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Turtle Mountain Star
Rolla , North Dakota
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September 27, 2021     Turtle Mountain Star
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September 27, 2021
 

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September 27, 2021 The Star Page 7 Policy (Continued from Page 1) want to keep kids in school and the doors open.” After passage of the new requirements, Gourneau added that vaccinated students and staff have “no wor— ries” if they come into close contact with a COVID—pos- itive case. He also said those who voluntarily wear masks could also justify not being quarantined in a similar inci- dent. During discussion of the “what ifs” the principal added that the school could find itself liable ifit’s not following N.D. Department of Health’s COVID guidelines. "There’s about 10,000 hypothetical situations,” said Jim Odden, board member. “We’re not going to account for each and every one of them.” Odden moved and Knudson seconded to add mask re- quirement to the Health and Safety Plan for 2021-2022. Roll call vote: Boucher—no; Pederson-no; Letvin-no; Odden—yes; Knudson—yes. Motion failed. The school district has yet to implement its own COVID testing, such as the Binax, which is being used by other schools in Rolette County. The Binax test involves a swab of the lower nostril. In a study prior to its FDA approval, the test correctly gave a positive results 84.6 percent of the time. In the same study, it correctly gave a negative result 98.5 percent of the time. At last month’s board meeting, Sherwin shared letters from several teachers with concerns regarding the re- moval of the school’s the mask mandate, due to the COVID-l9 Delta variant. The school’s revised Health and Safety Plan for 2021-2022 removed the hybrid learn- ing model and a portion of a mask requirement under cer— tain conditions. The board discussed several aspects of the matter in- cluding concerns about the rising Delta variant of COVID- l9 and not requiring masks. There was also discussion on personal choice when it comes to wearing masks and whether or not to require masks for those under. the age of 12, who cannot receive a vaccine yet. Superintendent (Continued from Page 1) A couple days after the formal an- nouncement, Sherwin said the deci- sion to leave at the half-way point of the 2021-22 term fit with his feelings. “Sometimes you just know it’s time, right?” Sherwin said. “While COVID definitely put a strain on schools, parents, students, and teach— ers, it was physically and mentally exhausting for administrators. Also times change, this is my 37th year in education. I actually student-taught in Rolette so I can tell you how dif- ferent teaching, parenting, and ‘the world’ is now from my start.” The superintendent added that R0- lette School is currently full of new Commission’s narrow vote decides vacation issue By John Rosinski Of The Star A narrow vote to not extend vacation and personal time highlighted last week’s regular county commission meeting. At issue was more than 50 unused hours of vacation time for commissioner and county employee Archie Met- calfe and employee Dennis Halvorson. County'employ— ees are notified on their respective pay stubs how much vacation time they have used and how much time is re- maining, but Metcalfe acknowledged he wasn’t paying attention. His cutoff date to use it or lose it ‘was earlier this month. Commissioner Allen Schlenvoght moVed to extend the vacation time until December but the idea was met with caution by commissioner Henry LaRocque. “This could open up a can of worms and other em- ployees could do something like this,” LaRocque said. Commissioners Schlenvoght and Eldon Moors voted to approve the motion while LaRocque and commissioner Craig Poitra voted against the extension. Metcalfe ini- tially opted to abstain from voting citing a conflict of in- terest since he is also a county employee. The commission started to talk about bringing in Rolette County State’s Attorney Brian Grossinger to help settle the issue, but then Metcalfe ended the debate. “If I have to vote I vote no,” Metcalfe said. “It’s my own fault and a mistake on my part.” Metcalfe has-started using vacation time while he at- tends commission meetings. He said he initially didn’t take any time to try and avoid any conflict of interest con— cerns, but said he’ll continue to use vacation time moving forward. District 9 Representative Marvin Nelson met with the commission to discuss'the census and the impact it will have on congressional districting and federal funding. For years Rolette County was also a stand-alone con- greSsional district. It was the only such county/district in P the state. After the most recent census showed a signifi- cant decrease in population, Nelson said the District 9 may expand beyond the borders of Rolette County. Nelson indicated state officials want each district to be comprised of roughly 16,000 residents, or about 4,000 more than who currently reside in Rolette County. Nelson added the expansion could occur to the west and include Bottineau,the east to include Langdon, or the south to in— clude Rugby. Nelson explained the redistricting will be announced sometime in November. “It’s really a disastrous deal for the county,” Nelson said in reference to the most recent census data. “Were stuck .with this for now.” ' Nelson said county officials could appeal for a new count in‘ a few years but it would be at the‘cost of the county. He added Williams County conducted a recount a few years ago following a steep increase in population due to the oil boom. . Local census officials have said the county was un- dercounted for a number of reasons. Chief among them was packets used to record residents were not sent to post office boxes. The change affected several residents liv— ing on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation. Another contributing factor was COVID-19, which impacted how much outreach officials could conduct. Lastly, the board heard an complaint from Becky Gustafson involving the removal of some dirt from a sec— tion line near St. John. ' Armed with legal documents and highlighted opin- ions, Gustafson argued the county stole some dirt and she wanted it returned. Commission chairman Eldon Moors said the county was in compliance when it removed some dirt from be— neath a section line. A No action was taken on the matter but Grossinger is expected to study the issue and bring a recommendation to the board at an upcoming meeting. staff members and board members. “I felt it was time for the school to go in a direction that I may be hesitant with,” he said, adding the mantra of “old dogs don’t learn new tricks,” mentality could posSibly hinder progress. . Sherwin said the onset of COVID during the last school year and its persistence into the 2021-22 term also played a role in the decision. “I triedto be neutral regarding COVID,” the superintendent said. “I don’t believe health issues should be made into a political issue. Nation- ally it has become sadly intertwined. If COVID had any part of my deci- sion to retire, it would be for that rea- son. l don’t see politics,I see faces of students and staff.” ‘ Rolette School did have a recent issue surrounding the coronavirus and debates at board meetings re- garding policies and procedures going forwardsAs with many Schools around the country, masks were an issue that at times divided the board and district patrons. ’ Sherwin called the last few months “challenging” and “tough.” He said recent school board meetings made him realize that there was never going to be a good time to re- tire. “The time was right. Things seemed tough, yet the school is in a good place with staffing, money, and Mr. (Levi) Gourneau, the new prin- cipal,” Sherwin said. “I’ve worked in five school districts, two states and taught seven different grades. I’ve re— placed staff and I’ve been replaced. Rolette School will be just fine.” Sherwin also emphasized that the choice to leave mid-term was his alone. “This was strictly my decision, and I know the board was somewhat surprised,” he said. “It wasn’t my in- tention to finish mid—year, but I thank them for understanding that it was time.” * Sherwin did hit the “rule of 85” which adds his years of experience and age when it comes to retirement limits for educators. “I hit that a cou- ple of years back,” he said. As Sherwin prepares to depart he said the school will face some chal- lenges in the years ahead, most of all enrollment issues. Learn more: utma.com Wade Sherwin will be Rolette School’s superintendent until December 31, when he will officially retire. along the southern edge of Rolette County, near a current wind farm lo- cated in northern Pierce County. It would have an approximate 12,000— acre footprint with as many as 47 tur— bines. Original plans called for each turbine to provide 2.2 kilowatts of energy but that could be significantly increased thanks to changes in tech- nology. In addition to the potential sale, . Wind Towers (Continued from Page 1) currently owns one half of the proj- ect while E-Power owns the other half. Together, the venture is entitled Rolette Power Development. Adding to Rost’s enthusiasm is an energy sector that he described as one that is on the rebound. “The market has gotten very com- petitive again,” Rost said. “We’re able to compete with all other forms of energy.” Lastly, Rost said it is too early to know for sure how much employ— ment could be created if the wind farm moves forward. He explained it would create some full time posi- tions, but that won’t be known until more details are finalized. “This is showing a lot of promise and we look forward to sharing more information as soon as it becomes available,” he said. “For the first time in years, the school has a bell curve in its student population,” Sherwin said. “The larger classes are in middle school and freshman classes. The elemen— tary has small class sizes, and that’s a sign of many rural North Dakota schools.” The superintendent said the school’s ability to educate its .stu- den‘ts’aiid provide quality aetiViti’és‘i‘S’ not in question, given the districts achievements in both categories dur— ing the past few decades. He credited the commitment of both students and staff for those accomplishments. However, the dropping enrollment numbers have Sherwin concerned for the future. “Being able to teach a class of under 10 may be a teacher’s dream, but it is an administrator’s nightmare,” he said. “Those numbers can’t pay all the bills indefinitely.” Sherwin recalled knocking on doors a dozen years ago in Rolette, introducing himself to families who were sending their children to other schools and encouraging them to en— roll locally. “The school numbers jumped dra- matically. For a couple of years we had over 175 kids,” Sherwin said. “That was big, but it wasn’t so much me as it was me being able to sell the staff. Rolette has and had some amazing teachers and support staff. The greatest achievement is the peo- ple I’ve been able to bring into the school to teach .‘my kids.”’ Sherwin said it’s those kids that he’ll miss the most after December 31. Ironically, the class of 2021 started kindergarten. in Rolette during his first year at the school. “That was a milestone. They started and ended with me being a pivotal person in the school,” Sher— win said. “If I only focused on the kids, I’d never retire.” Recalling an interview. from years ago, Sherwin said a Student in the school quoted him as saying, ““I loved teaching; I liked being princi- pal; but I’m the superintendent.” The superintendent’s job, how- ever, is administration of the school “and Sherwin said the‘challen’ges that came with the position were difficult at times. He said his evaluations showed he was capable, but his heart was and will always be the students. “We’ve had to deal with sporadic (reductions in staff). When money is tight and student numbers are small, we had to cut positions for the reason of balancing books,” Sherwinsaid. “I helped keep the school in the black, but there were some stressful chal- lenges to do so.” From an emotional standpoint, i Sherwin said the loss of a staff mem- ber'and student during his tenure were the “hardest days ever” at the school “Gymnasiums are to be for sports and plays and laughter. Sadly we’ve opened those doors to say final goodbyes,” he said. After December 31, Sherwin is considering writing a book, detailing portions of his 37 year career in edu— cation which has lefthim with “lots of memories” and stories he thinks are worth sharing. “I may need to change names to protect the innocent/and not so inno- cent, but I’ve seen a lot,” the superin— tendent said. “I’ve experienced a lot from baby possums for show-n-tell to kids crawling out of windows to es— cape. All in all it’s been a good run. It was definitely a career and not a job so I was one of the very fortunate.” 1 («(0)») Cutting-Edge Wi-Fi Through our powerful smart‘home internet system Complete Control Wi-H security and customization at your fingertips. Fully Managed Worry-free. secure Wi-Fi with 24/7 support. Border Power has also extended lease agreements with landowners for another three years. Rost indi— cated the extension gives officials an opportunity to continue to pursue the wind farm. Additional facilities could include new gravel access roads and im- provements to existing roads; under— ground electrical collection and ‘dommunication lines and an opera- tions and maintenance building. Border Power has also partnered up with M-Power, LLC, which is lo- cated in Finley, and operates a wind farm in that area. Border Power LLC lrhe , «.9 Prices effective 1.‘ lillllllllll BEEF $ 79 ‘ lb. runrii’ii'irtnsr $ 1 9|? VARIETY PACKS 5699 Ole 12 oz. $1 "9 Chi Chi’s CHIPS $1 99 oz. EIIIIIII 5 lbs. 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