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4/4/2007 – News

Volume 124, Number 9             Wednesday, April 4th, 2007

NAS open house held at Leeds
In remarks at Leeds March 26 concerning the impending opening of the new Noridian Administrative Services (NAS) call center, US Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) said the center will bring good-paying jobs and economic development to Leeds and the surrounding area. He attended the open house for the call center that will become a significant employer in Benson County.
The new call center in Leeds is a part of the nation’s first Rural Economic Area Partnership (REAP) Zone that Dorgan created to bring businesses and create jobs to revitalize rural areas suffering from out-migration. Dorgan introduced REAP to NAS at his Federal Information Technology Round-tables.
"This new call center is a great example of how the REAP Zone in Leeds is helping to revitalize the community," said Dorgan. "After first introducing REAP and NAS together several years ago, I am excited to see this new call center come to fruition."
Dorgan has secured $3.9 million for two North Dakota REAP Zones. Since 1999, the two REAP Zones in North Dakota have created or retained 446 jobs in 14 counties and established 50 new start-up businesses.
The REAP Zone provides some incentives for businesses, but the bottom line is that communities need to work hard to bring economic development to their areas. And economic development is an extremely risky business.
The Leeds Economic Development Corp. went out on a limb 12 years ago when it built a 4,200 square foot building to house a call center for Uniband.
Additional square footage in the front portion of the building houses the Leeds Library and Leeds City Offices. But Uniband wasn’t there long and the rear portion of the building it occupied has been vacant for nine years.
There were a lot of "I told you so’s" as the majority of the building stood vacant. But the Leeds Economic Development Corp. kept working and working to fill the building. The initial failure was set aside and the first contact with Noridian was made five years ago. There were many meetings and lots of negotiating, but finally a deal was struck.
DeWayne Streyle, chairman of the Leeds Economic Development Corp. (EDC) said once Noridian committed to a call center in Leeds, things moved extremely fast. It probably helped that Dorgan was pressing for the call center at Leeds. The fact that Roger Kenner of Leeds is a member of Noridian’s board of directors and a member of the Leeds EDC undoubtedly figured into the equation.
Members of the Leeds EDC are DeWayne Streyle, president; Roger Kenner, vice president; Arden Loken, secretary; Glenn Hoffman, treasurer; and directors Dennis Paulson, Curtis Jacobson, Allan Young, Ronald Hofstrand, Steve Jorgenson and Duane Jacobson. Streyle singled out Curt Jacobson as a tireless worker for the organization.
Streyle pointed out that the Benson County Job Development Authority also played a part in the venture by providing funds. He thanked the county commissioners for providing funding for the authority, without which many economic development projects would not take place.
Commissioners present were Curtis Hvinden and Jason Lee of Maddock, Lowell Haagenson of Leeds and Dwain Brown of Sheyenne.
Also recognized were Sen. Ryan Taylor (D-Towner) and Rep. Arlo Schmidt (D-Maddock). A letter from Rep. Jon Nelson (R-Wolford) was read.
Paul O’Donnell, vice president of Medicare Operations for NAS, was master of ceremonies.
Mayor Lloyd Himle gave the welcome and listed those who worked at remodeling the building for Noridian.
Mike Hamerlik, president of Noridian, remarked that the corporation has call centers in Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Minnesota and Iowa, as well as four locations in North Dakota. "This is the only time we’ve been welcomed like this in a community," Hamerlik said. Noridian is headquartered in Fargo.
A lasagna, salad, bread sticks and ice cream lunch was served courtesy of Golden Plains Frozen Foods of Leeds.
NAS administers Medicare in 15 states, serving more than 145,000 health care providers and more than 6.2 million program beneficiaries. NAS also administers Medicare claims from more than 28,000 suppliers of durable medical equipment, prosthetics and orthotics in 17 states. The company has 1,300 employees.
Initial plans are to hire 13 employees, including a team leader, trainer and several customer service representatives. Once established, NAS may add another 20 employees with the possibility of adding more in the future.
In a February 28 advertisement in the Farmers Press, NAS said pay would be $11.42 per hour plus incentive pay for performance and benefits. The call center is expected to open April 16.

US Senator Byron Dorgan and Pearl Medhus of Leeds share a laugh at the Leeds Community Center during the Noridian Administrative Services (NAS) open house March 26. Looking on and sharing in the levity is Mike Hamerlik of Fargo, president of NAS.

Big walleye!
Allan Nord of Minnewaukan and Bruce Travis of Sparta, Wisc. show the big walleye caught by Allan at Howard’s Bay March 26. The fish was 29" and weighed about 10 lbs. Because she was full of eggs, the men returned her to the lake.

Nice antlers
Lance Loken shot a large whitetail buck north of the Loken farm in Twin Lake Township of Benson County with an arrow through both lungs. The animal ran about 100 yards and dropped dead on Jan. 7, 2006. After the mandatory dry down period a Pope and Young official scorer from Bismarck confirmed a score of 137 0/8. The Pope and Young Club requires a score of 125 to achieve the record book. Loken is the son of Charlotte Loken and the late Gordon Loken of rural York. He graduated from Rugby High School in 1981. He has been an avid bow hunter since 1977. He is the president of Western Plains Consulting, an environmental and natural resources consulting firm and resides in Bismarck. He still farms the home quarter of the Loken Farm northwest of Baker.

Johnson earns honor in GF
Ten-year-old Thomas Johnson of Grand Forks became mayor of Grand Forks for a day as a result of an essay he wrote on "What I Would Do If I Was Mayor for the Day."
Thomas is the son of Peter and Marsha (Loken) Johnson of Grand Forks. She is a native of the Baker area and is the daughter of Charlotte Loken of New Rockford and the late Gordon Loken.
Thomas proposed developing a theme park focused on things that evoke Grand Forks, such as giant forks for monkey bars.
Thomas appeared on television with Mayor Mike Brown and also on the city-owned channel. He was allowed to begin a city council meeting by banging the gavel and leading in the Pledge of Allegiance. He also read his essay to the council.
He is a student at Ben Franklin Elementary School in Grand Forks.

Pictured with Thomas are Mayor Mike Brown and Thomas’s teacher, Mrs. Janell Bethke.

Leeds alumni tourney
The Leeds Alumni Tourney was held last weekend and $200 was raised for the Minnewaukan-Leeds basketball teams, with about half of that coming from spectator donations for admission. The tournament had 17 women and 41 men signed up. There were four men’s teams and two women’s teams. The 3rd annual alumni tournament will be held the last weekend in March of 2008. The goal for next year is to have three women’s teams and six men’s teams, meaning about 20 or more women and 50 or more men would be competing.

Members of the men’s team from 1987 through 1992 are, back row, Brock Larson, Erik Engstrom, Harlan Johnson, Paul Strinden and Shawn Blegen. Front row: Chad Ringenberg, Cory Bisbee, Greg Bracken, Rick Eberle and Kent Flickinger.

Members of the men’s team from 1993 through 1999 are, back row, Carl Ahlberg, Shane Anderson, Travis Wiberg, Jeremy Wolf, Gannon Larson and Jeff Jacobson. Front row: Jady Stuberg, T.J. Tarang, Kyle Anderson and Scott McGarvey. Not pictured is Eric Tufte.

Members of the men’s team from 2000 through 2002 are, back row, Steve Biby, Kris Larson, Ryan Jacobson and Ty Blegen. Front row: Justin Herman, Dusty Wolf, Brian Tarang, Andy Jorgenson and Ben Harkness.

Members of the men’s team from 2003 through 2007 are, left to right, back row, Cody Biby, Jay Anderson, Trevor Harkness, Casey Harkness and Marcus Lawrence. Front row: R.J. Darling, Billy Foss, Travis Kirkeide, Derek Paulson and Michael Tofsrud. Not pictured is Ben Tufte.

Members of the women’s team from 1987 through 1996 are, back row, Rachelle Eberle (sub), Robyn Eberle and Crystal Ringenberg. Front row: Brenda Finley, Regan Bracken, Nikki Bisbee, Pam Blegen and Melissa Anderson. Not pictured is Bobbi McGarvey.

Members of the women’s team from 2003 through 2007 are, back row, Gina Ritterman, Kylie Linstad (sub), Alyssa Erickson (sub) and Hope Keller. Front row: Katie Clifton, Rachel Keller, Emma Erie and Leah Biby. Not pictured are April Anderson and Melissa Pavek.

Sheriff wannabe Shell
After receiving an astonishing 19 votes in last fall’s race for sheriff, former candidate Shell continues to lament her election loss. Pitiful as her campaign was, the local "Friends Who Care Society" believes that now is the time for Shell to take a run at the presidency.
She got off to a great start a couple weeks ago with her in-depth analysis of the current situation and managed to offend both major political parties. She clearly demonstrated she’s not interested in pandering to party politics, so she’ll be running as an independent. There will be more than 19 votes out there, and money talks. It got her 18 votes in the race for sheriff!

So this advice for Shell before her campaign begins:
Keep your nose clean. Don’t worry so much about other people’s noses.

Generate a $300,000,000 slush (campaign) fund. This could require a kinder, gentler attitude to customers, since large tips may be necessary to achieve the funding goal.

No more booth napping.

Retired sheriff Ned Mitzel would like his uniform back. It would be difficult to launch a successful campaign with a potential theft charge looming.

Friends Who Care Society
John Buckmier
Chief Communicator and future press secretary to President Shell

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