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Jena Gullo, executive director for Missouri Slope Areawide United Way, stands outside the former Open Door Community Center in south Bismarck on Monday. United Way partnered with Community Works North Dakota to purchase the building, which will house several United Way programs.

This is Up and Down, where we give a brief thumbs up and thumbs down on the issues from the past week.

Up

The Missouri Slope Areawide United Way closed on a building this week that will serve as a homeless shelter for men, women and children. The new facility will not only provide shelter for people in need but also serve as a “one-stop shop” with services to help lift people out of poverty. United Way stepped up when the community needed emergency housing and continues to show leadership on finding ways to prevent homelessness.

Down

A recent report released by North Dakota State Auditor Joshua Gallion showed the North Dakota Highway Patrol was not following its own policies for school bus inspections. The audit identified inaccurate school bus inspection records and found there are opportunities to improve the safety of children on school buses. The Legislature might need to get involved to give the state Department of Public Instruction the authority to compel districts to require annual inspections. The audit also uncovered errors in how federal grant dollars were expensed, costing the state about $42,000.

Up

A new player in the Bakken oil patch has big plans for reducing natural gas flaring in the state, while also adding value to the state’s abundant supply of natural gas. Bakken Midstream aims to develop new infrastructure in the state that will lay the groundwork for a new value-added natural gas industry rather than flaring or exporting the gas out of North Dakota. Company officials have yet to announce specific projects, but their ideas show promise.

Down

It’s sad to see the closure of United Methodist Church in Underwood, which held its final service Sunday due to dwindling membership. The congregation made the decision to close the church, which dates back to 1903. The church was down to eight active members, but only three live close by. The Rev. Darrel Aleson said he intended the final service to celebrate 116 years as a place of worship.

Up

Mandan Fire Department Capt. Shane Weltikol and his arson dog, Webbster, got more than a training opportunity on Wednesday. The fire investigators responded to a blaze at a Bismarck apartment complex that police believe was intentionally set. The duo was participating in a recertification program the same day in Bismarck when they were called to work. Weltikol and Webbster are the only certified arson dog team in North Dakota. The annual certification sponsored by the State Farm insurance company is important so evidence obtained at a crime scene can be used in court.

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