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Park board candidate Steve Wharton supports prudent advancements

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 Steve Wharton, who is completing his first term on the park board, has about 40 years of experience in the private and public sector in the horticulture field, most recently as an educator. He shares 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?

Over the years we have used Roosevelt and Oak Park, Souris Valley Golf Course, Roosevelt Park Zoo, attended Tauro games at MAYSA and attended baseball games at Corbett Field and soccer games at the Soccer Complex. We have been to every park and facility in the Minot Park District. As a child my daughter wanted to go to the zoo everyday. She loved it! At this point we use the walking trails the most and look forward to all the park facilities opening back up in a responsible manner. We have first class facilities for a town our size. The trail system has expanded over the years. We like all the trails. There is a difference in the scenery on each trail. The trails are well maintained, user friendly and clean.

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

The Park District has so many ongoing projects and plans it would be hard to pinpoint one. We are presently in unprecedented times. As a board, we do not know how this will affect our finances and our personnel. We must be cautious as we move forward. With that in mind, we must keep our facilities top notch. Two of the bigger projects we have been discussing are the additions to MAYSA for a variety of uses. The second big project is the development of the Northwest Family Park. I would like to see the Park District to continue to work on both of those projects as funds become available. They are big projects. To think they might be completed in the next four years could be difficult based on how well as a community we recover from the pandemic financially. The Park District may be forced to move more prudently. I am hopeful large parts of those projects will be done.

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 feel the Park District has been wise in their long-range planning and opportunities. The merger of the Recreation Department with the Park District was a win-win for the community. We were able to merge and save the taxpayer money while doing it. It opened tremendous opportunities for the citizens. You will see an increase of programs for everyone as we move forward. Our ability to collaborate with other organizations will be easier. A good example of that is the group building The Discovery Center. The Park District has the land and we are developing a park-like setting for The Discovery Center. With all of that being said, the Park District will have to be thoughtful for the time being in our long-term planning and opportunities. I do not have anything I would reconsider at this time.

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?

I believe the Park District offers a lot for the small piece of the pie we have. We have worked with many user groups to develop facilities for public use. I am a fiscal conservative. I don’t believe in spending money for the sake of spending. I treat public funds as I would my own. Our money is the people’s money. Everyone has an opinion on government spending. I am sure one set of eyes will see things differently than the next set. We have worked hard the past couple of budget years to keep our mill levy at zero increase. We know the factors we are facing now in the community will determine if your mill increases or not. It will be challenging when it comes to the next couple of budget cycles.

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

I have served on the Park Board for the past four years. I have 40 years of experience in the public and private sector in the horticulture field. I hold 2 degrees in Horticulture/Floriculture. I owned and operated a landscape management business for 10 years. Presently, I am the Botany/Horticulture teacher at Magic City Campus. I played a big part in the rebuilding efforts of the Park District after the 2011 flood. I have served on several professional boards including President of The Professional Grounds Management Society. I am the only Certified Grounds Manager in North Dakota. I am a past member of the Sports Turf Managers Association. I served on The International Peace Garden Board. I am a past member of Sunrise Rotary. I belong to the local and state horticulture clubs. I am listed in two different Who’s Who in Business and Landscape Managers. I presently am an ordained deacon at my church and serve as president of the deacons. All of my different life experiences and perspectives make me the most qualified individual for a position on The Minot Park Board.

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