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Dollar General considers Kenmare for new store...

Kenmare city auditor Grant Johnson briefed the city council last Tuesday night (Nov. 12)regarding the Dollar General franchise hoping to open a store in Kenmare.

11/20/18 (Tue)

Kenmare city auditor Grant Johnson briefed the city council last Tuesday night (Nov. 12)regarding the Dollar General franchise hoping to open a store in Kenmare.

Johnson said he was getting emails and had talked to Tyler Oliver of Overland Park, Kan., a real estate development coordinator working on behalf of Dollar General.

Tyler called me for the second time on Friday,” Johnson said. “He has a preference for property on the west side of U.S. Highway 52 within a short distance of Division Street or Sixth Street.”

Johnson told the council that Oliver mentioned the city campground next to M&K’s Pizza Hub as an ideal location. However, council member Jamie Livingston said Kenmare doesn’t want a city without a campground. Oliver told Johnson one acre would be required.

Property immediately north of Gooseneck Implement was also discussed, but Oliver suggested that might be too far south. Oliver told Johnson that if it must be on the east side of U.S. 52, it should be in a spot where it is easy to cross the highway.

Johnson also explained that it is the hope that if a store can be built on the west side of U.S. 52, pedestrians could walk to the store or ride bicycles without difficulty.

Council member Glen Froseth wasn’t optimistic about the possibility, saying Dollar General would be stepping on established toes and it would take a lot of business away from the local businesses that are already here.

Livingston, however, made a motion to table the discussion for a month in order to get some community involvement to gauge whether or not the residents of Kenmare would want a Dollar General store.

The franchise, which has grown rapidly in North Dakota in the past two years, is much like Shopko, Canadian Tire or the former ALCO franchise.

According to Oliver, a store in Kenmare would employ seven to nine people full time and would generate significant sales and real estate tax.

“Dollar General would generate approximately $1.2 million in annual sales,” Oliver said. “Additionally, the presence of a national retailer in Kenmare would spur additional interest.”

Oliver added that if a store is built in Kenmare, Dollar General would make a 35-year commitment to the community.

Numerous Dollar General locations have opened across the state with the most recent being in Burlington and another about ready to open in Parshall.

When Johnson was briefing the council, he produced emails with testimonials from people in Velva, Wyndmere and Cooperstown.

“Our Dollar General opened up the middle of January and we love it,” said Wyndmere city auditor Gail Anderson. “We are 25 miles from Wahpeton and it sure saves on the driving.”

Chris Olson, Cooperstown’s deputy city auditor, said there is only one business owner in the community of about 900 that did and still does complain about losing business more than a year after Dollar General opened there.

“We were skeptical initially about where the employees would come from,” Olson said. “But I am not aware of any business in town that has lost employees to Dollar General.”

He added, “It has been great for those items that we can’t get otherwise in Cooperstown. They also stay open until 10 p.m., so if something is needed, we can go there. And competition is a good thing for businesses to have.”

Dollar General has opened 11 stores in North Dakota in the past year with at least eight more in development.

The smallest communities to land a store are Edgeley, population 552 and Lakota, population 639. Eureka and Ispwich, S.D., each with less than 1,000 people, both have stores.

Others in North Dakota include Gwinner, Hankinson, Larimore, Ellendale and Cavalier.

If a store is built in Kenmare, it and Parshall would be the two westernmost stores in North Dakota.

Little else was discussed regarding Dollar General. In making his motion to table the discussion, Livingston is hoping to bring some debate back to the December council meeting.

Kenmare could get $284,000 for infrastructure

Councilman Froseth discussed the Prairie Dog bill and what it means for Kenmare. He said it’s an oil tax distribution bill and is designed specifically for infrastructure.

“Kenmare is in line for $284,000 and there is no sunset clause,” Froseth said. “I would like to see an early commitment for Division Street. The earliest money would be available would be next July or August.”

Public Works Director Rob Shelton immediately agreed with Froseth, telling the council there is no doubt Division Street needs work.

“Yup, that’s the worst one,” Shelton said. “That’s where most of my complaints come from.”

In other action:

• The council spent a considerable amount of time poring through chapters 1, 2 and 3 of the city ordinances. Chapter 1 was approved on second reading contingent upon city attorney Jake Maxson giving the OK.

Most of Chapter 2 will be left as it is and Chapter 3 needs to be tweaked, and was passed on first reading, but the council wants Maxson to examine it before the second reading is passed.

• The council also discussed how city employee evaluations should be carried out. Council member Tami Ware said the mayor would be involved with evaluations of senior staff and senior staff would evaluate junior staff.

“By the chain of command, the mayor would be involved,” Ware said. “This gives a better understanding if they’re working as a team. I believe this is designed to be the first step.”

According to Froseth, that model could lead to some uncomfortable situations and working conditions since every department is small enough that senior and junior staff almost always work together.

Shelton said he is of the opinion that it would be a good thing for city employees.

• In her report to the council, Police Chief Allisha Britton said there were 279 calls for service in October including 35 traffic stops, 20 citations, 3 assaults and 1 felony.

• Council member Todd Ankenbauer officially recognized the Kenmare Honker volleyball team as a 2018 state participant at the opening of the meeting... Read EVERY WORD on EVERY PAGE of The Kenmare News by subscribing--online or in print!