Corey Mock

Month: February 2016

Grand Forks, area young professionals forming partnerships

Grand Forks Herald

CROOKSTON — Leaders in Grand Forks and Crookston hope to see a partnership between young professionals in the two cities grow through more collaboration in the coming year.

The Greater Grand Forks Young Professionals is looking to share its resources and help connect young professionals in the area, including in Crookston and Grafton, N.D.

“From my understanding, they were kind of doing some outreach to the surrounding communities and of course Crookston is a pretty feasible one being only 20 or so miles down the road,” said Amanda Lien, executive director of Crookston’s Chamber of Commerce.

Crookston has been trying to pull together its own young professionals group for quite some time, Lien said. Upon speaking with GGFYP Executive Director Corey Mock, she said it seemed like there would be a lot a small group couldn’t do alone so a partnership seemed like the best option.

“What we don’t want this to be is Greater Grand Forks Young Professionals playing a heavy hand in trying to program for Crookston,” Mock said. “We want to provide a support network and help them exist.”

A few Crookston residents also are members of the Grand Forks chapter, and Lien said capitalizing on that overlap would be beneficial, including opening up more networking and professional development opportunities between the two cities.

The partnership officially kicked off last month when GGFYP held its first Lunch and Learn event in Crookston, which drew about 35 people and included a presentation from a local speaker.

“We’ve had great response, lots of excitement about it,” Lien said. “I think we’re on the verge of something and working with Grand Forks’ group is proving to be successful.”

A second event has been scheduled for later in April. Mock said the goal is to host a quarterly event in interested cities.

Reaching out to smaller communities such as Crookston and Grafton was inspired by GGFYP establishing a student chapter at UND, Mock said.

“We’ve had a long history of students joining Young Professionals, but when you have a large number of working professionals, it’s not always a natural fit for students to get involved,” Mock said.

The Student Young Professionals of Greater Grand Forks group has had success and from there the GGFYP turned its attention to Crookston, which is home to a University of Minnesota campus. In addition to getting students involved, the group also strives to organize community events. Mock said often people lament about having nothing to do in Grand Forks.

“We figured if Grand Forks has that challenge, Crookston has had that challenge,” he said. “So we thought how can we help harness young professionals living Crookston or in northwest Minnesota? What can we do as an established young professionals group to help them get off the ground?”

The collaboration between the group and small cities is in its early stages but as partnerships strengthen, Mock said it’s possible young professionals in those cities could organize and join the GGFYP as individuals or even as a subcommittee.

Providing that support in that function could help a group in a small community get on its feet faster than if it created its own chapter, he added.

Later this year, Mock said GGFYP plans to co-host a Lunch and Learn in Grafton with other young professionals in the area, such as those in Cavalier, N.D.

“One, it gives them an event to take ownership of and give their members an activity to participate in,” he said. “Plus, it also helps us reach out into that part of the state.”

Those interested in learning more about the GGFYP and its involvement in surrounding communities can visit www.ggfyp.com/.

Local Dems endorse state legislative candidates for fall elections

Grand Forks Herald

Six Democratic candidates seeking to represent Grand Forks in the North Dakota Legislature received official endorsements Saturday at their local party’s convention.

State Senate Minority Leader Mac Schneider, a Democrat who represents District 42, estimated 50 to 60 people attended the joint convention of Districts 42 and 18 at Schroeder Middle School.

The mood during the convention “was pretty enthusiastic and optimistic,” said Eric Burn, chairman of the District 18 Democrats. “There is a lot of enthusiasm about our prospects in this election cycle.”

Grant Hauschild, a newcomer to Grand Forks’ political scene, received the party’s nod to run for the District 42 House seat, which will be vacated by Rep. Corey Mock since he has moved to District 18.

Rep. Kylie Oversen, who serves as the North Dakota Democratic chairwoman, and Schneider both were endorsed to seek re-election for their seats in District 42.

In District 18, Mock and Kyle Thorson were endorsed to run for House seats, and Sen. Connie Triplett received the nod to seek re-election.

All endorsements were approved unanimously, Schneider said, adding “there was a lot of good energy” at the convention.

“We’re excited about the election season (and) our legislative candidates,” he said. “We’re going to run thoughtful and aggressive campaigns and do our best to earn the public’s trust and bring political balance to Bismarck.”

The North Dakota Democratic-NPL Convention is set for March 31 to April 2 in Bismarck.

Judge candidate speaks

In addition to remarks from the legislative candidates, Jerod Tufte, a North Dakota Southeast Judicial District Court judge, also spoke to convention attendees. Tufte is seeking election to the North Dakota Supreme Court after Justice Dale Sandstrom announced last month he would not run again. Sandstrom’s retirement leaves an open Supreme Court seat on the ballot for the first time in 24 years.

Justice Lisa Fair McEvers is running for the seat to which she was appointed in November 2013.

Tufte came under fire in late January when he gave a speech at a combined Republican convention for Districts 31 and 34 in Mandan.

Tufte and district chairmen said they made it clear the Supreme Court justice post is a nonpartisan position and that he was not seeking the party’s endorsement, which is forbidden for judges under the Code of Judicial Conduct. He later told Forum News Service his convention appearance was “expressly authorized” under the code—specifically a rule that allows judicial candidates in public elections to speak on behalf of their candidacy “whether or not at a gathering sponsored by a political organization.”

Officials with the state court administrator’s office and the Judicial Conduct Commission also said Tufte’s actions did not appear to violate the code.

Library location decision delayed; Grand Forks Library Board to do more research

Grand Forks Herald

At the first hint that the Grand Forks Library Board wouldn’t be picking a new library location at its Wednesday meeting, there was a loud groan from an audience member.

“I’m not convinced, personally, that we have enough information to make a confident decision,” Library Board Chairman Brian Schill had said. “I’m wondering if we could have some discussion about that.”

Schill got what he was asking for. For the better part of the next hour, Library Board members debated whether they had enough information to move ahead with a plan to select either a downtown or midtown location for a new, roughly $22 million library.

The board ultimately voted 5-1 to hold off on making a choice. Instead, the library will create two committees, each of which will research the downtown location for the library and the proposed midtown area near Grand Cities Mall, then report back with full proposals to the Library Board on May 18. Either then or at a special meeting during the next several weeks, library officials are expected to make a choice.

The general consensus among those who voted for the measure was that there are too many questions around the project and that there needs to be more research on issues related to both locations, from how adaptable a new building in each area would be to how parking or public transportation access would work.

That is contrary to what was said at the board’s December meeting, where Library Board members agreed that a decision would be made on Wednesday.

“I woke up today excited, thinking ‘Today’s the day,’ ” Bret Weber, a member of both the Library Board and the Grand Forks City Council, said during the meeting. “And now I’m sitting here with my head in my hands, thinking, ‘We’re going to kick this down the road again.’ ”

But while Weber was reluctantly won over by what he framed as a prudent decision to do more research—saying he would rather “take the heat” for delaying a decision now rather than rush a long-term mistake—Library Board member Gary Malm wasn’t as convinced.

“I think when we get those two (committee) opinions in here, we’ll spend another year trying to figure out which way we want to go,” he said during the meeting, prior to a vote.

Corey Mock was the board member who made the motion to delay a decision, form committees and do research. He said that the committees will likely seek input from local landowners, city and library officials and architectural groups—everything that’s necessary to make detailed, well-rounded arguments for each location.

“We want to make sure we have all the information we need to make an informed and properly vetted decision so the community can feel confident,” he said.

He explained the importance of more vetting and support during the meeting, linking upcoming research to the need to build support for funding the library—a move that could potentially come with the plan’s inclusion in a 0.75 sales tax hike city leaders have said could be voted upon as soon as November.

“I really cannot see the community getting behind a theoretical building on a plot of land,” Mock said during the meeting. “It’s a void that our imaginations can’t fill. I think we can do better than that, so when we take this to the City Council, it’s not a plan, but a true proposal.”

For now, that means focusing on a location near the Grand Cities Mall or on the downtown parking lot between Fifth and Sixth Streets on DeMers Avenue. The latter is the leading site in the downtown area, Library Board Chairman Brian Schill said, though he acknowledged brief discussion at the meeting that other downtown locations haven’t been entirely ruled out.

Schill told the Herald that he shares the frustration of those who want to see a library plan move along more quickly—from Malm to the person who let out the groan of disapproval early in the meeting.

“I absolutely appreciate folks who are frustrated with the delay here, around the room and the community. I share that frustration. At the same time … we don’t have enough info, and in the long run, a generation from now, two or three months isn’t going to matter. We need to make the right decision.”

Frigid temps not enough to keep people from Frosty Bobber Winter Carnival

Grand Forks Herald

Jason Whitesock of Grand Forks doesn’t like running in cold weather.

But the volunteer was willing to stand in it for two hours Saturday morning for the Red River Runners Frozen Feat race, one of several outdoor events that drew hundreds downtown and on the ice.

“I’m just volunteering and making sure traffic goes into the right direction,” he said. “I like to help out with groups like this.”

Several kids prepared extravagant cardboard sleds for a downhill race during the Frosty Bobber Winter Carnival, which featured a fishing tournament on the Red Lake River, a chili feed, Snoga—snow yoga—and other activities in East Grand Forks.

The carnival, backed by sponsors such as Greater Grand Forks Young Professionals and Cabela’s, re-emerged this year after ending in 2006 because of planning and financial constraints. It ran once in 2009.

Tim Lindquist, a Young Professionals member and event co-chair, said he wanted to bring it back. About 18 months ago, he and a friend wanted to give people something fun to do in the winter, he said.

“We walked down memory lane and remembered the Frosty Bobber, and it was like, ‘Man, that was a fun thing. What happened to it?'” he said. “We brought it to the Young Professionals asking for their help and they said yes.”

Alley Alive, a downtown food and music event, was also supposed to be held Saturday, too, but was postponed due to weather, Young Professionals Executive Director Corey Mock said. The event will instead be held May 6.

“They’re going to unveil a pretty cool project,” he said. “They decided to team up and do a larger, more spring-related art event that ties in the alley and some other Young Professional-related activities.”

Downtown activities

Icy cold temperatures hovering near zero didn’t deter people from the outdoor events.

A man dressed as the Frosty Bobber wandered around the sledding area behind Cabela’s as parents snapped photos of their children’s cardboard creations, which included a mini Red Pepper building, a Sweethearts candy box and a colorfully decorated motorhome. A horse-drawn sleigh also circled the parking lot.

Ahead of the fishing tournament, chili bubbled in pots alongside stacks of styrofoam bowls and cans of crushed tomatoes in a small white tent set up in Cabela’s parking lot.

Keith Cumming of Warroad, Minn., referred to by some chili-eaters as “the Single Guy,” peered into a pot. He was called to serve up his no-bean chili because of his involvement in cook-offs at Cats Incredible fishing tournaments, he said. He’s won the People’s Choice Award for the past three years.

So, what’s the secret ingredient?

“I can’t say that,” he said. “No good chili chef would ever tell you the secret ingredient.”

In downtown Grand Forks, Amanda Heisserer crossed the finish line for the 5K Frozen Feat race. This marked her fourth year participating in the race, she said, adding “this is probably the coldest one I’ve done.”

David Dahlgren, a Special Olympics athlete who has run in the Wild Hog marathon before, happily finished his first winter race with his glasses covered in ice and fog. He was among several runners who had frosty mustaches.

Trisha Lewis, a Support Systems staff member who works with people who have disabilities, said the race is good conditioning for him as he prepares for an upcoming basketball tournament.

“I can get good exercise and see my friends,” he said.

Frosty Bobber’s return part of movement toward outdoor winter events

Grand Forks Herald

Most people in the Grand Forks area tend to stay inside as much as possible during the winter months.

This weekend, however, the Greater Grand Forks Young Professionals and Cabela’s are hoping people will step outside and embrace the cold season.

After an absence of more than six-year, Frosty Bobber, an outdoor winter festival, will return to downtown Grand Forks and East Grand Forks.

Frosty Bobber’s return is part of a recent movement by multiple organizations in the Grand Forks community to provide more winter outdoor activities. Events such as the old Frosty Bobber, as well as the annual First Night event, had strong attendance but faded out over time.

Scott Peterson of Nate's Canopy tightens down the bungee cord securing the roof of the tent.

Scott Peterson of Nate’s Canopy tightens down the bungee cord securing the roof of the tent.

This winter, the community has gained the Hollydazzle Festival of Lights. The ice rink in the Town Square returned for a second year, and the ninth annual Frozen Feat race will be held Saturday as well.”The thirst is there for an outdoor winter activity in Grand Forks,” Young Professionals Executive Director Corey Mock said. “We wanted to roll the dice and make it happen. We figured everybody would find a way to stay warm provided the weather behaves within reason.”

Mock said most people see Grand Forks winters as too harsh to host an outdoor event, but he hopes this event will give people an opportunity to be part of the community despite the frigid temperatures.

“We don’t want to be afraid of winter. It’s six months out of the year where the temperature can drop below the freezing mark,” Mock said. “We don’t want to spend our whole lives hiding from Mother Nature. We think having an outdoor event like Frosty Bobber is a great way of embracing the season, challenging the elements and proving we can have fun regardless of the temperatures outside.”

Stacey Majkrzak, executive director of the Grand Forks Downtown Development Association, said she’s happy more outdoor winter events are taking place and that people seem to be enjoying them.

She pointed to the Hollydazzle event and downtown ice rink, both put on by the DDA, as examples of people wanting to step out of winter hibernation and embrace the elements.

“I think organizations have found hosting winter events to be a unique way to break up the winter, since it can tend to feel so long,” Majkrzak said.

The event’s return

Frosty Bobber features family-friendly activities such as sleigh rides, cardboard sled races, a chili feed, an activity tent, minnow races, cocoa and s’mores stations, outdoor yoga and ice skating in the downtown rink, among others.

The event is highlighted by the ice fishing tournament, which has attracted more than 100 anglers. Because of the warm weather the area had last week, Mock said fishing will most likely take place on the Red Lake River instead of the Red River. A location has not been finalized for the tournament, but if it were to take place on the Red Lake River, a Minnesota fishing license would be required to participate, which can be handled at Cabela’s.

Started by the American Red Cross in February 1995, the Frosty Bobber winter carnival was held every year until 2006. It was revived in 2009 but then remained dormant until its revitalization this weekend.

Past carnivals were very similar to the one planned for this weekend but also included events such as dogsled races and a 5K run.

Nate Applegren and Scott Peterson of Nate's Canopy, roll up the walls while setting up.

Nate Applegren and Scott Peterson of Nate’s Canopy, roll up the walls while setting up.

For this weekend’s festival, Mock said the Young Professionals made sure to reach out to the people who hosted the event previously, even speaking with the people who made the logo for the past event and its organizers.”We wanted to make sure we’re respecting the past of it, but we’re also providing a new twist for the future,” Mock said.

Even with temperatures forecasted to hover in the low teens, Mock said he’s expecting several thousand people to come to downtown Grand Forks and East Grand Forks to celebrate the cold.

“I think this is going to be a great way of capping off a winter season,” he said. “We’re really excited to see the community celebrate winter. In a city notorious for its cold weather, it’s great to see the community celebrate the season as an asset.”

State Rep. Corey Mock to seek seat in District 18

Grand Forks Herald

State Rep. Corey Mock is running for re-election—though he’s not seeking his current seat.

Mock, a Democrat who represents Grand Forks’ District 42, which includes UND, has moved to a new home since his last election and into District 18, which includes the downtown area and the northern end of the city.

Two House seats are open in the district since Democrats Marie Strinden and Eliot Glassheim announced they would run not for re-election.

“While this campaign will feature my fight for ethics and voting reform, investments in communities and diverse economic growth, it’s about something larger than any one person,” Mock said in a statement. “Our team will spend the next nine months, and hopefully the following four years, preserving the legacy of those who built North Dakota’s foundation while providing a vision for our future.”

Mock’s statement also praised Glassheim’s contributions to Grand Forks and the state.

“Eliot has served his neighbors on the Grand Forks City Council and in the North Dakota House of Representatives over the last two generations,” Mock’s statement said. “We’re undoubtedly stronger because of his public service.”

Glassheim has been in the House since 1993.