District 36 representation: Alan Fehr succeeds retiring NodlandDr. Alan Fehr, a psychologist who has lived in Dickinson since the early 1990s, was the first to throw his hat in the ring when District 36 Sen. George Nodland announced his retirement earlier this year.
By: Katherine Grandstrand, The Dickinson Press
Dr. Alan Fehr, a psychologist who has lived in Dickinson since the early 1990s, was the first to throw his hat in the ring when District 36 Sen. George Nodland announced his retirement earlier this year.
He will begin next year as Rep. Alan Fehr after defeating incumbent Shirley Meyer, who has since taken a position on U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp’s staff, heading up the senator’s Dickinson office.
A Manfred native, Fehr joined the U.S. Navy after high school. The four years he spent in South Carolina and traveling were four of the five years he spent living outside of North Dakota. The other one was when he was doing his internship.
After honorable discharge from the Navy, he used his G.I. Bill to attend the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, where he earned a doctorate in clinical psychology. He started his career in Devils Lake.
In 1991, Alan, wife Kris and their two daughters, Karla and Laura, packed up and moved to Dickinson, where Alan began working for St. Joseph’s Hospital and Health Center. Kris worked as the Dickinson correspondent for The Bismarck Tribune for a time. Their third child, David, was born in Dickinson.
After a few years, Alan started Westwind Consulting Center. He is the director of psychological health for the North Dakota National Guard as a civilian, but is also a member of the Guard.
Kris is president of the Dickinson Public School Board and is no stranger to elections.
“I know that elections are a lot work,” she said. “Campaigning is a lot, a lot, a lot of work and then once you’re elected, then the real work begins.”
His daughters live out of state and David is a junior at Dickinson High School. Having dad gone during the session doesn’t affect them like it would younger children, the family said, and Bismarck is less than two hours away.
“He was deployed for a year,” Kris said of her husband, “So we managed. Besides, he’s only in Bismarck. It’s not too far away.”
Because of his military ties, Alan would like to see more veterans move to North Dakota to seek employment.
“Nationwide, veterans have a high rate of unemployment,” he said. “I would love to see them deploy to Dickinson or to this area and get jobs and live out here.”
Alan sat down with running mates Sen. Kelly Armstrong and Rep. Mike Schatz to determine their motto and mission statement for the campaign.
“Make southwest North Dakota into the best place to live, work and raise a family,” Alan said. “In a lot of ways that really is where all three of us are coming from; I think in somewhat different ways.”
The growth the state is experiencing now is not just a boom, but an opportunity to reverse an 80-year trend of population decline, he said.
“There’s been nothing in the state like this since the homestead days when there was this massive migration of people to the state to homestead,” Alan said.
Infrastructure needs in the west are an immediate concern, Alan said. So is the inevitability that federal funding will disappear and North Dakota will have to use more of its resources.
“Actually, right now, to be in North Dakota is really exciting,” he said. “This is, in my mind, the best state to be in right now. Our nation is going through some really tough times. … Our state, we are doing well.”