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Wardner honored for community service and legislative support

During a Dickinson City Commission meeting on Tuesday, North Dakota Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner was honored for his legislative efforts to help the tourism sector; and public commentary centered on public library concerns.

Rich Wardner
Sen. Rich Wardner, R-Dickinson, is presented with an award for his service to the tourism industry.
Jason O'Day / The Dickinson Press
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DICKINSON — At the Dickinson City Commission meeting on Tuesday, a longtime state legislator was honored for his service to the community.

‘Hardworking North Dakotans’

Terri Theil, director of the Dickinson Convention & Visitors Bureau presented State Senator Rich Wardner, R-Dickinson, with an award recognizing his community service and legislative support.

“We've worked together for many years, from our time at the chamber and CVB as directors and through many years at the North Dakota legislative sessions, and you've been our champion for travel and tourism,” Theil said. “For all that time, you've sponsored numerous builds to help create, promote and sustain public and private attractions, recreation, historical sites and events.”

Thiel added, “You've consistently supported our efforts in the industry to increase the marketing budget for the North Dakota tourism division to be competitive with your neighboring states.”

Wardner, who announced his retirement last year after 30 years in the legislature, thanked them for the recognition.

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“It's been a great honor for me to serve this community, and the state of North Dakota. It's been fun working for people like that, because they are true North Dakotans just like you folks who keep working hard to make a difference for everyday people. And that's what tourism people have done in this city,” Wardner said.

Sticking to the process

John Odermann
Commissioner John Odermann listens to public comment during an Oct. 18 City Commission meeting.
Jason O'Day / The Dickinson Press

During public commentary, area resident Autumn Richard addressed commissioners, particularly John Odermann, on controversy surrounding sexualized books at the Dickinson Public Library.

“Does this commission have any intention to address public concerns with some of the books at the library?” Richard asked. “I do not want to see this issue swept under the rug.”

Richard argued that the issue is more than just a few books, noting that an entire genre of approximately 30 books she’s checked out from the library are questionable.

Dickinson City Attorney Christina Wenko said she anticipates a library board work session to craft new policies to address content some patrons have deemed obscene and encouraged upset residents to file written complaints at the library.

“I understand there might be a need to want an immediate resolution, but I think it has to run its process for the benefit of both sides,” Wenko said.

Odermann said that a review of all complaints will be made and a decision on whether or not to keep the books in question will be adjudicated. He explained that any objections that arise to that decision will be considered by the library board.

“I can only speak for myself, but I think the commission, me as a commissioner, I'd like to see that process play out. I think there's also some really reasonable suggestions that were brought up at the library board meeting last week that I think the library board is going to explore,” he said.

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Following the meeting, Commissioner Robert Baer said he would be in favor of a new policy to place explicit books in a restricted area of the library.

“I would be supportive of the library putting these in an area where the parent has to check it out. To just put it on the shelf, so that anybody can pick it up? I think that is wrong, because some children are very immature and don't understand this,” Baer said. “I think it's important for parents to know what their children are reading. And if they want to read anything about sexuality, the parent needs to be able to talk to them.”

More by Jason O'Day
The Dickinson Police Department announced that Southwest Narcotics Task Force agents have discovered methamphetamine that is being laced with an opioid, possibly fentanyl. A recent string of narcotic overdoses in the Dickinson area has prompted the police to issue a public advisory on the outbreak.

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 rural 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.
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