Today’s Ask Your Government

Dear Teri,

Recently on an evening trip (after dark) home from Winnipeg, Manitoba, I noticed all the green traffic signs on the interstate were covered with black stuff so bad that you could not read them. Is this just field dirt, or do they need replacing?

Ron Thaden

Grand Forks

Thanks for writing! Here’s what Jamie Olson of the North Dakota Department of Transportation said:

“There are times when weather conditions contribute to the signs appearing dark, due to frost, dirt or snow accumulation. Some signs appear to have dark spots after several years of use.

“The conditions you experienced could have been a combination of these factors. The NDDOT evaluates signs and plans for their replacement. We will send your comments on to the evaluation team. Thank you for writing into the North Dakota Department of Transportation. The NDDOT is committed to the safety of the traveling public, which includes traveler information along the interstates and state highways.”

Dear readers,

For a while now, a former Missouri colleague has teased me about North Dakota politicians using the buzz words “North Dakota values.” What does that even mean, and how are North Dakota values different from any other states’ values?

So, I thought it would be fun to ask politicians to define the phrase. Here’s what Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said:

“Growing up in North Dakota, I learned a certain set of values: the importance of hard work, personal responsibility, honesty and integrity. I learned the importance of helping our neighbors and supporting our communities.

“These core values were taught to me at a young age and are still instilled by many North Dakota families today. These are the common values we share as North Dakotans. These are the values we must uphold and pass down to future generations.”

Congressman-elect Rick Berg, R-N.D., gave this response:

“I think what makes North Dakota different is we have to deal with the weather. We deal with crises here that other states don’t.

“In North Dakota, one of the things is that people are valued as equals, and I think that’s because the richest person in town could be in the ditch and need the help of someone who’s at the other end of the spectrum.

“And likewise, I think because of the weather we pull together. We’re used to pulling together as communities, like (with) the flood. I think in North Dakota the values are – I want to say fresher in everyone’s mind.

“I think, in these other states, people have those values, but it’s not like here every winter. Stopping to help a neighbor could be a life or death situation.

“When you talk about values, I thought (of) working hard, people living within their means, really helping each other out. I think one of the values is a sense of community – that we’re all in this together. I think out of all of that comes the North Dakota nice.”

Here’s how Commerce Commissioner Shane Goettle answered the question:

“From the employer perspective, North Dakota has a good work ethic. I think we’re conscientious. We’re honest. We work hard. We’re innovative, and we also value community and family. I think that’s what makes North Dakota special.”

Do you have a question for a state government official or agency? Send us your question, and we’ll do our best to find an answer.

E-mail (Subject: Ask your government).

You may also write to Teri Finneman c/o Forum Communications, Press Room, State Capitol, Bismarck, ND 58505.

Please include your name, town and a phone number to reach you for verification.