Today’s Ask Your Government

Dear readers,

A few weeks ago, I put out a call for nominations of local heroes. I’ll return to your Ask Your Government questions next week, but thought it appropriate this week to run the hero responses.

Joel Martwick of Wahpeton, N.D.

Nominated by Travis Kjorsvik of Wahpeton.

“Joel is a local hero because he works for Richland County Communications and is always very helpful when the public calls. Joel always goes above and beyond of what is required of a 911 dispatcher when he takes a call. Whenever someone calls and they are overly excited, Joel always is able to get them calm and help them. He is also a former North Dakota state Telecommunicator of the Year.”

Linda Larson Engelman, of Detroit Lakes, Minn.

Nominated by Steve Larson of Detroit Lakes.

“Linda Larson Engelman presently lives in Detroit Lakes, Minn., where she and her husband retired, but lived in Mayville and Bismarck during her working years.

“I believe Linda deserves special recognition due to the many years she spent traveling the state of North Dakota, counseling the many military families whose husbands and wives were in Afghanistan, Iraq and other world hot spots standing between us and the many threats around the world.

“She worked tirelessly and without much personal ado, leaving her family to make sure that others had comfort in their time of need.”

Capt. John Gaffaney

Nominated by Michele Vannote of West Fargo.

(Edited for length.)

“I am writing to tell you about my local hero, who is my brother, Capt. John Gaffaney, formerly of Williston, N.D.

“(He) was killed on Nov. 5, 2009, at Fort Hood, Texas. He died while completing his final training prior to deployment to Iraq. (In fact, he had arrived at Fort Hood just 16 hours prior to his death, which resulted from being shot at close range by Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, a psychiatrist who has been charged with murder of the 13 soldiers at Fort Hood.)

“USA Today carried a story in their November 23-24, 2009, edition, ‘Witnesses say reservist was a Fort Hood hero.’ … ‘Two eyewitnesses recounted how the reservist (Gaffaney) threw a folding chair and ‘tried to knock (Hasan) down or knock his gun down.’ … ‘soldiers were able to escape the gunman when Gaffaney confronted him.

“After 9/11, John was inspired to re-enter the military because he was compelled by an intense sense of duty and honor to his country and his fellow soldiers. He wanted to lend his knowledge and expertise to help in any way he could those who had suffered the emotional wounds of war.

“In his civilian work capacity, John was a county government employee employed by the San Diego County Adult Protective Services Department of Aging and Independent Services. John served seniors and persons with disabilities who were victims of abuse and neglect.

“Thank you for considering John as a person worthy of recognition as a North Dakota local hero. He loved his heritage and was truly a North Dakota ‘native son.’ “

Do you have a question for a North Dakota 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, N.D. 58505.

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

Pa’s Pizza joins state meat inspection program

Pa’s Pizza in West Fargo is the latest North Dakota company to operate under the State Meat and Poultry Inspection Program.

Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring presented owners Todd Gianakos and Don Passolt with a certificate of inspection and letter of congratulations at the company’s open house Thursday.

Dr. Andrea Grondahl and other meat inspection staff from the North Dakota Department of Agriculture helped Gianakos and Passolt meet regulatory requirements, including a written hazard analysis critical control points plan and sanitation standard operating procedures, according to a news release.