A water and wastewater ordinance is moving forward after Beulah City councilors held the first reading Monday night. Multiple revisions were brought up during the meeting, which will be applied to the ordinance for the second reading. In its draft form, the 13-page ordinance seeks to provide an overall update to the city water/wastewater ordinance, including water works systems, applications, rates and how and when water could be disconnected or discontinued to a location. After formally opening up the reading for discussion, the council dived into the topic. Councilors Roger Gazur and Clyde Schulz offered the most questions for the ordinance, highlighting old language they felt needed updating. Gazur focused first on installation and access, noting that there should be some rules that should govern each topic, before applying similar argument to further language. “What is a claim for defective service?” Gazur asked. “Insufficient water flow, insufficient water pressure, no water at all, all of the above?” He then moved on to ask about clarifying the language in sections regarding when water meters would be checked and how often, water/wastewater funding and fines. City Attorney Scott Solem stated that some of the fines that were listed dated back four decades. “There was a $5 fine for someone who breaks a seal in a water meter,” Solem said. “Five dollars isn’t going to discourage anybody. There’s a $1.50 fine in here for something. We should take a look at the application fees, the deposits and the various fines. Brant (Keller) updated the rates, but other than that the most recent language is from the mid-1970s.”
Cold weather is creeping back into the state, and a recent presidential emergency declaration for southwest North Dakota is a stark reminder that winter is coming. Mercer County Emergency Manager Carmen Reed is aiming to remind residents of the importance of being prepared for severe winter weather, and just how to go about it. According to Reed, now was the time to get those winter safety kits checked and placed into vehicles.
Healthcare marketplaces have been open since the beginning of October and although applicants faced early challenges enrolling, the process is moving ahead. As one of 32 states that opted to default to the federally-run exchange, uninsured and eligible North Dakotans go directly to the healthcare.gov website to find a policy that best fits them. Darrold Bertsch, CEO of Sakakawea Medical Center and Coal Country Community Health Center, said it could be prudent for those without insurance to wait a brief period. “It’s still our mindset to encourage people to ‘hurry up and wait’ until the bugs get worked out,” Bertsch said. “You’ve got until Dec. 15 to enroll in a plan and be eligible Jan. 1.” Although Dec. 15 is the deadline to enroll to receive coverage starting with the new year, open enrollment will continue until March 31. After that those not enrolled who remain uninsured will receive a penalty of $95 per adult, $47.50 per child, or one percent of their income. Megan Dierks, the Outreach/Enrollment Specialist at CCCHC, went through specific training to walk people through the application process.
The Mercer County Courthouse and Jail expansion could cost upwards of $10 million. County commissioners reviewed designed plans with Scott Fettig of Klein McCarthy Architects October 16 during a regular meeting in Stanton. The Bismarck company president said the project could be completed as early as November 2015. “We have to remember why we are doing this,” Commissioner Bill Tveit said, referencing security and safety for the jail and courthouse. The additions would connect the Law Enforcement Center to the courthouse, making it easier to transfer prisoners from the jail to the courtroom.
City councilors in Beulah heard brief updates on the designated usage of a certain city building this week in a relatively quick meeting at city hall. Council president Clyde Schulz ran the meeting due to the absence of Mayor Darrell Bjerke. Schulz kicked off portfolio reports by reminding the councilors of a special meeting this Friday concerning special assessments. Councilor Kathy Kelsch spoke about intended usage of the civic center, noting there had been an increased interest from multiple groups lately. “When policy was established it didn’t include anything about serving alcohol there,” she stated. “When we went through the policy we included that with the assumption that it was okay. A question came up on whether or not restrictions had ever been in place on serving alcohol at the location. The concern is on the liability.” Kelsch added that if the city were to be held liable for anything during events where alcohol was served, something would have had to go wrong on the city’s part. Kelsch then asked the council if anyone felt there was a conflict in opening up the civic center for events where alcohol was served versus letting private industry handle it. Councilor Roger Gazur noted that the city wasn’t in competition and allowing groups to utilize a city building and use alcohol after getting a permit was allowable.
Fundraising and funds raised were a large topic of discussion when the Beulah Education Foundation met recently. The topic was given extra attention to clarify that although donations were generally all put in the same account, they could be, and have been, earmarked for what the donor intended. Elementary Principal Amber Skalsky spoke to the foundation board on behalf of elementary staff who were concerned over certain financial responsibilities that had previously been clear under the organizations of Dollars for Scholars and the PTO. “A lot of people are worried that all the money is for scholarships and they feel like they’re losing control of the funding,” Skalsky said. “The book fair, for instance, brings in about $1,000 total from fall and spring. For us to say we’ll get $500 back is something that brings up questions.” Foundation chair Janet Staloch noted that the foundation board was working to clear up some of those misconceptions concerning how the finances were broken down and would be happy to meet with staff or community members to speak about that topic in particular. Business manager Carrie Miller said that different checking accounts wouldn’t be kept for each different topic or fundraiser. The foundation board had already effectively earmarked funding to ensure that scholarships were separate from the book fair and the carnival, among other activities. Staloch noted that the foundation allowed for a long-term investment, which changed the financial philosophy. “We used to raise money to spend money,” Staloch said. “Now we’re raising money to earn money and grow money and are able to fund the activities we’ve always funded.”