BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The Bismarck Tribune, Bismarck, Oct. 8, 2014
Use talent when it is available
Sometimes concerns about the big picture can blind people to benefits in the short term.
That seems to be the case with the North Dakota Grain Growers Association objecting to the Natural Resources Conservation Service using three Ducks Unlimited field biologists to help NRCS with two federal programs: the Conservation Reserve Program and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.
The grain growers say DU is an out-of-state political organization that works against North Dakota's interests. They cite DU's support, especially financially, of Measure 5 as proof the organization doesn't have the state's best interests in mind.
They fear if Measure 5 passes, DU could get more grant money, get more staffers in the field with the NRCS and use Measure 5 money to buy agricultural land.
There's no doubt that DU takes a different approach to conservation than many North Dakota groups. It's also true that DU has been unsuccessful in attempts to buy land in the state. It's unlikely Measure 5 would make it any easier to acquire property.
The DU biologists working with the NRCS are professionals who follow standards. To imply they might influence decisions on private land use is unfair.
"Every dollar of federal funding for technical assistance work is matched by a dollar of DU funds," according to an NRCS statement issued to The Associated Press. "This helps NRCS meet the large demand for conservation planning and project implementation."
The NRCS said Ducks Unlimited staff are supervised by NRCS officials and do not conduct wetland compliance checks. Producers who don't comply with wetlands regulations can lose eligibility for federal farm programs, according to the AP.
The biologists are not involved in any regulatory programs or policy development, according to DU.
If the NRCS can make use of the expertise of three DU staffers, it should. According to the AP story, the three working for NRCS make up less than 2 percent of the agency's 200 office-level field staff in the state.
Until some undue influence by DU can be found, the NRCS should continue to use the talent. We shouldn't allow disagreements in philosophy and Measure 5 blind us to working with them.
If there are ways to benefit, we should use them.
Minot Daily News, Minot, Oct. 9, 2014
Another Høstfest in books
The Norsk Hostfest is nothing but a memory for another year, but boy what a memory.
The entertainment was top-notch as usual with one performer at least, Doc Severinsen, having the distinction of being older than most people in the crowd. According to some who attended Severinsen's concert, the famed trumpeter and band leader could probably outrun half the audience, too. He's quite spry for 87.
Another of the acts, the Nordic Tenors, stood out as yet another example of the quality of entertainment that can be found on the free stages at Hostfest. We can only hope that Hstfest sees fit to invite the powerful singing group back in the near future.
Once again, the classic fall event came off without any hitches, at least none that were apparent. And that is a testament to the dedication of both the paid staff at Hstfest — of which there are few — and the vast number of volunteers who work to make Hstfest the remarkable international event that it has been year after year and will be again next year. Well done.
The Williston Herald, Williston, Oct. 6, 2014
Thank you, Ladwig and Andrist
Many people find it hard to comprehend that public service — any public service — is actually a very noble profession. Too many of our best and brightest men and women shy away from a city committee, a state legislative seat, a job in public works or city hall, or even in the state or federal government. But for some, public service is a way of life.
This week two longtime local public figures called it a career — Crosby state Sen. John Andrist and Police Capt. Tom Ladwig — and we want to take this opportunity to salute them and their service to the community.
Since 1975, Ladwig has been a staple on the Williston Police Department, rising through the ranks during treacherous boom-bust cycles, before the most recent surge changed the city forever.
Law enforcement in Williston is a tough gig, and it doesn't get any easier as the No. 2 man in the city when crime has increased exponentially in frequency and severity.
But through it all, Ladwig remained to serve his community no matter how difficult the job became.
Up north, Andrist is a man after our own heart, a newspaper man turned state legislator for 22 years in District 2. For health reasons, Andrist announced his retirement earlier in the week, ending the career of one of the Senate's favorites.
Known for being soft-spoken, but sharp-minded, Andrist has been dedicated to his district and the oil patch during his tenure. After suffering a stroke that hobbled the senator, he continued pushing forward in the chamber, and soon became known for his mile walks around the capital building every morning, even into his 80s.
In our pages on Tuesday, Andrist wrote his farewell column to North Dakota, in true fashion of a newspaper man.
While we take the time to recognize these two longtime public service officials, we also want to encourage the community to step up and rise to the occasion for Williston and the surrounding area. As individuals, we cannot accomplish the goals and expectations of this incredible growth and opportunity.
But together, working as a unified group for the public, Williston can accomplish anything.
To do that, we need more people like Ladwig and Andrist to step into public service roles and stick with through the thick and thin.
Just as these men did for decades.