Burgum thanks military veterans for their service at send-off for first North Dakota Native Veterans Honor Flight
Gov. Doug Burgum on Monday thanked more than 100 military veterans for their service before they departed on the first North Dakota Native Veterans Honor Flight to Washington, D.C.
Burgum greeted the veterans at the Bismarck Airport and briefly addressed them on their chartered flight before they left for the nation’s capital to visit several memorials, including the World War II Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Marine Corps War Memorial as well as Arlington National Cemetery and the National Archives. A banquet also was held to honor the veterans. About 155 people made the trip, including native and non-native veterans, volunteers, medical staff and family members.
“It’s a tremendous honor to help send off these veterans on the first-ever North Dakota Native Veterans Honor Flight,” Burgum said. “Native Americans historically have the highest record of military service per capita among all ethnic groups, and we are deeply grateful to them and all of our veterans for their courage, selflessness and the enormous sacrifices they made to spread the light of freedom to the world.”
State Sen. Richard Marcellais of Belcourt, a U.S. Army and Vietnam War veteran, served as president of the North Dakota Native Veterans Honor Flight board, which organized the flight and had representation from all five tribal nations in North Dakota. The flight was sponsored by the tribes and other donors, including the national Honor Flight Network, whose mission is to transport American veterans to Washington, D.C., to visit the memorials dedicated to honor the service and sacrifices of themselves and their friends.
Main Street tour rolls through Minot
Gov. Burgum and Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford met with city officials and community leaders and students in Minot on Monday as a part of the administration's Main Street Initiative tour. The Main Street Initiative is one of the administration's five strategic initiatives with a focus on creating healthy, vibrant communities to attract and retain workers to help solve the state's workforce shortage.
The initiative includes a commitment to visit every city that signs up to become a Main Street community. Burgum, along with team members from the North Dakota Department of Commerce, took part in a listening session that featured city officials, community leaders and local students.
Burgum tours, talks solutions at Minot Air Force Base
Following Monday's Main Street tour, Gov. Burgum visited Minot Air Force Base to receive an update from base leadership and express his gratitude for the work done to protect our nation. Burgum participated in a base tour and a roundtable with Col. Glenn Harris, Commander of the 91st Missile Wing and Col. Brad Cochran, Commander of the 5th Bomb Wing, where the governor outlined the work of his administration to make the state more "military friendly."
Minot AFB plays a significant role in the country's national defense as the only U.S. Air Force installation to house two legs of the nuclear triad – land and air.
Photos courtesy Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs
Federal and state officials announce completion of Pembina border crossing upgrades
On Tuesday, federal and state officials from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Department of State, U.S. General Services Administration, Federal Highway Administration and the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) announced the completion of border crossing upgrades at the Pembina-Emerson Port of Entry. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held with representatives from the U.S. congressional delegation, federal agencies, state and local officials.
“The substantial improvements made to traffic flow, technology and safety at this Port of Entry will enhance the movement of people and goods between our two countries and further strengthen North Dakota’s relationship with our neighbor and No. 1 trading partner,” Burgum said. “Congratulations to all of the partners who worked on this important project.”
The $9.7 million project included constructing new lanes of traffic to segregate commercial traffic from primary traffic, relocating the outbound inspection area and duty free pick-up to a location accessible to commercial and primary automobile traffic, constructing auto and truck parking areas, installing Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) technology and a pedestrian crossing. In addition, the project addresses the increased transportation demand, improves system linkage and safety for Port of Entry staff as well as facilitates international trade between the United States and Canada. As part of the project, the Government of Canada invested $19 million to upgrade its truck inspection facilities in Emerson.
Sanford participates in USDA renaming celebration
Lt. Gov. Sanford on Tuesday participated in a ceremony to formally rename the Red River Valley Agricultural Research Center as the Edward T. Schafer Agricultural Research Center after the state's former governor and U.S. secretary of agriculture.
The USDA facility is located on the campus of North Dakota State University in Fargo and conducts research to solve agricultural challenges across the nation.
Legislation to rename the facility, introduced by Rep. Kevin Cramer, passed the U.S. House of Representatives last year and the U.S. Senate earlier this March.
First Lady attends White House opioid event as President signs SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act
First Lady Kathryn Helgaas Burgum on Wednesday attended the “A Year of Historic Action to Combat the Opioid Crisis” event at the White House, where the Trump administration highlighted actions taken to combat the opioid crisis since President Donald Trump declared it a public health emergency a year ago.
The event coincided with President Trump signing into law the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act (H.R. 6), comprehensive bipartisan legislation that dedicates more resources to fight the opioid crisis. Following his remarks, several representatives of the private sector announced commitments and initiatives which further the administration’s efforts.
“Today was a notable display of bipartisan efforts to combat the opioid crisis and addiction more broadly,” Gov. Doug Burgum said. “It is significant because the disease of addiction does not discriminate. We’re grateful to the administration and members of Congress, especially Senators Hoeven and Heitkamp and Congressman Cramer, for coming together to pass this vital legislation, which will provide increased recovery support in communities while stemming the tide of tragic opioid overdoses.”
“This partnership between government and private enterprise to commit to initiatives for combatting the opioid crisis is significant,” Helgaas Burgum said. “The Governor and I are grateful to this administration for a comprehensive approach to helping people, families and communities struggling with addiction. We will continue our grassroots advocacy efforts along with so many others in our state to eliminate the stigma of addiction so more people feel comfortable reaching out for help and more lives can be saved.”
Information about the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act’s provisions to address the opioid crisis is available here.
Major upgrade to OMB website provides increased transparency and improved citizen experience
The North Dakota Office of Management and Budget has completed a major upgrade to the transparency section of its website, creating a more user-friendly experience for citizens searching for budget data, vendor contracts, fund balances and other financial information about state government.
The revamped transparency website provides improved visualization of data, including pie charts and bar graphs that allow users to drill down into data. This allows users to more easily and quickly comprehend data, identify relationships and patterns and pinpoint trends, OMB Director Joe Morrissette said.
Other new improvements include year-to-year comparisons of spending and revenues, user-driven analysis and fewer static PDF reports and tabular reports with raw data.
“These significant upgrades to OMB’s website are a perfect example of how we’re using technology to increase transparency in state government and improve the citizen experience,” Burgum said. “We’re deeply grateful for the hard work the OMB team put into this website to help state government empower people, improve lives and inspire success.”
“This user-friendly website will empower constituents, promote citizen engagement and build public trust by making state government spending more transparent and easier to analyze,” Morrissette said, noting the upgrades were implemented in-house using existing technology at a much lower cost than applications from external vendors.
The transparency website can be viewed here.
Burgum receives Workforce Development Council’s report on addressing workforce shortage
Gov. Burgum on Thursday received an extensive report of recommendations designed to assist in shaping the state’s workforce policy agenda for addressing North Dakota’s workforce shortage and supporting a 21st century workforce to meet current and future needs.
The report was the result of wide-ranging efforts by the Governor’s Workforce Development Council (WDC) and contains a number of specific recommendations, as well as endorsements of other initiatives already in progress.
“As part of our Main Street Initiative, we’ve traveled to every corner of the state listening to community leaders, employers, employees and students. And in every town, no matter the size, the biggest challenge mentioned is the shortage of workers to fill our tens of thousands of job openings,” Burgum said. “I’m deeply grateful to the Workforce Development Council members for their significant efforts to address that challenge and help position North Dakota as a leader in solving the workforce problem that permeates our entire country, and I look forward to reviewing their recommendations in this report.”
The report is the culmination of 11 months of intense effort by the WDC, coordinated by state Labor Commissioner and Executive Director of Job Service North Dakota Michelle Kommer.
The WDC’s work was guided by several principles, including that strategy is led by the private-sector, identifies a specific set of priorities for maximum impact, is supported by data and evidence, addresses both current and future needs and does not result in the expansion of government employment.
A key theme of the report is the need to address the technical skills gap by developing a stronger connection between education and industry to ensure earlier career exposure for students; aligning skills and credentials with employers’ needs; developing more work-based learning opportunities for students; and expanding technical education opportunities.
Burgum forms Task Force for Veterans Affairs to ensure governance, services are best positioned to support veterans
Gov. Burgum on Thursday signed an executive order creating a task force to assess the current system for supporting military veterans in North Dakota and comprehensively examine how the state’s current resources can be organized to serve veterans most effectively.
The Task Force for Veterans Affairs also will examine the current governance structure for the North Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs (NDVA), which is overseen by the Administrative Committee on Veterans Affairs (ACOVA).
In addition to the NDVA and ACOVA, there are a variety of nonprofit, federal, state and local organizations and programs that provide services to veterans in North Dakota. The North Dakota National Guard provides support to veterans through ND Cares, which was established by Gov. Jack Dalrymple in 2015, as well as other programs. The North Dakota Veterans Home, first established in 1893, provides long-term and basic care to veterans and their spouses. North Dakota is home to more than 50,000 veterans along with their families.
“We are deeply grateful for our service members and military veterans and the sacrifices they and their families have made for our state and country,” Burgum said. “We greatly appreciate the work that has been done in North Dakota to serve veterans, and this task force is an opportunity to work with veterans to review our current system and ensure we are best positioned to support them.”
The Task Force will consist of 11 to 15 members representing veterans and their families, officials from state government and other interested community stakeholders.
Individuals interested in serving on the Task Force should apply through the Boards section on www.governor.nd.gov by Nov. 16.