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Park Board candidate Cliff Hovda brings experience

Minot voters will select two candidates from a field of five to fill positions on the Minot Park Board in the June 9 city election.

The election is being conducted with absentee ballots. Ballots must be postmarked June 8 or delivered to a drop box by 4 p.m. on June 9. The drop box in Minot is the library box in front of the Ward County Administration Building.

Candidate Cliff Hovda, a long-time Minot resident seeking his fourth four-year term on the board, says experience makes a difference, and he takes pride in the work accomplished by the park board over his previous 12 years. He is a retired educator. He shares his thoughts as follows on parks and recreation.

What services of the park district do you and your family use most? What do you like about them Our family has always loved and used the parks! When our kids were young we took advantage of Oak Park, swimming, baseball, tennis, golf at the most impressive municipal golf course in the state, and, of course, we loved the best zoo between Minneapolis and Seattle. Every area is beautifully well maintained with 25,000 plants and flowers, is easily accessible, and free or reasonably priced. With the kids gone, we still love Oak and Roosevelt Parks, the zoo, concerts, baseball games at Corbett, and as my wife says, I “golf every day.”

What is one initiative or project you would like to see the park district pursue in the next four years?

When the Park District bought the land in northwest Minot for the Family Recreation Area from the state of North Dakota, it was with the stipulation that the project must break ground within 5 years. The concept plans are done and include such things as biking and hiking trails, a high and low ropes course, children’s play area, scenic overlooks, and a community orchard and gardens, cross country skiing and tubing runs. I think, with prudent budgeting, parts of this project can be done in the next four years.

In these uncertain and challenging times, we need to be even more diligent about our planning, keep evaluating our priorities, while continually assessing our spending and revenue; I feel it is our responsibility as a governing body to not place additional burdens on the citizens of Minot.

Are you satisfied with the direction the park district is taking with its long-term planning and future park/recreation opportunities or are there areas you would want reconsidered?

I think the Minot Park District does an excellent job at long-term planning. We create a 5-year plan with input from the public and our staff. Our meetings are always open to the public and we allow every citizen a chance to speak. This year we have merged with the Recreation Department, formerly a city agency. This exciting change will allow us to expand our programming.

Our current long-term plans are the leopard exhibit, the use of the landfill land, developing a Family Recreation Area in NW Minot, a bark park in east Minot, and renovations to Polaris Park. Even with the challenging impact of the pandemic, many of these can still be responsibly implemented.

Do you believe the park district has been a wise steward of its dollars or are there areas where the district should be spending more or spending less?

Yes, I feel the Minot Park Board has been a VERY wise steward of the public’s money. We have made many additions and improvements in my time as a commissioner and only about 60% of the budget comes from taxes. Through the generosity of many public and private partnerships, major individual donations, corporate donations, grant money, The Zoo Crew, Hockey Boosters, Junior Golf, Minot Area Community Foundation (MACF), Baseball Boosters, and user fees we have maximized our dollars and planned for and completed many substantial long-term investments.

Our completed projects have been MAYSA Pepsi rink, Red Panda exhibit, Lion habitat, Tiger habitat, Aviary, girl’s fast pitch softball fields, new lights and artificial turf at Corbett Field, new Zoo entrance building, Oak Park Amphitheater, new tennis courts at Hammond Park, two splash pads, and donated park land to the future Discovery Center. This is a remarkable list of accomplishments while being very fiscally responsible.

Please describe your background and the perspectives you would bring to the park board.

I have served twelve years as a park board commissioner and it has been a joy to be involved in making our park system better each year. My leadership has impacted the community in a positive way; I hope to continue to bring my experience in long-term planning, budgeting, and implementation to the Park District.

My background as a former school administrator, guidance counselor, and teacher has given me skills in collaboration, supervision, community relations, and decision-making, which have all served me well as a commissioner. I would very much like to continue serving the citizens of Minot and I would appreciate your vote.

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