Nov 26, 2019 4:41 PM

Last living Mount Rushmore construction worker dies at 98

Posted Nov 26, 2019 4:41 PM

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RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — The last living worker who helped construct Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota’s Black Hills has died.

Donald "Nick" Clifford of Keystone, South Dakota, was 98. His wife, Carolyn Clifford, says he died Saturday at a hospice in Rapid City.

At 17, Nick Clifford was the youngest worker hired to work at Mount Rushmore. He operated a winch that carried workers up and down the mountain where the faces of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln were carved, and he drilled holes for dynamite.

Mount Rushmore sculptor Gutzon Borglum and his son, Lincoln, decided in 1938 to field a baseball team and hired Clifford, who already was a veteran pitcher and right fielder, the Rapid City Journal reported.

Clifford worked on Mount Rushmore from 1938-40, earning 55 cents an hour. Between 1927 and 1941, nearly 400 men and a few women worked on the memorial, which is now visited by nearly 3 million people annually.

In 2004, Clifford and his wife wrote his story in a book, “Mount Rushmore Q&A”. He would sign copies at the memorial's gift shop.

“I feel like Mount Rushmore was the greatest thing with which I was ever involved,” Clifford said in a 2016 interview. “It tells a story that will never go away — the story of how America was made and the men who helped make it what it is today.”

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Nov 26, 2019 4:41 PM
Judge upholds reinstatement of fired train engineer

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A judge who disagreed with an arbitration board’s decision that a fired train engineer should be reinstated has upheld the board’s ruling.

Union Pacific had sued the employee union to overturn the board’s order to put Matthew Lebsack back on the job. The lawsuit says Lebsack walked past the locomotive cab bathroom on Nov. 20, 2016, when the train was stopped. It says he left the locomotive and defecated on the metal knuckle that connected the locomotive to a rail car.

The Lincoln Journal Star reports that U.S. District Court Judge Brian Buescher said in his Thursday ruling that he didn’t understand why the board didn’t think Lebsack’s conduct was worthy of upholding his termination.

But Buescher also said the law doesn’t let him consider the merits of the arbitration board's decision, but only whether that decision fell within its discretion under the provisions of railroad-union contract. He says Union Pacific presented no evidence showing the board’s decision was not within its discretion.

Officials say the railroad hasn’t decided whether to appeal.