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Good morning, Mr. Mayor . . . Kenmare Elementary School first
grader Justin Burud, left, exchanges a few words and receives
a ruler from Mayor Roger Ness, as Morgan Blomquist heads
back to class. Beside Ness, city council president Chuck Leet
hands coloring books to other first graders. Ness, Leet and
city council members Todd Ankenbauer and Ken Barnhart talked
with the elementary students Friday morning about the business
of running Kenmare, in recognition of City Government Week.
By Caroline Downs
“I’m the one in charge of this town,” Kenmare mayor Roger Ness told students in grades kindergarten through three at Kenmare Elementary School Friday morning. “I’m kind of like Superintendent Mueller for the school. Any questions about the city end up coming to me!”
Ness introduced city council members Chuck Leet, Ken Barnhart and Todd Ankenbauer and city auditor Barb Wiedmer to the students during a presentation held in recognition of City Government Week, April 9-13. “The city council meets every month and represents the people of Kenmare,” Ness told the kids.
He described Wiedmer’s job, as well as work done by the police officers, staff in the auditor’s office, and the public works employees. Then he talked about the Park and Recreation boards, fire department and ambulance service. “It takes a lot of people to run this town,” Ness said. “It takes a lot of volunteers and a lot of effort.”
Leet, who serves as president of the city council, talked to the students about how busy the council members could be with meetings and other activities for the city. He also mentioned the importance of keeping Kenmare as a safe and clean place to live.
“There’s a lot going on in Kenmare right now, and we’re lucky we’ve got good people working for us,” he said. “We all need to be safe and make sure we don’t drop trash on the streets.”
The council members shared coloring books named “Thirstin’s Wacky Water Adventure” and rulers with the kids, who responded with enthusiastic applause at the gifts.
“Someday, we hope to see you kids up here,” Ness said as he indicated the city council members standing next to him. “You’ve got to be at least 18, but when we’re gone, you can run this town.”
Friday marked the first time in several years council members have participated in City Government Week, promoted by the North Dakota League of Cities. “I wanted the kids to meet these people,” Wiedmer said about the morning’s session. “The kids see them on the street, but they don’t know these council members run this town.”
“We wanted to come to the elementary school and get the kids excited about city government, to show them who we are and what we do,” Ness said. “Hopefully, this plants a seed in their mind that maybe someday they want to get involved in leadership.”
Then he laughed as he handed his leftover city government rulers to Wiedmer. “Of course, it always helps to have treats!” he added.