With the extreme drought affecting southwest North Dakota, the South Heart City Commission addressed shared concerns pertaining to juveniles and adults being heedless of their actions.
Commissioners met during their monthly meeting Monday, April 5, at City Hall and from its agenda of topics, one of the main issues raised related to how some juveniles and adults have been trespassing on private property and driving 4-by-4's through wild grasses and dry fields.
“This is the driest I have ever seen it. It's very scary, that's one reason why I started watering my grass,” Mayor Floyd Hurt said.
In preparation of the drought and to avoid further fires in southwest North Dakota, the commission discussed with Stark County Sheriff Office’s Lt. Eldon Mehrer their goal to see tighter enforcement of the city's ordinance — mainly regarding efforts to prevent loitering on city and private property, and specifically the open lot behind the Heart Country gas station.
“Assuming it's either private or public property, if they don't have permission then they can’t ride there… Call dispatch and we’ll get a deputy out there,” Mehrer said. “I will put out an extra patrol… I know we made it a point, specifically to be here (at the) beginning of school and end of school, but I know the guys do come through here patrolling various times of the night as well.”
Hurt said that incidents like those being seen in South Heart are not new and have happened before, and that the commission has addressed the issues of trespass in the past with success — but that the issues have returned in increasing numbers.
“They were jumping the ditches, putting in ruts and we kind of got it all leveled off and then I see in the grass where they have been tearing around again,” Hurt said.
Sewer Commissioner Mike Sticka explained that the conversation and ultimate goal isn't punitive in nature, rather a call for residents to actively stop some of the behavior that has negatively impacted the good of the entire community.
“It's not that we get after the kids all the time. It is nice that it is a small town and they can have fun; it's just that when they start ruining things we have to take action,” Sticka said.
The commission also brought up concerns with the discarding of lit cigarettes from vehicles into dry grass, possibly starting a fire.
“If somebody throws a cigarette out it could be horrible. Look what happened to Medora and we don't have The Little Missouri River running on the west side of us to help stop it,” Hurt said. “If it ever started west of here, it would go right through the town.”
Mehrer encouraged citizens to call if they required assistance or to report issues at 701-456-7610.
Commissioners said they would like to remind the community to prepare for a continuing dry season, as eight separate counties in the state have witnessed expansive wildfires since April 1, including the state emergency wildfire in Medora that claimed nearly 3,000 acres.
For information on how to prevent wildfires, or to view maps showing current burn ban restrictions and fire danger levels, visit www.ndresponse.gov.
In other topics, commissioners discussed its relationship with local and surrounding entities, the sale and market trends of South Heart — which according to commissioners improved in value and ongoing projects.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the South Heart City Commission meetings are closed to the public but citizens can call into the meeting at 701-677-4655 if they would like to share any concerns during the public comment portion of the meeting. the next commission meeting will take place at 7 p.m. Monday, May 3, at the South Heart City Hall.