701 Rundown: Jan. 9, 2023
January 9, 2023
Here’s your weekly rundown of some of the most interesting headlines from newspapers across North Dakota.
House fire takes everything
On Friday, Dec. 16, approximately three miles west of Martin, N.D., the home of Scott and Kristi Flood was completely destroyed by a devastating afternoon fire.
Trent Naser, Sheridan County Sheriff, said his department received the call that a house was on fire at around 2:30 Friday afternoon.
Everyone inside the home at the time of the blaze, four adults and two children, managed to escape without injury.
“Everybody was out of the house when we arrived,” said Harvey Fire Chief Gordy Schmidt. “By the time we got there, the fire had advanced beyond what we could contain. The fire started on an upper level of the house.
“We sent firemen inside to do an interior attack on the fire,” he added, “but they were not able to get the fire under control.”
That day, an historic blizzard and sub-zero temperatures were still pummeling most of North Dakota, making the job’s of the emergency responders that much more difficult.
According to weather data from ndawn.com, the maximum wind speed that day was 34 mph in Harvey and the wind chill plummeted temperatures to 17 degrees below zero on the day of the fire.
Crews also had to clear the gravel roads leading to the house, which were blocked with snow.
The cause of the fire is undetermined, said Schmidt.
(Story by Anne Ehni, The Herald-Press)
Watson to retire as the Bottineau County Sheriff
Bottineau County Sheriff, Steve Watson, retired as the sheriff of Bottineau County after 33 years with the department.
Watson said, “I have worked 33 years, four months and 17 days for the sheriff’s department. I started Aug. 14, 1989, as a deputy.
“I put an application in with Roger Hall and then in August, he asked me to come in for an interview and he hired me. I was a city deputy from 1989 until the end of 1990. I became a county deputy for a year, then I became chief deputy in 1992 until I ran for sheriff in 1998 when I became the sheriff.
Watson began his path into a law enforcement career directly after high school, attending Minot State University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice with an associate degree in law enforcement.
(Story by Scott Wagar, Bottineau Courant)
Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford submits resignation
On Wednesday, Dec. 20, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum announced that Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford is resigning as the state’s Lieutenant Governor.
Sanford’s last day in office was Jan. 2, but he could have stayed in office for significantly longer having been reelected to a four-year term in 2020. Regarding his decision to resign, Sanford cited his desire to return to the private sector and focus on his family and career.
Sanford is a native of Watford City and was the town's mayor for six years before becoming Lt. Gov. He also owned and operated a third-generation car dealership.
“We are deeply grateful for Brent’s exceptional service to the State of North Dakota and its citizens these last six years,” Burgum said. “From his leadership on key issues including energy, child care and economic development, to his influential work with the legislative branch as president of the Senate, to his leadership as the governor’s designee on multiple board’s, Brent has made a positive impact on North Dakota’s citizens, economy and communities far and wide.
“It’s been an honor to serve with him, and we wish him, Sandi and their children all the best in their future endeavors.”
Sanford is one of the longest-serving lieutenant governors in the nation, and has been in public service for close to 17 years.
“Serving the citizens of North Dakota as lieutenant governor has been the honor of a lifetime, and this was not an easy decision,” said Sanford.
He added, “The opportunities to make a difference in the lives of North Dakotans: fromsolving budget challenges and helping save Coal Creek Station, to negotiating tribal tax agreements and supporting UAS (unmanned aircraft solutions) expansion, to providing tax relief and launching our Clean Sustainable Energy efforts, to working with the Legislature to ensure that our state emerged strong from the pandemic.”
Sanford also said he is thankful to Burgum as well as the voters of North Dakota for entrusting him with such a responsibility.
(Story by Kristen Jones, McKenzie County Farmer)
Devlin wraps up 22 years of representing District 23
After serving 22 years in the legislature, Republican District 23 representative Bill Devlin chose not to seek re-election in the 2022 midterms. Devlin said changes had to be implemented following the redistricting process.
Devlin said, “As we worked through the redistricting process, we found most rural districts needed several thousand more people to meet the population requirements. The only way to fill those numbers was to take people from a neighboring district. But, almost every rural district was facing the same issue, so we ended up combining rural districts.
“The counties in District 23 ended up being split up between three other districts,” continued Devlin. “When we were done, there were four members of the North Dakota House of Representatives now living in District 29 including myself, and of course you can only have two.
“I was the oldest and I felt strongly that there were other experienced and very effective veteran legislators that could continue representing our area very well, so I decided not to seek re-election.”
Devlin was born and raised in Finley, N.D., and he and his wife Margie have been married for 55 years. Devlin was previously the owner of the Steele County Press for 36 years and worked hard in his years of service to promote open-records laws.
(Story by Lisa Saxberg, Griggs County Courier)
Roads employee resigns after equipment usage conflict
County commissioners in Emmons County moved ahead with their decision to reprimand a roads employee, who had resigned his position.
The commissioners had originally held a special meeting in September to address an issue where an employee took a county blade vehicle home to fix a waterway and blade his driveway after receiving permission from the Roads Superintendent. At the time they put the employee on a one-year probation with wage increase restrictions.
On Dec. 6, Vice Chairman Don Eberle of the commission told his colleagues those restrictions were “not right.”
Around 20 residents attended the Dec. 6 meeting in support of the employee, and Eberle said more blame should have fallen on the Roads Superintendent, not the employee.
Eberle made a motion to rescind the previous decision to punish the employee, but his attempts failed.
“We just lost the best blade operator we had in our part of the county,” he said afterwards.
(Story by Kelli Ameling, Emmons County Record)