At a meeting late last week, Mercer County Commissioners went after one idea they felt was the best course of action for paying for a courthouse expansion: the state. At the courthouse last Friday the commission moved to apply for an Energy Impact Office coal conversion loan in the amount of $7 million, which would pay off the lion’s share of the nearly $9.8 million project.
Beulah’s City Council gained traction on three ordinances at this week’s meeting and also moved forward with new court software and future work with an engineering firm. The ordinances had been waiting in the wings recently as the council waited to hear more input on language changes, specifically on Ordinance 408, which dealt with water and wastewater. With a nearly full council and most department heads present, the discussion was able to move forward. Council vice president Clyde Schulz presided over the meeting due to Mayor Darrell Bjerke’s absence.
A nearly $9.9 million decision is getting closer to a vote, and Mercer County Commissioners last week set firm dates for holding town hall meetings to address public concerns. After lengthy discussion on the topic, commissioners chose to move forward with a special meeting set for this Friday to finalize their decisions on how the project will be funded. They also set dates to explain the project in detail to residents at public forums throughout the county next month. Currently the measure would pay for construction of additions, modernizations, improvements, and security measures to the Mercer County Courthouse, Law Enforcement Center and Jail, as well as providing furnishings and equipment related to the functioning of those facilities.
After months of meetings, discussions and prep work, the first plans for a proposed Wellness Center were presented to a full house last week at the Grandview Steakhouse banquet hall. Since last year, a group of local leaders has been working diligently to iron out details for a new facility in Beulah that wouldn’t just replace the Fit Club, but offer wellness solutions for all.
Last week the local plants’ turbines weren’t the only things fired up when the Environmental Protection Agency made a visit to the area. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and staffers visited with North Dakota’s top elected officials at Dakota Gasification Company’s Synfuels plant during a round-table talk that included major players in the energy industry. The purpose of the talks was clear—to open a dialogue about how the agency’s policies could affect the energy industry, specifically for coal-fired power plants.
In recent years educators have stressed the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics due to the U.S. falling behind other countries in math, science and technology. At Beulah Middle School, Science Teacher Patty Mossett has been doing her part to keep students involved in a couple different ways. One is a twice-yearly event where students form into groups and take on a project head-on, then give their results to a panel of judges. The other is with the Science Olympiad.
City, county, park board and school board elections will all be coming up this June. Multiple positions will be up for election this year at all levels. Petitions are available at your local auditor’s office and are due April 7. In the county departments, Auditor Shana Brost, Recorder Brenda Cook, Sheriff Dean Danzeisen, State’s Attorney Jessica Binder and Treasurer Darbie Berger are all up for election to four-year terms. Commissioners Frank Bitterman, Gary Murray and Wayne Entze are all of for election, also for four-year terms. At the Stanton City Council, the seats held by Tom Sayler and Jason Hill are up for re-election.
The Mercer County Commission decided last week to not grant a tax exemption to Marquis LLC, the company working with a process to help coal burn cleaner at Antelope Valley Station. Sam Larson, representing Marquis LLC, and Donald Boehm of Basin Electric Power Cooperative were on hand to discuss the topic with the commissioners. Larson began the conversation by stating Marquis had waived any prior tax exemption of the coal beneficiation from the start of their operation at Antelope Valley Station to the present. Taxes for that period would still be paid, amounting to approximately $67,000. The company was still looking for the 15 percent tax exemption moving forward. State law currently allows for an 85/15 percent tax exemption for the first five years of coal beneficiation process by a company. The 85 percent is granted automatically by the state, but the 15 percent has to be approved by the county.
Beulah Elementary students got a first-hand look at some pretty big birds last week during special presentations held on Friday. The program included a book on owls, bringing out a Screech Owl, an American Kestrel and a Red-Tailed Hawk and offering detailed information to the students on how the animals would live in the wild. John Halverson, co-founder of the Black Hills Raptor Center, led the presentation. Halverson’s been working with raptors for about five years, starting right before founding the center in 2010. His mission? To educate youth throughout the region on the subject.
Water infrastructure was the main topic of discussion this week when the Beulah City Council met for its regular meeting. At its previous meeting the council had tabled further discussion on Ordinance 408 pending input from Water Plant Foreman Gary Neuberger on whether or not to regulate seals on water meters. Neuberger was not available at the time of the council meeting. City Attorney Scott Solem brought forward two versions of the updated ordinance, one reflecting the updated language and one without. Councilor Brant Keller noted that he was in agreement with Neuberger’s perspective that, in going forward, the installation of water meters should include seals.