The Roundup -

Williston Residents To Rally At Infrastructure Funding Hearing January 16 In Bismarck

 


The City of Williston is calling for residents to show support for the so-called “surge” bill at the 64th North Dakota Legislative Session this Friday. “Attendance speaks volumes and we want to show legislators that the approval of the surge bill is extremely important to the growth needs of western North Dakota,” said Shawn Wenko, Williston Economic Development executive director. Wenko spoke about the bill during a Williston Stakeholders meeting recently. The Senate Appropriations Committee will hold a hearing for Senate Bills 2103 and 2126 on Friday, January 16th in Bismarck. The bills address infrastructure funding needs in North Dakota. SB2103 is better known as the “surge” plan while SB2126 is called “jumpstart.” One of the key differences between the two plans is that surge could be approved earlier than jumpstart; the timing is crucial to cities, counties, townships and school districts who will be bidding major construction projects soon. “The goal of the surge plan, with the emergency declaration, is to have the funding out as early as President’s Day,” said Brent Bogar, Research Consultant for the North Dakota Association of Oil and Gas Producing Counties. Governor Dalrymple has said that the soonest the jumpstart plan could be approved is crossover, which is scheduled for February 27th.

Western North Dakota leaders say the earlier the funding is approved the better, in particular due to the state’s notoriously short construction season. Under the surge proposal, Williston would receive $80 million while Williams County would get $60 million. Williston Mayor Howard Klug says one of the City’s key projects would be improving access and safety at the new Williston High School. “Extending 11th street to enhance accessibility for emergency services to the new Williston High School site is one of several priority areas we would utilize with this surge funding. Our fire, ambulance and law enforcement officials need the ability to respond in a timely manner,” Klug said. While the hearing has an agenda with testimony scheduled; western North Dakota leaders say a large public turnout will speak volumes. “We would like to see the room filled to demonstrate the importance of this funding,” said Jeff Zarling, DAWA Solutions Group president. The hearing will be held in the large Brynhild Haugland room, which should be able to accommodate all attendees. “There should be room for all, but we should try to fill the hallways,” said Cal Klewin, Theodore Roosevelt Expressway Association executive director. “While testimony is in place for this hearing, your will attendance will ‘speak’.”

The Williston Public School District No. 1 will bring two busloads of residents to Bismarck. “A big part of this is to show legislators that we need more funding for the entire community, which includes the new high school,” said Dr. Viola LaFontaine, WPSD Superintendent. “The school district will help bring people to the hearing on up to two charter busses.” The busses will be free to riders. It will leave at 4 a.m. Friday. To reserve a seat email LaFontaine at viola.lafontaine@willistonschools.org.

 

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