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North Dakota man who pushed for first responder plates honored

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Dr. Steve Inglish, left, of Carrington and Fire Academy of North Dakota, presents an award to Norval Semchenko during a brief ceremony held at the Burlington Fire Department on Friday, Aug. 2. Semchenko led the initiated measure drive to obtain special license plates for the state's volunteer first responders. Kim Fundingsland / Minot Daily News
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MINOT, N.D. — He was so impressed with their volunteerism that he wanted to make sure their dedication was recognized statewide.

Norval Semchenko of Max received an award of appreciation late Friday morning, Aug. 2, in a brief ceremony held at the Burlington Fire Department.

It was a fitting location for the event.

Semchenko was being recognized for his tireless work on behalf of volunteer first responders in North Dakota. He championed Initiated Measure No. 4 that was on the ballot for last November's general election.

Measure No. 4 received 64% approval from the state's voters, allowing the issuance of special license plates to volunteer first responders throughout the state.

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In presenting Semchenko with a trophy-like award Dr. Steve Inglish, Carrington and a board member for the Fire Academy of North Dakota, said, "Thank you for coming up with this idea. Our volunteers give up many hours from their family and from work. I wanted to be involved in this day to show my appreciation for what they do for us."

"They take the time and effort to serve their neighbors," said Darrell Graf, Fire Academy of North Dakota. "And we wanted to give Semchenko a big thank you for what he's done for the volunteer first responders in our state."

The brilliant red license plates contain three numbers, the last three digits of the zip code where the first responder resides. Following the numbers, the plates can be personalized with up to three letters. Many of the plates already issued are adorned with the initials of the vehicle owner.

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This is one of North Dakota's first responders license plates. The plate includes the last three digits of the zip code where the first responder resides and can include personalized letters. Submitted photo

"These guys are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week year after year, with almost no recognition," said Semchenko. "I just thought license plates was very deserving. They need to be recognized by the citizens of North Dakota."

In addition to the bright red plates identifying the vehicle's owner as being a first responder, they also serve as an entrance pass into any North Dakota state park. The Department of Transportation says more than 1,600 of the distinctive plates have already been issued.

Graf said his information shows that about 2,400 first responders either have the plates or have submitted applications for them.

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