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Is Dickinson's street department an abusive environment? Jim Kessler, former street maintenance operator, spoke with The Dickinson Press in January, alleging abusive behavior by Street Department Chief Darryl Wehner. "He was demeaning every day," Kessler said. "That's just his character." Wehner received three employee disciplinary actions from the city between 2016 and 2017 for conduct violation. In Feb. 2017, Wehner received suspension without pay for two days for an incident during a training session at the public works brine building.
Richardton's Springfield Market is closing at the end of the month. In front of the grocery store, ideally located off the Interstate-94 exit, its sign reads, "Store closing... 20% off select depts." On the other side, it reads, "Thank you... We appreciate you shopping locally." Owner Tanja Goellner, in an email to the Dickinson Press, confirmed the grocery has been sold to new owners.
Todd Whitney won Tuesday's special election in Richardton. There were two candidates pursuing a partial-term seat on Richardton's city council. Shannon Chambers received 28 votes, and Whitney received 60 votes. The seat on the council is a partial two-year term. Whitney, owner and operator of Todd's Honey Farm, LLC, in Richardton, said he was grateful for Richardton's voters. "They came out in the cold and risked getting frostbite to vote for me," he said. "Without them, I wouldn't have made it!"
Friendship Park has reached nearly one-third of its fundraising goals, Sarah Carlson, park group president, reported to the Dickinson Park Board Monday. The effort hopes to create an inclusive playground designed with consideration to children with special needs such as wheeled mobility, sensory issues, hearing and vision impairment, and compromised immune systems. The park would be located on Gum Avenue. "With the $200,000 the park board has pledged, we're approaching half a million," Carlson said.
City Hall has added two new staff members to better meet the needs and concerns of the growing population. Sheri Spezze will serve as legal assistant, a newly created position with the city. Spezze, a California native, has a background in budget and contract management. She has worked for the Washington State Department of Health, and moved to North Dakota to be closer to son and his family. Among Spezze's duties, she will track budgets, set up documents, and establish processes to monitor all documents that need the city attorney's review.
Connie O'Brien is the new auditor for the city of Belfield. O'Brien began work on Monday after being appointed by the Belfield city council in January. A lifelong native of Belfield, O'Brien grew up on a ranch northwest of the city. She has served the community as a member of its park board for seven years, and has worked on noxious weed programs for Billings, Stark and Golden Valley counties. She graduated from Belfield High School, and received an accounting degree from Dickinson State University, where she has also worked.
Red Trail Energy, LLC, is planning to undertake carbon capturing and storage at its Richardton facility. Dustin Willett, Red Trail chief operating officer, informed Stark County Commissioners about the new project at their Tuesday meeting. "We're about to be filing for a permit to do a geological seismic survey out at the plant," he said. "It's in correlation with some of the future we have for Red Trail. We want to do carbon capture and storage at our facility."
City Commissioners Tuesday approved sending out a request for proposals for a possible new events center. A consulting company will be selected to come in and complete a study to help determine if such a project is feasible for Dickinson, Joe Gaa, city administrator, said. "And, if so, perhaps what should be included, the size and approximate cost, to construct and operate it," Gaa said. A list of consultants will be brought back to commissioners in March for selection.
Stanza D'Amore offers something found nowhere else in Dickinson: high-end lingerie. The new boutique opened in November at 46 Sims St. "I carry everyday wear, lingerie, plus-size, maternity, things like that," owner Ann-Marie Grob explained. Grob was inspired to start her own business when she couldn't find a major in college that suited her.
Dickinson's Small Business Development Center helped more than 100 clients last year. In 2018, 15 area businesses were started, with over $2.5 million in capital infusion from both loans or owner investment, and 19 jobs were created and 15 retained, Darrell Neubert, SBDC business advisor and Dickinson State University business professor, said. "If it's a business in existence and they come for support, whatever project you're working on with them that's completed, they count those as retained jobs," Neubert said.