RUSO, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota’s smallest incorporated city was on the verge of dissolving after the death of its longtime mayor. But now it’s rebounding, with expectations to double its population — from two residents to four.
The McLean County community of Ruso was on the verge of disincorporation when its population dropped following the July death of 86-year-old Bruce Lorenz. It takes a minimum of three residents for a community to be incorporated, according to the North Dakota Century Code.
“We want to keep it going for Bruce’s sake,” Laurinda Roloson, the city’s auditor and one of Ruso’s two remaining residents, told the Minot Daily News . Her husband, Terry Roloson, is the other Ruso resident.
The city discovered that Greg Schmaltz qualifies as a resident because he has a Ruso mailbox and makes daily checks on his horses and chickens on land within city limits. So on Thursday, he’s expected to become the city’s next mayor.
Schmaltz and his wife, Michelle, currently live in Velva but plan to move later this year to Ruso, where they have a residence under construction.
“We’re looking at fall to finish everything up,” Greg Schmaltz said.
Ruso was first incorporated in 1909, and it had a population of 141 a year later. The city’s population dwindled when its last remaining business, the grain elevator, took its last load in 1956.
Schmaltz hopes others will follow him to Ruso, which is about 40 miles (64 kilometers) southeast of Minot near Strawberry Lake.
“Other people have expressed interest in moving out there. We don’t want things to slow down,” he said. “I’m about preserving what little is left of Ruso. I’m proud of being out there.”