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'A small town coming together': Wyndmere, N.D., goes on without city employees

WYNDMERE, N.D.--When you dial the number for Wyndmere City Hall, you get a message promising: "We will get back to you as soon as possible." But lately, that "we" has dwindled to zero. Since the first week of December, Wyndmere (population 430) h...

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Wyndmere, N.D. City Hall. Forum News Service

WYNDMERE, N.D.--When you dial the number for Wyndmere City Hall, you get a message promising: "We will get back to you as soon as possible."

But lately, that "we" has dwindled to zero.

Since the first week of December, Wyndmere (population 430) has been without any city employees. In their absence, the mayor and four city councilors have taken over municipal duties such as sending out utility bills, compiling year-end tax reports and plowing snow.

"The council and myself have been picking up the slack," Mayor Nathan Brandt said Tuesday as he took a break from stuffing water bills into envelopes. "We're all doing what we need to do."

Wyndmere, which sits 60 miles southwest of Fargo, usually has two city staffers: an auditor to keep track of finances and a superintendent to take care of the city's streets and facilities. But the superintendent left for another job in October, and the auditor did the same early this month.

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Brandt, a construction union rep, said he and the councilors all have full-time jobs, so they've been squeezing in city tasks before and after work.

City Councilor Jeff Volesky said he found himself behind the wheel of a plow on the morning of Dec. 16 when the town was blanketed with 2 to 3 inches of fresh snow.

"I got up about 4 o'clock, so I'd avoid all the heavy traffic," he said, clarifying: "not that we have a lot of heavy traffic in Wyndmere."

Volesky said it was his first time pushing snow off city streets, so he wasn't sure how it would go. But his experience working for a local farmer helped him through the three-hour chore.

"I work around heavy equipment all the time, so it was really no big deal," he said.

Volesky and Brandt both say they don't think their extra efforts, which have been without pay, are anything special. "Nobody's looking for glory," Brandt said. "It's just a small town coming together to do what you gotta do."

The mayor said the city initially could not find any qualified applicants for the superintendent job, but recently some good candidates have applied. He said the city hopes to hire replacements for both open positions by early January.

In the meantime, the mayor and the councilors are doing what's needed to keep the city afloat. "Everybody pitches in, and we do our share," Volesky said.

Related Topics: NORTH DAKOTA
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