This was the first time in my six years as a Senator that none of my interim committees met for two months. It freed me up to visit several city council meetings and attend other events which I feel help keep me up to date. One of those cities I visited was Emerado for an informal citizen’s meeting. We in District 20 are host to the site of the Grand Sky Initiative which is located on the western side of the Grand Forks Air Force Base. As you can imagine, Emerado, situated across Highway 2 from the AFB, has hopes of capitalizing on this buildup of private jobs. Houses are in very short supply as witnessed by the fact that some of their law enforcement personnel have been looking for appropriate shelter in town for some time. They have a solution to a problem that many of our District 20 towns have had in common; lack of growth. But now they have other problems, with housing at the head of them followed closely by school bond issues to pass and child care amongst others.
Portland, Mayville, Hatton, Reynolds and Hillsboro were also on my agenda for listening in on city council meetings these last couple of months. A few observations from across these towns: for one, many of them had spring cleanup announcements to get out, which brought up a related and seemingly universal problem – blight. All of our communities seem to have someone whose property has gotten out of hand. Listening to the councils speak of the people involved was sometimes humorous and always a bit exasperating for those trying to keep things presentable. Child care merited mention at a few meetings as did street cleaning, street projects, street lighting and developing land for residents. For instance, I mentioned to the Reynolds council that what I remembered as their number one issue on my last visit was their lack of land available for real estate. They had solved that with some building sites on the west of town and are proceeding with infrastructure. Like Hillsboro, Buxton, Grandin and Thompson, they have the obvious advantage of being close to I-29.
Township meetings, Traill County Economic Development meetings, meetings with Higher Education officials, community clubs and meetings with industry people concerned with budget cut ramifications such as our Long Term Care Association took some time and attention.
It was good these past six years to see some increase in funding for many portions of our government, but it helps them and me to be in front of them during these tougher times as well because it is pretty much impossible to be detached when one knows the people involved. Hopefully, you stop to visit with your city council member, county commissioner, law enforcement, township officers or city/county and state employees once in a while because then we get to understand the issues better. We like to complain about taxes, but we can ill afford to do without the services they deliver. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.