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Senate candidate Heitkamp learns of Dickinson's growth concerns

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp, center, peers at a Dickinson map Friday at City Hall during a trip to Dickinson, as Shawn Soehren, city engineer, left, and City Administrator Shawn Kessel update her on residential and commercial development in the city.

Democratic candidate Heidi Heitkamp on Friday met with Dickinson officials to hear about the hurdles the city faces as it grows and to discuss how she could help if she wins her bid for the Senate.

Heitkamp, a former North Dakota attorney general, will face U.S. Rep. Rick Berg, R-N.D., in the Nov. 6 general election.

In her first stop of the day, Heitkamp met with City Administrator Shawn Kessel and City Engineer Shawn Soehren at Dickinson City Hall.

She also stopped at Dickinson State University and toured the Target Logistics crew camp north of town while in Dickinson.

"I want to be prepared if I win the election and I need to be up on the issues our cities are facing, so I know where I can help," Heitkamp said. "I see that Dickinson is looking into the future and has done a super job planning ahead. They did a great job today giving me a better understanding of their federal needs, especially in regards to issues with housing and transportation."

Soehren said building projects are booming in the city.

"We're pretty well full in the city limits, so the only development we really have is moving out," he said.

Kessel said that according to the North Dakota Building Association numbers, Dickinson led the state in April in building permit issuance by value.

He added that Dickinson issued somewhere around $130 million in building permit value as of the end of May.

Heitkamp asked if the city's supply of plumbers and electricians was enough to accommodate the building projects, and Kessel responded, "People would build more here if we had more of those people."

Kessel also said Dickinson could use assistance for road improvements.

"When it comes to federal funding, we're looking at a truck bypass that will include two things we think the federal government could help with," he said. "Unfortunately, we're not eligible for almost any USDA grant, either because of our population growth or because of our wealth."

While Heitkamp traveled western North Dakota, her challenger made his own rounds across the state.

"As I criss-cross the state to visit with North Dakotans, people are responding to our message that to change Washington, we need to change the U.S. Senate," Berg said. "Doing so will require someone willing to stand up to President (Barack) Obama's failed policies, such as Obamacare, that have taken our country in the wrong direction with trillions of dollars of debt and an economy crippled by out of control government spending and regulations."