- Associated Press - Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Bismarck Tribune, Bismarck, Feb.1

Gun measure not the answer for schools

Everyone wants their children to be in a safe environment when they go to school. The goal of House Bill 1310 is to ensure that students have an added layer of protection while in school.

The bill would allow a member of a school’s staff with a Class 1 concealed carry firearms license to carry a weapon on school grounds with the permission of the school’s board.

The staffer would be required to take a 40-hour law enforcement training course to learn basic tactics and topics, such as firearms proficiency and how to respond to an event. Those approved to carry a weapon also would have to agree to coordinate with law enforcement if an incident occurs. A 10-hour annual refresher course also would be required.

The bill is intended to fill a gap for schools that can’t afford a school resource officer, mostly smaller or rural schools. Good intentions, however, don’t always result in good legislation.

The Tribune doesn’t believe that HB1310 provides a safe alternative for schools.

The flaws in the bill were pointed out during committee hearing testimony.

Questions were raised over whether a 40-hour training course was enough to prepare a school staffer to respond to someone with a gun. Law enforcement is concerned about the liability involved with providing training. There’s also no way to know, argue the bill’s opponents, how a school staffer will respond when confronted by a potential gunman. Will the staffer act in the right way or will he or she freeze?

“What happens if some of the good guys get shot?” asked Jon Martinson, executive director of the North Dakota School Boards Association, before the committee hearing.

While money is tight this legislative session, it would make more sense to find a way to provide funds to schools that want to hire a school resource officer. It would be more of a deterrent to have a trained officer on duty than to rely on a teacher or administrator. It’s commendable they are willing to put themselves at risk to protect their students, but it’s not the safest answer to the problem.

It’s fortunate that North Dakota hasn’t had a major shooting incident at a school. Sadly, it’s also true that it can happen anywhere. Again, the best solution is a trained officer.

There are other gun-related bills before the Legislature. House Bill 1169 would make it legal for people who are 21 years old or older to carry a concealed firearm without a permit in the state. House Bill 1273 would change laws surrounding guns in churches.

In both cases the sponsors have good intentions. Any bills dealing with firearms in society need a close look. Overall, North Dakotans are very responsible when handling guns. Accidents can and do occur and when dealing with firearm legislation safety should be our primary concern.


Minot Daily News, Minot, Feb. 1

Legislature has eye on the ball. the oddball

Some have openly posited that perhaps things should change and the North Dakota Legislature should be scheduled to meet annually as opposed to bi-annually.

Judging from the session so far, perhaps the opposite approach should be considered. Maybe once every four or five years is plenty.

At issue isn’t the necessary functions of government, which presumably legislators will get around to at some point. Instead, the issue is the number of absurd, blatantly political or poorly thought-out legislation representatives bring to Bismarck and want to debate as if serious. This is a waste of time and money and an embarrassment to North Dakota voters.

So far in this session, we have seen a proposal to loosen restrictions on use of guns to protect oneself and one’s property against criminals. Or potential criminals. Or fleeing potential criminals. Dodge City may have had more restrictions in the 19th century than North Dakota would have should this legislation pass.

Then there is the drive-over-protester proposal, which would have done away with penalties for driving one’s car over individuals in the middle of roadways. Because apparently, stopping to shoot them would take too much time.

Legislators also heard from the anti “tampon tax” lobby, dutifully working on the global cause of trying to have female hygiene products exempted from sales tax.

This is our Legislature at work. Sure, there are probably some important items that will come along. The Republican-controlled body already did its social duty by upholding North Dakota’s Blue Laws and staving off a cumbersome inclusive language proposal in regard to marriage and gender. Where are the other GOP agenda items: cutting waste, empowering the private sector, encouraging economic development? Where are Gov. Burgum’s plans to re-invent? Has Burgum just learned the limits of executive power here? Is Majority Leader Al Carlson content just to hold the reins of power? How can legislators complain that voter-led initiatives are a problem because they aren’t well thought-out . and then bring the kind of items forward as exemplified herein?

Minot Daily News urges local representatives to recall the sacred trust placed in them by the voters and to conduct themselves as the mature adults in the Legislature. Someone should.


Williston Herald, Williston, Jan. 27

Award winners remind us of community strength

At the annual Williston Area Chamber of Commerce banquet on Jan. 20, the theme was “An Evening in Paris,” but the city of light was outshone by some of the community lights who were honored.

The seven awards given out spanned philanthropy, community engagement, advocacy and more. The honorees came from all walks of life. The thing they have in common is their drive to make our community a better place.

Leonard P. Nelson Philanthropy Award

Lois Scheele was honored by the Williston State College Foundation for her longstanding commitment to charitable causes, including donating more than $5 million for the Buck Scheele Animal Shelter, which is now under construction. The shelter, which will be run by Mondak Animal Rescue, will be the largest rescue shelter between Billings and Fargo.

Chamber Connector Award

Kristin Oxendahl of the Salvation Army of Williston was honored for the way she works to connect the business community with our area’s most vulnerable residents. As one of the most active social service charities in Williston, the Salvation Army has a wide reach and a tremendous impact. Oxendahl’s work to highlight the areas of greatest need has been an immeasurable benefit to our neighbors at risk of going without food, clothing or shelter.

Community Engagement Award

Bras for a Cause has helped support residents fighting cancer, and their work has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for that cause. The group’s goal of taking the financial burden off the shoulders of cancer patients so they can focus on the mental and physical work ahead of them is a noble one and well worth recognizing.

Williston Leadership Award

Steve Slocum, marketing director of First National Bank & Trust was honored for his service on many of the chamber’s boards and committees, as well as on many other organizations. His commitment to community and to service are an example to many others.

E. Ward Koeser Advocacy Award

Williams County Commissioner David Montgomery, who has served on the commission since 2004, was recognized for the work he’s done for our region in terms of economic development, critical infrastructure and more. His passion for our area and his dedication to ensuring Williams County is well-equipped to face the future make the praise well-earned.

Patriot Award

Theresa Scully, HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing case manager for Williams County’s Veterans Service Office, has spent the last several years quietly ensuring that those who have served their country are taken care of when they return. She implemented the HUD-VASH program in the county, which now offers housing to 25 veterans, to ensure that those who dedicated themselves to the cause of our freedom will have the support they need. The commitment she has shown in pursuit of that goal is an example of true patriotism.

Distinguished Western Star Award

The awards ceremony was capped with the presentation of the chamber’s highest award, which is given to those who have spent their time promoting Williston as a great place to live and to work. Cyndy Aafedt, longtime owner of the El Rancho Hotel, was honored not just because she welcomed visitors to Williston for years, but also for the guidance and support - moral and financial - that she has offered to community organizations.

When receiving her award, she offered more thoughts on the community.

“It’s been easy to be a part of Williston and promoting Williston,” she said.

We couldn’t have put it any better.


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