- Associated Press - Thursday, May 26, 2016

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - The Bismarck Tribune, Bismarck, May 26, 2016

Leadership project on right track

The Leadership Bismarck-Mandan class at the Bismarck-Mandan Chamber of Commerce should be commended for its latest project. It may seem like an unusual choice to some, but it has potential to help the community in many ways.

The class is putting together a booklet to help match applicants with criminal records with employers in the Bismarck-Mandan area. There are still jobs going unfilled and those being released from custody are looking for employment. If successful, the booklet will help fill two needs. Long term, the project seeks to reduce the level of recidivism among those being released.

The project is called RENEW, reflecting the desire of the class to give the former inmates another chance in life. To this end, the booklet provides a variety of information that should be helpful for those starting a new life.

It lists services such as counseling, housing, transportation, food pantries and job interview training. There’s also a sample application page, which can be used to help track work history and other information needed when filling out job applications. There’s a budget worksheet to manage finances after getting a job; bus fare and scheduling information; and a weekly schedule of soup kitchens and food pantries.

Major employers willing to hire someone with a criminal record are listed in the booklet. Other companies that didn’t want to be published but will consider those with a criminal record except for certain crimes, will be on an extended list given to Ministry on the Margins. If the Ministry has a client that may qualify for a job with those other employers, they can be referred.

RENEW’s partnership with Ministry on the Margins should be helpful in several ways. The Ministry will soon receive 200 paper copies and a digital copy of the booklet to distribute. The Ministry will be giving the booklets to people already receiving counseling and who have a support system. Ministry on the Margins has contact with clients who are still incarcerated, so they have a chance to build a relationship before the inmates are released.

If successful, the Leadership Bismarck-Mandan class will help the community in many ways. It will take time before the success of the effort can be measured and patience will be needed. RENEW could use more partners - more community involvement will increase the chances of success. That’s a key element of the project, a community working together to improve.

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Minot Daily News, Minot, May 26, 2016

Hopefully active shooter situations remain just drills

For all the excitement that this week’s active shooter drill at Burdick Job Corps delivered on TV and for some participants and neighbors, one can’t help but hope and pray that it never happens for real in Minot.

Drilling for such circumstances makes a lot of sense. It’s good practice for everyone involved not just the participating agencies/departments, but also for students. Learning from action is going to be retained longer than just reading about situations and that degree of instinct and “muscle memory” would be integral in the case of an actual incident.

From all reports, it seems organizers did a good job of establishing the event parameters, and it seems participants responded well.

There is a world of difference between a drill and the real thing. There is simply no accounting for how people will react in a real active shooter situation. But training such as this is the best preparation possible.

In recent years, we know that Minot has endured problems generally plaguing larger cities namely rampant crime and drug issues. Some probably thought those would never be major problems here the way that they are now. Many likely feel the same way about an active shooter situation on a Minot campus. But, of course it can happen. We know this because it has happened in other communities where residents believed it impossible.

It’s important to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. This and other trainings at least help prepare for the worst. But as a community, let’s pray for the best.

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