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Spring brings robins and bugs, but Arlis is still retired

March 28, 2010
By SANDY MICKELSON, Messenger staff writer

Robins aren't the only indicator of spring.

Just take a drive, and you'll see spring in the air all over your windshield.

Which reminds me of a joke. What's the first thing that goes through a bug's mind when it hits your windshield? Its behind.

Oh, stop groaning. I didn't tell you why the elephant wore red sneakers, did I? Now that one's a groaner. So, why, you ask? So he could hide in the strawberry bed.

Spring is a wonderful time of year, basically because it means no more snow. Well, some more snow. In Denver, Colo., on Tuesday there was 12 inches of snow, though it didn't stick to the streets. Shortly after noon on Wednesday, my daughter e-mailed, "We got slammed with snow again last night. It started around 5 p.m. and snowed all night, about 12 inches. All wet and heavy and mostly off the roads already. Just one of our crazy March storms."

Colorado gets a lot of crazy March storms. And we had a horrible blizzard on April 26 or 28 - one of those late April dates, anyway - one of the years we owned a weekly paper in Keenesburg, Colo. We lost electricity and had to haul the paper to the north end of Weld County to print it.

That there's always a freak spring snow storm coming is just one of the things Colorado people count on. It's inevitable.

(What's coming is a smooth segue, if I don't say so myself.)

Right here in Iowa, in the little Humboldt County town of Bode, one of the things residents counted on for years was having Arlis Kinseth looking after them as a member of the fire department. But this 84-year-old man called it quits in January and finally retired for good.

He's torn, he said, between feeling badly about leaving and being happy about it.

"I've gone to so many meetings for so long, I kind of enjoy not going to them anymore," he said. "Figure out two meetings a month for 60 years, that gets to be a lot of meetings. Then, of course, there's lot of special meetings, too."

Sixty years. Arlis fought fires in Bode for 60 years, for 35 of them as fire chief. The worst fire, he said, burned down an entire city block in the business area.

At his Jan. 11 retirement party, Arlis received a meritorious service award from Cliff Renslo, president of the Iowa State Fireman's Association. In 2004, he received a certificate of distinction from the Iowa Fire Service Training Bureau for attending 50 years of training schools, and back in 1980 he received a governor's certificate for volunteer fire fighting efforts.

That was then. There is a now. On Tuesday night, Arlis will be given a Humboldt County Spirit Award at a ceremony at Humboldt High School. He's not sure why. He's not even sure what the award is. He is sure, however, that it's an honor.

Honors seem to find Arlis almost as often as those crazy bugs find my windshield in spring.

So long friends, until the next time when we're together.

Contact Sandy Mickelson at (515) 573-2141 or



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