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The Mayor's Message


The Mayor's Message - 06.04.2018

June 7th marks the 125th anniversary of the Great Fargo Fire. The fire began at 2:15 p.m. at 512 Front Street (now 512 Main Avenue) at the rear of Herzmer’s Dry Goods. Within 2 hours, 31 city blocks and more than 200 buildings were burning.

Fire companies from Moorhead, Casselton and Wahpeton helped fight the fire. Firefighter W.H. Johnson died as a result of burns sustained fighting the fire. Firefighting efforts were delayed that day because the City Commission had the Fire Department out watering the streets for dust control; however, former Fire Chief Sutherland stated the fire could not have been stopped, even if the Fire Department could have used the full flow of the Red River.

The fire destroyed City Hall and all records and it also destroyed the fire station, which at that time was located at the corner of NP and Roberts Street. In true Fargo resiliency, 243 new buildings were built within one year. Many of the new fire and building codes were adopted as a result of the fire and it led to the establishment of a full time career Fire Department 10 years later.

It’s amazing to think that our fire department has been around for over 115 years.

The Fargo Cass Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Division will conduct Community Emergency Response Team training beginning June 6th. CERT is an all-hazard approach to train and educate citizens in case of a disaster. First responders who provide fire and medical services may not be able to meet the demand for all services following a major disaster.

CERT training provides life-saving skills and techniques for people who will rely on each other for help in the time of need. The training is free and open to the public and will take place at Edgewood Vista. Registration and more information is available on the City’s website.

It's one of the areas where we try to get citizens involved in any type of disaster we would have.

The Libraries Rock! summer reading program is off and running. Some program highlights during the next couple of weeks include the Fargo History Hunt, Dizzy Dance Parties, Great Science for Teens, Rock Painting, a junior master gardening event, a Summer Animae Film Series for Teens and Adults and Free Friday Family Movies.

This summer the Library will participate in the weekly Party in the Parks events. Librarians from the Children’s Services Department will be spreading the word about literacy resources and the summer reading program.

WalletHub is at it again. WalletHub has ranked North Dakota as the Best State to be a Cop based on factors such as opportunity, average salary, competition, job hazards, protections, quality of life, homicide cases solved, housing affordability and more.

As part of the wellness initiative at the Police Department, Scott Normandin has worked with a program and survey to help prevent suicide. Chief Todd wants everyone at the Police Department to be happy and healthy and to have gratifying careers as well as a happy home life. It’s a good effort by the department to address these issues. In many police forces, this is a problem. Right, Chief? Yes.

Mark, can I have you and Marilyn come up to the podium? I’m not going to make you testify. Mark you have been there many times to help us figure out what to do with a variety of different issues. So, the Commissioners wanted us to do something special. They asked for us to create a proclamation.

As you know, a proclamation is made from people within the community and we celebrate different things. And we are celebrating that Mark Bittner worked for the City of Fargo and did such a great job. So, I’ll read the proclamation for you and then we have a gift for you as well.

  • WHEREAS, Mark Bittner served the Engineering Department and the City of Fargo for over 42 years, most recently as the Director of Engineering; and

  • WHEREAS, Co-workers, residents, family and friends honor Mark Bittner and his achievements on his retirement; and

  • WHEREAS, Mark Bittner diligently and capably, and with substantial knowledge, experience, dedication and passion, improved the quality of life of all of Fargo’s citizens and the City of Fargo for more than 42 years; and

  • WHEREAS, The City of Fargo has appreciated his loyalty, devotion and dedication to the substantial betterment of the City and its citizens; and

  • WHEREAS, The lives of countless Fargo residents have been enhanced by his dedication to his field of work, his employees, our citizens and the Red River Valley; and

  • WHEREAS, Mark’s wisdom, fortitude and persistence made our epic flood fights possible and effectively helped to eradicate evacuation as an option in our leaders’ minds.

  • NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, That I, Timothy J. Mahoney, Mayor of the City of Fargo, do hereby proclaim July 11, 2018, the second anniversary of the signing of the Fargo-Moorhead Diversion Project’s landmark Private Partnership Agreement (PPA), as Mark Bittner Day in the City of Fargo, North Dakota and call upon his friends and associates to celebrate this special day so his work and impact will be honored and remembered.

Many of the engineering firms that worked with you during the times, they wanted to give you a special presentation as well.

Commissioner Grindberg: Mark, we would like to present to you a check on behalf of several Fargo/Moorhead engineering firms, including AE2S, KLJ, HDR, Ulteig, Houston Engineering, SRF Consulting Group, Moore Engineering, Apex Engineering Group, to the Michael J. Fox Parkinson’s Research Foundation in Mark Bittner’s name.

Mayor Mahoney: Lastly, I know you don’t like to be reminded of floods, but in in 2009 we had this concern about a flood and a second wave coming. But, there was a graphic we put out at that time. Denny and I and you looked at and kind of saw what happened. And, for that now we are going to give you a flood graphic that has the heights of the floods and lists many of the other floods we’ve had in Fargo that you have been very instrumental in helping us protect the city.

So, I’m not sure where you want to put it in your house since you have a lot of plaques. But, we just thought this would be a nice way to give you something special. It’s got the signatures of Pat Zavoral, Denny Walaker and myself. Congratulations.

Mark Bittner: Well, thank you all for this. Very undeserved. Thank you so much. We talked about no evacuation and I didn’t want Marilyn to tell you she was evacuated. I told her to get the heck out of town. My neighbors kept asking when I was moving my furniture up and when it came to the lower level, I said it’s up already. I wasn’t instilling a lot of confidence in the city.

I am truly honored, blessed and awfully lucky to have the opportunity to work for the City of Fargo and to contribute to the welfare of the city. I get a lot of credit for the flood fight and I feel my greatest achievements are streets and highways.