Community Members receive Grand Forks Public Health Champion Awards at City Council meeting

Recipients were recognized for the work they've done in the community related to public health.

Grand Forks City Hall
Grand Forks City Hall (Grand Forks Herald Photo by Sam Easter)
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GRAND FORKS – Several community members received Grand Forks Public Health Champion Awards during Monday’s City Council meeting, recognizing their work as National Public Health Week begins.

Among the award recipients are Maura Ferguson, a housing specialist with the Grand Forks High Plains Fair Housing Center; Miranda Olson, a student at UND and a full-time firefighter and EMT for the city of Grand Forks; Hugo’s Family Marketplace, with the award being accepted by Torrie Enget; Mary Barrett, a public health nurse with the Grand Forks County Correctional Center; and Debbie Swanson, the director of Grand Forks Public Health.

Nominees who received the Public Health Hero Recognition are Spectra Health, which dedicated services for best practices throughout the pandemic; Brad and Gayle Aafedt, both of whom are retired and helped with the community's COVID-19 vaccination administration; Lindsey Darrah, the program director of Joyful Tots Family Child Care who offered garden space for community members to grow produce; My Ally Health, recognized for providing COVID-19 testing, advocating for vaccines and for being an application site for the Women's Way Program; Logan Keitzman, an RN at the Grand Forks County Correctional Center who provides care to inmates; and Anthony Sayler, a COVID-19 rapid response nurse with the North Dakota Department of Health who worked almost every single vaccination clinic.


Tyler Manske, a communications specialist with Grand Forks Public Health, spoke further about National Public Health Week. A schedule of events for 2022’s National Public Health Week has been shared on the Public Health Department’s Facebook page.

“By recognizing public health, we celebrate the power of prevention, advocate for healthy and fair policies, share strategies for successful partnerships and champion the world of a strong public health system,” Manske said.


In other council news Monday:

  • Members of City Council approved redirecting the approval needed for the rezoning and annexation of the proposed Fufeng wet corn-milling site area to the Planning and Zoning Commission instead of having that vote falling on the council. The first Planning and Zoning meeting regarding the proposed annexation of the site will be held Wednesday, April 6.
  • Several members from the community made comments on the proposed Fufeng plant and annexation of land along the city's north edge, with many raising concerns over the Grand Forks Police Department joining the review of the petition that was circulated to put the issue to a vote .
    “Instead of lifting the voices of 5,300 people who willingly signed a petition, some who are family members of the opposing people sitting up here,” one woman said during the meeting, “you decided to take, or state that you were going to take, the allotted 20 days in full as a opportunity for what appears to be a witch hunt to invalidate the entire process on technicality all while attempting to convince the citizens it’s business as usual.”
    City Attorney Dan Gaustad said he hopes the city can determine the petition’s future by April 11.
  • Mayor Brandon Bochenski proclaimed April as Fair Housing Month as 2022 marks the 54th anniversary of the Federal Fair Housing Act. Groups in the community, including High Plains Fair Housing Center, are organizing events and activities to celebrate fair housing in the community. Bochenski also proclaimed April as National Donate Life Month to pay tribute to organ, eye and tissue donors and their families.
  • Members of City Council reappointed Danny Weigel as the City Council representative and Leah Ista as the public-at-large representative to the Emergency Management Board. Weigel’s term expires at the end of this year on Dec. 21 and Ista’s term expires April 5, 2024.
Meghan Arbegast grew up in Security-Widefield, Colorado. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from North Dakota State University in Fargo, in 2021.

Arbegast wrote for The Spectrum, NDSU's student newspaper, for three years and was Head News Editor for two years. She was an intern with University Relations her last two semesters of college.

Arbegast covers news pertaining to the city of Grand Forks/East Grand Forks including city hall coverage.

Readers can reach Arbegast at 701-780-1267 or

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