This is Up and Down, where we give a brief thumbs up and thumbs down on the issues from the past week.
After months of work the Missouri Slope Areawide United Way established an emergency homeless shelter at Sunrise Apartments in downtown Bismarck. It was intended as a temporary solution after the city’s only men’s shelter closed. However, everything has been going so well that the United Way plans to continue at the location indefinitely. The United Way served 96 people in April, providing 1,207 nights of shelter. They also provide some meals. Once they are at full staff they will offer more intensive case management to clients. The United Way, Ministry on the Margins and the many volunteers should be congratulated for making the new shelter successful.
There are burn bans in effect in Burleigh County and other counties across the state. There’s good reason for the bans. The state went through a drought last year and it’s still dry. We also are getting windy and warm conditions on a regular basis. These are conditions that make it easy for fires to start. So people need to be careful. One man was recently cited for setting off fireworks on a sandbar near Sibley Park that resulted in a grassland fire. There have been other fires in the area. Fortunately, the fires have been small and contained. But we know from the past that grass fires can do a lot of damage. Everyone needs to be aware of the situation, follow the law and be careful.
Dreams can come true. Logan Triepke, a sophomore at Bismarck High School, has always wanted to be a firefighter. Last week he was surprised at school when the Bismarck Fire Department made him an honorary firefighter. He also was given a helmet that said Firefighter Triepke on the front. Bismarck firefighters first met Triepke in October when they awarded him a certificate and a ride in a firetruck after entering a drawing contest for Fire Prevention month. Triepke says he wants to be a firefighter so he can help people. It sounds like he has a good idea of what firefighters do.
It’s good news for the state that oil and gas revenue has been increasing. On the down side, gas prices have been increasing at the pump across the nation. Last week the national gas average was $2.81 at the pump. That’s the highest price per gallon since November 2014. Obviously renewed oil development is important to North Dakota. However, it hurts to see the higher gas prices as we move into summer and plan our vacation travel.
The Bismarck Public Schools added a cultural responsive coordinator who’s working to improve the understanding of Native Americans. Travis Albers has started visiting classrooms in all the elementary schools. Native Americans make up 8.6 percent of the student population in Bismarck. So it’s important that the school district has someone who can work with Native Americans and other students on key issues. Albers is an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians. The Bismarck School District should be commended for creating the position.