Environmental odor committee launches in Wahpeton

Prior to the forming of a committee on environmental odors, residents and officials have named entities including Wahpeton’s wastewater ponds and area businesses as possible sources of odor.

Three objectives will guide a committee on environmental odors, according to Wahpeton Mayor Steve Dale.

Committee members will investigate the sources of foul odors frequently plaguing Wahpeton and the surrounding area. The public is invited to become better educated on the subject.

“(We want) to pursue workable solutions to lessen the number of days the city of Wahpeton experiences poor air quality,” Mayor Dale said.

The Mayor’s Ad Hoc Committee on Environmental Odors held its first meeting at 5:15 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 3 in the community room of Wahpeton City Hall. Thirteen members of the 17-member committee attended the meeting.

The committee is composed of:

• North Dakota state Rep. Alisa Mitskog, D-District 25

• Mayor Dale, Wahpeton

• Mayor Russ Wilson, Breckenridge

• Richland County Commissioner Rollie Ehlert

• Wilkin County Commissioner Eric Klindt

• Supervisor Dale Rubish, Dwight Township, North Dakota

• Supervisor Vance Johnson, Connelly Township, Minnesota

• Richland County Public Health Director Michelle Eberhardt

• Wahpeton Assistant City Attorney Brittany Hatting

• Wahpeton Councilwoman-at-large Tiana Bohn, chair of the city Public Works and Safety Committee

• Wahpeton Planning Commission Chair Damon DeVillers, also representing Interstate Engineering Inc.

• Dr. Richard Ames, Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative

• Troy Koltes, Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative

• residents Doug Hockert, Denise Johnson and Tom Barton, all Wahpeton

• resident Neil Crocker, Breckenridge

Wilson, Eberhardt, Ames and Hockert were absent. Kurt Wickstrom, Minn-Dak’s president and CEO, also attended.

Prior to the committee’s forming, residents and officials have named entities including Wahpeton’s wastewater ponds and area businesses as possible sources of odor.

“Committee members are to commit to finding well-informed and reasonable solutions based on factual data,” Dale said. “Allegations, unsolicited opinions, personal attacks or intentionally disruptive comments will not be tolerated.”

Recent Wahpeton meetings have included opinions shared without factual data as well as personal attacks, Dale said. He contrasted those meetings with how he hoped the ad hoc committee would function, while also saying he is not seeking to infringe on freedom of speech.

“If we get 10 people here who are just pounding on the drum, ‘You gotta do this’ and ‘you gotta do that,’ that gets no place and it won’t be tolerated. You’ve got one or two people with one or two questions, certainly. But things won’t get out of control,” Dale said.

The committee’s next meeting time and date has not yet been confirmed, although it’s expected to be at 5:15 p.m. on a Thursday.

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