Latest news....

Hope everyone had a Happy Easter! The newsletter this month contains numerous articles from the Vision West ND Consortium, Faces of the Consortium and other announcements.

Taking a new look at EMS
Tom Nehring, director of the division of EMS and trauma at the North Dakota Department of Health, said the current model for EMS has been in place for a little more than 40 years, and said volunteers have always been the “backbone” of the state’s rural delivery system. Read more.
Photo Credit: The Dickinson Press
Face of the Consortium - Mercer County

Mercer County
Member Type:
Voting Member
Buster Langowski
Position: Executive Driector, Hazen Community Development (HCD)

Mercer County is located in central North Dakota. The county is bordered by McLean, Oliver, Morton and Dunn Counties. The county seat is located in Stanton and the other incorporated communities include Beulah, Golden Valley, Hazen, Pick City and Zap. Mercer County has historically been a rural agricultural and energy influenced community with the local economy based on energy. Currently there are six energy plants and two coal mines located within Mercer County. Recently, the expansion of oil and gas exploration and production in the Bakken and Three Forks formations has further diversified the local economy. Read more about county representative Buster Langowski.

Tell us about you: (Professional) Buster took the position of the Hazen Community Development Executive Director in 2013. Since 2013, Buster has taken an active role in bringing affordable housing to the Hazen area as well as expanding the main street businesses in Hazen. He is an active member of the Hazen Chamber of Commerce, as well as Hazen's Convention and Visitors Bureau. Before Buster took his current position, he spent 42 years in education, retiring as the Hazen elementary school principal in 2013. After retirement Buster has continued his passion for education, serving as the Mercer County Superintendent of Schools; and it was through this work that he was introduced to Vision West ND. He has served as the Mercer County representative to the Vision West ND Consortium for the past three years.

Tell us about you: (Personal) Buster was born and raised in Pesik, ND. He graduated from Mayville State College in 1971 and started his teaching and coaching career in his hometown. It was in the spring of 1976 that Buster decided to persue his higher education degree. He graduated from the University of North Dakota with his Master’s Degree in educational administration in 1980. In June of this year, Buster will be married to his wife, Connie, for 35 years. Buster and Connie have two daughters Brigette and Briana. Brigette is a registered nurse in the state of Washington, where she resides with her husband Dan who is active Air Force. Briana is a licensed Speech and Language Pathologist who works in the speech department at a local elementary school in Bismarck. She is married to her husband Brenden, an electrician at one of the local power plants. Buster and Connie have two grandsons that are extra special to them.

Buster has been actively involved in his community for many years, and has been honored for his dedication. Among several awards for excellence in education, Buster received the Quarter Century Award from the ND Association of Elementary School Principals. Buster was honored with the Citizen of the Year by the Hazen Chamber of Commerce, and the North Dakota Community Leadership Award, for outstanding community service leadership, presented by the Greater North Dakota Association.

Involvement with Vision West ND: Buster was appointed to be the Vision West ND Consortium Representative by the Mercer County Commissioners in 2013. He has been actively involved in Vision West ND since the first meeting he attended. Buster is the current Vice President for the Vision West ND Consortium, and is involved in the Housing Committee and the Executive Committee.

Visit the Mercer County website at, www.mercercountynd.com.

Congratulation Jolene Kline!

Jolene was selected as one of Prairie Business magazine's Top 25 Women in Business 2016. Jolene is the Executive Director of the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency and represents the agency on the Vision West ND Consortium as an Associate Member. If you see Jolene remember to congratulate her. Read more.
Face of the Consortium - AE2S

Member: AE2S
Member Type: Associate Member
Representative: Loren Hoffman
Position: Program Coordinator

AE2S is a specialized civil/environmental consulting engineering firm that provides professional services and a unique brand of extreme client service to clients in the upper Midwest and Rocky Mountain region. The firm was founded in 1991 by CEO Steve Burian and President Charlie Vein in Grand Forks, and currently has 17 offices in six states - North Dakota, Minnesota, South Dakota, Montana, Wisconsin, and Utah.

AE2S’ primary service is water - meaning drinking water, wastewater, and water resources system consulting, which represents over 70 percent of our annual revenues. Within these primary services, the company offers a total solution by providing master planning, capital improvement planning, study and report, design, bidding administration, and construction administration/observation. Surveying, mapping, geographic information systems (GIS), instrumentation and controls, general civil engineering, structural engineering, electrical engineering, site development, modeling, public information / communications, marketing, and information technology are also provided as stand-alone services or in support of our primary services. In addition, AE2S Nexus provides financial services such as assistance with state and federal funding programs, utility financial health, asset management, and vulnerability assessments. In the Bakken region, AE2S does a lot of work for the Cities of Williston, New Town, and Watford City, among others. Read on to learn about AE2S' representative to Vision West ND, Loren Hoffman.

Tell us about you: (Professional) Loren has been actively involved with communities for more than four decades. Loren is currently a Project Coordinator for AE2S. He assumed his position in the fall of 2010. His responsibilities include funding services and coordination of the Nexus City Hall assistance service, which includes training and working with city auditors and city staff at all levels. Loren has exceled in his position as a program coordinator due to his previous public sector experience. Loren served as the Parshall City Auditor for 36 years before moving to the private sector.

Tell us about you: (Personal) Loren is a North Dakota native and descendent of a ND homesteader who was born and raised in Parshall, ND where he graduated from high school. Loren received his Associate Degree in Business Management from North Dakota State College of Science. He and his wife Lori have been married more than 36 years. Loren and Lori raised two beautiful daughters, Catelin (Dennis) Newell and Hilary (Brad) Balzum. Loren and Lori have six grandchildren who bring them great joy. Loren, Lori and both of their children reside in the Bismarck area. Today, Loren and his family still farm his family’s land near Parshall where they have been doing so for the past 36 years.

Involvement with Vision West ND:
Loren has been involved with Vision West ND since the planning phase in 2011. Loren was the Project Manager assigned by AE2S to complete the Infrastructure Needs Assessment Plans that were finished in 2012. There were 26 communities in the 19 oil and gas producing counties that were involved in the Needs Assessments. Since then Loren has gone above and beyond for Vision West ND by actively participates in Vision West ND Consortium Meetings and the Industrial Valuation Committee.

Favorite moment or moments with the VWND Consortium?

"I believe it was late in 2011 when I attended a two day planning organizational meeting for Vision West at the Sacred Heart Monastery in Richardton, ND. After meeting all morning, the Nun came and informed us that lunch was ready. For some reason, I arrived a few minutes late and missed the table prayer. I apologized to one of the nuns for missing prayer time, and she promptly replied not to worry as she had already been praying for me. She obviously knew that as a lifetime Lutheran I was a little out of my element." ~ Loren Hoffman

Visit the AE2S website at, www.ae2s.com.

Vision West ND would like to thank AE2S for hosting the Vision West ND website and providing communication services. A special thank you to Andrea Boe and Mike Witt for making this possible.
~ Committee Member Update ~

Executive Committee:

Daryl Dukart - Chairman
Buster Langowski - Vice Chairman
KayCee Lindsey - Secretary
Vicky Steiner - NDAOGPC
Melanie Bauer-Dukart - Advisor - USDA Rural Development
John Schneider - Advisor - ND Department of Commerce

Housing Committee:
John Phillips - Chair
Buster Langowski - Mercer County
KayCee Lindsey - Divide County
Alisa Dahl - UDSA Rural Development
Jolene Kline - ND Housing Finance Agency
Milton Hoyt - Mohall Housing Authority

Child Care Committee:
Carie Boster - Chair - Dunn County JDA
Russ Gagnon - Dakota College at Bottineau
Linda Reineke - ND Child Care Aware
KayCee Lindsey - Divide County
Neil Scharpe - Minot State University
Renee Townsend - The Strom Center at Dickinson State University
Brandi Rudland - Dakota College at Bottineau

Transportation Committee:
Neil Scharpe - Chair
Janet Cron - Burke County
Vicky Steiner - NDAOGPC
Dave Leftwich - NDDOT
Steve Mullen - ND DOT Williston
Shirley Brentrup - REAP Investment Board
Cal Klewin - TR Expressway Association

Pipeline Committee:
Doug Perkins - Chair - Houston Engineering, Inc.
Vawnita Best - McKenzie County Commissioner
Tom Wheeler - NW Landowner Association, Vice President
Troy Coons - NW Landowner Association, President
Glenn Carpenter - AECOM
Matt Perdue - Dickinson State University

Industrial Valuation Committee:
Stacey Swanson - Chair - Billings County
Janet Cron - Burke County
KayCee Lindsey - Divide County
Loren Hoffman - AE2S

How to Harness the Oil Boom? The local Comprehensive Plan!!

The pace of development here in western North Dakota has slowed just a bit of late with reduced oil prices. This may be an opportunity for local planning to catch up. Community leaders and citizens all across North Dakota keep asking “What tools can help us harness this growth for community benefit"? The answer to this question is well known beyond our area from past experiences dealing with rapid growth from energy development or other stimulations. Desired change can be achieved with the development of the local ‘Comprehensive Plan’. This plan is the single most successful tool to help citizens arrive at a future of their own choosing. Call it what you want, i.e., the community plan, the master plan, future landuse plan; this plan is developed by citizens to direct their community leaders and staff regarding goals, priority projects and implementation plans to positively affect their communities, i.e. Harness the Boom.

Vision West ND has prepared a regional plan that is very compelling and again participants are now asking themselves how to best implement these significant concepts and actions. This regional plan is ‘big’ and the implications are far reaching. The best way to implement these regional concepts is through a host of local comprehensive plans. Daycare, housing, local Infrastructure, and special projects of all kinds can be implemented through that local plan. A clear, articulate plan gets translated into reality as the community grows. Parks, trails, schools and public facilities of all kinds will become a reality with growth, thus public attitudes toward ‘growth’ become positive again. The collective actions of local jurisdictions, all echoing the regional concerns and strategies, will serve as the best way to implement the Regional Plan.

North Dakota Department of Transportation knows the value of planning and supporting local initiatives that engage citizens in defining their futures. Coordination with towns that have an updated comprehensive plan is much, much easier than working with towns that don’t have a vision for the future.

For this reason the NDDOT ramped up its assistance to local government, with resources it has been producing and collecting for the last couple of years. The resources have been consolidated on both a website at NDDOT and on thumb drives available through NDDOT to make the information readily available to local governments around the state.

The “Local Planners Resource Guide: linking Land Use and Transportation Planning” is a guidebook produced by NDDOT specifically to address the critical need for towns that don’t have updated community plans.

This guidebook discusses the types of planning processes local government could utilize. The Comprehensive Plan is discussed here; as is how this plan is used to guide community development out into the future, thus implement desired and needed civic change.

The Comprehensive Plan is legally adopted by local governments, thus giving it legitimacy. Goals and policies can be linked to the local budget to legitimize those expenditures as connected to public benefit. The ability to legally implement plans requires police powers and concerns related to enforcement of zoning and land use regulations are addressed by adopting local plans.

The NDDOT Website that we have used to organize this pertinent local planning information can be found at: https://www.dot.nd.gov/divisions/planning/land-use-transportation-planning.htm

The website has much the same content as the thumb-drives, as most reports and documents are saved as PDF files. Content includes: The Guide Book, Video Presentations from ‘Local Planning Webinars conducted by NDDOT and many other useful references.

The Website listed above is dynamic and NDDOT intends to continue to provide useful resources to assist local government planners and citizens.

Assisting local government with growth and transportation concerns, is part of Vision West ND Associate Member Steve Mullen's role with NDDOT.
Please feel free to contact him at:

Steve Mullen, Landuse Planner, Williston ND



Please welcome AECOM as a new Associate Member!

AECOM is represented by Glenn Carpenter.
April 14, 2016 - VWND Consortium Meeting - Williston
April 19, 2016 - Effects of the Bakken Slowdown - Dickinson
June 13, 2016 - VWND Consortium Meeting - Minot
June 14, 2016 - Use It or Lose It! Workshop - Minot
For more information on announcements visit the VWND website.
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