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Vision West ND preps regional plan for debut

After more than a year of planning, the Vision West ND Consortium members are almost ready to present the regional plan.

The consortium met over a conference call Friday morning.

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Vision West ND Project Director Shirley Brentrup said the consortium has received a rough draft from Building Communities, the group that facilitates Vision West meetings.

The planning process began in the fall of 2012 with steering committee meetings in each county in western North Dakota. The regional plan is not a binding document, but something that consortium members will continually update and improve over the next year, Brentrup said.

“This isn’t a final plan,” Brentrup said. “This is the plan that we will work to improve over the next year.”

The rough draft will be reviewed by Building Communities’ experts, as well and Vision West ND team members before January, Brentrup said.

Once the reviewing process is done, Vision West ND wants to tour the plan throughout the participating counties, Brentrup said. This would give local governments and residents a chance to weigh in.

“I really think that we need to make an appearance in every county,” said Mark Resner, chairman of the Vision West ND Consortium and Hettinger County energy officer.

After the counties have had their say, the plan goes to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for approval, Brentrup said.

“Possibly towards summer, mid-summer, we’ll start looking for county approvals on that plan and have it to HUD by November or December (2014) because they are, after all, where the grant comes from,” Brentrup said. “They need to have that plan and then approve it before the grant ends, which is January 2015.”

A consortium member and each county will be asked to endorse the regional plan before it heads to HUD, Brentrup said.

Even though the plan will not be complete for another year or more, it will be available as a guideline for legislators and local governments in January, said Rep. Vicky Steiner, a Republican from Dickinson who represents District 37 and is the executive director of the North Dakota Association of Oil and Gas Producing Counties.

“It’s there to work with or to use in any way, manner or form from January on,” Steiner said.

The plan will be available for reference on the Vision West ND website once it’s gone through the review process, Brentrup said.

“Any strategic plan is not done when it’s done,” Brentrup said. “It’s done when it’s implemented.

“It is our hope that we continue and find ways to continue to implement under this plan for years and years to come.”

The Vision West team members will be hosting two federal round tables with HUD officials from Denver next week, on Wednesday in Dickinson and Thursday in New Town .

Katherine Grandstrand
I graduated from Bemidji State University in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in mass communcations, from Columbia College Chicago in 2009 with a master's degree in journalism.  
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