It was hopeful news to Beulah and fellow Mercer County residents when Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., and Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., met with Mercer County and city officials April 8 at the Beulah City Hall to get a firsthand report on flood and snow damage.
After Knife River flooding caused unsafe structural damage to the Highway 200 bridge near the Boeckel Ranch east of Hazen, the bridge was barricaded off by officials and marked with large, bright orange and white striped signs, road closed and danger signs. Regardless, on the evening of March 31 at around 8:30, the driver of a pickup truck heading south managed to end up front end down as he crashed through a large hole in the concrete deck that expanded across the entire southbound lane.
There is a great amount of uncertainty regarding what clean up actions are necessary and required by Beulah homeowners damaged by the flood of 2009. No lesser degree of uncertainty is attached to what if any governmental assistance might be forthcoming from state and federal agencies. While that fog may clear in coming days, it may take weeks and months before some of the answers are delivered. In the meantime the city will be meeting with members of the state’s congressional delegation, developing a policy for clean up inspections and working on getting a disaster declaration that will provide help to homeowners whose damages range from minor to severe structural problems. Mayor Darrell Bjerke said that the city has also been in contact with local District 33 legislators who have promised their assistance.
March Madness, North Dakota style, arrived in Beulah last Sunday. By the time it was over the Knife River through Beulah would reach an estimated 27 feet, rivaling the legendary flood of 1997, the last major flooding event here. Behind the floodwaters would come snowfall estimated at from 12-18 inches in the Beulah area, whipped Monday night and through Tuesday by blizzard force winds exceeding 40 miles per hour at gust levels. The combined forces of nature brought all but emergency travel to a standstill, although people continued to drive in spite of a "no travel" request posted on the city cable channel. That travel resulted in stalled and stuck vehicles, which would hamper emergency travel by authorities and snow removal, when the city began to dig out.
If your home flooded in '97 you should be prepared to have water issues again this year. "In a moderate melt the homes that had trouble in '97 are going to experience problems again," Mercer County Emergency Manager Richard Sorenson said. Sorensen gave the warning at an area-wide flood preparedness meeting Friday evening. Beulah Mayor Darrell Bjerke, Beulah City Councilman Steve Perry, Hazen Mayor Delmar Schramm, Hazen City Commissioner Mike Peterson, Hazen City Planner Steve Frovarb and Ed Schaper (with the Mercer County Highway Department) attended the meeting. The group discussed the preparations the cities and the county are taking to prepare for the coming season.
Jonathan Voss was arrested by Mercer County deputies Friday, March 13 in Stark County and returned to the Mercer County Detention Center in Stanton. Voss, identified in court documents alternately as John Voss and as Jonathon V. Voss, was arrested on two counts of Livestock running at Large, class "B" misdemeanors, and five counts of Over Working, Mistreating or Abandoning Animals, class "A" misdemeanors. An arrest warrant was issued March 11 by District Judge Thomas Schneider. Voss was released March 14 around 6 p.m. on $1,000 cash bond. "On Monday (March 9) this week I met with the special agent in charge at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and asked that he review this case to decide if charges should be brought against tribal members and to review (Voss) documents at American Bank Center. It'll be their determination whether any federal offenses have occurred," Mercer County Sheriff Dean Danzeisen said.
Representatives of the cities of Beulah and Hazen met Friday, March 6 with representatives of Major Pipeline, L.L.C. The company wants to bring a pipeline into the two communities that would supply natural gas to businesses and residences. "I was extremely pleased with their marketing plan," Beulah Mayor Darrell Bjerke said. "They're going to have a presence in both towns. They laid out their strategy and the financing they put together. They put a lot of my fears to rest."
It wasn't his birthday - at least that he knew of, anyway, joked Reuben Gutsche, Hazen. But he knew there had to be some special explanation as to why he counted 15 pink flamingos milling about his front-yard snow banks Thursday morning. There was a special explanation, indeed. The pink, plastic lawn ornaments are part of a local fundraising effort to find a cure for multiple sclerosis. The notoriously noble effort is the doing of Lorisa Newman, Hazen.
The city of Beulah's trash service and transfer station are running in the red, and have been for several years, according to City Councilman Herb Dittus, who oversees the department. The transfer station collected $7,454 from fees in 2008. The city paid $10,689 to the Mercer County Landfill in tipping fees, and paid another $7,700 in hauling costs. That leaves a deficit of $10,935. That doesn't include the cost of one full-time employee that works at the transfer station. That salary is still carried in the budget of the city garbage pickup.
Gail Wold is still a young woman, and has yet many milestones to reach as Principal of Beulah Middle School. So she probably hasn't reached the pinnacle of her career - but this has got to feel like it. Friday afternoon 215 middle school students, faculty and staff filled the auditorium at BMS to celebrate Wold and her selection as North Dakota National Distinguished Principal of the Year.