The Siegel family is an admirable group of makers. They lead a somewhat isolated existence, living and running their business developing robotic and educational exhibits for museums from an abandoned school building they purchased.
The physical separation they live in is balanced by their humanitarian research and development into robotic adaptive technology and environmental, energy conservation and alternative energy technologies. Basically, they are out to make the world a better, more accessible place for everyone.
To help raise funds and promote their philanthropic efforts, the family is working on an educational web series that will show the family at work. “The Mysterious Lab of Robotics” will also provide a humorous view of the family’s oddball antics, which they often use to entertain each other during long working sessions.
You can learn more about the series and help the Siegels with their Indiegogo fundraising at their website. Read on for a bit of background on the Siegels themselves.
As a child John eagerly scrounged for junk electronics to take apart and make things with. He’d carefully study and draw out what he disassembled to get a better understanding of how everything worked. By age 10, John had his own little lab in the basement. He hand made his own relays and a galvanometer for making electrical measurements. Many kids build toy robots out of cardboard boxes; John’s had real motors. By his teens, John was etching his own circuit boards and building working robotic arms.
“Discovering Forrest Mimms electronics books was like magic to me”, says John. “Like wonderful, understandable hieroglyphics.”
In his early twenties, John had set up a small gallery in Michigan with experimental exhibits that combined art and science. That is when Victoria walked into his life. She was primarily interested in art and poetry. John found her to be logical and intelligent. The pair quickly developed a rapport. John taught her how to do silk screening, a skill he had adapted from his circuit board etching experience.
John and Victoria have encouraged their daughters’ development in the arts and sciences. The entire family works together on their business and on developing technology that advances humanitarian goals.
Aurora, in her late teens, is gifted with artistic talent as well as near perfect memory recall. Her parents believe she may be what is known as a prodigious savant. Aurora produces surreal digital art that mixes human and animal characteristics. Despite her difficulty interacting with others socially, she has a strong sense of social justice and shares in the family’s humanitarian goals.
Autumn is in her early twenties. She suffered a stroke at the age of five and was paralyzed and faced with the possibility of life confined to a wheelchair. While she was being assessed for brain damage at the hospital, it was discovered that her mind was already operating at an adult level. Although Autumn still suffers some effects of the stroke, she overcame almost of all of her paralysis. Autumn is a talented artist who is also interested in alternative medicine, gardening, film making and environmental and humanitarian issues.
The Siegels have received awards and recognition from NASA, the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), Discover Magazine, IEEE and other prestigious institutions for their work with service robots, educational exhibits, and even an prototype bandage that can be used in place of stitches.
Chibi is rail robot assistant which is 36" high & runs on a ceiling mounted track system, which can automatically greet visitors & lead them through a large area while talking & gesturing towards the surrounding items of interest.
Its speech can be Bilingual. One of the advantages of this robot is that it does not take up floor space, or encumber & impede the travel of visitors.
Instead it uses ceiling space to safely traverse its run, out of reach of the general public. The Chibi Rail Robot Assistant is the first of it’s kind in the world.
It is a unique interactive robotic device that can be used in any environment that requires a host, tour guide or lecturer; like museums, centers, institutions, laboratories, factories & visitor centers.
The complete design, prototype development & all aspects of fabrication were done at MRISAR’s facilities in New Leipzig, ND.
Jill Friesz, publisher/editor of two North Dakota weekly newspapers, has been elected president of the North Dakota Newspaper Association (NDNA).
Her election came at the 127th convention of NDNA – a joint convention with the South Dakota Newspaper Association (SDNA) in Rapid City, South Dakota, Friday,
Friesz purchased the Grant County News, Elgin, and the Carson Press, in 2004 from NDNA Past President Duane Schatz after working for Schatz for eight years. Friesz is a graduate of Shanley High School, Fargo, and the University of Mary, Bismarck, where she received a degree in communication and English. She and her husband, Eric, a farmer/rancher, are the parents of Evan 11, Allison 9, and Elijah 7.
The new president replaces Kathleen Leinen, managing editor of The Daily News, Wahpeton, and the News-Monitor, Hankinson.
Also elected at the annual meeting were First Vice President Tom Monilaws, general manager of the Traill County Tribune, Mayville; Second Vice President Cecile Krimm, publisher and editor of The Journal, Crosby, and the Tioga Tribune; and directors Jill Denning Gackle, general manager of BHG, Garrison, publishers of 11 weekly newspapers, and Melody Owen, co-publisher of the Tri County News, Gackle.
Sara Plum, editor of the Benson County Farmers Press, Minnewaukan, is also a member of the NDNA Board of Directors.
The members of NDNA are the 80 weekly and 10 daily newspapers in the state.
The final two spellers at the North Dakota Spelling Bee on Friday battled it out for more than 10 rounds before 13-year-old Taylor Roehl of New Leipzig finally came out on top with “abbatial” and “debenture.”
Immediately after her spelling was pronounced correct, Taylor looked more relieved than excited.
Taylor beat out Noah Heuchert of St. Thomas, who placed third last year. Taylor will now head to Washington, D.C., at the end of May for the national competition.
“I feel really good,” Taylor said. “I was surprised. Those (final rounds) words were really hard.”
Last year’s winner, Ty Korsmo, placed third this year. It was his fifth — and final — year competing.
Tom Jensen, the mustachioed longtime spelling bee pronouncer, said Ty’s exit was one of the big surprises of the event.
Taylor and Noah were the last remaining spellers by round nine. For the next 12 rounds they competed with words like “tectogene,” “labyrinthine,” “boulevardier” and “equipoise.”
When both spelled correctly or incorrectly, they would move on to the next round. If only one spelled a word correctly, he or she would have to spell another “challenge word” to win.
There were 25 spellers in the oral rounds, narrowed down from 100 by a written test in the morning.
In a break from the tension in round five, one speller told Jensen she wanted to ask him a question: “How long did it take you to grow your mustache?”
In his 16 years of word pronouncing at the spelling bee, Jensen said, he had never been asked that question. He added that he had even trimmed his mustache Friday morning so the kids would be able to see his lips while he said the words.
Working with the kids, Jensen said, is really his favorite part of the spelling bee.
This year’s coordinator, Bev Nielson, agreed.
“It’s just amazing to see these kids spell these words,” she said.
The time has come for a change in the New Leipzig Post Office.
Postmaster Shirley Hochhalter, who has served the City of New Leipzig for the past 34 years, has decided the time has come for her to retire.
Postmaster Relief for the past 28 years, Nyla Tietz, has also decided now is the time for her to retire.
A bittersweet decision for Hochhalter, “I am really going to miss sorting the mail – that’s a part of the job I have always enjoyed, working with the other employees, and of course, I will miss my customers,” she said with a crackle in her voice and a tear in her eye. However, she is looking forward to freedom from the day to day rigors of the job and exploring the next phase of her life. “I’m looking forward to walking my dog more, getting to the things I never seem to have time for, crafting, cross-stitching, jewelry making, scrap booking... and reading. I have about 400 books on my Kindle that I have to read!”
Thinking about the past 34 years, Hochhalter recalls just how much the postal service has changed over time. “When I started, there was no automation at all, everything had to be done by hand. We had to stamp and sort each and every piece of mail that came into the office. Now so many machines have taken over the menial tasks.” However, the addition of machines didn’t mean the work load was lightened. “After we started using machines, we just had a different type of work to do – so many more reports and things that had to be done by a certain time each day. I am not going to miss the stressful aspects and the structure of the job,” she said with a laugh.
As the Postmaster Relief for the past 28 years, Tietz was in charge of the office duties on days Hochhalter was out of the office. “It has been a fun job and I loved seeing the people, but it’s just time for me to retire,” Tietz explained. “I want to spend more time with my kids and grandkids and help my husband out more.” The two look at each other and share a mischievous smile, “We have been working together for the past 28 years and it’s been a good partnership!” exclaimed Hochhalter.
Both Shirley and Nyla were honored during a “retirement open house” Wednesday, Sept. 26, at the New Leipzig Post Office. The public was welcome to stop in and wish these two well in their retirement, share a memory or two, and enjoy refreshments. As Hochhalter explained, “My last day as the Postmaster will be Friday, Sept. 28. Nyla will continue until Saturday, Sept. 29.”
As one door closes, another opens as Cheryl Johnson of Lemmon will take over duties at the Post Office. Johnson will continue to offer the same service with a smile as has come to be expected at the New Leipzig Post Office.
Best of luck to both Shirley and Nyla as they dive into the next chapter of their lives.
Virginia Barry Takes A Photo Inside The Bentley Town Hall Where The Town's Founder Arthur A. Bentley (Her Great Grandfather) May Have Conducted Town Business
Arthur A. Bentley - 1898
Virginia Barry & Her Dog "Tank" Visit New Leipzig
Recently our area was honored by a visit from the Great Granddaughter of the town of Bentley, ND founder, Arthur A. Bentley.
Virginia Barry of Beaverton, OR, was visiting family in Minnesota when she contacted our webmaster who arranged a tour of New Leipzig and Bentley. This was her first visit to the area & the town of Bentley.
Virginia, the daughter of Hartley Barry & Dorismae (Hemstock) Barry, was born & raised in Rochester, MN. She attended Iowa State University, Sheridan, WY College, & is a graduate of Montana State University with a degree in graphic design.
Her Grandmother, Idamae (Bentley) Hemstock (1903-1980) & her Aunt, Hazel Bentley (1900-1918) were the two daughter's of her Great Grandparents (Arthur & Mary Bentley - Founders of the town of Bentley, ND).
Currently Virginia works for the Nike Corporation headquartered in Beaverton, OR & commutes between her home there and her other home in Bozeman, MT.
She has contributed many photographs & documents from her personal collection that are now featured on the new Bentley, ND website at www.bentleynd.com, which is still under development.
She said it was an exciting moment when she stepped into the town her Great Grandfather founded in 1910 but was also sad as it had deteriorated so much and that the township is now listed as a North Dakota 'Ghost Town'.
Along with our webmaster & her dog 'Tank' she looked into each of the few standing buildings, took some photos, looked through some old documents left behind in the town hall, & reflected on what the people that used to live here must have been like.
Upon leaving the town behind with her thoughts wandering about it she visited one of the few still standing and working cattle ranches of the Hoherz family (the webmaster's daughter Tammy & her husband David).
With a wave of her hand & a bark from 'Tank' she drove on to stay the night in Dickinson continuing her trip through Montana eventually arriving home in Oregon.
As I have written this article I am amazed at her calmness & awe in having been here to see where her ancestors had lived.
Not all "Leipzigers" came from Bessarabia. The City of Leipzig certainly had a part in its name.
I suspect that many settlers came from Eastern Germany & although some went as far as Bessarabia & stayed awhile, others continued on & their end point was in the Odessa area, now in the country of Ukraine.
I know the Hertz family came from Wurttemberg & in 1804 got a passport to go to Russia. They settled in the Neuberg Colony near Odessa, Ukraine area. The name Neuberg came from a German town on the Danube.
In 1796 the city of Odessa was a free port & through its gates came people of all ethnicities. In fact the first "Western" music (such as German, French, & Italian) came through its gates.
One of my ancestors from which came Emanuel Hertz's first wife who was the mother of my father Herbert & his brother & two sisters (Elizabeth died at 31). He was from Italy & married a young Austrian woman who had moved to the Odessa area (surname Costa, then Kosta).
My German ancestor on the Hertz side was Ludwig Hertz (Herz) from Wurttemberg, Germany circa 1804. He died soon after & his children were raised by a family named Braun but the children kept their Hertz name. They settled in the Neuberg Colony, named after a German town on the Danube.
The young men worked for some time in Treblitz. Ludwig's successor John Phillip, came to the USA circa 1873 by backtracking to Bremerhaven to Quebec taking the train west to the ND area border, then south to the SE corner of what was the Dakota territory where the Hertz's first homesteaded!
There were 5 sons of the next Hertz Frederick, of which two sons came to the little settlement of Leipzig, ND & started the Hertz Brothers Store when it moved to the railroad tracks.
These intrepid Germans, some of which married with other nationalities (I know some in New Leipzig had French ancestry) originally were offered land in Russia from Catherine the Great (also known as the Czarina & Queen of the Russias). The Germans, who were known to be good farmers offered religious freedom (from Russian Orthodoxy) & freedom from Army conscription.
However, with the death of Catherine the Great her successors began to clamp down on "non-Russians". Some were treated poorly & some were sent to Siberia while Stalin killed others. So, our German ancestors again left their home to find a better life in the Americas from Canada to the South Americas! Just think what they endured to allow their families a better life in a faraway land! Had they not risked all we would be Russians today!
Written by: Joanne Hertz Townsend
P.S. The following was added as an addendum.
Catherine the Great died in 1796, the year that my Italian ancestor (Costa,) arrived & married an Austrian wife who married into the Hertz name.
Upon Catherine the Great's death her son Peter succeeded her but with much animosity towards him even his mother did not approve of him & his wife (also named Catherine) and & of a German line like her mother-in-law took power & she too became Catherine the Great! It was she who had her husband arrested.
These were tumultuous times. I read where there was a succession of Czars not kind to the Germans in Russia. According to the Germans from Russia Society their take on conditions in the period of the 1860's (below) was taken from their website.
"The first change came in 1866 when the Germans started to lose control of their schools. Russian instead of German was decreed as the language of instruction in the German schools. Then in 1874 the Military Law was introduced which abolished the exemptions the German colonists had enjoyed for decades. Young German men were eligible for conscription into the Russian Army which was considered a death sentence in many cases."
As I mentioned before, this was a heavy burden for those Germans who were protected before & they felt they must leave the Ukraine.
I hope I have corrected who was in power when our ancestors felt they must leave Russia & come to the Americas.