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Dakota Download Governor Burgum's Weekly Update - September 29, 2019

Gov. Burgum receives his influenza vaccination from a Bismarck-Burleigh Public Health nurse.

Burgum joins Dept. of Health to encourage taking steps to protect against influenza

Gov. Doug Burgum joined officials from the North Dakota Department of Health and the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission at a news conference to highlight the importance of receiving an annual flu vaccination.

The flu affects every age group, but it’s more dangerous for some than others. Infants and young children, people 65 years of age and older, pregnant women and individuals with certain health conditions or a weakened immune system are at greatest risk of flu complications. Last year there were nearly 8,000 reported cases of influenza in North Dakota, which is likely lower than the true number of cases.

The Department of Health held the event to stress that getting a flu shot can help protect North Dakotans. Even when the vaccine doesn’t exactly match the viruses it was made to protect against, it may still provide some protection.

"Getting the flu vaccine is the easiest way to protect yourself, as well as your friends and family, from the flu," Burgum said.

Angie Wehrkamp of Families Fighting Flu shared her personal story with the audience to highlight the importance of vaccinations. In January 2015, Wehrkamp's two-year-old daughter Gianna passed away after a brief battle with influenza. She encouraged families to take every precaution this flu season.

Burgum was also joined by Brad Hawk of the Indian Affairs Commission and Nicole Peske and Levi Schlosser of the Department of Health.

Burgum addresses the audience during the ceremony in the House chambers with the North Dakota Supreme Court looking on.

Burgum addresses attorneys admitted to North Dakota Bar

The North Dakota Supreme Court was in session on Monday to admit new members of the North Dakota Bar. With families and friends gathered in the Capitol, Gov. Burgum congratulated approximately 50 attorneys who passed the bar exam this summer.

Burgum heralded their decision to undertake the journey practicing law and, by doing so, defining and defending the rights of American democracy.

"As lawyers, you have an enviable front-row seat to watching these rights and freedoms play out in real-time every day," Burgum said. "It’s your responsibility to ensure these rights and freedoms are protected and upheld, no matter the circumstances, for they are foundational to our country and our core values."

In addition to offering his congratulations, Burgum also encouraged the newly admitted members of the North Dakota Bar to stay actively involved in their communities throughout their careers.

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and members of the State Board of Law Examiners, State Bar Association and University of North Dakota School of Law thanked the attorneys for their work and welcomed them to the practice of law.

Gov. Burgum and First Lady Kathryn Burgum congratulated professional baseball player and Jamestown native Darin Erstad on his induction into the Scandinavian-American Hall of Fame.

Burgum, Sanford attend Scandinavian-American Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Minot

As Norsk Høstfest got underway in Minot, Gov. Burgum, First Lady Kathryn Burgum and Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford helped honor the newest inductees to the Scandinavian-American Hall of Fame (SAHF).

The SAHF was established in 1984 to honor "persons of Scandinavian descent in North America who have achieved greatness in their fields of endeavor and/or whose efforts have contributed significantly to the betterment of mankind," according to Norsk Høstfest. This year's inductees were:

  • Darin Erstad, professional athlete and Jamestown native;
  • Andrew & Amelia Wisness family, McKenzie County ranching family; and
  • Dr. Richard L. Lindstrom, award-winning ophthalmologist.

Prior to presenting the award, Burgum shared highlights of Erstad's athletic career, from his time as a multi-sport athlete at Jamestown High School to NCAA Division I National Champion football player to two-time Major League Baseball All-Star and World Series champion. He praised Erstad for his efforts as an athlete and a coach that helped make him a positive role model for youth in North Dakota and across the nation.

Sanford spoke on behalf of the Wisness family upon their induction to the SAHF, telling stories of community service and friendship over five generations of the family's history in McKenzie County.

Norsk Høstfest is an annual festival in Minot that celebrates Scandinavian heritage and the culture of the five Nordic countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.

Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford poses for a photo with representatives from the Wisness family following their induction into the Scandinavian-American Hall of Fame.

Burgum: State continues to monitor rain-affected areas as efforts shift from response to recovery

Maj. Gen. Al Dohrmann, director of the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services (NDDES), and Cody Schulz, North Dakota Homeland Security director, led a conference call with emergency managers from across the state Friday to determine if additional resources or capabilities are needed to respond to last weekend’s severe storms and heavy rainfall. The conversation also focused on determining the extent of damages experienced by the affected jurisdictions and the upcoming recovery process.

As waters continued to recede last week, local emergency managers were completing damage assessments and coordinating with volunteer agencies to assist with cleanup and recovery efforts. The NDDES anticipates collecting more detailed damage assessments in the next seven to 10 days and will determine whether those damages would allow the state to pursue a potential federal disaster declaration.

“From flooded basements and washed-out roads to soggy fields too wet to harvest, heavy rains are taking their toll on North Dakota residents, and more precipitation is predicted,” Burgum said. “We’re committed to a whole-of-government approach and using all appropriate resources to ensure the safety and economic security of our citizens during this situation.”

Dohrmann and Schulz were joined by representatives from several state agencies during the call, including the Department of Health, Department of Environmental Quality, Department of Transportation, Department of Agriculture and the State Water Commission, as well as the National Weather Service. Eighteen of North Dakota’s 53 counties and four tribal governments joined the call, with eight of those counties reporting impacts from recent weather events.

While local emergency managers have been working to contend with issues produced by oversaturation, no state resources have been requested at this time.

First Lady Burgum held a discussion session with Jenny Olson, managing director of the Office of Recovery Reinvented. Burgum emphasized the importance of sharing one's mission, saying, “Storytelling inspires change and saves lives.”

First Lady Burgum speaks at FMWF Chamber of Commerce event

First Lady Kathryn Burgum shared her personal story of addiction and recovery and mission to end the stigma surrounding the disease of addiction to a group of 200 professional women at the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce Women Connect event. Women Connect, a monthly event program hosted by the Chamber, targets the needs and development of professional women to address community challenges in the workplace.

First Lady Burgum shared possible avenues for the professionals in attendance to eliminate stigma and create recovery-supportive workplaces and communities. In sharing her own story of being in recovery for 17 years, she emphasized that storytelling is a powerful tool to end stigma, reshape perspectives and encourage decision makers to craft policy that helps those impacted by addiction.

Burgum said that by having more people openly talking about addiction and recovery, they would be a part of a grassroots movement to end stigma that would encourage more people to reach out for help and seek services. Her message received a standing ovation from the Women Connect audience and humanized the challenges around addiction while inspiring innovation, hope and collaboration to end stigma and promote a culture of recovery.

Gov. Burgum and First Lady Burgum will host Recovery Reinvented in Bismarck on Nov. 12. The event will feature state and national addiction and recovery experts who will focus on reinventing recovery by empowering communities to take action, creating recovery-friendly workplace environments, and eliminating the stigma surrounding the disease of addiction. Reserve your space at this link.

Burgum applauds Harwood, New Rockford-Sheyenne for being recognized as National Blue Ribbon Schools

Gov. Burgum on Thursday commended Harwood Elementary School and New Rockford-Sheyenne Elementary School for being recognized by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos as National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2019.

“This tremendous honor highlights the hard work and dedication of the outstanding students, teachers and administrators at these two exceptional schools, as well as the innovative approaches to teaching and learning happening in schools throughout our state,” Burgum said. “Congratulations to West Fargo’s Harwood Elementary School and New Rockford-Sheyenne Elementary School on this well-deserved recognition.”

The National Blue Ribbon School recognition is based on a school’s overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups. Up to 420 schools may be nominated each year. Harwood Elementary School also received National Blue Ribbon School recognition in 2006.