Stark County swears in new Commissioners, approve Park Board spending plan

Brad Hartigan addresses the Stark County Commission during a meeting Dec. 6.
Ashley Koffler / The Dickinson Press
We are part of The Trust Project.

DICKINSON — In a move that bucked recent precedence, vice-chairman of the board Bernie Marsh did not move into the chairman position during the Stark County Commission meeting on Dec. 6.

Former commission chairman Dean Franchuk re-assumed the gavel and title of chairman after Commissioner Neal Messer nominated him and the board voted unanimously in approval.

“Congratulations Commissioner Franchuk, Chair Franchuk, you are in charge,” Marsh said.

Former Commissioner Carla Arthaud was previously the chair of the board, but was unseated by Paul Clarys in the November election. Franchuk, who has held the District 3 seat since 2016, was the previous chair before Arthaud in January of 2021.

In addition, newly elected Commissioners Paul Clarys and Cory White were sworn in by Southwest District Judge William Herauf.


Clarys nominated Commissioner Neal Messer as vice chair of the commission, which was unanimously approved. Messer, who holds the District 5 seat, was elected to the Stark County Commission in 2022.

During Tuesday’s meeting, the Stark County Park Board convened and discussed an invoice from RoughRider Motorsports, which leases the Stark County Motorsports Park. The invoice totaled $5,150, with most of the costs coming from repairs made by RoughRider Motorsports at the Stark County Motorsports Park.

“It is outside of the budget items that I had for the Motorsports Park,” County Parks Director Lisa Heiser said.

Brad Hartigan, owner of RoughRider Motorsports, said the blizzard this spring bent bleachers, which they repaired.

“I think we spent four days just fixing the bleachers,” Hartigan said. “If we would have hired a crew to come fix everything, we'd have spent a fortune.”

A wet year overall prompted extra mowing and a wall to slough off, which damaged a guardrail, he added.

“It's just kind of outside of our lease trying to make that facility more aesthetically pleasing,” Hartigan said. “I don't think the $5,000 is really, it's not a very large amount for the amount of time we've spent the last two years making that facility to what it is right now. And we want to keep moving forward trying to make it nicer and better for everybody.”

Commissioners unanimously agreed to pay $5,150 for the work the organization had done.


Richard, Clarys, Franchuk
From left, Stark County Auditor Karen Richard, newly elected Stark County Commissioner Paul Clarys and new Commission Chairman Dean Franchuk listen to input during a meeting Dec. 6.
Ashley Koffler / The Dickinson Press

“We have to put a value on volunteerism and it sounds like you guys have made it a better place than when you started,” Messer said.

Commissioners also unanimously agreed to purchase a mower to cut grass at the motorsports park and relieve RoughRider Motorsports of some of the maintenance they’ve been doing.

“I'd like to make that change to where we at least can do the mowing,” Heiser said. “That way the people that are attending that facility see that it is well kept. And that's really important to me at the fairgrounds and at the Motorsports Park and, you know, to eliminate some of the weeds and different things.”

The $17,175 mower is also outside of the budget approved for the Park Board, but commissioners agreed with Heiser that it’s important to maintain county facilities.

“It is our property out there too and we should take care of it,” Marsh said.

Stark County Road Superintendent Al Heiser said his crew completed work to help prevent further water damage.

“We built a berm,” Heiser said. “We diverted a lot of water into their holding pond. We fixed hopefully a lot of their problems. ”

Cory White, Bernie Marsh
Newly elected Stark County Commissioner Cory White, left, and Commissioner Bernie Marsh listen to input during a meeting Dec. 6.
Ashley Koffler / The Dickinson Press

Ashley Koffler is a Killdeer, North Dakota native and Dickinson State University graduate, with a Bachelor’s Degree in writing, and minors in journalism and psychology. Formerly working in Community Affairs for Roosevelt Custer Regional Council for Development, her reporting focuses on the Dickinson city government, community features, business and agriculture — among others.
What To Read Next
With HB 1205, Reps Mike Lefor and Vicky Steiner would prohibit "sexually explicit content" in public libraries. Facing an uphill battle, the pair remain united in their commitment to see it passed.
Dickinson students dive into School-Wide Day of Learning in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics education fun.
Join in the celebration of community and tradition with a weekend full of games, raffles, auctions, live entertainment, and a chance to win a 2023 ford escape
New curriculum aims to better prepare students for monetary decisions as adults, courtesy of $250,000 donation.