebankblog

Let’s all take a moment to say “thanks” to a veteran today.

Stone Bank Bottineau ND

The flag, the breeze and the Stone Bank — give a hearty salute to those who have served our country.

Start with our stone mason, Joe Whetter, who served in the Marines. And he is doing us an honor by working to restore the Stone Bank.

Today, we honor Joe and all other veterans. Thanks for your service.

Stone mason Joe Whetter

Stone mason Joe Whetter did the heavy lifting in dismantling the back 20 feet of the Stone Bank. He is now working on a new foundation for the back of the building.

November 4, 2013

Meet Pierre Bottineau

Posted in Bottineau, History, Life, Photos, Pictures tagged , , at 11:04 pm by stonebankblog

Would the Stone Bank exist if not for Pierre Bottineau? Maybe. Maybe not.

Bottineau, N.D., is named for Pierre Bottineau, a French-Canadian fur trapper, guide and surveyor. He is credited with founding cities across Minnesota and North Dakota.

Bottineau, ND

Pierre Bottineau spoke several languages, which made him invaluable to those he guided through the unsettled areas north and west of the Twin Cities.

What I find so interesting is that Pierre lived in the Twin Cities and traveled extensively across the region — as far as Bottineau County in far-way North Dakota and beyond. For those of us who know that 500+ mile drive on paved roads, it’s amazing to think how far this incredible man rambled.

Bottineau County ND

So, how far did he walk? A very long way. And he did it many times or rode horse.

I have read that he once owned (briefly) Nicollet Island in Minneapolis — won it in a card game. Today, I found a photo online that said that he also owned land in Lowertown in Saint Paul. This guy was really amazing.

Bottineau, ND

Photo shows Lowertown, Saint Paul in 1851 showing the land claim of Pierre Bottineau.

Well, no wonder we have a statue of Pierre Bottineau on the courthouse lawn in Bottineau (only about four blocks from the Stone Bank). Here is a link to a very good summary of Mr. Bottineau‘s life and accomplishments. He really is someone to admire.

Pierre Bottineau statue

The Pierre Bottineau statue graces the lawn of the county courthouse in Bottineau, N.D.

According the Wikipedia, Pierre Bottineau’s talents were invaluable to the U.S. government during the early settlement era, and when he retired, the U.S. Congress granted him a pension of $50 a month. He died in Red Lake Falls, Minn., at the age of 78.

He never saw the Stone Bank — but I am betting that he would have approved of our fine stone building. At least, I hope he would have. It’s a tangible connection between us and the pioneers who settled in Bottineau. It is truly humbling to think about how brave they were and how hard they worked to carve towns like Bottineau out of the prairie.

Restoring the Stone Bank is no walk in the park, but compared to what Pierre Bottineau and the pioneers lived — we are kind of walking in the park.

Thanks for taking the journey with us, and thanks for reading the Stone Bank blog. See you back here tomorrow.

July 18, 2013

Stone Quote #9

Posted in Bottineau, Life, Stone Quotes, Updates tagged , , at 8:47 pm by stonebankblog

Waiting is not my strong suit. But this week in Bottineau, waiting and then waiting some more is on the menu.

Nearly daily thunderstorms are making it impossible  to pour the concrete footings for rebuilding the back section of the building.

So, we are waxing philosophical — and waiting for dry weather.


We aren’t squandering our time … we’re biding it until we can get rolling again. See below for what we’re up against.

Stone Bank, Bottineau, ND

The forms are in, but we can’t pour concrete footings until the rain stops. It seems intent on staying.

Stay tuned. We will be moving very soon — for us that’s the stuff life is made of!

We would love to hear from you! Send questions, comments and donations. All the buttons are installed on this page!

Thanks for reading the Stone Bank Blog.

May 27, 2013

A Memorial Day Salute

Posted in Bottineau, Life, Photos tagged , , , at 1:09 pm by stonebankblog

Stone Bank Bottineau ND

The flag, the breeze and the Stone Bank — give a hearty salute to  all those who have served.

On this Memorial Day, the Stone Bank family honors all those who have served our country — in peacetime and in war.

In Bottineau, we have a daily reminder of service and sacrifice, because the names of veterans are posted on lampposts around town, including two in front of the Stone Bank.

We owe them our gratitude.

So, join us in taking a moment to reflect and than honor that service.

Thanks for reading the Stone Bank blog. Have a great Memorial Day.

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