Huard sworn in as newest Wahpeton police officer

Officer Christopher Huard, right, Wahpeton Police Department, took his oath Monday, May 3. City Attorney Brittany Hatting administered the oath during a Wahpeton City Council meeting. Damon DeVillers, center, Wahpeton Planning Commission, was among the individuals present at the swearing in.

Wahpeton’s newest police officer was sworn at a Monday, May 3 city council meeting.

Christopher Huard, formerly of the North Dakota State College of Science Police Department, took his oath before Wahpeton Mayor Steve Dale, Police Chief Scott Thorsteinson and others.

“Chris has asked Officer John Boelke to pin his badge on, because he considers him a mentor,” Thorsteinson said.

With a 3-2 vote, council approved the allocation of up to $15,000 from Wahpeton’s sales tax for recreation fund. The money will be used by the Mayor’s Ad-Hoc Committee for the Wahpeton Recreation Center to pay for consultant services. The committee, as of Monday, was expected to choose between two consulting firm candidates. The hired firm would be responsible for creating an operational plan, Community Development Director Chris DeVries said.

Voting against the motion were 2nd Ward Councilman Jason Goltz and Councilman at-large Lane Wateland. The vote came after discussion about city involvement in funding the proposed center and other committee operations, as well as DeVries himself presenting the motion.

While DeVries is not a member of the recreation center, he and Mayor Dale said he has functioned as a person who presents committee information and requests. Wateland had asked for the motion to be tabled until council could see any previous information defining the city and committee’s relationship.

Unless he missed something, Goltz said, there was no initial indication that sales tax revenue would contribute to the center’s funding. DeVries disagreed, saying the center may possibly cost between $15-$20 million total.

“There’s no way that was ever going to be all privately funded. It was going to have to go to a sales tax vote,” DeVries said. “I was hoping to get a number of donations, but I think realistically, you have to consider that at least half of (the project’s cost), if not three-quarters, is going to have to be funded publicly.”

More than 1,500 people were surveyed regarding the center in March. Daily News previously reported on key findings including:

• 63.53 percent of respondents saying they believed a sales tax should be used as a funding source, compared to 29.6 percent saying property tax should be used

• 85.55 percent saying private donations should be a component of the funding

• 41.12 percent saying they would support a 1 percent sales tax with revenue allocated to the center, followed by 34.69 percent saying they would support a 0.5 percent sales tax and 11.78 percent saying they would support a 1.5 percent sales tax

The Mayor’s Ad-Hoc Committee for the Wahpeton Recreation Center, as of Tuesday, May 4, was scheduled to meet at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 5 at the Wahpeton Community Center. The center is located at 304 Fifth St. S., Wahpeton. Committee meetings are open to the public, Dale said. Committee members include Councilman at-large Kelly McNary.

With a 5-0 vote and following a recommendation from Wahpeton’s Planning Commission, council approved Ordinance No. 1024. The ordinance allows the annexation of a nearly 40-acre tract of land to the city of Wahpeton. Located adjacent to Wahpeton’s existing southwestern boundary, the land is expected to house the upcoming Prairie Flats Addition housing development. The annexation was the first of its kind since 2006.

“I have to commend Brad and Kim Pauly for stepping up and offering this type of lot that’s never been available in the city before. They have a vision and they’re making an investment. It’s appreciated,” Dale said.

Dale granted several referrals, including having the council’s finance subcommittee review a proposed capital improvements plan for 2022-2026. The plan has a tentative adoption date of Monday, May 17, Finance Director and Auditor Darcie Huwe said.

“If anybody would like to be involved with city government, there’s an opening on the board of adjustments. They may meet once or twice a year as needed. They deal with setbacks on property, building sizes and miscellaneous other details,” Dale said.

For more information, contact Wahpeton City Hall at 701-642-8448.

Council members Abby Carlson, 1st Ward, Renata Fobb, at-large, and Dr. David Woods II, 4th Ward, were absent from Monday’s meeting. Because council lacked a supermajority, a motion to approve the sale of five acres to T&G Sanitation was tabled, to be held until the next council meeting.

With the expiration of North Dakota’s COVID-19 emergency declaration, Wahpeton City Hall has lifted its emergency guidelines for city meetings. Practices against the spread of COVID-19 are considered an individual matter, but are encouraged.

The next council meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday, May 17 at Wahpeton City Hall.

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