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Kaiser attends meeting a White House

Stutsman County Sheriff Chad Kaiser, front left, poses with other county officials from North Dakota at a White House meeting on Aug. 30 regarding possible federal assistance for the challenges facing counties in the Dakotas and Wyoming. Courtesy / North Dakota Association of Counties

Stutsman County Sheriff Chad Kaiser recently attended a meeting at the White House dedicated to issues in the Dakotas and Wyoming.

Kaiser was one of seven county sheriffs and six county commissioners attending the recent meeting, according to a news release from the North Dakota Association of Counties.

“Basically, it was a meeting with secretaries and administrative secretaries of several of the Cabinet departments,” Kaiser said. “We talked about the issues facing North Dakota and the other states at the county level.”

Topics ranged from the drug problem to economic development and labor issues in the Dakotas and Wyoming, Kaiser said.

Regarding labor issues, Kaiser said the Trump administration representatives at the meeting recognized that the low unemployment rates in the region are a result of the low population of the region.

Discussions on economic development and infrastructure problems dealt with the amount of red tape involved with getting approval for some projects. Drug law enforcement dealt with all forms of drugs, not just opioids, Kaiser said.

“Regarding the opioid crisis, we haven’t seen a lot of opioids here,” he said, “but we can’t forget about the issues with meth. It covered all your major drug issues.”

Kaiser said the meeting lasted nearly five hours with presentations by federal agencies in the first portion of the meeting followed by a question-and-answer period.

Kaiser said the meeting of officials from North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming and federal officials was a first. The administration is planning similar meetings with county representatives from all the states.

The invitation to the meeting was sent out by email to all county sheriffs in North Dakota, Kaiser said. It was followed up with telephone calls because many of the sheriffs doubted the validity of the email. Kaiser said he appreciated the chance to hear from the federal officials.

“Being there, you’re able to know who to talk with when you have a problem,” he said. “We came back with a good sense of who at the federal level is willing to listen. They can only do so much but it helps.”