North Dakota family working from home – which includes Florida radio show

Ratliff co-hosts the morning news show on WOKV-104.5 FM in Jacksonville from his Cavalier basement. His wife, Elisa, teaches microbiology online for Clark State University in Springfield, Ohio. Their children, Aubrey and Amelia, attend Cavalier Primary School.

Elisa Ratliff, 37, who lived in Cavalier during her elementary school years, moved from Jacksonville to Cavalier in August 2020. After traveling with their daughters last summer to the town of about 1,100 people to return Visiting her stepfather and mother, she was reminded of the benefits of living in a small town, she said.

This includes the absence of traffic jams, easy access for the children of Ratliff by bike or on foot to wherever they want to go and a community of friendly and helpful people, she said.

Jeremy Ratliff, 38, who had grown up in Milwaukee and lived in big cities during his adult life, was also ready for a lifestyle change, so the couple decided to move to Cavalier. He joined his wife and two daughters in November 2020, taking radio equipment with him.

The original plan was for Jeremy to work remotely for News WOKV-104.5 FM until the radio station could find someone to replace him. But once in Cavalier, he and the radio station decided the arrangement was working fine and he could keep working.

“All I really need is high-speed internet, an access system, and a microphone,” Ratliff said. It’s normal now to work from home. If I have a meeting, I can jump to Zoom.

Meanwhile, if he needs to get to the radio station in person, he has access to cheap direct flights from Fargo’s Allegiant Airline to Sanford-Orlando Airport in Florida, a two-hour drive away. Jacksonville road. Recently, Ratliff took the airline to Sanford for a few weeks while a colleague was on vacation.

He was happy to return to Cavalier after spending time in town and breathed a sigh of relief when he was on the freeway back to the small town, he said.

North Dakota Lifestyle

The Ratliffs and several other couples have been drawn to northeastern North Dakota because they feel its lifestyle is safer and less hectic, said Dawn Mandt, executive director of the Red River Regional Council. Many of them have family ties to the region.

“They span across our region – Grand Forks, Nelson, Pembina and Walsh counties,” she said.

The return of couples with young children has increased since the coronavirus pandemic hit, she said.

“COVID has enabled remote working and made it a more common practice, so it gives people a choice of where they want to live instead of where they need to live,” Mandt said.

Distance education for Clark State University went well for Elisa, who just finished a summer semester.

“I posted my summer grades on Monday,” she said last week.

Elisa and Jeremy Ratliff talk about their first year working remotely from their air bnb in downtown Cavalier, North Dakota.  Jeremy works as a news anchor for a radio station in Jacksonville, Florida, and Elisa teaches microbiology at a college in Dayton, OH.  Photo by Eric Hylden / Grand Forks Herald

Elisa and Jeremy Ratliff talk about their first year working remotely from their air bnb in downtown Cavalier, North Dakota. Jeremy works as a news anchor for a radio station in Jacksonville, Florida, and Elisa teaches microbiology at a college in Dayton, OH. Photo by Eric Hylden / Grand Forks Herald

This fall, in addition to teaching an online course at the university, Ratliff will also teach six science classes to students in grades 8-12 at North Border High School in Walhalla, North Dakota.

Although their jobs at the university and at the radio station are thousands of miles from Cavalier, the Ratliffs are firmly rooted in the community.

During the short time they lived there, they transformed a house they call the “Cozy Cottage” and the second floor of a former business, the “First Avenue Loft”, into an Airbnb rental.

Eventually, they plan to add a café-bar and a café on the ground floor of the building in the city center. They hope to have evening hours and be open on weekends so they can serve people attending events at the Pocket Park across from Cozy Cottage.

Although the Ratliffs are busy juggling two jobs, two rentals and attending to their daughters’ activities, their Cavalier lifestyle is still less hectic than when they lived in big cities, they said.

“It’s quiet here,” Elisa said. “It’s a nice place to raise children. They can cycle to swim and they can cycle to my parents’ house. They love being able to cycle to school and have some freedom.

It’s also a place where everyone knows your name, even before they’ve introduced themselves to each other, Jeremy said.

“I walked into Wayne’s Variety and Wayne (Jenson) started talking to me like he knew my name – and he did,” Ratliff said.

“These small towns are a gem,” said Elisa. “I realized that we have a special treasure here that is not in other places.”


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