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Jordan Residents Ready For Life Without Freemen

Sat., June 15, 1996, midnight

The 450 residents of Jordan, Mont., are ready for a little normalcy.

The freemen siege created busier streets, a noisier coffee shop, and No Vacancy signs at the town’s two motels.

On Friday, the day after the freemen surrendered to federal agents, some Jordan residents said they’re looking forward to the simpler life they had 82 days ago.

Resident Shirley Bilbro is ready for the old Jordan. “One of the gals at the restaurant said it this way: ‘It’s great to have tips, but now it’s time to have my life back.”’

The influx of the media and FBI made for brisk trade at the town supermarket, QD’s Restaurant, the three gas stations and the two motels.

The only enterprises that didn’t come out happier and wealthier were the eight churches of Jordan. “One of the newspaper reporters told my husband he’d come to our service,” said Bilbro, whose husband is the town’s Seventh-Day Adventist Church minister. The reporter came to the church on a Sunday, but found nobody there since Seventh-Day Adventists meet on Saturday.

“He never tried again,” Bilbro said, adding that other congregations in town saw few new visitors.

Even though the freemen compound was 30 miles from Jordan, townspeople felt a tension fueled by rumors and dread, said Sheriff Charles Phipps.

“I’d say now that it’s over, what many of us are probably feeling is that the whole thing should have ended 30 days ago,” he said.

Whether normalcy fully returns may not be known for several months, said Pastor Helen Young, who serves as minister for Jordan’s Lutheran and Presbyterian churches.

“Once the cameras are totally gone, we’ll have to look around and look at what we’ve become,” she said.

The old days won’t return as long as the freemen remain a 30-second news bite, Young said.

On Thursday, a Bible class from one of her churches was walking two blocks to sing to residents of a nursing home.

“We had to deal with being followed by a TV camera and crew. It’s just another example of the media trying to get a piece of everything we are doing here,” Young said.

, DataTimes

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