Extra security put in place during this month’s three-day organizational session will be reinstated next month when lawmakers return to Bismarck for their regular session.
“It went real well,” Lt. Tom Iverson, of the North Dakota Highway Patrol, said of the measures put in place during the organizational session. “There were a lot of people that were appreciative of the enhanced security effort.”
The north and west entrances to the Capitol as well as the mail room door will be locked and unavailable for public entry. State employees and lawmakers will be able to use these entrances using key cards.
The south entrance and the judicial wing door on the east side of the building will be open to the public, but metal detectors will be in place. Employees will be able to bypass the metal detectors by showing valid key cards.
“It’s going to take some getting used to,” Iverson said of the changes.
The security was increased in response to the Dakota Access Pipeline protests of recent months. Opponents of the multi-billion dollar pipeline have been camping in southern Morton County for months; more than 570 arrests and millions in law enforcement costs have occurred since August.
Despite a string of winter storms blanketing the region and a recent bone-chilling cold snap, the steady sounds of construction equipment at the site of the new governor’s residence on the North Dakota Capitol grounds has continued unabated.
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“It hasn’t slowed them down at all. It’s unbelievable,” said John Boyle, the state's facility management director.
The foundation work is essentially done and the stick-built frame of the 13,600-square-foot residence has begun to go up in recent days.
“A lot will change in the next four to eight weeks,” Boyle said.
Work began at the residence site in the fall and quickly moved a few weeks ahead of schedule. Then the North Dakota winter belatedly arrived.
Despite the blizzard earlier in the month and the recent cold spell, Boyle said the construction crews took it in stride and could be seen daily maintaining the pace they’d set.
Boyle said the residence is expected to be finished on schedule so the governor can move in by Thanksgiving.
The general contract was awarded to Northwest Contracting Inc. while the mechanical contract went to Northern Plains Heating, Cooling and Air. Both are Bismarck-based companies. The electrical contract went to Fargo-based Magnum Electric Inc., which also has an office in Bismarck.
Boyle reported the transition earlier this month from outgoing Gov. Jack Dalrymple to new Gov. Doug Burgum went smoothly. He said Dalrymple was able to have breakfast there in the morning, while Burgum was settled in and was able to spend the night following his first day in office.