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Dakota Download Governor Burgum's Weekly Update - October 6, 2019

Above: Gov. Burgum, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and Theodore Roosevelt National Park Superintendent Wendy Ross look at a map of the park Thursday near Medora. Background photo (from left): Burgum, Bernhardt, Ross, U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer and U.S. Sen. John Hoeven enjoy a lighthearted moment during the park tour.

Burgum stresses collaboration on presidential library, park maintenance with Interior Secretary Bernhardt

Gov. Doug Burgum on Thursday welcomed U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt to North Dakota, emphasizing the importance of state and federal collaboration on the proposed Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Medora and highlighting its potential to boost tourism in conjunction with upgrades at Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

“Working together, we can seize this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a world-class destination that grows our tourism economy and honors the legacy of a president who was transformed by North Dakota and went on to transform our nation and world,” Burgum said. “We greatly appreciate Secretary Bernhardt’s visit, his collaborative approach and his commitment to addressing deferred maintenance in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, our state’s top tourist attraction."

"By linking the presidential library and the national park, we will highlight Roosevelt's legacy of conservation and provide a unique educational, recreational and inspirational experience for generations to come," Burgum added.

As Interior Secretary, Bernhardt oversees the National Park Service. At a press conference with U.S. Sens. John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer and the governor, Bernhardt said the state's commitment to the library project and the significant private philanthropic effort make it "a very special project."

“And so these are precisely the types of things that we hope succeed and that we can partner with going forward," Bernhardt said.

Bernhardt, Hoeven and Cramer discussed their efforts at the federal level to address the National Park Service’s $12 billion maintenance backlog, which includes roughly $50 million in deferred maintenance at Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The tour schedule also included stops at the Painted Canyon Visitor Center, the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Medora, and potential sites for the presidential library and museum.

Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford also participated in a roundtable discussion with Bernhardt, Hoeven and Cramer on Wednesday in Hope, N.D., where North Dakota landowners voiced their concerns over how Interior's Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has handled private property rights, especially as it relates to Waterfowl Production Area easement enforcement.

Lt. Gov. Sanford speaks to reporters after Wednesday's meeting with Sen. Hoeven, Secretary Bernhardt and Sen. Cramer in Hope.
Gov. Burgum addresses workshop attendees as Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney (left) and Western Governors' Association Executive Director Jim Ogsbury listen.

Governor hosts first workshop for WGA chair's initiative, 'Reimagining the Rural West,' in Fargo

Gov. Burgum on Tuesday hosted the first workshop of his central policy initiative as 2020 chair of the Western Governors’ Association (WGA), “Reimagining the Rural West,” an ambitious effort to address the intractable challenges facing the rural West and to support vibrant and enduring rural communities.

“We can help our rural areas prosper in a 21st century economy by focusing on three areas that are essential to rural prosperity: opportunity, connectivity and community,” Burgum said at the Radisson Hotel in downtown Fargo. “If we want to build a workforce in rural communities, we need to build more livable rural communities.”

The yearlong initiative will examine challenges and opportunities in rural economic development, infrastructure and quality of life, as well as identify best practices and recommend policies to support vibrant rural communities in the West. The initiative aligns with Burgum’s Main Street Initiative for North Dakota, which supports creating healthy, vibrant communities with smart, efficient infrastructure to attract and retain a skilled 21st century workforce.

Burgum thanks VA Secretary Wilkie for plan to award grant to build columbarium at ND Veterans Cemetery

Gov. Burgum met Tuesday with U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) Robert Wilkie during his visit to North Dakota, discussing ways to continue to enhance services for veterans and thanking the secretary for the VA’s plan to award a grant to build a columbarium at the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery near Mandan.

The governor and secretary covered ongoing efforts to enhance suicide prevention and behavioral health services, as well as how advancements in telemedicine can improve access to health services for veterans.

Burgum thanked Wilkie for a VA letter informing the North Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs that the VA plans to award a grant to build a columbarium as an above-ground resting place for cremains at the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery. The North Dakota Adjutant General’s Office, which oversees the cemetery, applied for a $1.3 million grant in June. The columbarium will hold up to 1,800 urns and has been designed in partnership with students at North Dakota State University’s landscape architecture department.

“North Dakota has a long and proud history of taking care of our military veterans, and we’re grateful for Secretary Wilkie’s cooperation and efforts to modernize services and provide veterans with the best care possible,” Burgum said. “We’re committed to working with the VA to ensure that those who served their country with courage and honor will continue to receive the excellent care they deserve long after their service has ended.”
Floyd A. Wells

ND native who died in attack on Pearl Harbor honored as remains returned to home state

Gov. Burgum on Monday joined military veterans, active duty servicemembers, community members and relatives of U.S. Navy Radioman 2nd Class Floyd A. Wells to honor the Cavalier native as his remains were returned to North Dakota nearly 78 years after he died at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Wells was aboard the USS Arizona on Dec. 7, 1941, when the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked the U.S. Navy fleet docked at Pearl Harbor. The attack resulted in the deaths of 1,177 crewmen of the USS Arizona. The majority were never recovered from the wreckage and are entombed in the USS Arizona Memorial, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA).

Wells’ remains were recovered but not identified, and he was interred as an unknown servicemember at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu. The DPAA recently identified his remains, which were returned tonight to Hector International Airport in Fargo.

“For many relatives of the 2,403 service members and civilians who died at Pearl Harbor, the ‘date that will live in infamy’ led to decades of agonizing uncertainty, facing each day without knowing the fate of their loved ones,” Burgum said. “We deeply appreciate the DPAA for honoring the legacy of Floyd Wells by bringing him home to North Dakota, where his service and sacrifice will always be remembered with everlasting gratitude and respect.”

Wells was interred with full military honors Tuesday at the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery near Mandan.

Gov. Burgum and U.S. Sen. John Hoeven with relatives of Floyd A. Wells.
A sign welcomes passengers to the Williston Basin International Airport.

Burgum: New Williston Basin International Airport is vital to region’s growing population, economy

Gov. Burgum on Friday joined local, state and federal officials in celebrating the completion of the new Williston Basin International Airport, calling it vital to the region’s growing population and economy.

“This is a historic day for Williston and the entire Bakken region. Williston Basin International Airport is an incredible facility that will serve a growing population, provide vital air travel services and sustain long-term economic expansion by continuing to bring new people, new businesses and new opportunity to the region,” Burgum said. “We’re deeply grateful to all of the local, state and federal champions for making this major investment in North Dakota’s future, including the $55 million invested by the state."

Located 10 miles northwest of Williston, the new $273 million airport encompasses 1,600 acres. It replaces Sloulin Field International Airport, which no longer met Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) design standards and also faced runway issues and expansion constraints as airline boardings increased dramatically during the Bakken oil boom.

The first flight into the new airport is expected to arrive on Thursday, Oct. 10.

Local leaders, airport staff and community members attended Friday's ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the new facility.
Photos courtesy of Russell Hons Photography

Sanford breaks ground on Pure Development mixed-use project in Grand Forks

Lt. Gov. Sanford took part in Thursday's groundbreaking for Pure Development in Grand Forks, a 68-unit apartment complex with a commercial component.

"This mixed-use infill project aligns perfectly with the three pillars of our Main Street Initiative: creating healthy, vibrant communities with smart, efficient infrastructure to attract and retain a 21st century workforce," Sanford said. "With a grocery store and a bank branch inside, downtown residents and surrounding neighborhoods will have convenient access to essential items and basic services."

Sanford expressed his gratitude and congratulations to project developer Dakota Commercial; the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency, which provided $1.1 million from the state's Housing Incentive Fund for the $14 million project; the City of Grand Forks; and all others involved in the project.

Sanford helps celebrate grand opening of North Dakota Area Census Office

The U.S. Census Bureau and the North Dakota Complete Count Task Force hosted a grand opening event Thursday for the North Dakota Area Census Office in Bismarck.

Lt. Gov. Sanford spoke at the event, promoting participation in Census 2020 and highlighting the important work of the Complete Count Task Force behind the statewide outreach effort.

“Participation outreach is crucial for an accurate census count, and the task force is working to ensure everyone is represented in Census 2020,” Sanford said. “Data from the census survey affects everything from voting districts to the distribution of billions of dollars for local communities, highways and schools, so it’s essential that everyone be counted.”

New episode of 'Work Worth Doing' discusses rural economic development in western U.S.

At the Western Governors' Association workshop in Fargo, Gov. Burgum sat down with WGA Executive Director Jim Ogsbury to discuss Reimagining the Rural West, the central policy initiative of Burgum's WGA chairmanship.

"Every governor in the western United States is dealing with the same issues we're dealing with in North Dakota," Burgum said.

In addition to a conversation with Ogsbury, the podcast also features highlights from keynote speaker Ben Winchester and panelists sharing the story of the Maddock Opera House.