Volume 123, Number 32
Minnewaukan native serves as Ward County emergency manager
BY DAVE CALDWELL The Minot Daily News
Melanie Moen loves her job. She has plenty to do, and she likes it that way. But the rest of us can only hope she doesn’t get really, really busy. That would be a disaster — literally. "My job description is planning for bioterrorism and weapons of mass destruction," Moen said.
Don’t panic. She’s on our side.
Moen was hired recently as the Ward County Homeland Security Planner. She works for Ward County Emergency Manager Alan Reynolds in the emergency management department at the Ward County Courthouse.
The position Moen applied for described planning for mass casualty, terror-type incidents in case such catastrophic events should occur in Ward County. But as she has already discovered, perception and reality often differ.
"As of what I actually do, I will do all that," she said, "But I look at my position as kind of an assistant emergency manager. Al (Reynolds) is so crazy busy, he doesn’t have time to sit down and write all these big-binder required plans. They were fortunate enough to secure some funds to create a position. So I kind of take care of all the big, white binders . . . all the required plans and things like that you have to have."
Moen is a Minnewaukan native and a graduate of North Dakota State University with a degree in emergency management and was only the sixth to graduate from NDSU with that degree. Her background included a stint with the Federal Emergency Management Administration, assisting victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Her main duties included assisting counties in the devastated areas to prepare plans for assistance, which she called "a great learning experience."
"I have a hazard mitigation background, and (Ward County’s) mitigation plan needs to get passed through the State Department, then it goes on to FEMA," she said. With the mitigation plan, she said, should there be a "big disaster," the state will take a percentage of public assistance money and give it back to the community to rebuild. Currently, Ward County has no plan in place, so that’s where a lot of Moen’s energy has been concentrated so far.
Not all of it though. She is also making plans to conduct her first large-scale exercise.
"One exciting thing that’s in the preliminary stages here is First District Health Unit, Trinity and myself, with the Ward County Emergency Management office, are planning a pandemic outbreak exercise," she said. Moen said the state itself and the city of Grand Forks have already conducted pandemic exercises, but not on the scale of the one she’s planning.
"We are planning a regional exercise," she said. "The whole northwest area. First District Health wants to test all their counties. It’s in the preliminary stages, but it’s going to be huge . . . It’s going to be really nice to do this exercise. I’ve participated in exercises, but I’ve never put one on, so this will be a great learning experience, getting out there and seeing what kind of capabilities we have in this area."
Moen said that by including all the counties, the drill would be more realistic, because the city of Minot is the anchor community on which the other counties will rely due to the presence of Trinity Health.
Although Moen’s position was created with funding from the US Department of Homeland Security, and her job title has those words included in it, she actually "takes her orders" from Reynolds and the Ward County Commission, not the federal government.
And it’s local concerns right here at home that take up all her time on the job.
Moen has also been involved in "tabletop" exercises recently to plan for any incidents that may affect the North Dakota State Fair — a timely subject, for sure. Moen said she and Reynolds had gotten together with fair officials, the Ward County Emergency Resource Council and other officials to walk through plans for situations such as severe weather situations and any type of mass casualty accident to make sure there are plans in place to handle those types of circumstances.
So in the event that disaster should strike, be it this week or any other time, rest assured knowing that although most folks are inevitably caught unsuspecting, Melanie Moen has been keeping herself busy — but not too busy, thank goodness.
Melanie Moen is pictured with her family, husband Ger and daughter Avianna. Melanie is a 1995 graduate of Minnewaukan High School. She is the emergency manager for Ward County. She is the daughter of Gwen Christensen of West Fargo, formerly of Minnewaukan, and the late Gary Christensen.
Karen Smith, vice president of the Active Women of Maddock, presents a $100 check to librarian Priscilla Backstrom. The donation was used to purchase 25 non-fiction books for the Maddock Community Library’s summer reading program.
Courthouse employees picnic
Courthouse employees took advantage of the nice weather to have a burger barbecue and potluck picnic on the lawn of the Benson County Courthouse September 6 during the noon hour. Five tables with red-checkered tablecloths provided a festive atmosphere for the 18 employees who attended. See this photo in beautiful color at www.bensoncountynews.com.
Church observes 120th
During Sunday worship on September 10 the Leeds Lutheran Church celebrated its 120th anniversary. Doug Dulmage read a history which had been compiled by Virgil and Amy Anderson. The Sunday school sang "Happy Birthday." Following the service, coffee and cake were served by the church council.
Ruth Rangen has 100th birthday
Many friends, relatives and former neighbors helped Ruth Rangen celebrate her 100th birthday on Sunday, Sept. 3 at the Heartland Care Center in Devils Lake.
As a young woman Ruth came to the Maddock area from Mayville to teach. She met and married Thingvold Rangen. They farmed northeast of Maddock for many years. Upon their retirement from farming they moved to Devils Lake where she enrolled in nursing training at the age of 56. They moved to Jamestown where they both worked for the State Hospital for many years. They returned to Devils Lake and she worked at the Good Samaritan Center for several years.
The Rangens had one son, Harold, who died in a car accident in 1972.
She spends most of her time sewing and doing home decorating projects.
The celebration was hosted by her daughter-in-law, Leola Rangen Davidson and grandchildren Jeff Rangen, Kristin Kallenbach and Shauna Adams and their families.
Mother, daughter both graduate
Mother and daughter, Debbie Dyste and Heather Frank, recently celebrated their college graduations. Debbie graduated with her master’s degree in education from Viterbo University in LaCrosse, Wisc. this past July. Heather graduated with a degree in invasive cardiovascular technology in May and is a registered cardiovascular invasive specialist (RCIS) and a certified cardiovascular technician (CCT).
Debbie is from rural Churchs Ferry and Heather and her family live in rural Grand Forks.
Hags ride again
Hags on Nags held its fourth annual trail ride August 5 with 22 women participating. The riders met at the Bob and Sherri Engkvist farm, rode from there through Esmond, then on to Buffalo Lake where family and friends joined them for a potluck picnic. Special guests at the picnic were two former riders, Lori "Dee" Howard and Connie Ambers, both of Minnewaukan.
Pictured left to right, back row, are Penny Pasillas, Lola Metcalf, June Olson, Chris Lauinger, Cindy Hickman, Wanda Bullinger, Kerri Oschlager, Lori Southard, Tina Arnold, Chantel Grossman, Karen Kenner, Naomi Wells, Nancy Abrahamson and JoAnn Oksendahl. In the front row are Lisa Wentz, Sherri Engkvist, Candis Lesmeister, DeeDee Knudtson, Tonia Erickson, Jessie Knatterud and Mandy Johnson (reclining). Not pictured is Kindra Guty.