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Badlands Human Service Center advisory board names chairperson

The advisory group for the North Dakota Department of Human Services' Badlands Human Service Center met and named a new chairperson on Thursday.

The board named Doug Wegh, director of Social Services in Hettinger County, as its chairman. Melissa Pavlicek was named assistant chairperson of the board. Pavlicek is the Dunn County director of Social Services.

In addition to naming a chairperson, advisory board members discussed an array of topics, including how the BLHSC functions and the role that social services plays in that. Group members discussed challenges facing outlying communities and counties as well, such as helping people travel to Dickinson to get to the center.

Advisory group members represent the counties in the center's service region, which include Adams, Billings, Bowman, Dunn, Hettinger, Golden Valley, Slope and Stark counties. Members provide information and recommendations to help the department and BLHSC identify needs and plan and develop health and social resources.

During the 2017 North Dakota legislative session, lawmakers approved Senate Bill 2039, which dealt with a number of human service issues including human service center advisory group membership. Lawmakers approved expanding membership to include additional county social service board members and county commissioners from each center's multi-county region, as well as public health officials and at-large members.

"We've been having these meetings for years now but (the Legislature) wanted a little more involvement from the county social services directors and the district health directors," Brad Brown, director of BLHSC said. "There's more collaboration going on and more involvement with the human service centers overall."

According to the North Dakota Century Code, the role of the human services advisory groups is to "provide information to the department relative to needs assessment and the planning

and development of health and social resources for the effective and efficient delivery

of high-quality human services fully accessible to all citizens."

They will also review services and programs provided by the regional human service centers and make periodic recommendations for improvement in services, programs or facilities. They also promote cooperation and working agreements with public agencies, including public health, corrections and private human service agencies.

"We work closely already so it's good to have them on board too," Brown said. "It kind of helps things flow a little smoother."

Sydney Mook

Sydney Mook has been covering higher education at the Grand Forks Herald since May 2018. She previously served as the multimedia editor and cops, courts and health reporter at the Dickinson Press from January 2016 to May 2018.  She graduated from the University of South Dakota with a bachelor's degree in journalism and political science in three and half years in December 2015. While at the USD, she worked for the campus newspaper, The Volante, as well as the television news show, Coyote News. She also interned at South Dakota Public Broadcasting and spent the summer before her senior year interning in Fort Knox for the ROTC Cadet Summer Training program. In her spare time, Sydney enjoys cheering on the New York Yankees and the Kentucky Wildcats, as well as playing golf. If you've got an idea for a video be sure to give her a call!

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