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Preston Koltes is a student in Rachel Johnson’s second grade class at Breckenridge Elementary

WILDCATS: NDSCS looks to extend win streak at home

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FALL HARVEST: We want to see your photos from the field

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4 Things to Know Today

1. Attention chocolate lovers: Leach Public Library in Wahpeton will hold the annual Chocolate Chocolate Day and Used Book Sale from 12- 5 p.m. Thursday. Chocolate desserts will be available for sale to enjoy at the library or to take home.

2. Concert Band: Red River Valley Veterans Concert Band will perform at 6:45 p.m. at St. Catherine’s and 8:10 p.m. Thursday at Bremer Bank Theater at North Dakota State College of Science.

3. Today in History: In 1967, guerrilla leader Ernesto “Che” Guevara was executed for attempting to lead revolutionaries in Bolivia.

4. Today’s Birthdays include rocker John Lennon (1940-1980); singer-songwriter Jackson Browne (1948-); TV personality Sharon Osbourne (1952-); and “NCIS: New Orleans” actor Scott Bakula (1954-).

Wahpeton considering city symbols

Wahpeton’s sesquicentennial might be reaching its conclusion, but the city is expected to further recognize what makes it special and unique.

Jane Priebe, one of the 150th anniversary organizers, spoke at the Wahpeton City Council’s Monday, Oct. 7 meeting. She proposed the city adopt symbols including the motto, “Gateway to Prairie Gold,” the sugar beet and corn crops, and the catfish.

“Thanks for 150 Years,” the concluding weekend of Wahpeton’s ceremonies, is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 29-Saturday, Nov. 30. The public is welcome to contribute additional symbol ideas.

Later in the meeting, the council voted 5-0 to approve an allocation of up to $75,843.41 to All Seasons Car Wash. The business, located at 1300 Fourth Ave. S. in Wahpeton, will begin a $575,000 remodeling and expansion project. It’s expected to begin as soon as possible and be fully complete by July 2020.

Council also voted 5-0 to approve entering in a professional services agreement with Interstate Engineering, Inc., Wahpeton, for the Safe Routes to School Project. The project, expected to begin in 2021, will take place along and adjacent to Wahpeton High School.

Wahpeton will pay Interstate no more than $26,775 for preliminary engineering and no more than $26,775 for construction engineering, Daily News previously reported.

A 4-1 vote approved spending no more than $50,000 for the purchase of two Wahpeton Police Department patrol vehicles. Councilman-at-large Lane Wateland, the dissenting vote, said he didn’t agree with the process involved. He cited a lack of bidding.

Councilmen Don Bajumpaa, 4th Ward, and Perry Miller, at-large, were absent. Councilman Brett Lambrecht, 3rd Ward, attended by conference call.

The meeting was the first since 2nd Ward Councilwoman Renelle Bertsch’s resignation, effective Monday, Sept. 30. Voters have until Tuesday, Oct. 15 to file a petition calling for a special election.

If the minimum amount of 19 signatures is not reached by the completion of the 15-day waiting period, the council may appoint a 2nd Ward resident to complete Bertsch’s term. It expires in June 2020.

Nineteen signatures equals 5 percent of the minimum of 2nd Ward voters in the last election, or the minimum amount of signatures needed, Daily News previously reported.

Residents who are interested in being appointed can contact Wahpeton City Hall. The council may also choose to advertise for the open position or choose to not fill the vacancy prior to the June 2020 election.

In addition to the 2nd Ward council member position, the June 2020 election will include one council race for the 4th Ward and two for the full city of Wahpeton. Councilman Bajumpaa currently represents the 4th Ward. Councilwoman Tiana Bohn and Councilman Miller currently represent at-large.

The next council meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 21 at City Hall, 1900 Fourth St. N. in Wahpeton.

Breckenridge Police Department hires two new officers

Breckenridge Mayor Russ Wilson swore in two new officers to the Breckenridge Police Department Monday, Oct. 7 during the city council meeting. The oath of office was taken by Gage Miller and Jackson Kriel.

Miller was hired as a full-time police officer. He is from Sauk Rapids, Minnesota, enjoys family time and hunting, and is an active member of the Army National Guard.

Kriel was hired as the new detective sergeant to replace recently retired Natalie Butenhoff. He is from Alexandria, Minnesota, and enjoys spending time with family, golfing, fishing and hunting. Kriel comes with previous law enforcement experience from Wahpeton, North Dakota.

“I expect great things from Jackson, as well as from Gage,” Breckenridge Police Chief Kris Karlgaard said. “You have the entire support of the city of Breckenridge.”

Chief Karlgaard presented Miller and Kriel with badges in front of their family and other officers.

In other news, the council approved change order number 12 for the water treatment plant. Public Service Director Neil Crocker updated the council on this change.

“This here specific change order puts finality to the bike path, where that had to be elevated. Two years ago CSI (Central Specialist Inc.) and Interstate Engineering actually did the work to get the bike path elevated to reach the same elevation as the driveway going into the new water plant. And so those two entities have not yet been paid, this resolution gets them paid for making those changes,” Crocker said.

The driveway into the water treatment plant goes directly over the Highway 75 pedestrian trail. This had to be raised to coincide with the rest of the site because this path needed to comply with the proper handicap-accessible grade slope.

CSI did more work to correct the slope, costing an additional $59,151.33 in materials along with $6,163.50 in engineering services from Interstate Engineering.

A change was made to the bills and claims of the Breckenridge Public Utilities to account for the water treatment change order number 12. With this change included, the total amounted to $372,183.48. This resolution was approved by the council.

A resolution for the City of Breckenridge to continue engaging in the Opioid Class Action Notice was approved.

Breckenridge, along with other cities and counties across the U.S., is included in this class action. This is a lawsuit against manufacturers, distributors, and retailers of prescription opiate drugs that seeks reimbursement for money spent addressing the opioid crisis.

City Administrator Renae Smith spoke with Wilkin County Attorney Carl Thunem on this issue. It was Smith’s recommendation to continue engagement with this class action rather than the city council addressing this issue themselves.

“As a whole, the chemical dependency issue is becoming bigger and bigger, not just drugs, but alcohol,” Chief Karlgaard said. “I would have to go along with what our advice of our city attorney’s is on this matter.”

Building Official Joel Hoistad provided an update to the council on the dumpster in front of the Legends building on Minnesota Avenue. The dumpster will be there for another week and then will be removed. A 20-yard dumpster will be out front of the building for a maximum of 11 days starting Monday, Oct. 14, for the asbestos abatement.

The next city council meeting will be held at 5 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 21.

Breckenridge High School hires new English teacher

Alissa Helm is beginning her 13th year of teaching. This year she’s at Breckenridge High School as an English teacher in the 2019-2020 school year.

Helm went to Minnesota State University Moorhead where she graduated with a degree in English education. Upon her graduation, she began teaching middle school in West Fargo.

“I really loved English and this is something (teaching) that I could do with that. And I really started to love the teaching of it more,” Helm said.

She has been having her students read interesting and quirky stories to keep the student’s attention in the classroom. She has begun the school year by having students read short stories before they move into novels so that they can review and practice their skills.

“I’m trying to engage them. Otherwise, they read British literature or books like that and it’s really hard to get them excited about it,” Helm said.

Helm’s favorite part of teaching is, “It’s never boring. Every day is different,” Helm said. “I like to teach literature and show the kids that it can be fun and to have fun with it.”

Helm is currently teaching 10th and 12th-grade English classes. She is also teaching a twelfth-grade college-level course which is focusing the first semester on composition and will be focusing on literature next semester.

The change from middle school in West Fargo to high school in Breckenridge has been a positive adjustment for Helm as being in a smaller community is more appealing to her.

“It’s not as chaotic and it’s interesting how all the kids know each other because when I was growing up I didn’t know all my classmates. It feels more like family,” Helm said.

Helm was asked my the high school seniors to be the talent show judge during homecoming week activities. She enjoyed how goofy the students were able to be and also how much fun they had with it.

“I liked how everyone came together. You can’t do that in a big school,” Helm said.

Helm enjoys reading mysteries, watching movies and spending time with her family. She and her husband have a 5-year-old and so that takes up most of her time, which she enjoys doing.

Will Wahpeton use economic development funds for project assistance?
Process is not transparent, resident tells Wahpeton council

The Wahpeton City Council is postponing whether or not to allocate $85,714.36 to assist in the purchase of Northland Apartments.

Corey Gregg, the contact person for prospective buyer Wahpeton Northland Apartments LLC, is expected to attend the next meeting of the Wahpeton Finance, Personnel and Economic Development Committee. Northland Apartments, three multi-unit complexes, was referred back to the committee when the Wahpeton City Council met Monday, Oct. 7.

“This most recent attempt to sell Northland Apartments has not been transparent and appears to have encountered some prepayment rule errors that need to be examined, in my opinion,” Jerri Lynn said.

Lynn is a resident of Northland Apartments’ single story building on 14th Avenue North. Commonly known as Northland Elderly Apartments, the building was described in Wahpeton’s 2017 housing study as a 13-unit, United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development project constructed in 1982 to provide housing for senior citizens and disabled residents.

Northland Apartments, Lynn said, is part of the Section 515 Rural Rental Housing Program, which was authorized by the Senior Citizens Housing Act of 1962.

As of Saturday, Oct. 5, Northland Apartments’ Section 515 tenants fell below the last-provided national average of Section 515 tenants in terms of average income and exceeded the national average in terms of tenant demographics.

In September 2016, the average income of Section 515 tenants was $12,588, according to the National Housing Law Project. Approximately 63 percent of all Section 515 households was headed by an elderly person or a person with a disability.

Northland Apartments’ Section 515 tenants, Lynn said, have an annual income average of $10,083 and a Social Security income average of $7,462. One-hundred percent of the tenants in Northland Elderly Apartments are headed by an elderly person or person with a disability.

Lynn asked the council to honor a recommendation made in the 2017 housing study.

“(It calls) to preserve this subsidized housing option for 62-plus senior and disabled citizens by giving consideration to Northland Elderly Apartments becoming part of a non-profit business model,” she said.

There are several methods Wahpeton can implement to assist Northland Apartments’ residents, Lynn said. They include initiating tight controls during the vetting of prospective buyers who are applying for financial aid and business permits.

Gregg submitted paperwork in September for a Bank of North Dakota Flex PACE interest buy down. The project is expected to cost $1,050,000, Daily News previously reported.

Since the proposed sale became public, residents and officials have shared concerns. Gregg has not responded to Daily News’ requests for additional information.

Wahpeton should also consider requiring prospective buyers to disclose their identities so a background check can be performed, Lynn said. She cited the national trend of purchasing rental properties as a means for money laundering.

“I am actively seeking a housing advocate,” Lynn said. “(It is) to help preserve my rights, and thereby the rights of the other Northland Elderly Apartments tenants.”

Northland Apartments is presently owned by Erika Meier of Baraboo, Wisconsin, and Gregory and Jerry Meide of Wahpeton. The three properties, including two multi-story buildings on 12th Street North, are managed by Prairie Homes Management, Wahpeton.

North Dakota state Rep. Alisa Mitskog, D-District 25, attended the council meeting.

“I strongly encourage the council to do whatever it can to retain and preserve the status of this property,” Mitskog said. “In my opinion, it provides an essential housing option for residents, in particular seniors in our community.”

The next finance committee meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 14 at City Hall, 1900 Fourth St. N. in Wahpeton. The next council meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 21 at City Hall.