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'Footloose': Belfield reviews dancing ordinance, public works position

The City of Belfield met Tuesday evening for its regular monthly meeting.

Belfield City Council
Councilmembers Brett Northrop, Pam Gross, Ed Braun and Mayor Marriann Mross during a previous Belfield City Council meeting.
Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press

BELFIELD, N.D. — The Belfield City Council held its regular monthly meeting April 19, which was delayed from the previous week due to the snowstorm, and discussed various topics from liquor licensure, public works staffing to well water.

No drinking and dancing without a permit

After Councilman Ed Braun raised concerns about existing city ordinances conflicting with Belfield’s granting of liquor licenses, City Attorney Sandra Kuntz addressed this by proposing a first reading of her revisions to the council, which was unanimously approved. During the discussion on ordinances, Councilwoman Pam Gross brought up one provision that stuck out.

“No dancing will be permitted in an establishment holding a liquor license here except as expressly authorized by a special event permit,” the ordinance stated.

Kuntz explained that she researched this and it is state law.

“I'm of the 'Footloose' generation… but it’s state law. I dug into that one and that’s been there forever. The idea is, apparently when you drink and dance you get rowdier or it's a safety concern. So technically, those establishments having a band should actually be asking for a special event permit just to make sure that the city knows and law enforcement knows,” Kuntz said, adding that she would ask the North Dakota Attorney General’s Office if Belfield could exempt itself from that statute.

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Staffing

Belfield’s search for a second public works employee continues. Mayor Marriann Mross, the council member tasked with handling personnel issues, said she had the job posted as a supervisor position because she believed that would attract more applicants. She added they’ve gotten two applications and suggested keeping the position open for a couple more months until they got more. Braun and Gross took issue with this, given that Belfield already has experienced Public Works Director Kevin Anderson.

“Well, it doesn’t make any sense to hire a supervisor that you’re going to pay more money and have Kevin train him,” Braun said.

Mross responded that wouldn’t be the case if they found a highly qualified applicant.

“You don’t know. Maybe they’ll train Kevin, depends on their qualifications,” she said.

Gross also said they need to review what they've received so far, and motioned that the job posting be advertised as a public works employee instead of supervisor.

“Somebody’s not going to wait around two or three months,” she said.

Councilman Brett Northrop argued that the roles of supervisor and subordinate should be left open until they make a hiring decision to keep their options open, but also took issue with how the job posting was made.

“I was a little displeased with how it was posted without us discussing it. I’m not against the position but I think we should have clarified the duties and discussed it before it was posted,” he said.

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The council agreed to have City Auditor Connie O'Brien send them the applications to review.

Other business

Braun proposed that the council make its potable well water available for purchase at 25 cents per gallon. The valve is locked, so residents would have to call the city and make arrangements for Anderson to open it for them. Mross suggested researching what other cities charge first, but Braun said he felt it was a proper rate.

“I think that if we give them a break, there’s a possibility of them using more of it,” he said. “That would be a cost savings to the people that are exercising it and it would be extra revenue for us.”

A motion to approve Braun's proposal passed unanimously.

Anderson suggested a public notice may be necessary advising residents what they can pour down the drain.

“We had a sewer issue a few weeks ago. The entire main line was plugged with cooking lard. When it gets cold, it hardens up into a ball,” he said.

Gross complimented Anderson and thanked him for his work clearing snow from the streets during last week’s blizzard.

“I wasn’t alone,” he said, explaining that the community came together to help him. “Anyone in town that had equipment, there was an army of people moving around. It was pretty awesome to watch.”

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During Tuesday's meeting, Councilman Bruce Baer was not present.

Related Topics: DICKINSONBELFIELD CITY COUNCILGOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
Jason O’Day is a University of Iowa graduate, with Bachelor’s Degrees in Journalism and Political Science. Before moving to Dickinson in September of 2021, he was a general news reporter at the Creston News Advertiser in southwest Iowa. He was born and raised in Davenport, Iowa. With a passion for the outdoors and his Catholic faith, he’s loving life on the Western Edge. His reporting focuses on Stark County government and surrounding rural communities.
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