The local Drug Awareness Coalition (DAC) will be joining Communities in Action (CIA) after a discussion between CIA’s Kali Godfrey and DAC’s Jessica Redfield revealed many similarities between the groups’ initiatives. Redfield discussed the matter at the Government Affairs Committee meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 20.

“We were thinking about making DAC an action group under Communities in Action,” Redfield said. “While [Kali and I] were in this discussion, we were talking about Communities in Action as a whole.”

Redfield explained as it is structured now, the CIA Steering Committee ensures that each action group is working on their initiatives and implementing strategies. However, the Steering Committee meetings have become lackluster and not many people are attending.

“Involvement is dwindling very quickly for them,” Redfield said.

Redfield and Godfrey thought utilizing CIA and those closely-aligned initiatives would be a more effective use of resources. Government Affairs Committee agreed.

“Kali would like to see the Steering Committee be made up of leaders in the community,” Redfield said. “She’d like to see the city, county, public health, housing, faith-based, chamber, transportation, legislative, judicial, law enforcement, schools and economic development be represented on these committees.”

People representing each entity would attend Steering Committee meetings to provide more defined direction for each action group. Redfield said she would reach out to county officials, Fairview Mayor Brian Bieber, and all area schools superintendents.

“I’m on board as the city,” Mayor Rick Norby said. “I think it’s a great idea.”

Sugar beet harvest

The hardships of the sugar beet harvest this year, as well as other crops, has been cause for concern with area leaders. Norby and Government Affairs member Tami Christensen said while sugar beet farmers did get hit hard, other producers also suffered.

Thomas Culver, field representative for U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, said the struggles of local agriculturists are on the radar of politicians in D.C.

“As far as some of the disaster side stuff goes, where you’re looking at a rough harvest, sugar beets are a qualifying crop,” Culver said.

Culver explained the three qualifiers of disaster relief. The first is qualifying crop, which sugar beets are. The second is a qualifying disaster, which for sugar beets includes excessive moisture and low sugar content. The third is a disaster declaration.

State Rep. Joel Krautter said because neighboring counties have requested a declaration for Excessive Moisture Disaster, that could result in funding for the county as a neighboring county.

“I have heard from our local producers asking about if whether what we’ve experienced might qualify as a disaster,” Krautter said. “I’ve had discussions with Commissioner Gorder and he said the commissioners are monitoring the situation.”

In late October, Gov. Steve Bullock sent a letter supporting the request of Daniels, Roosevelt, Sheridan and Valley counties for Excessive Moisture Disaster Designation. In the letter, Bullock stated, “Information received through the Farm Service Agency states there are 200,000 acres of unharvested grain in Valley County. Due to the sprouting in the head, the grain is now feed grain quality and not milling quality. Farmers in Sheridan and Roosevelt counties show that 93 percent of the harvested crops have been seriously impact by untimely rains.”

Krautter said even with some relief as a neighboring county, there are still programs Richland County would need a disaster declaration in order to qualify.

After the meeting, Krautter referred to one program that could potentially provide disaster relief payments, Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus, or WHIP+. To qualify for the program, in addition to a disaster declaration, crops must have suffered losses before they were harvested, and documentation is needed to establish crops were impacted by a qualifying disaster. Learn more about the program at farmers.gov/recover/whip-plus.

In other news

Leslie Messer, executive director of Richland Economic Development Corps, said she is working to secure contacts to see what it would take to recruit a plastics company on the Montana side of the Bakken. North Dakota is currently working on tax incentives to attract petrochemical companies to the Bakken that can utilize hydrocarbons like ethane, propane and butane.

The next meeting for Government Affairs is Wednesday, Dec. 18, at 7 a.m.

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