Everything but a Starbucks! / by Annette Tait

We love coffee as much as the next guy, but having a Starbucks – or any other nationally recognized franchise -- doesn’t put a town on the map. Some of the best places we know of aren’t much more than wide spots on two-lane roads.

 The two-story Regan Community Center offers an event venue complete with a full gym and commercial kitchen.

The two-story Regan Community Center offers an event venue complete with a full gym and commercial kitchen.

Take Regan, N.D., (pop. 44, plus or minus). Most people driving through this little town miss its many treasures, even though they’re “hidden in plain sight.”

We have to admit that, on first glance, there doesn’t seem to be much to see. But a closer look shows a historic main street, one of the last remaining 2-room stone jails in the state, an event center, a commercial-grade kitchen, manufacturing, and an American Legion Post.

See over there? That’s the old county shop, now the home of JI Fabrication & Welding. JI has two full-time employees, manufactures continuous fence, cattle panels, windbreaks and more, and offers a full array of welding services.

And the historic main street? It could easily be a movie set. The Stonewall has a long and interesting history, from its start as Regan State Bank to becoming a watering hole in the 1970s, with folks coming from all over to wet their whistles. Ask the “old timers”-- they have stories!

The little all-rock building used to belong to Bell Telephone, better known as “Ma Bell.” Any of y’all old enough to remember Ma Bell? We sure do. Back then it was a pretty big deal to go to in to the store and order – yes, order, not buy-and-take-home -- a brand-new telephone.

 Manufacturing can be found even in towns as small as Regan, N.D., population 44 plus or minus, which is home to JI Fabrication and Welding.

Manufacturing can be found even in towns as small as Regan, N.D., population 44 plus or minus, which is home to JI Fabrication and Welding.

Regan even has an event center that can be rented for dances, reunions, and other special occasions. The cost is nominal, and it has an upstairs and also a full gym. A full-scale commercial kitchen is available for use, as well as the “new” (grade) school – that gives folks not just one, but two facilities to choose from.

There’s plenty to do for the little ones, too. There’s a fabulous playground and park for the kiddies, with “old school” toys, and a picnic shelter, to boot.

And last but not least, Regan boasts one of the few stone jails left in the state. You can walk right in and sit in a cell and take your picture -- a little taste of history complete with tourism and photo opportunities.

 Marvin Gillig has served Regan, N.D., as its mayor for more than 30 years.

Marvin Gillig has served Regan, N.D., as its mayor for more than 30 years.

Bonus: Regan has high-speed internet AND a rural water system, too! And, a coffee pot that is always on. It may not be Starbucks, but the company can’t be beat. It’s part of small-town life – no matter who you drop in on, there’ll always be an offer of coffee and conversation.

There’s no denying that Regan may look like a ghost town –by most standards, it practically is – but it still has possibilities.

That’s what we see when we drive through Regan: the possibilities. We see a place for young families and retirees alike to enjoy a quality of life you just don’t find in the suburbs. We see possibilities for a bakery and/or other business endeavors using the commercial kitchen. We see “big city” executives using the event center for day-long retreats, in a setting you just can’t duplicate elsewhere. We see creative space for artists and photographers and … well, you get the picture.

Take a look around your own rural town. And slow down and take a closer look when you pass by that “wide spot in the road” as you drive through.

Peel back the layers. There’s so much more to be found than initially meets the eye.