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By Caroline Downs
Start a list of community concerns among members of any organization, and that list is likely to include drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, elder abuse, poverty, housing needs, child protection and safety education.
Even in Kenmare.
“We need to get out of the mentality ‘That doesn’t happen here,’” said Melissa Burud, First District Health Unit public health nurse in Kenmare. “We need to educate our citizens about these topics and we need to address the problems before they turn into serious situations.”
Taking that proactive position in town is the mission of the new Kenmare Safe Communities group being organized to address a variety of needs in Kenmare.
Similar organizations operate now in Renville, McLean and Bottineau counties, and include representatives from several agencies, offices, churches, emergency services and other groups in those communities.
Meetings to determine local interest in a Safe Communities group were held in February and March, with individual citizens and representatives of Kenmare and Ward County entities, including the City of Kenmare, Ward County Sheriff’s Department, Renville County Sheriff’s Department, Domestic Violence Crisis Center, Kenmare Ministerial Association, FDHU, and Rural Crime and Justice Center at Minot State University, working together to establish the local organization.
“This idea of a Safe Communities group was sparked from our tobacco coalition in Kenmare,” said Holly Brekhus, FDHU Tobacco Prevention Outreach Coordinator.
She noted a Safe Communities group, meeting on a regular basis, could share information about various types of resources available through each agency.
Pastor John Fetterhoff of Faith Baptist Church in Kenmare emphasized the significance of communicating about needs in town. “Communication among members of this coalition would improve things for people,” he said.
He talked about concerns in the community, especially from newcomers who arrive to take a job but have no decent place to live. “There are some definite needs here in Kenmare right now,” he said. “People come and have these expectations, but those expectations aren’t met.”
Burud has experience with the Safe Communities organization already established in Mohall, and she would like to see the Kenmare group develop in a similar way. “I think it would bring more awareness as to what type of issues are facing Kenmare,” she said. “From going to the Safe Communities meetings in Mohall, I can see that what they do does make a difference.”
She was also impressed by the interest shown in the Kenmare group by other Ward County agencies. “We have people here from the sheriff’s office, Domestic Violence and the Rural Crime and Justice Center,” she said. “That’s good.”
Brekhus said she sent invitations to various community entities, including the school district, the churches and the city council, about starting the Kenmare Safe Communities group, but those invitations were not meant to be exclusive. “This is not a select group of people,” she said. “It’s an open invitation to get involved.”
At this point, the Kenmare Safe Communities group has set a regular meeting date for the second Thursday of each month, beginning at 11 am, at the Kenmare One Stop.
Members of the group are developing a page for the Kenmare website that will provide information about organizations and offices throughout the city and county and the types of services and materials offered.
“That way, we can all share information that’s going to help people in the community,” said Brekhus.
Further topics of discussion and action plans to address various community needs will be developed by the organization.
Crisis Center to
highlight next meeting
The next meeting of the Kenmare Safe Communities group will be held Thursday, April 11, 2013, in the Kenmare One Stop meeting room, from 11 am to 12:30 pm.
Nancy Murphy of Domestic Violence Crisis Center, Inc. in Minot will be the featured speaker at the session. The DVCC serves residents in Ward, Renville, Pierce and Bottineau counties and offers immediate assistance to victims through 24-hour emergency shelter and crisis lines.
The DVCC also provides crisis intervention and support counseling, support groups, legal advocacy, sexual assault advocacy, transitional housing, and information and referrals related to medical, legal, financial, housing and social services.
Murphy invited Kenmare-area residents to the April 11th meeting. “People can come and learn about the services we have available for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault,” she said. “I will also describe a little about the response from law enforcement, whether it’s the Ward County Sheriff’s Department or the Kenmare Police Department.”
She especially encouraged anyone who works with domestic violence victims in the community, such as counselors, teachers and health care staff members, to attend the session.
Further information about the Domestic Violence Crisis Center can be found at the First District Health Unit office in Kenmare. The DVCC can be reached by phone at 701-857-2200 for the 24-Hour Crisis Line, 701-857-2500 for the Rape Crisis Line, or 800-398-1098 for the business office.
Brekhus emphasized that individuals are welcome to attend the meeting without becoming specific members of the Safe Communities organization. “All community members who are interested in the topic of domestic violence are invited,” she said.
For further information about the Kenmare Safe Communities coalition, contact Burud at 701-385-4328 or Brekhus at 701-852-1376.