New Rockford, ND

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6th Graders Run City Council Meeting as “Mayors for a Day”

Mayor Jim Belquist, center, presents the "Mayors for a Day", Gretchen Berglund, Cassidy Clifton, Darica Ziebart and Kyleigh Hilbert with a key to the City of New Rockford.
Mayor Jim Belquist, center, presents the "Mayors for a Day", Gretchen Berglund, Cassidy Clifton, Darica Ziebart and Kyleigh Hilbert with a key to the City of New Rockford.

The New Rockford City Council had four honorary mayors at last week’s City Council meeting. Gretchen Burglund, Cassidy Clifton, Kyleigh Hilbert and Darica Ziebart were selected as “Mayors for a Day” based on essays they wrote in their 6th grade class in observance of Government Week. The entire 6th grade class wrote a personal essay about what they would do if they were mayor of New Rockford. The City Council Members selected four of the students to become mayors based on the content of the essays.

“This is my favorite meeting of the year,” said current mayor of New Rockford Jim Belquist. “This is a chance for us to understand the needs of our kids and how to make New Rockford a better place for them.”

The honorary mayors were each given a key to the city and helped conduct the city council meeting, hearing issues such as Waste Management reporting, City bills and updates on the Community Pool Project.

One of the main topics talked about in the essays was building a new swimming pool that everyone can enjoy. Mayor Belquist says the swimming pool is always a topic addressed in the essays, “In the past five years that I have been mayor, we’ve received outstanding ideas from the kids and every year the kids ask for a waterslide.” In Cassidy Clifton’s essay, the swimming pool was the first item on the agenda. She wrote, “We are in need of a new pool because of all the water problems we are having with it. Our big pool has a lot of cracks and leaks.” Gretchen Berglund said if she were mayor, she would rebuild the swimming pool to make it safer for everyone to use, and include a waterslide.

Sarah Smith Warren, Executive Director of the New Rockford Area Betterment Corporation and a member of the Pool Committee, presented an update on the current Community Pool Project. “When the Pool Committee was first formed, Mayor Belquist told the group that every year the honorary mayors discussed the swimming pool in their essays and he asked the group to ‘remember the kids’ throughout the process.” Smith Warren handed out the first rough draft of a pool design that was based on community and student feedback. “This pool drawing was basically designed by the community and the kids as they informed the committee on what components they wanted in a pool.”

Other topics discussed in the student essays were creating a recycling program and building a walking and biking trail. Darica Ziebart said she would like recycling stations set up and more garbage cans to keep the parks nice and clean. “I also think it is important to have a trail/path through the city that can be used for roller blading, bike riding, walking and jogging,” says Ziebart. Kyleigh Hilbert also wants to start a recycling program to make New Rockford a clean and healthy place to live. “I would love to be mayor for a day,” she wrote, “because I would be able to take care of our lovely town.”

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