RUSO, N.D. (AP) — The man considered instrumental in keeping North Dakota's tiniest town alive has died, likely putting an end to the municipality with a population that can be counted on one hand.
Bruce Lorenz, 86, died in a Minot hospital Tuesday after serving as Ruso's mayor for more than 30 years, the Minot Daily News reported . He was recently re-elected with all three votes cast in a 100 percent turnout, his platform being that he wanted to get rural water service in the McLean County city.
An incorporated municipality in the state needs at least three council members, according to the North Dakota Century Code. With only two remaining residents, a couple who filled the necessary offices required for recognition, Ruso no longer meets state law for incorporation.
"If Ruso no longer meets the requirements for a city there's probably a process that needs to take place," said Stephanie Dassinger, deputy director of the North Dakota League of Cities. "I don't know if there's much of a choice."
Incorporated cities receive tax-based income from the state. The funds are often dedicated for infrastructure projects like street lighting or repairs. Ruso received about $700 in state money through the month of June, and has two street lights kept on by state funding.
Ruso carries the title of North Dakota's smallest incorporated city, something that was a source of pride for Lorenz. The longtime mayor moved in 1956 to Ruso, which was initially incorporated in 1909. Health issues caused Lorenz to move into an assisted living facility in Minot, but he would return to Ruso as soon as weather permitted.
Only a handful of incorporated cities with a population fewer than 10 remain in the state, according to the League of Cities. The 2017 census shows Bergen with a population of eight, and Grano, Loraine and Perth with populations of nine each.
Information from: Minot Daily News, http://www.minotdailynews.com
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