Petitions have been filed in all the elections set for this year, and there will be plenty of names to choose from throughout the county when the June 3 election hits. At the county level, Auditor Shana Brost, Recorder Brenda Cook, Treasurer Darbie Berger, Sheriff Dean Danzeisen and State’s Attorney Jessica Binder are all running unopposed. County Commissioners Frank Bitterman, Gary Murray and Wayne Entze have all filed their petitions for re-election. Wes Gunsch and Kirby Entze have also formally declared their intention to run for the open seats. In Beulah, Mayor Darrell Bjerke and Councilors Brant Keller, Kathy Kelsch and Al Kok are running unopposed. Travis Frey and Ben Lenzen are running for the seats that will be left open when Councilors Bob Schutt and Larry Hruby finish out their terms.
Few residents turned out for the last of six town hall meetings held recently for the purpose of explaining in detail the hows and whys of a proposed expansion to the Mercer County Courthouse and Detention Center. Commissioners and county department heads were on hand in Beulah Monday night with Architect Scott Fettig, of Klein-McCarthy Architects to offer their perspectives to anyone who had questions on the $9.8 million project. Commission Chairman Gary Murray said that when the courthouse was built in 1963, there were about 2,000 fewer people in the county. The increase in population and the changing needs of the courthouse precipitated the expansion of the facility, he said. State’s Attorney Jessica Binder stated that the increase in cases coming into the facility was a good reason to begin looking into expansion. “When I came into office we had 300 adult criminal cases filed,” she said. “Last year there were 359, which is a new case every day. Last year we saw more than double the amount of felony controlled substance cases than the year before. That means more inmates and more court appearances.”
Two more men have been charged in a recent Golden Valley incident that left two others wounded. Benjamin Schultz and Bryson Snell are each facing one class C felony for their suspected involvement in a possible home intrusion that left both Brett Knudson and homeowner Jeff Gegelman with gunshot wounds.
The process in moving toward the expansion of the Mercer County Courthouse and Detention Center took a step forward last week during the regular county commission meeting. The county had previously applied for and been granted a loan from the Energy Impact Office for the amount of $7 million. That funding would be paid off from future coal severance and conversion taxes, with the remaining estimated $2.8 million coming out of county savings. According to County Auditor Shana Brost, the loan was approved at the land board meeting. Brost said her discussion with a representative from the board found that the county didn’t have to get voter approval for the loan, since a coal loan wasn’t considered debt for the county based on current statute.
March snowstorms whirled through the state this past weekend, dropping plenty of snow - and the temperature - throughout North Dakota. The National Weather Service stated that Beulah had received three inches of snow by 2:30 a.m. Monday morning. The service had no data beyond that by the time of this publication. The service stated that the last report from Hazen listed 10 inches of snow having fallen by the time the storm subsided. Precipitation in Bismarck totaled about nine inches.
One man has been charged in an alleged home invasion that resulted in a shooting this weekend in Golden Valley. Brett D. Knudson has been charged with two felonies and two misdemeanors after being taken into custody earlier this week by the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department. Knudson is charged with one Class A Felony for Attempted Murder, one Class C Felony for Criminal Trespass, one Class A Misdemeanor for Driving While License Privilege is Suspended (4th Offense) and one Class A Misdemeanor for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. The charges were filed Tuesday afternoon by the Sheriff’s Department and State’s Attorney, although were waiting judicial approval, meaning that it is possible the charges listed above could potentially be subject to change.
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.
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.