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Richland County
Railroad crossing projects coming soon
Beginning mid-September; three total

Roads near railroad crossings in Richland County, North Dakota, are expected to receive surface upgrades beginning in less than two weeks.

Three total projects will be completed by Red River Valley and Western Railroad, Richland County Highway Engineer Jesse Sedler said Tuesday, Sept. 3. Each project will require a minimum two-day shutdown of the railroad crossing.

Weather conditions may require the projects to be extended or delayed, Sedler said. Detour routes will be posted for drivers.

The projects are:

• a crossing on Richland County Road 81 east of Dwight, North Dakota; this is 3/4 of a mile south of the County Road 10 intersection; the project is expected to last from Monday, Sept. 16-Tuesday, Sept. 17

• a crossing on 78th Street Southeast, also known as 16th Avenue North in Wahpeton; this is 60 feet east of the 181st Avenue Southeast intersection, or the crossing near Walmart; this project is expected to last from Wednesday, Sept. 18-Thursday, Sept. 18

• a crossing on Richland County Road 10 in Wahpeton; this is 60 feet east of the crossing near Walmart; this project is expected to last from Monday, Sept. 23-Tuesday, Sept. 24.

Earlier in their meeting, the Richland County Board of Commissioners voted 4-1 to approve both the sale of a dilapidated house in Fairmount, North Dakota, and Richland County’s assistance in demolishing the house.

Located at 303 First St. N., the house was foreclosed on in 2018. A two-story property, it has visible exterior damage including peeling or broken shingles, siding and gutters.

The commissioners voted to sell the property to Fairmount for $1 and provide $2,000 for the disposal. The $2,000 will be provided to the city once the demolition is complete.

Commissioner Sid Berg was the dissenting vote. Prior to voting, Berg suggested that Richland County provide a maximum of $2,000 per year, not project, in demolition assistance situations. It would be a matter of first come, first served, Berg said.

The board of commissioners has set a precedent by allocating demolition assistance funds, Commissioner Rollie Ehlert said. At the same time, Commissioner Nathan Berseth said projects would be considered individually and the $1 sale, maximum of $2,000 assistance model is not a blanket policy.

“Cities will have to work with us if they want us to contribute $2,000 to help with demolition,” Berseth said.

Fairmount has indicated it wants to complete the project as soon as possible, Richland County Auditor Leslie Hage said.

Richland County Commissioner Tim Campbell, a Fairmount resident, first informed the board of the city’s interest in August. During that same meeting, Commissioner Dan Thompson mentioned the necessity of selling to a municipality and not a private individual in these situations.

In other news, Richland County has received 18 new voting machines for the 2020 elections. The machines ensure Richland County can have its maximum amount of voting precincts.

Richland County has 15 voting precincts, Daily News reported in April. Both North Dakota District 25 and District 26 have precincts in Richland County. A voting machine in Walcott, North Dakota serves both a District 25 precinct and a District 26 precinct. So does a machine in Hankinson, North Dakota.

The next commissioners meeting is scheduled for 8 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 17 at the Richland County Courthouse, 418 Second Ave. N. in Wahpeton.


Editor / Carrie McDermott • Daily News  

First day of school

Johnny Tolbert, fifth grade, gets high-fives from teachers at Breckenridge Elementary School Tuesday, Sept. 4. Students in Minnesota headed back to class this week.


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Breckenridge Public Utilities
Two commissioners receive industry awards

Two members of the Breckenridge Public Utilities Commission received Public Service awards from the Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association Tuesday, Sept. 3.

Steve Downer, associate executive director with MMUA, surprised Gordon Martinson and Glenn Rakow with the awards during the commission meeting.

“For as long as I can remember, Breckenridge Public Utilities has been a stalwart and unwavering supporter of MMUA and we really appreciate it,” Downer said. “That goes back to Jeff Muehler, who was our president 30-some years ago, Dale Peterson was on our board. Gordon Martinson and Glenn Rakow have always been there as near as i can remember. I’m glad I have this opportunity to come up and acknowledge not only their contributions and support but Breckenridge as a whole.”

He presented the awards to Martinson and Rakow and thanked them for their contributions and support the goals and purposes of MMUA and municipally-owned public utilities. Martinson has served on Breckenridge’s commission since 1982 and Rakow since 1994.

“Any time I get any kind of award, it isn’t so much because of what I’ve done so much, but with the help of other people. This board has been a tremendous help and get me to those meetings,” Martinson said. “To persuade me to go, maybe, so that’s what it is. It’s an award for all us really, not just me.”

In 2018, Martinson was honored with a Community Leader award from Missouri River Energy Services during their annual meeting in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

In other news, the commission reviewed the bills and claims and heard feedback from a customer service workshop attended by a public utilities employee.

Director of Public Services Neil Crocker gave electric and water crew updates. The electrical crew is working on getting infrastructure laid in for the walking path lighting system. Light poles are scheduled for delivery in mid-September and he expects everything will be installed and hooked up within a month.

A small building was constructed underneath the water tower to house all the controls of the old water plant to give total separation to that building in the event it is sold or demolished.

The commission also reviewed and approved the 2020 budget.

A review of the MMUA annual meeting was given by Crocker, who said his biggest takeaway was the topic of the growth of the electric vehicle industry and how public utilities will address it, plan for charging stations, and other related issues to consider.

The commission next meets at 2 p.m. Monday, Sept. 16 at City Hall.


News
4 Things to Know Today

1. “The BBQ-Farming Fun Fest,” the third of four weekends celebrating Wahpeton’s sesquicentennial, is less than two weeks away. Look to Daily News for coverage.

2. Every week, we provide a thought-provoking reader poll. Turn to A3 to learn more and don’t forget to vote at www.wahpetondailynews.com.

3. “Come on down!” “One dollar, Drew.” “A brand new car!” “The Price Is Right” began airing on this day in 1972. For a few years, it was a half-hour show and had “The New” in its title.

4. Today’s Birthdays include “Bewitched” star Dick York (1928-1992); actor and comedian Damon Wayans (1960-); “Uptown Funk” writer-producer Mark Ronson (1977-) and singer-actress Beyoncé Knowles (1981-).


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2020 Election
Former Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach announces bid to take on Rep. Collin Peterson

ST. PAUL — Former Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach announced Monday, Sept. 2, that she would challenge U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson in Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District.

The move tees up a competitive bid in the district that spans much of the western side of the state and launches one of the most serious challenges Peterson, a Democrat who has held the seat for decades, has seen.

President Donald Trump won the 7th District by more than 30 percentage points in 2016, setting up the nation’s congressional district with the most support for the president that is also represented by a Democrat in Congress. Peterson was re-elected in 2016 by a smaller margin, about 5 percentage points, over Republican Dave Hughes.

But Fischbach, who also served as the state’s first female president of the Minnesota Senate before ascending to her role as lieutenant governor in 2018, said Peterson has grown out of touch with his district and could use someone more willing to work with the White House.

“Western Minnesota families deserve a representative who will fight for their values in Washington and support President Trump’s agenda – not the socialist agenda of Nancy Pelosi, Ilhan Omar, and the rest of the squad,” Fischbach, a Republican, said in a statement Monday. “People here believe in our constitutional rights. They believe in the right to life. They believe in making sure the next generation has the opportunity to pursue the American dream right here in Western Minnesota.”

The announcement of her candidacy elicited a change in the competitiveness of the race by election predictor Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball, from leans Democratic to a toss-up.

Fischbach was first elected to the Minnesota Senate in 1996 and served there advancing to committee leadership and senate president roles until 2018. The Republican attended St. Cloud State University and earned a bachelor’s degree and went on to William Mitchell College of Law where she received her Juris Doctor degree. Fischbach and her husband, Scott, live in the Paynesville area and they have two grown children as well as five grandchildren.

Peterson hasn’t officially announced whether he’ll seek re-election next year, but he told the Forum News Service in June that he would make his plans known early next year. Dave Hughes, a Republican, has said he’ll also seek the seat in 2020.

Peterson has served in Congress for 28 years and has often broken away on party-line votes. He also chairs the House Committee on Agriculture.

Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party Chairman Ken Martin said Republicans have tried and failed to take down Peterson in the past, but Minnesotans have re-elected him and will likely continue to do so. Martin also pointed to the U.S.’s ongoing trade war with China and noted that it will weigh on many voters’ minds come 2020.

“Right now, President Donald Trump is engaged in a reckless trade war that’s devastating Minnesota’s farmers and agricultural economy. Dave Hughes or Michelle Fischbach would doubtless be another rubber stamp for Donald Trump’s disastrous trade policies that are hurting rural communities and creating serious economic uncertainty for farmers,” Martin said in a news release. “Now more than ever, rural Minnesotans need a fighter like Collin Peterson in their corner.”

But Fischbach disputed that point in an interview with Forum News Service Tuesday morning. She said farmers, who make up a key constituency in western Minnesota, have said they’re willing to be patient and ride out a tough trade fight if Trump can land a better deal.

“They understand that China has been sticking it to the farmers for years,” Fischbach said. “And the president has been willing to take them on and trying to get that straightened out and make sure that in the end, there is a fair deal for farmers and China and trade in general.”