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Education
District 7 board discusses business manager for combined district
  • Updated

One of the first decisions the new board for Williston Basin School District No. 007 will be how to merge the business offices of two school districts.

At the board’s first meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 29. much of the discussion centered around how to hire a business manager for the new district. Under the reorganization plan, the board has to first offer the position to a current staff member of either Williston Public School District No. 1 or Williams County Public School District No. 8.

Board member Sarah Williams brought up the possibility of keeping both Jodi Germundson, the business manager for District 1 and Sherri Heser, business manager for District 8, creating a co-business manager position. She said splitting the duties could help the process of starting the new district.

“That’s one thing I’d like the board to think about,” she said.

Board member John Kasmer agreed and said he had been talking with others about it.

“I think it would be something that could work very well and could be advantageous for the first year,” he said.

The question of what would happen after that troubled some board members, though. Cory Swint said he thought the idea would make sense for the first year, but because of how much the positions are paid, he thought the district couldn’t afford to continue that.

“Then salaries would have to take a drastic cut,” he said.

Board Vice President Kyle Renner said he could see the value in two managers for the first year and possibly the second, but not beyond that.

Chris Jundt, board president, said having a single person leading the new district’s business office would be best.

“There’s got to be somebody that runs the department and one person that’s held accountable from the board’s perspective,” Jundt said.

Kasmer, though, argued it would help the process of unifying the two districts during the first year.

“I think the smoothest transition possible is to have both of those people working for us,” he said.

Jundt suggested using a scoring rubric during an interview. With a rubric developed in advance, both the board and the candidates would know what’s expected.

Board member Thomas Kalil said because of the different sizes of the districts — District 1 has more than 4,000 students while District 8 has nearly 800 — meant board members might not be aware of what both were responsible for.

“I think there needs to be some board member education before we can have a better discussion on this issue,” he said.

Board member Heather Wheeler moved to hold an interview process for one business manager, and Swint seconded. Kasmer and Williams voted no while Jundt, Kalil, Swint, Renner and Wheeler voted yes.

Renner said he understood the points both sides were making but came down in favor of choosing one business manager.

He and others noted that there would still be room for both in the district, even with different titles.

“I think it should be a superintendent decision,” he said.

Other business:

The board voted Jundt as president unanimously and voted Renner as vice president with five votes to Kalil’s two.

The board decided to hold a public meeting on Jan. 26 about the curriculum of the new district. State law requires a newly reorganized district hold that meeting before Feb. 1.


Coronavirus
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Williston Community Library to begin limited opening to public
  • Updated

The building is quiet inside, even for a library, but all that is going to start changing in the next few weeks.

The Williston Community Library has been essentially closed since the pandemic began hitting the Williston area hard earlier this year. While the library has worked in the meantime to provide a number of alternative services, such as online checkouts, curbside pickup and more, the building itself has been closed to the public for several months. Beginning Monday, Jan 4, that’s going to change, but slowly.

As COVID numbers begin to decrease in the area, library staff, along with guidance from the library Board and the City of Williston, will open their doors to the public once again, but only for limited computer use. Library Director Andrea Placher said the small-scale opening will hopefully be the stepping stone to allowing full use of the library.

“I feel like this is our path to getting back to whatever the new normal may be,” Placher told the Williston Herald. “Our number one priority is to keep our staff and the community as safe and healthy as we can, while still providing as many services as we are able. So being able to open, even just the computers, means more to us than people realize.”

Placher said masks will be mandatory for both staff and patrons, and that mask will be provided to those who need one. Hand sanitizing stations will also be set up, with a staff member helping to direct patron traffic to maintain social distance needs. Faxing, copying and printing services will also be available with computer use. Patrons will have timed sessions, ranging from 15 to 60 minutes, with a 60 minutes maximum limit per day. Computers and other surfaces will be sanitized between each patron.

Placher said the library’s decisions have been made with guidance from the REopening Archives, Libraries, and Museums (REALM) project, which is a research project conducted by Online Computer Library Center, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and Battelle to provide science-based information about how materials can be handled to limit COVID-19 exposure to staff and visitors of archives, libraries, and museums.

The extensive testing done by the project helped libraries nationwide determine how long the virus survived on materials such as books, DVD cases, board games and more. Those results showed libraries how long items must be quarantined between patrons before they could be checked out again.

Placher said that the limited-opening will be a testing ground, and that they will re-evaluate the COVID numbers and situation in the coming weeks to determine when the library can beginning allowing patrons to browse the books once again. Like computer use, browsing would also come with a time limit, Placher added.

“As the numbers go down, it makes us very hopeful and very excited about the future and the things we can begin doing again.” She explained. “Our main goal has been to keep everyone safe so that we don’t have to take services away. We want to approach opening in a practical way and in steps to ensure that our staff can adapt while continuing to maintain everyone’s safety.”

Services such as curbside pickup will still be available, as well as all other online services. For more information about the library’s phased opening, call 701-774-8805, visit www.willistonndlibrary.com or check them out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/willistoncommunitylibrary.


Coronavirus
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Evergreen Roadshow Raffles brings in over $50,000 for Williston Community Builders

The final tallies are coming in, but all signs point to the Williston Community Builders having a successful year for their inaugural Evergreen Roadshow Raffle.

The raffle was held earlier in December, and featured a variety of Christmas trees and wreaths, which much like the Festival of Trees. The trees and wreaths were donated by Handy Andy’s Nursery and decorated by local businesses and loaded with gifts to be raffled off. The trees featured a variety of different styles and colors, coinciding with each business’ theme, such as camping, ice fishing and staying fit. Under the trees, presents like Yeti coolers, espresso machines, fitness equipment and more were included.

The Community Builders hoped to raise $40,000 with the raffle, and Treasurer Amanda Colebank said the community came out once again to not only help reach that goal, but surpass it.

“It was definitely above and beyond what we expected, which was great,” Colebank told the Williston Herald. “Since this was our first year doing it we really had no expectation, but we were able to raise over $55,000 to go back to our community.”

The Builders sold 309,000 entries for the trees and wreaths, which then had to be printed, cut out and sorted for the raffle, which was held live on Facebook Dec 16. From here, Colebank said the group will meet after the New Year to begin discussing where the funds will go. In the past, the Community Builders have donated funds to organizations such as Entertainment, Inc!, The James Memorial Art Center, the Williston High School Drama Department and the Military Affairs Committee, providing a pivotal donation in getting the Freedom Monument constructed.

Colebank said the group hopes to make the Roadshow Raffle an annual event separate from the Festival of Trees. More events mean more opportunity to raise money for the community, Colebank said, which is main goal of the Builders. And the group is able to continually meet that goal, she added, thanks to the generosity of those in the area.

“The community always amazes me, and this year was no different.” She said. “Our whole goal is to make Williston a better place, one friendly face at a time, and so we do everything we can do make that happen.”

Colebank said the Community Builders are currently accepting ideas and feedback on where the money would best be used. To share your feedback, contact the Williston Community Builders at willistoncommunitybuilders@gmail.com.


Public_safety
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Man accused of Christmas Eve break-ins
  • Updated

A 35-year-old man is facing more than a dozen felony charges after police say he broke into two houses on Christmas Eve.

Levi Muse was charged Tuesday, Dec. 29, with seven class B felony counts and one class C felony count of theft, one class B felony and one class C felony count of burglary, six class C felony counts of being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm and one class B misdemeanor of fleeing a police officer. He was ordered held on $200,000 bond.

Police say Muse was the culprit of two Christmas Eve burglaries.

In the first, a family reported the theft around 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 24, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed in Northwest District Court. The family returned from church and found multiple things missing, including a 12-pack of Dr. Pepper, a 12-pack of root beer, a case of juice, tools, a DeWalt battery charger, a container of cookies, 12 Christmas stockings containing gifts, tools, and a Google Pixel 4 cellular phone.

Officers noted distinctive shoe tread marks outside the home.

Later that evening, police were called to a home on 13th Avenue West for a report of a burglary in progress. When an officer arrived, he found a 2002 GMC pickup backed up to the door of a home and saw Muse leaving the home carrying items, charging documents indicate.

Muse ran when confronted, but the officer was able to catch and arrest him. Police found a 9mm handgun near Muse, and in the truck, they found three rifles and two shotguns that had been taken from the home.

The homeowner also identified jewelry that had been stolen from the home.

Muse is not allowed to possess firearms after a 2018 felony conviction. In that case he was accused of breaking into a Williston car dealership and stealing items and accused of possession of child pornography after being searched. Police said that when Muse was arrested, he had a memory card in his pocket that contained an obscene image of an 11- to 14-year-old girl.

A jury convicted him on the class C felony count of possession of prohibited materials and acquitted him on felony theft and burglary charges.

Muse has a preliminary hearing scheduled for Jan. 27.


Public_safety
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Police: Man kicked in former boss' door when he didn't get a response to Facebook friend request
  • Updated

A man is facing two felony charges after police say he kicked in the door of a former employer’s home and went inside.

Caleb Burczyk, 29, was charged Tuesday, Dec. 29, with class C felony counts of burglary and terrorizing. A judge set bond at $25,000.

Police say Burczyk started sending aggressive Facebook friend requests to a former employer on Thursday, Dec. 24, including threats.

“Another message from Caleb Burczyk to (his former employer) read: ‘Accept my friend request or I’m going to murder you,’” investigators wrote in an affidavit of probable cause filed in Northwest District Court.

On Dec. 26, Burczyk said there would be trouble for his former boss if Burczyk had to fire up his pickup and come find him, according to charging documents. That message included a photo of his truck.

Burczyk also posted a photo of himself on Snapchat with a message about his boss’ family needing a new door. That photo showed him in a black cap, black vest and red and black plaid long-sleeve shirt, court documents state.

Security footage from Dec. 26 showed the man who kicked in the door of the home on Creekside Drive wearing the same outfit.

Burczyk is due back in court Jan. 27 for a preliminary hearing.


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