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Posted on September 21, 2020 at 9:31 AM by Bryan Obenchain
We’re no strangers to natural disasters here in Minot. The details of the 2011 flood and other natural disasters and accidents in our community have been well-documented through the years. But so have the overwhelming examples of support our community has received in those times of need.
When Minot needed help, agencies and volunteers from across this great country reached out with assistance ranging from financial help to cleanup work to construction expertise. Volunteers have worked shoulder-to-shoulder with us cleaning up after disasters. Volunteers have helped our residents reconstruct their childhood homes and their businesses.
Now, it’s our turn to extend a helping hand.
Four members of the Minot Fire Department left town on Tuesday, and have arrived in Oregon where they and other North Dakota firefighters will assist crews battling raging wildfires that have killed numerous people, destroyed entire towns, and scorched thousands of acres.
Capt. Casey Meadows, Senior Firefighter Will Decoteau, Senior Firefighter Jason West, and Senior Firefighter Jon Hanson volunteered to represent Minot in the growing group of firefighters from across the United States that is gathering in Oregon and other western states. They are ready to assist in any way they can.
As expected, there were many Minot firefighters who volunteered for the 18-day trip, according to Assistant Fire Chief Lonnie Sather. But the request was for staffed equipment, so the four firefighters and Minot’s Engine 1 was what we could provide while maintaining proper fire protection for our community.
Meadows, Decoteau, West, and Hanson joined other firefighters in Oregon, where their primary mission will include structural fire support, and potentially responding to calls for service in communities that have lost their own fire departments because of the wildfires. The Minot crew won’t be fighting wildfires, as they haven’t been trained for that specialty, but they will be supporting those crews that are on the front lines.
If you’re surprised that firefighters from across the United States, including Minot, quickly volunteered to help their colleagues, then you must not personally know any firefighters. Their profession is all about protecting communities and people from the threat of fire, whether it’s in Minot or any of the countless communities halfway across the country that have been devastated by wildfires.
We’re proud that the Minot Fire Department responded to this call for help. It’s what they do every day on the job. Firefighters and law enforcement officers are a different breed. When other members of society flee from danger, whether it’s a fire or criminal activity, these men and women routinely run toward the danger. Yes, I know it’s their job, but we must never take our first responders for granted. Every time you hear a siren, remember that those folks responding to an emergency are human beings who have chosen a life of service, despite its inherent dangers. They are not nameless, faceless employees. They are our fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, husbands, wives, friends, and neighbors.
In this case, they are Capt. Casey Meadows, Senior Firefighter Will Decoteau, Senior Firefighter Jason West, and Senior Firefighter Jon Hanson. To them and their families, our community offers its unwavering support for this mission and your ongoing duty of protecting Minot. You are in our collective thoughts until you all return safely from this call for service.
God speed, and stay safe.
Sincerely, City Hall.
You can find more about what’s happening at the City of Minot at minotnd.org, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. We’d also encourage you to sign up for our monthly electronic newsletter on our website.
Posted on August 24, 2020 at 8:03 AM by Bryan Obenchain
Mask up, Minot.
That’s the message from the City Council, which recently approved a pair of items seeking to engage our community’s residents in helping to protect themselves, and each other, from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The Council unanimously approved two items: One created a temporary policy regarding face coverings for City of Minot employees, and second item created a community wide directive strongly encouraging residents to wear face coverings while in certain public places when social distancing isn’t possible.
Both items take effect Aug. 24. They will expire on Nov. 16 unless the Council extends or terminates them earlier.
Following in the footsteps of Gov. Doug Burgum’s MaskUpND initiative, the mask directive does not make it mandatory for people to wear face coverings while in public. Rather, the City Council is appealing to the “good judgment and common sense of the residents, visitors, and businesses of Minot” to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and more importantly protect the most vulnerable resident that have underlying health conditions. The directive was approved unanimously by the Council last Monday night.
Many businesses in our community have already implemented mandatory mask policies for their employees and customers. More and more stores and restaurants are adopting mask requirements before you enter those facilities. Many students, staff, and teachers will be required to wear masks as our schools open, including Minot State University, Minot Public Schools, and other educational institutions in and around our community. The City’s encouragement to residents to wear face coverings in certain public situations is simply a continuation of what many in the community are already doing.
No one is saying that COVID-19 is going to magically disappear if we all wear masks in public when we are unable to maintain proper social distancing. Recommendations and guidance though from health experts – including the First District Health Unit, the N.D. Department of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control, to name a few – agree that wearing masks in conjunction with social distancing and proper hygiene can have an impact on the virus’ spread.
It’s impossible to create a policy or directive that satisfies everyone. That’s simply a fact of life, especially in government. We know the Council-approved directive, which strongly encourages residents and visitors to wear a face covering when in public places, common areas, and private businesses when social distancing isn’t possible, won’t be welcomed or followed by everyone. We know there will be folks who cannot routinely wear masks for health reasons. We also know there will be residents who simply refuse to wear a mask for their own reasons.
At the City, we’re committed to doing our part. That’s the reason for the new employee face covering policy that will take effect Monday. We’re asking our employees to wear face coverings when it’s not possible to maintain social distancing and they have to be in meetings together, when they are interacting with members of the public, or whenever they’re riding in a vehicle with another person, among other instances.
The City has a wide variety of job environments, from employees who spend the majority of their day in an office to street department employees who spend their days outside working on all sorts of projects and meeting with members of the public. Again, it’s not possible to create a policy that addresses every potential scenario. But the employee committee tasked with working through this issue has done a great job creating a reasonable policy that provides a solid foundation to work from, although we recognize it will almost certainly undergo changes as the pandemic continues.
The City of Minot, the City Council, and I, as mayor, have a duty to help protect the health and well-being of our employees, our residents, and our community. And we’re simply asking you, as residents, to do your part. Remember: You’re not just protecting yourself by wearing a mask, you’re also protecting others. Minot residents have always banded together to take care of each other; this is another opportunity to prove that we’re willing to make small, temporary sacrifices for the good of each other and our community.
So, Mask Up, Minot. If not for yourself, do it for your neighbors, your friends, and your family.
Posted on August 7, 2020 at 3:43 PM by Bryan Obenchain
Minot has a treasured relationship with the men and women of Minot Air Force Base, who continue to have a real and dramatic influence on our community’s culture and personality.
Each year, members of the Air Force arrive here from all walks of life and all regions of the country. We are truly grateful for their commitment and sacrifice to protect our community, our country, our freedom, and our way of life. We also welcome their influence on our community’s overall spirit and diversity.
Recently, two more members of the Air Force arrived in our community as we welcomed two new commanders at Minot Air Force Base.
Col. Michael Walters assumed command of the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot Air Force Base. Col. Walters comes to Minot after being commander of the 379th Expeditionary Operations Group at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar. He is a command pilot with more than 2,680 hours, and he’s flown multiple aircraft, including T-33A, B-52H, B-2A, and B1B.
More recently, Col. Christopher Meguey assumed command of the 91st Missile Wing at Minot Air Force Base.
As the two new commanders arrive we also bid fond farewell to Col. Bradley Cochran, who was commander of the 5th Bomb Wing for the past two years, and Col. Glenn Harris, who was commander of the 91st Missile Wing. We are thankful for their commitment to overseeing a facility that is vital to the defense of our country and for working with various community organizations to nurture the relationship between Minot AFB and the city of Minot. They have both been tremendous assets to our community, and we wish them well as they move to the next phases of their respective careers.
In addition to the cultural enrichment, every year the base and its personnel have a financial impact on the regional economy measuring in the hundreds of millions of dollars; the impact in 2019 was $559 million. Much of that impact is felt right here in Minot, but it also spreads out to other communities in the region. Our economy would not be the same without the influx of spending from the base itself and its personnel. Of course, there is much more to this relationship than the financial aspect. As a community, we continue to grow and cultivate a supportive and positive relationship with Minot AFB. In late 2019, Team Minot was honored for that effort.
Every two years, the Barksdale Trophy is awarded to the community that has provided the highest level of support to an Air Force base in the Air Force Global Strike Command. As a community, we are proud to have won the Barksdale Trophy earlier this year, because it represents the embodiment of the partnership between our community and Minot AFB. We are proud of the hospitality, kindness, and acceptance of Air Force personnel and their families.
Winning the Barksdale Trophy is the result of our community’s long-standing efforts to continually support a growing and positive partnership between Minot AFB and Minot. The men and women of the Air Force have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with our community through the years, including their volunteer work at Norsk Hostfest, the North Dakota State Fair, the Roosevelt Park Zoo, and a long list of other activities. We certainly will never forget the hard work by Air Force personnel as we battled to save our community from the flood of 2011.
The contributions by Minot Air Force Base personnel simply cannot be overlooked or under-appreciated. Our neighbors to the north play a vital and necessary role in our community. It’s been that way since the base opened in 1957, and it continues to this day. Minot Air Force Base personnel make Minot a better place to live, work, and play, and for that we salute them.