Beulah Beacon News

Four of the seven Beulah city council members present Monday night for the regular meeting are in favor of actions by the Beulah Chamber of Commerce to garner support with which to petition the Department of Transportation for a change from Mountain to Central time.

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Kari Koapke, 24, Beulah, and prosecutors have reached a plea agreement reducing a Class C felony charge to a Class A misdemeanor stemming from a one-vehicle accident that killed a Beulah native.

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Pending cooperative weather, the State Highway 200 bridge spanning the Knife River northeast of Hazen is expected to be reopened by May 8, according to Project Superintendent Chad Milbrath of Industrial Builders, Inc., Fargo.

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Beulah’s chamber of commerce recently conducted a membership survey to determine the amount of support for an effort to petition the Department of Transportation for a change from Daylight to Central Time for Mercer County. Chamber president, Kevin Flaagan told the council at its regular meeting Monday evening that the Chamber had sent surveys to 110 members with 70 responses, 60 of which were in favor of the action to seek the time change. In his presentation Flaagan referred to the survey results as a “mandate.

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Gov. John Hoeven met with Beulah and county officials on the third leg of his journey Monday to view damages in the flooded county and talk about flood recovery. Hoeven was met by city and county officials when he arrived midmorning at the Beulah Airport following a prior stop in Valley City. Joining him were Maj. Gen. Dave Sprynczynatyk, the commander of the North Dakota National Guard, FEMA representative Derek Jensen, and Mark Clark, U. S. Army Corps of engineers.

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While the Beulah Chamber of Commerce was serving an appreciation stew to volunteers who helped out in the area during the first flooding of the Knife River and Spring Creek, residents of Beulah’s south side Ward 4 were nervously eyeing the second rise of the river within days.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The Weather Network