North Dakota youth started or returned to school Wednesday, Aug. 21. Wahpeton Elementary was among the places for traditional first day activity.
Some students carried classroom supplies. Some held an adult’s hand, while others insisted they were too old for that. A couple students were adjusting their eyes to the morning sun’s glare.
A total of 1,224 students are enrolled in Wahpeton Public Schools, the district reported Wednesday afternoon. That’s an increase of 19 students from the 1,205 enrolled at the start of the 2018-2019 education year.
Whether coming off a bus, out of a car or from a short walk away, youth entered schools like Wahpeton Elementary with enthusiasm or at least excitement.
The elementary school is part of a three-building complex located along and adjacent to Eleventh Street North, Wahpeton. Shortly before 8 a.m. and leading up to the 8:25 a.m. final start of classes, the street and adjacent roads were congested with automobiles.
Chris DeVries knew what to expect. Wahpeton’s community development director gave a brief traffic forecast at the last city council meeting.
DeVries’ Monday, Aug. 19 report also included a summary of the city youth commission, which met beginning in March.
“We had a short but good year. There’s a lot of good things going between the city and the school,” DeVries said.
Councilman-at-large Kelly McNary led the commission, which included eight students. The inaugural meetings were informative for both youth and adults, DeVries said.
A “Wahpeton 101” activity helped share facts like where Volunteer Park is and what it’s named for. Located at the banks of the Red River on Dakota Avenue, Volunteer Park is dedicated to those who aided in flood protection and continue to make a difference in the community.
Youth also learned about how government works and had the opportunity to suggest new city activity.
“We asked them, what would you want to see that would keep you here? Or, if you went away to college, what would bring you back?” DeVries said.
Suggestions included a more active nightlife in Wahpeton and increased indoor activities during winter months.
“One of our members has offered to stay on for this year for continuity and Mr. McNary will be a director again,” DeVries said. “Once the school year starts and we can confirm a time for the meetings, we’ll have the applications available.”
Since the Youth Commission’s inception, DeVries has talked about its use for both interested leaders and engaged students.
“It’s a good thing to have on college or job applications,” he said. “I think this is a beneficial, professional group.”
North Dakota’s 2019-20 education year began one week after the third annual Governor’s Summit on Innovative Education in Jamestown, North Dakota. Gov. Doug Burgum, R-N.D., held a free public event focusing specifically on behavioral health challenges in classrooms.
“By sharing best practices and learning from one another, we can tackle these challenges, identify new opportunities to improve student outcomes and become a national leader in education,” Burgum said Wednesday, Aug. 14.
North Dakota is striving to improve its public education for students and families, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler said prior to the summit.
“This involves listening to the voices of our students, our families, our educators and our taxpayers as we move forward,” Baesler said. “I am also grateful for the summit’s focus on behavioral health issues in our schools, which our educators have identified as something that needs to be addressed urgently.”
Whether new students or upperclassmen, North Dakota youth entered classrooms Wednesday. North Dakota State College of Science, which has campuses in Wahpeton and Fargo and online classes, begins its fall semester Monday, Aug. 26.
Districts in Minnesota begin their education year on Tuesday, Sept. 3.
Look to Daily News and News-Monitor for education coverage throughout the 2019-2020 school year.
Kirsten Meadows isn’t new to the Earthen Stage. It was the fourth summer in a row the Breckenridge student took part in the Wilkin County Fair’s Spelling Bee and for the third time, she claimed the title as the best speller in the county.
The stage and crowd members can be intimidating for a sixth grader, but Meadows was seasoned from her prior trips. She’s come a long way from the nerves of her first title run in third grade.
“I was surprised that I made it (my first year). I was expecting a lot of kids to beat me, but I somehow made it and then I was kind of nervous because I didn’t know what to do,” Meadows said. “It’s just like, what are people going to think and everything? If I spell a word wrong is everybody going to be mad and disappointed?”
Her fourth grade competition was the lone time Meadows didn’t win the contest. Throughout the years she’s had a friendly rivalry with her fellow Breckenridge student, Eli Butts.
“Every year it’s always me and him last,” Meadows said.
Her mother, Bayli Rettig, helped her prepare by printing off words for Meadows to correct. This year’s lead-up didn’t have as much practice as summers past, but everything still panned out.
“When I first started I really was practicing during the summer and this year I only practiced like a couple of times,” Meadows said. “I had very low expectations to win to be honest.”
The $50 cash prize was put to good use after the win.
“This year I bought tickets to go to the fair for me and my sister,” Meadows said. “Yesterday I had an extra $10 and I went to the store. We went to Jubilee and I got them Zebra Cakes and popsicles and stuff.”
1. Mosquito spraying in Wahpeton: The city of Wahpeton will do mosquito spraying from 8-11 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 22. More info on page A2.
2. Grill Out: Amanda Frederick State Farm in Breckenridge, Minnesota, is hosting a grill-out to celebrate their fifth anniversary from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 22. The community is invited to stop by for hotdogs, chips, cookies and beverages.
3. Car enthusiasts: From 8-11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 24, BW Cruisers and Coffee will show their vehicles at Wahpeton Ace Hardware.
4. Wine Stomp: Dakota Vines Vineyard and Winery will host their first annual grape stomp starting at 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 25. Tickets for the family-friendly event are $5, and children in strollers are free. The grape stomp is $30 per team, register on their Facebook page.
With a 4-1 vote Tuesday, Aug. 20, the Richland County Board of Commissioners approved adopting the LoadPass Permits system.
Designed as a uniform system for the permitting of overweight and oversized loads on roadways, LoadPass Permits takes effect Jan. 1, 2020 in Richland County, North Dakota.
Commissioner Sid Berg, who said he wanted more discussion, was the dissenting vote. Representatives from LoadPass Permits, who had concluded a nearly one-hour presentation, were present for the vote.
Twenty-six North Dakota counties are on the system, Richland County commissioners learned. The state has a total of 53 counties.
LoadPass Permits, according to Permit Operator Janet Sanford, was founded in the 1980s by the Western Dakota Energy Association. The organization represented western North Dakota counties where oil and gas industries were established.
“The system was started to give the counties some control over the heavy loads traveling over their country roads, and to give the industry one place to obtain permission for traveling overweight on the county and participating township roads,” LoadPass Permits website states.
Brent Bogar, a research consultant, explained that paper permits were phased out in favor of an online-only method. Technology advancements make it possible for precise information.
“The system calculates the permit for them,” Bogar said. “It can show that a driver traveled 1.7 miles on township road A, .3 miles on township road B and three miles on a county road.”
LoadPass Permits is governed by the executive board and load pass permit advisory committee of Western Dakota Energy Association. For more information, visit www.loadpasspermits.com.
In other news, Richland County is awaiting a formal letter from the city of Fairmount, North Dakota. The city is expected to purchase a dilapidated house at 303 First St. N. and receive no more than $2,000 from Richland County for demolition assistance.
The house was foreclosed on in 2018. A two-story property, it has visible exterior damage including peeling or broken shingles, siding and gutters.
Commissioner Tim Campbell, a Fairmount resident, said he had been notified by a contractor interested in bidding for the demolition project. Demolition was previously estimated to cost between $7,000-$8,000.
Earlier in the meeting, the commissioners set an 8 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 17 hearing for Richland County’s 2020 budget. The hearing will come the day after Wahpeton’s final budget hearing and expected budget adoption, scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday, Sept. 16.
Whether in the city or county, a budget can be decreased after its first reading. It cannot be increased. On Tuesday, Aug. 13, Richland County approved preliminary mill levies for 2019-2020. They would be in effect for taxes paid in 2020.
The next commissioners meeting is scheduled for 8 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 3 at the Richland County Courthouse, 418 Second Ave. N. in Wahpeton.