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The Mayor's Message

03/11/2019

Utility billing meter readers have been out every day this winter, but due to the harsh winter and the accumulated snowfall covering the meter pad, meter readers have not been able to get a read at every property. They will resume their normal schedule as soon as conditions allow.

Contractors have closed the existing 52nd Avenue South bridge over Drain 27 between 47th and 53rd streets. The closure was necessary for the bridge contractor to remove the existing bridge and start to install two new bridges associated with project. With this initial project work, both intersections remain open to access 52nd Avenue South, area businesses and residential neighborhoods. Along with this construction, we understand that traffic patterns have changed at a time when the roads are impacted with snow storage. Public Works, Engineering and the contractor have partnered to clear snow on the collectors adjacent to the closure to increase the sight distance of the traveling public to improve safety in the area. A temporary 4-way stop was also installed at the intersection of 44th Avenue and 53rd Street South to aid with traffic circulation.

The final public input meeting regarding the 17th Avenue South corridor study will be held Tuesday, March 19th, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn. The 17th Avenue South corridor stretches the entire length of the City and into West Fargo. While it is primarily residential, the corridor supports some of the most intense retail and commercial development in the metro. It serves many major bicycle and pedestrian generators including schools and parks in West Fargo, Fargo and Moorhead. This corridor is an important roadway for all modes of transportation. The purpose of this meeting is to discuss the recommended street improvement plan developed through the public input received from the first two public meetings and the survey.

The Fire Prevention Bureau at the Fire Department has added Brett Bergh as its 6th deputy fire marshal. Brett started in his new position on February 25th after serving as a firefighter for 12 years.

The Fire Department will be hiring its 500th firefighter this spring. Applications have been received and are being reviewed and the applicants who qualify will take a written exam and a physical agility test. Of those who pass both tests, three will be selected for additional testing and if all goes well, firefighter numbers 498, 499 and 500 will begin employment with the City in May. Historically, the department has conducted its application and testing process every two years but recently changed the process to run annually.
Health:

Melissa Markegard, a community health educator, has been nominated as one of the YWCA’s Women of the Year for 2019. Thirty-five women from a variety of organizations were nominated for this year’s event, which culminates with an awards ceremony on Monday, May 6.

Four FCPH Emergency Preparedness and Response staff recently participated in 2 and a half days of training in Bismarck where they gained valuable experience in setting up medical shelters, practicing public information skills and training on the use of AM radios. The purpose of the training is to equip EPR staff across the state with skills necessary to respond to a public health emergency.
Library:

March is Youth Art Month and the library is holding its 10th annual Design-A-Bookmark Contest for all ages through March 31. Details and rules are available on the library’s website.

The Fargo Public Library’s Food for Fines program recently concluded. Results included 95 toiletry items donated which amounted to $475 in forgiven fines and 2,370 food items donated, which amounted to $11,850 in forgiven fines. The library partnered with Great Plains Food Bank, Youthworks and the Gladys Ray Shelter to distribute the donations.

The library has several interesting programs over the next couple of weeks, including: Crafternoons for Kids; a Libraries Dance! workshop and storytime session with Gasper’s School of Dance and the FM Ballet on March 12; Little Squirt Science events for preschoolers; an event on March 17th to celebrate Holi, the Hindu spring festival, featuring Professor Rajani Ganesh-Pillai; a tea tasting event on March 23rd; Glow Games on March 21st; a cultural program featuring the country of Iran on March 24th titled “From Saffron to Rosewater To Blood and Oil: Iran and Its Culture” which will be presented by Miriam Dashtipour; and Yoga for Adults..

Renovations at the old BSE Building for the new Police Department continue. All of the furnishings and workspaces on the main floor have been dismantled and stored and old data cable was pulled to make room for new cabling. Some walls and ceilings have been demolished for electrical work and reinforcing to accommodate the new gym area. Once the gym area is completed, work will begin on making the existing gym into an expansion of the men's locker room and a double-sided center row of lockers will be added in the women's locker room.

On Monday during a ceremony in the new City Commission chambers, Cristie Jacobsen was promoted to sergeant and two new police officers were sworn in.

The Public Works office continues to field several hundred calls per week regarding sidewalk snow removal, street widening, visibility issues, water main breaks and blocked driveways. Sidewalk snow removal violations are the top call for service and the top complaint in the FargoOne app. There have been approximately 1,400 sidewalk complaints this season and of that number, just over 400 were reported through FargoOne. The snowfalls of January and February caused difficulty for the inspector and pushed back inspections. Not having snow this week has provided the opportunity to catch up and get sidewalks cleared that were in violation of the ordinance. Just last week alone, staff contracted out 81 sidewalks to clear.

The Forestry Department is in the process of completing its annual winter pruning of boulevard trees. The dormant season is the best time to prune trees. For some, such as elm trees, it is the only time to prune in order to avoid spreading disease, such as Dutch elm disease. Pruning during the winter minimizes stress and damage to the tree. The department’s eight arborists and two contracted tree service companies are completing the work this year. Since starting the process on October 15th, Forestry staff has pruned 4,350 trees and contractors have completed 1,750. The goal for this season is another 1,500 by City staff and 750 by the contractors for a total of 8,350 trees.

In a recent study by personal finance outlet WalletHub.com, Fargo has been named the 6th Happiest City in America. In order to determine where people in America are most content with their lives, WalletHub compared 182 large U.S. cities across 31 key indicators of happiness including ratings for depression, income-growth, average leisure time spent per day, adequate sleep, sports participation, unemployment rate and divorce. Other Upper Midwest cities on the list included: Bismarck at No. 11; Sioux Falls, No. 15; St. Paul, No. 19; Minneapolis, No. 26; and Rapid City, No. 67.

The Top 6 Happiest Cities in America are:

  1. Plano, Texas
  2. Irvine, California
  3. Madison, Wisconsin
  4. Fremont, California
  5. Huntington Beach, California
  6. Fargo, North Dakota