Municipal court information-gathering raises questions

A proposal to move Minot Municipal Court into the Ward County Courthouse is in an information-gathering stage. At a commission meeting Tuesday, Ward County Commissioner Shelly Weppler raised questions about how that information-gathering is being conducted.

Weppler cited confusion by some Courthouse staff that a decision has been made. She also voiced concern about commissioners conducting information gathering on matters never discussed by the full commission.

“It sounds like there’s been a lot of side talk before it ever came to the commission, and we need to make sure it comes to the commission,” Weppler said.

Discussion about moving municipal court into the Courthouse arose at a meeting of the Minot liaison committee, which serves as a forum for city, county, park and school representatives to discuss common issues.

Minot City Council President Lisa Olson, a liaison committee member, told commissioners the city council began information-gathering for a new location for municipal court due to issues with the present location in Minot Municipal Auditorium.

“Municipal court is looking for a temporary move. They are in a location that will be virtually impossible to get access to once construction starts on a retaining wall. They are also looking for a long-term move, but these are all questions people are looking for answers to,” she said.

Ward County Commissioners John Pietsch and Howard “Bucky” Anderson represent Ward County on the liaison committee, although Anderson was absent from the meeting at which the municipal court was discussed. That discussion included the advantages and hindrances to moving into the Courthouse and ended with a comment by Pietsch that the county would investigate further.

Following the liaison meeting, Pietsch and Anderson met with court personnel for internal discussion about the feasibility of adding municipal court to the Courthouse. Pietsch said he visited with Commission Chairman Jim Rostad and State’s Attorney Roza Larson before talking with staff. There was no intention to keep any information from the full commission, he said.

When Weppler raised the question about appointed committee members meeting under the state’s open meetings law, State’s Attorney Roza Larson advised that any meetings involving the county’s liaison members be publicly noticed.

The commission discussed getting its building committee or the full commission involved as information-gathering continues. No formal action was taken. v


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