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North Dakota Horse Park manager dismissed after Facebook post

5 30 19 Race Park
Racing at the North Dakota Horse Park in Fargo. The manager of the park was dismissed from his job this week. Forum file photo
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FARGO — The manager of the North Dakota Horse Park in Fargo has been dismissed from his job after making a disparaging online post.

Mike Schmitz was terminated immediately on Monday, March 4, for a Facebook post on his personal account where he referenced a person who he said "cheats on his wife" and "loves" cocaine. The comment was tied to an article about a bill in the North Dakota Legislature that would help the horse park pay special assessments to the City of Fargo.

Levi Otis, president of the North Dakota Horse Park board of directors, said in a statement released late Tuesday night that although Schmitz made the comments on his own time and in a personal capacity that the organization "has a no tolerance for any activities or statements which are hateful, offensive or otherwise reflect negatively on the organization or racing industry."

The Harwood man added that the organization "condemns these personal attacks in the strongest possible terms. These statements do not represent Horse Race North Dakota nor the horsemen of this great state."

In a phone interview after the statement was released, Otis said Schmitz was a "good human being, a good person who made a mistake."

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He said the horse park has been left in good shape by Schmitz, who had done a good job up until this point and that the organization plans to "build off" what Schmitz has done at the park and improve it more still.

The North Dakota Racing Commission has announced seven days of racing on weekends in July this year. Because of road construction, the track struggled for the past two years as access to the park was difficult. The road work is now complete.

Andy Maragos, a horse park board member, wasn't at the Monday meeting where the board decided to fire Schmitz, but said he agreed with the unanimous decision after he discussed it with other members.

"For the life of me, I don't know what prompted an outburst like that," Maragos said.

Schmitz didn't return a phone message Tuesday night.

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