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Fedorchak, Nelson address NDATC conference

story and photos by Kent Brick

The shape of state and federal telecommunications policy held the spotlight at the 2016 Summer Conference of the North Dakota Association of Telecommunications Cooperatives (NDATC) in Fargo in mid-July. 

Keynote address: Commissioner Fedorchak

“I want to thank you for the service that you are providing that makes access to fiber optic, high-speed service possible,” Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak told the rural telecom leaders during the keynote address.

Julie Fedorchak
Julie Fedorchak

Fedorchak applauded the rural telecom cooperatives and local companies for making and following plans to extend high-speed, fiber optics-based service across most of rural North Dakota.  

“This is a huge asset to North Dakota and to the rural businesses, and the farms and ranches and other ag-related businesses, and the energy sector that you serve,” she said.

Fedorchak, a Williston native, was appointed by Gov. Jack Dalrymple to the PSC in December 2012. She is the state Republican-endorsed candidate for a six-year term on the PSC, in the general election.

Fedorchak currently serves as chairman of the commission, with fellow commissioners Brain Kalk and Randy Christmann.  

In her remarks, Fedorchak said she is pleased with the progress the commission has made in pipeline siting, safety and reclamation, and in rail line safety. The PSC oversees inspection programs for pipelines and for railroad tracks.

“On the commission, we understand the responsibility we have to do the very best we can on behalf of the citizens of the state in the areas that we impact,” she said.

Fedorchak also commented on the current PSC activity in the area of investigating and levying fines for violations of North Dakota One Call regulations. N.D. One Call is the set of regulations governing how underground excavation, with proper regard for underground utility facilities, is undertaken. She said the commission has improved its timeframe for adjudicating complaints about N.D. One Call violations, and is seeking to improve the collection of fines the commission imposes on violators. 

Gubernatorial candidate Marvin Nelson

Marvin Nelson
Marvin Nelson

The NDATC conference also served as a forum for remarks from state legislative representative Marvin Nelson, from Rolla. Nelson is the Democratic-NPL Party-endorsed candidate for governor in the 2016 general election. 

Nelson was raised on a farm near Rugby, and completed a degree in entomology from North Dakota State University. Nelson’s operates Nelson Sales & Service, an agriculture consulting firm.

He told NDATC leaders his lifetime experience with rural telecommunication has spanned his first phone connection, advancing today to include fast and powerful worldwide telecommunications service.

“I can remember so much wanting to connect to the outside world,” Nelson said, describing his early years on the farm. “You have really changed my life, and you have changed the lives of so many people in North Dakota. I really want to thank you for making that investment on their behalf.”

Nelson said predicting the future in North Dakota is always a challenge. However, he added that modern service providers in the NDATC organization will be an indispensable part of a prosperous future for the state.

“The thing that I really hope and pray for the future of North Dakota is that you will continue to be here and continue to provide the services, and continue to do it in a manner that all can benefit from it,” Nelson said.