The Ward County Commission gave the City of Berthold some help with starting its own police department in the form of an old police cruiser for a dirt-cheap price.
Alan Lee, mayor of Berthold, appeared before the commission Tuesday morning to request the purchase of a used police cruiser from Ward County to help the city with the formation of its own police force, which will contain a single officer.
The vehicle is a 2006 model with 140,000 miles that has already been replaced by the Ward County Sheriff's Department and does need some work. For liability reasons the county couldn't just give the vehicle away, but a more-than-fair price of $1 was set.
"So do you have a buck?" commissioner Bruce Christianson asked.
"I have a buck," Lee replied to laughter around the room.
Berthold is starting its own police force because of the increases and changes to the area's population. Lee said the city has recently enacted quite a few new ordinances, and they need a way to enforce them all.
"Any time you make a rule you've got to enforce it or else it just becomes a joke," Lee said. "There's a lot more traffic and a lot of everything going on. We haven't had any big problems, it's just the sheriff's department does a good job coming to town but they can't do that very often."
"Well response time is critical in those situations," commissioner Carroll Erickson said.
A motion was made to sell the used cruiser to Berthold for $1 and passed unanimously.
Mike Larson, the county building inspector, brought a troubling trend to the commission's attention. He said there are currently 19 job sites that he knows of in the county without a building permit.
"I'm not even looking for these. I'm just driving around and whoops, there's a job site and I'm not sure what permit it is," Larson said. "It's kind of a good thing I don't know the area that well because I probably wouldn't have found these (otherwise)."
Larson said he has been surprised by just how many he has found driving around the county. He said many people have claimed they thought a building permit wasn't needed because they live in the country. While he believes this to be the case in most instances, Larson is sure a few people were simply skirting the rules and hoping not to get caught.
"Generally most of the people have been good on coming in to take care of this," Larson said. "I'm still waiting on some to show up and (I) may have to make another stop or two."
It's even more troubling considering many of the people without permits aren't doing the building themselves, but are using contractors who should know what the rules are and what permits are needed, according to Larson.
"That's another issue that we are dealing with, too, and I've dealt with quite heavily in the last two weeks on a couple of different projects with contractors," Larson said.
He noted several contractors don't appear on the North Dakota Secretary of State's website, which makes it difficult to determine if they are properly licensed and bonded. He said this has mainly been a problem with out-of-state contractors lured to North Dakota by the oil boom and looking to cash in before quickly leaving, not local contractors. Larson said he would like to see Ward County implement its own registration system for contractors to ensure they are properly insured and bonded, much like many cities have.
Commissioners Christianson and Jerome Gruenberg agreed that having the county set up its own registration system for contractors sounded like a good idea and would make it easier to ensure all the contractors working within the county have the proper licensing.
Larson said he would look at what other counties are doing in regards to registration and also talk to area contractors to get their input before reporting back to the commission.
Another concern he had was building permits being issued by townships and smaller cities within the county but no follow-up building inspections being performed. He said he has received several calls from people with concerns about work done on their property because no inspections were made.
"I did a courtesy inspection and I found some serious issues. I think that's something that these townships and these smaller cities need to be aware of," Larson said. "If you're going to do a job you've got to follow through and finish the job."
It was decided to reach out to the townships and smaller cities in the county and see who needs help with inspections and who doesn't.
In a more straightforward matter, a motion to allow Larson to update the building inspection library was also made and passed unanimously.
In other business:
- Jim Blomberg of Minot was appointed to the school reorganization board.
- Shirley Lindquist of Kenmare was appointed to the Ward County Library board.
- Kenneth L. Gillespie and Kandi Mikkelson, both of Minot, were appointed as delegates to the North Dakota State Fair board.