Appearances can be deceiving, members of the Wahpeton Finance, Personnel and Economic Development Committee learned Monday, Aug. 26.
There is currently an estimated $13,218,708 worth of ongoing capital improvement projects within the city. The 14 projects range from expansive infrastructure upgrades to commercial development and work within Chahinkapa Park.
“There may be times where it appears we’re not doing anything, but compared to last year, the level of activity is significant,” said Wahpeton Finance Director Darcie Huwe.
Beginning at 5:15 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 3, Wahpeton City Hall will hold public information meetings about three of the projects. The three projects — reconstruction of Third Avenue North, the First Street North portion of east side sanitary sewer work and development of Westgate Commons along the 210 Bypass — are being on the agenda of Wahpeton’s Special Assessment Commission.
As a public service, Daily News will summarize several of the projects:
• Third Avenue North reconstruction: The project was estimated to cost $5,518,000; Wahpeton has committed but has not yet spent $3,990,458 to date; that figure includes $2 million in state revolving funds and nearly $2 million in a sales tax for infrastructure allocation; the project is estimated to cost $2,041,298 in special assessments
• East side sanitary sewer work on First Street North: Estimated to cost $2,240,000, the project has a city commitment of $1,998,040; that figure includes nearly $1.5 million in state revolving funds and $512,971 in a sales tax for infrastructure allocation; the project is estimated to cost $409,802 in special assessments
• Westgate Commons: Estimated to cost nearly $146 thousand, the project has a city commitment of $145,300; that figure is made up of $67,545 prepaid by developer Paces Lodging, which owns one of the two lots in the Westgate Commons Assessment District, and $77,755 which will be paid in special assessments by the second lot’s owner; the project was estimated to cost $145,000 in special assessments
Projects like infrastructure replacement have high figures, Huwe said, but they are also sound investments.
Wahpeton’s gateway signage and improvements project was estimated to cost $292,950. The city has committed $210,000, but as of Monday, has spent about $100,000. The committed amount comes from the city’s 1 percent restaurant revenue fund, used for community betterments. Special assessments are not expected to be charged for the project.
Renovations at John Randall Field are expected to cost $1,136,732. Wahpeton has committed $547,802 as of Monday, including $400,000 directly from the sales tax for economic development fund. The project is estimated to cost $736,732 in special assessments.
Information about all of Wahpeton’s capital improvement projects from 2018-2022 is available at the city website.
Finance committee meetings are held at 12 p.m. on the second and fourth Monday of the month. Open to the public, they are held at Wahpeton City Hall and are not broadcast.
Councilman-at-large Lane Wateland was absent.
Wahpeton City Hall will be closed Monday, Sept. 2 in observance of Labor Day. The next council meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 3 at City Hall, 1900 Fourth St. N. in Wahpeton.
Students and education leaders gathered for and participated in the groundbreaking for the Wahpeton Agriculture Education Facility.
Located on the Wahpeton High School campus, the facility will expand and upgrade current operations. Wahpeton Public Schools, Southeast Region Career and Technical Center and North Dakota State College of Science are partnering on the project.
“We’re adding three key pieces,” said Dan Rood, Jr., the center’s director. “There will be a second greenhouse. One will be for botany and horticulture education and one will be for research.”
Students will also be able to learn in a new food science classroom and an agriculture engineering facility. Cutting edge manufacturing equipment including plasma cutters and 3D printers will be used in the Wahpeton Agriculture Education Facility.
“For me, in my eyes, it’s about you guys, your learning and your experience,” Bryan Wolfgram said.
Wolfgram’s building construction students will be responsible for the expansion and upgrade. The project is estimated to cost $650,000.
“That’s because of the college’s involvement and it’s quite cost-effective,” Rood said. “It’s a great educational project for their kids, working on a commercial building. I’m a real believer in utilizing these connections to give our kids experience.”
Jewelia Siegler, Wahpeton, is president of the high school’s FFA chapter. The 18-year-old have been involved with FFA since her freshman year and plans to study human development and family studies at South Dakota State University.
“I may not be able to benefit from the new facility in the coming years, but it’s really cool to meet the incoming eighth graders and freshmen that will definitely benefit from it,” Siegler said.
Wahpeton Public Schools Superintendent Rick Jacobson was joined by a majority of the school board, middle school principal Steve Hockert and high school principal Ned Clooten to participate in the groundbreaking. Guests also included present agriculture instructors Darin Spelhaug and Cassidy Ziesch and retired agriculture instructor Allen Giese.
“We have an agriculturally strong community,” Giese said. “The amount of people here today is just phenomenal, being here with the support for agriculture education. I think it’s going to make our community thrive and grow and provide a lot of opportunities for young people.”
Giese’s name is on the present agriculture education facility. His involvement with agriculture education spans 45 years, including 31 years teaching at Wahpeton High School.
The upcoming facility will include a heritage fireplace, featuring stone from the farms belonging to families of Wahpeton’s inaugural FFA students. The charter was established in 1954, Giese said.
Agriculture education is a proud tradition in Wahpeton, Rood said. The community has North Dakota’s second-highest enrollment in the state in those programs.
“Minot has four teachers and their enrollment is not much higher than ours,” Rood said. “We have 10 ag teachers at SRCTC, two in Wahpeton.”
The agriculture building is expected to be up by December, with interior work taking place during the winter-spring 2020 semester. The project is expected to be completed by May 2020.
“It’s badly needed,” Rood said.
Superintendent Jacobson agrees.
“This is a big day for all of us. It should be an exciting time,” he said.
A woman from Alexandria, Minnesota, who pleaded guilty in February to felony theft and DWI was sentenced in Wilkin County District Court in late July.
Abby Rose Kava, 37, was originally facing three counts of felony theft, one count of obstruction of the legal process-interfere with peace officer, a misdemeanor, one count of DWI, a misdemeanor, and a petty misdemeanor of pedestrian prohibited on highway relating to an incident in October 2018 in Wilkin County.
Kava was given a stay of adjudication for one of the theft charges and the other two were dismissed. The charge of obstruction of legal process by interfering with a peace officer and the petty misdemeanor for walking on the highway charge were also dismissed.
Kava was also ordered by the Hon. Judge Amy Doll to serve 24 days in jail and given credit for 24 days served, and put on supervised probation for five years, to be served concurrently for both the theft conviction and the DWI.
A stay of adjudication means if the probation is successfully completed with violation, the charges will be dismissed.
The maximum penalty for felony theft is five years imprisonment, a $10,000 fine or both.
According to court records, Kava was located by law enforcement while walking on I-94 on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018 and was subsequently charged with motor vehicle theft. The vehicle was reportedly stolen in Rothsay, Minnesota, and a neighbor saw the vehicle heading toward Fergus Falls, Minnesota, a complaint states.
Wilkin County Sheriff’s deputies canvassed the area and were told the possible location was parked on I-94 near milepost 43, where they found it. The keys were left in a cup holder without a driver present.
Multiple reports came in describing a pedestrian walking on the Interstate and Kava was found walking near milepost 46.
1. U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., dropped out of the 2020 presidential race. There are currently 20 major Democratic candidates and three major Republican candidates including President Donald Trump.
2. The 13th Annual Gathering of Airplanes Tribute to Gerry Beck runs from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 31 at Battle Lake Airport in Battle Lake, Minn.
3. Today in Music: The Beatles held their last public concert on this date in 1966. The Fab Four played Candlestick Park in San Francisco.
4. Today’s Birthdays include Academy Award-winning actress Ingrid Bergman (1915-1982); “The Jeffersons” star Isabel Sanford (1917-2004); fashion critic Mr. Blackwell (1922-2008); “Jurassic Park” star Richard Attenborough (1923-2014); former U.S. Sen. John McCain (1936-2018); King of Pop Michael Jackson (1958-2009) and pop singer Liam Payne (1993-).
Ernest Lamont Ballinger, 71, of Lisbon, North Dakota, was taken into custody and transported to the Cass County Jail on Tuesday, Aug. 27, by the Ransom County Sheriff’s Office with assistance of the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation. He was arrested on two counts of gross sexual imposition, both AA felonies.
Incidents were investigated by the Ransom County Sheriff’s Office early 2019 where sexual abuse allegations were disclosed involving a juvenile victim that occurred in 2018, a release from the sheriff’s office states. Through the investigation of these incidents, information was also obtained about sexual abuse of minor children dating back to the 1980s.
If the public has any further information regarding any current or past incidents please contact Deputy David Boelke with the Ransom County Sheriff’s Office at 701-683-5255.