Published March 17, 2022

Homeless Rest at Ward County Administrative Building

Written by
Jasahd Stewart
| The Dakotan
[Photo: Jasahd Stewart/The Dakotan]
[Photo: Jasahd Stewart/The Dakotan]

County staff express concerns

MINOT — Despite the presence of shelter care programs in Minot, some homeless folks have chosen to reside in the Ward County administrative building during the day, and that has raised concerns from multiple county employees.

“People that we have assumed ‘homeless’ have been loitering in the facility and in some cases approaching people. I think one was arrested and given warnings,” explained Commissioner Shelly Weppler during Tuesday’s meeting.

Commissioner John Fjeldahl shared that he and Commissioner John Pietsch had witnessed some of the activity in the lobby on their way out from meetings.

Pietsch explained, “There was an attempt to take away the chairs in the lobby and which immediately backfired. People were resting on the stairs and blocking the way.”

Ward County State’s Attorney Rozanna Larson said she believed that sleeping in the lobby would be allowed due to it being “a public building.”

“I have a problem with that, I just do,” said Chairman Jim Rostad. “We have public buildings all over and yet they aren’t homeless shelters… I just don’t think that our lobby down there should be a homeless shelter. And besides that, they’ve been threatening, by motions and obscene gestures, some of our employees.”

Weppler countered by saying, “Those people have been addressed, the ones that are disrupting and being aggressive.”

Project BEE Executive Director Liz Larsen explained before the board that their shelter in Minot did not have enough staff to shelter homeless people during the day.

Larsen shared that she warned their clients not to disturb people or cause trouble in the county’s administrative building.

“These are our neighbors, we love everybody here… Ultimately, I know that some of the people here were our clients, but I don’t know that about all of them for sure,” Larsen said.

Seeking to resolve the matter, the commissioners set up a committee to have a public meeting on Thursday at 4:00 pm in the Ward County administrative building.

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