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Great Northern adds two new speakers to public meeting

DICKINSON - There are two more speakers slated for a public meeting by Great Northern Power Development LP at 6:30 p.m. today at the Days Inn-Grand Dakota Lodge and Conference Center.

"We thought they could bring good local experience relative to energy development to the presentation," GNPD Vice President Richard Voss said of the additions. "Because of some of the questions from the first meeting, we thought it would be helpful to have someone that had gone through the development in a similar community...and to bring in someone that could speak to economic impact of jobs like the ones GNPD would be bringing to the area."

Beulah Jobs Development Association Director John Phillips is one of the new speakers to speak at the Dickinson meeting.

In an e-mail from Voss, he wrote Phillips is to address the economic impact of industry development in the Beulah area and how it could translate to Great Northern's project in Stark County.

Phillips was a businessman in Washburn when the Coal Creek Station and Falkirk Mine were in full swing. He later moved to Beulah to be the city's planner and development director. Phillips also is an at-large member on the executive committee of the Economic Development Association of North Dakota.

Phillips' discussion points include "ways an increased tax base can trigger real estate growth, how increased population could mean enhanced federal and state funding opportunities and increased school enrollment," wrote Voss.

Further points could include "ways in which the coal severance, conversion and impact funding can be applied in a community and opportunities to stabilize a rural community," which could pertain to a project such as GNPD's in South Heart.

The second new speaker for today's meeting is Ron Lisko, who is a member of the Stark County Jobs Development Authority and Dickinson Civil Service Board.

Lisko was the longtime manager for the Dickinson office of Job Service. Lisko also was a teacher in South Heart Public School District from 1967-1969.

"Ron will address the economics of North Dakota's population challenges," wrote Voss. "He'll be reviewing statistics on out-migration, birth rates, etc., a case study on industry development success, history of hiring practices in energy industry and what that means to North Dakota and the impact of 250 new jobs on the economy using Job Service formulas."

The meeting is the second of a series the company is holding about its proposed $1.4 billion coal gasification plant near South Heart.

A public meeting was held Wednesday, Jan. 23 at South Heart Public School. Voss previously stated the meetings would be similar in content and form. Today's meeting includes a similar presentation by GNPD officials and others who presented in January. A question-and-answer session follows the presentations.