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J.J. Bauman, 6, plays at his Bismarck family home. J.J., born without thumbs and a radius on each arm, has had four previous corrective surgeries and  surgery to straighten out his right arm.

As 2018 nears its end we take time to recap the events of the year. We have provided lists of the top stories of 2018 and photo pages of the major events. It all tends to reflect a year of turmoil.

That’s deceiving, however, since there were a lot of funny and uplifting stories over the last 12 months. In Bismarck and across the state there were numerous stories with happy endings. Contrary to what some may think, newspapers don’t dwell on the negative. We can’t avoid covering stories that might make people sad or angry because they may be the major news of the day. A good human interest story still sparks our interest and gets the readers’ attention.

A quick glance through this year’s Tribunes reminds us that there were plenty of positive things about 2018.

Of course we were only a week into the new year when the North Dakota State University football team won its sixth NCAA Division 1 title. That’s quite an accomplishment for any team in a sport.

On another football note, reporter Blair Emerson told about Clint Clendenen of Bismarck, who’s known as “Mr. Viking.” The Jan. 16 story explained that he drives a purple-and-gold 1981 Ford Courier pickup, equipped with steel horns. The purple-and-gold truck bears a license plate reading "MR. VIKNG."

Later in the month, the United Way announced it had topped its fundraising goal for the year. This was after months of working to provide a homeless shelter for men.

In February Emerson wrote about a Texas couple who realized their dream of having a baby with the help of a Williston woman. Tabatha Ballein, who lives in Williston, became the gestational carrier for Shannon Mouser and Seth Paskin of Austin, Texas. They had been trying to have a child since getting married in 2014. The result was a baby girl.

Emerson continued on a roll in March with a story about a group of Standing Rock students who got to travel to Washington, D.C., to perform in the Turnaround Arts Talent Show at The Kennedy Center. For many it was the first time they took a plane trip. The song they performed was about how growing up on a reservation helped shape them.

At the end of March, reporter Amy Dalrymple recounted a story of survival. Walker Wadkins, who’s from Florida, got caught in a surprise snowstorm while hiking in the western Badlands. With the help of duct tape and some luck he survived the ordeal.

In April, a group of sixth-graders got to play a role in the future of Bismarck. City officials and the state Department of Transportation asked them “How do you envision Bismarck in 2030?” The students had been divided into teams in January and in April they were judged on their ideas. The first-place team from Horizon Elementary School proposed using synthetic leaves to power the city. After discovering the synthetic leaves they designed a hydrogen bus and an apartment complex.

Emerson wrote about some life-changing surgery in May. J.J. Bauman was born without thumbs or a radius in either arm. Through multiple surgeries, including three by The Bone and Joint Center's Dr. Troy Pierce, his thumbs were replaced by his pointer fingers, and he had two surgeries to straighten his arms. "He's been doing great," his mother, Karrie Bauman, told Emerson.

A milestone was celebrated in Wishek in August and reporter Jessica Holdman described it. The Pfeifle Chevrolet-Buick dealership marked 100 years of business. For four generations the family has operated the dealership. In the early days they were known to take chickens or horses in trade. Their persistence paid off in success.

From a 100th birthday to a newborn as reporter Jack Dura told how an Arnegard police officer, Travis Bateman, delivered a baby girl at the side of McKenzie County Road 30. Everyone came out of the situation doing fine.

In time for the new school year the Tribune along with MDU Resources Group Inc. launched Teen of the Week. Each week reporter Cheryl McCormack writes about a high school senior who’s a top student. Those honored excel in the classroom, in sports and the community. At the end of the school year an overall winner will be chosen for a $5,000 scholarship provided by MDU Resources.

The stories on the teens appear every Wednesday.

That’s just a sampling of the stories that have appeared during 2018. They might not make a top 10 list, but they reflect what’s happening in our communities. It’s people helping each other, it’s students achieving success, it’s new life entering the world and it’s success in business. Overall, it reflects the good life in North Dakota. The Tribune is certain 2019 will bring more good times.

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