Watford plans $56 million events center
Imagine Watford City having a facility that would have an indoor swimming pool, two sheets of ice for hockey and figure skating, as well as a 3,000-seat venue that could hold concerts and sporting events and a convention center. And that facility would also include a walking/running track, meeting and conference rooms, plus have space for groups such as the Badlands Gymnastics Club, dance and ballet groups and the Watford City Senior Citizens.
All of that and much more is possible, according to Brent Sanford, Watford City mayor, if Watford City voters in June approve a half cent increase to the city’s sales tax to fund a $56 million events center.
“Watford City has literally outgrown all of its current facilities that used to house these groups and events,” states Sanford. “We have five times the number of people here today that we had five years ago, and we just don’t have the facilities to take care of all of these recreational needs. And many of the buildings that are currently being used just aren’t adequate.”
To illustrate the huge growth in youth programs, Sanford notes that there are currently 300 youth involved in hockey and figure skating programs, more than 200 in gymnastics, and 200 hundred-plus in youth basketball programs.
According to Gene Veeder, McKenzie County Economic Development director, the idea of a facility of this nature has been high on the public’s list of needs for several years.
McKenzie County Farmer, Watford City
Filter socks dumped in Mountrail County
In what seems to be a recurring story in northwest North Dakota these days, officials in Mountrail County have found discarded filter socks off the roadway in southern Mountrail County. Emergency Manager Don Longmuir said he received the call April 4 from Mountrail County Chief Deputy Corey Bristol that the socks had been found near a field by New Town.
When he arrived on the scene, they were well off the roadway or ditch area, so he believes they did not just fall off a truck that was moving them. The approximately 30 socks had apparently been there awhile as well, based on their deteriorated condition. He says they may have been there since last fall or some time during the winter.
The remnants of a black bag can be seen among the scattered socks. Based on the length of time they have been there and their condition, Longmuir says there is no way to know who is responsible for them being left there or exactly how long they have been there.
State Health Department workers collected the socks, which were taken by a licensed hauler to an approved waste site.
The state will help with the costs incurred in the disposal.
Mountrail County Promoter, Stanley
New Town casino plans expansion
A new 4,000-plus-seat event center and current makeover to the gaming floor are part of a six-year plan for 4 Bears Casino located four miles west of New Town.
“Every few years you’ll see a new event center, newer machines and probably a hotel addition shortly — right up to 2020,” said General Manager Patrick Packineau.
The new multipurpose event center will double the existing center’s square footage and seating capacity, which will host a variety of activities such as cultural and educational events, concerts, weddings, oil and gas shows, powwows and sport shows, he added.
Packineau said the multimillion-dollar building is still in the design planning phase and anticipates its construction to create a sense of pride and to serve “all our purposes.”
“It looks beautiful. It’s a great amenity for the casino and for western North Dakota in general,” he said.
The existing event center, which hosts at least 50 events each year, will be renovated and feature a grand ballroom, extended gaming, a food court and a service area.
New Town News
Mercer courthouse project planned
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.
“So we’ve been approved and now we just wait,” she added.
State’s Attorney Jessica Binder stated that, with the way the law reads, if taxes were increased there would have to be a vote, noting that “overall consensus was to have the people approve this as proposed.”
Portal port gets more agents
Portal has been named one of 44 ports of entry in the United States that will receive additional U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents.
Five new agents will be stationed at North Dakota’s second busiest port of entry, primarily because of an obvious increase in activity at Portal/North Portal.
“With population and economic growth comes an increase in border traffic, and this is just what we are seeing in North Dakota,” said Congressman Kevin Cramer, R-N.D. “The timely movement of people and goods through the border shared with our Canadian friends is critical to keep pace with the growth in our state and to spur the national economy.”
Cramer, who chairs the Northern Border Caucus, said the additional officers will help make the crossing process safer and smoother for residents who rely on efficient border service for personal travel or commerce.
Sales tax on Lignite ballot
Lignite residents will vote in June on a proposed home rule charter that would include sales tax to fund infrastructure maintenance and improvements.
The charter would levy a 2 percent sales tax on retail sales, with proceeds to be used for developing, promoting and enhancing the general welfare of the community, including such projects for health, recreation, business and commerce retention, expansion and recruitment.
“This will allow the City Council to be able to finance upgrades that will better the city,” said Galen Kalmbach, City Council member.
The charter calls for 75 percent of sales tax revenues to be used for city of Lignite infrastructure, 5 percent for park infrastructure improvements, and 20 percent for community improvements and business recruitment.
Burke County Tribune, Bowbells
State OK’s Noonan clean-up
The state has awarded a contract for $12,595 to a company called Next Generation, to properly dispose of the illegally dumped radioactive filter socks left in an old building on Noonan’s Main Street.
Once started, the cleanup is estimated to take one to two days to complete, said Steve Tillotson, assistant director of the State Health Department’s Division of Waste Management.
Filter socks can build up low levels of naturally occurring radioactivity when used for filtering various fluids produced during oil and gas exploration, according to a press release from the health department.
“Next Generation is one of a two companies currently licensed in North Dakota to perform radioactive waste decontamination activities,” the release stated.
“They will containerize the filter socks in a leak proof shipping container, remove any residual contaminated materials, dispose of all the materials at a licensed facility in Idaho, and test the area to confirm that it meets the radiation criteria for unrestricted use.”
The Journal, Crosby
Contract will bring
The Divide County Ambulance District will soon be signing a contract with an outside company to provide the ambulance service with a full staff of paramedics and EMTs, said Ambulance District President Mike Melby.
Though a contract has yet to be signed, the parties have agreed to basics. More details will be forthcoming after the contract has been signed, he said, including a public meet-and-greet session with the ambulance service and the company.
In February, the ambulance service was looking for extra help within the community, especially attracting EMTs to the group.
Being short on help was the group’s biggest issue, Melby said, desiring to build up the ambulance service’s team.
Although ambulance service members were investigating the particulars of hiring outside help at that time — Jackie Lindsey was negotiating with an outside group to provide EMTs for the district using a $106,000 grant — Melby hoped to avoid this.
Meanwhile, he worried about the few available EMTs getting “burned out.”
The Journal, Crosby
Tioga development growth ‘too slow’
Urgent discussion on the need to fund community growth and development, and the frustration some feel over the slow pace of projects, dominated discussion Monday at Tioga City Hall.
Rep. Bob Skarphol (R-Tioga), spoke on the need for Tioga to be more competitive with other towns seeking state funding for housing, schools and other infrastructure. He pointed to Watford City, which received $16 million in grant funding in 2012, while Tioga received only $5 million.
“I’m proud to be from Tioga, but there’s a time when things need to be managed differently, and this is one of those times,” he said.
Taxable sales and purchase statistics show Tioga’s taxable purchases accounted for 33 percent of the state’s total, Skarphol said, ahead of Williston, which accounted for 26 percent.
Skarphol said other communities have more public relations and lobbying efforts than Tioga, which brings more attention to their needs.
“I’m not saying Watford doesn’t deserve the money, but I think this commission needs to be doing the same thing. You have to do something noticeable,” Skarphol said.
The Tioga Tribune