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PATH looking to increase foster parents in Wahpeton

PATH is a local non-profit based out of Fargo, North Dakota, and they’re making a trip back to Wahpeton to spread the word on the need for foster care providers in the area.

The group will be at the Twin Town Gardeners’ Market on Thursday, Sept. 5 to distribute canvas bags and informative fliers about an upcoming meeting in Wahpeton, which will be at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 12 at the Baymont Inn.

“The general mission is to recruit more foster parents in the Wahpeton area,” Recruiting and Licensing Specialist Jenn Helm said. “We want to just educate people what foster care is, what PATH is, what types of kids we serve, what the licensing process is like and get that information out there to folks so that we hopefully, in the future, have them come work with us and be foster parents.”

The Fargo site is one of nine North Dakota locations for PATH. They cover the area to the Minnesota and South Dakota borders along with down to Jamestown, North Dakota. Representatives have already been to Jamestown, Fargo and Lisbon, North Dakota, to inform the communities on the need of foster parents.

PATH is a treatment-level foster care organization so they don’t have emergency placements. All the children are planned matches and they are required to have a mental-health diagnosis.

“We’re going to talk about the supports that our foster parents get versus foster parents at the county and then we’re going to talk about the different stages of the licensing process like background checks, the home study piece of it and then the different tasks you have to do to gather information on your home so that it’s safe for children to be in,” Helm said.

Potential foster parents aren’t required to attend the meetings in Wahpeton and there are already foster parents working in the area. Being a foster parent isn’t the only way to help in PATH’s mission.

“It’s not for everybody. A lot of people have a desire to help, they just don’t really want to become a foster parent. We’ll have ideas for that as well,” Helm said. “When folks come and learn this information, they might encounter a friend, family member or someone at church that might be really good at foster care. They can go ahead and share this information with them.”

Even though the organization is based in Fargo, they provide plenty of assistance to help foster parents in or near Wahpeton.

“We do have a lot of supports available. Our office is out of Fargo, but we still come down to Wahpeton and do home visits,” Helm said. “We try to hook kids up with services right down there so foster parents aren’t driving to Fargo all the time. I think that would be important for families to know.”

People that are interested in becoming a foster parent don’t have to be married and same-sex couples may join as well. Their home can be a house or apartment and they can have a full-time job.

“We have lots of foster parents where both of them work full-time,” Helm said.

Part-time fostering opportunities are also available.

“If full-time care isn’t for you, we have programs where you do overnights for four to six times a month and are paired with a family,” Helm said. “There’s a lot of different options for people.”

In the Community
Dog waterer debuts in Wahpeton
Valued item, installation entirely donated

Twin Towns Area dogs have a new way to wet their whistles.

Earlier this summer, a double waterer was donated to the Wahpeton Dog Park. Its installation was also made possible through donations.

“The waterer was donated by Schmitty’s Plumbing,” Park Board Commissioner Deb Tobias said. “We were going to buy one and found out they were $3,000 each.”

In addition to Tim Schmidt, other professionals donated to the project.

“Cook Krump from Nordick Electric dug in the water line and Bryan Wolfgram built the fence. Schmidt came back to hook up the waterer,” Tobias said.

The Wahpeton Dog Park, located in Airport Park on the city’s south side, opened in late summer 2015.

“Like any of our park projects, it’s based on citizen interest and we were able to pursue it this year,” Wahpeton Parks and Recreation Director Wayne Beyer said previously.

In 2018, a roofed enclosure was placed in the dog park. It was also constructed by Wolfgram. Dog lovers enjoy being able to have protection from the elements while their animals enjoy running and playing.

“This is such a popular site. Some nights, we’ve had 10 different dogs out here. They’re all different sizes,” Tobias said.

Tobias enjoyed the dog park with her yellow lab, Kodi. She was joined by Forbes, a boxer owned by Connie Metcalf; Bailey, a coonhound owned by Jason Palm; and Axle and Ole, owned by John “Eper” Novetzke. Axle, who has white fur, is a Great Pyrenees. Ole, who has black and white fur, is a combination Great Pyrenees and Bulgarian shepherd.

“He’ll do a trick for you,” Novetzke said about Axle. “Hey, Axle, want to go to grandma’s? Want to go on the River Bank Run?”

The magic words, “River Bank Run,” yielded a contented howl from Axle.

Airport Park and the Wahpeton Dog Park are located along 11th Avenue South in Wahpeton.

America 2020
New opportunities for next census
Can respond online, by phone or by mail

Participation in the 2020 United States Census is expected to be easier than ever.

Starting March 23, 2020, residents will have the option to respond online, by phone or by mail. This is the first time all three options are available.

“We will use data that the public has already provided to reduce follow-up visits,” the United State Census Bureau stated. “We are building an accurate address list and automating our field operations — all while keeping your information confidential and safe.”

The census asks participants to give information about their household as of April 1, 2020. This includes identifying the members, such as spouses or partners, dependents and roommates, and facts about the home itself, such as if it’s owned with or without a mortgage, rented or occupied without rent.

Most census information will be collected in spring 2020. After a follow-up period, census collection operations will begin closing down with all operations closing by September 2020.

“By that time, they’ve already begun evaluating the data,” said Darcie Huwe, Wahpeton’s finance director. “All the information is delivered to the president on Dec. 31, 2020.”

With seven months until the general public’s census participation, leaders are taking steps to solidify their communities’ involvement.

Earlier this summer, the Wahpeton City Council and Richland County Board of Commissioners passed resolutions permitting a joint complete count committee for Wahpeton and Richland County, North Dakota.

Complete count committees, established by tribal, state and local governments, consist of community representatives who will increase awareness of the census or motivate residents to participate.

“They’re expected to be census ambassadors,” Huwe said. “We want them to get the word out. It’s different from the ‘fast teams’ method. The census needs a big group, a ‘village’ of people.”

Between 30-35 people are needed for the complete count committee. Final membership isn’t expected to be set until September.

Erin Musland, a partnership specialist with the U.S. Census Bureau, is expected to arrive in Wahpeton that month to train committee members. Musland and Iverson, North Dakota Department of Commerce, are among the leaders most involved in census participation.

“If people don’t participate, there is no generation of data,” Huwe said.

For decades, Wahpeton’s census participation has been recorded at approximately 74-76 percent. Between 1950-1990, the city would challenge census results and demand a recount. That changed following the 2000 censusnt to a municipality.

“Having telephone and internet responses is new and we’re hopeful it will be huge,” Wahpeton Community Development Director Chris DeVries said. “This is a new avenue for responses.”

Census responses are used to determine funding for numerous assistance programs. They include Medicaid, highway planning and construction, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), special education grants, the supplemental nutrition program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and more.

4 Things to Know Today

1 Happy Birthday: Today is Wahpeton Parks and Recreation Director Wayne Beyer’s birthday. Congratulations on another trip around the sun! Read his column every Sunday in the Daily News.

2 Today’s History: In 1305, Scottish leader William Wallace was executed in London. In 1966, the Lunar Orbiter 1 spacecraft transmitted the first photo of Earth from orbit around the moon.

3 U.S. Senate race: Former GOP U.S. Rep. and provocative former ex-radio host Jason Lewis announced his bid for Democrat Tina Smith’s U.S. Senate seat in 2020, representing Minnesota.

4 Safe Driving Around Schools: North Dakota schools are back in session this week and drivers are reminded to take care, follow speed limits and watch for students walking and biking to and from schools.