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Jamestown Parks and Recreation Commission candidates answer questions ‘On the Issues’ – Jamestown Sun

Jamestown residents will choose two people to represent them on the Jamestown Parks and Recreation Commission for the next four years. The primary election on June 11 in the state will include selecting those two commission members from four candidates on the ballot.

Jamestown Parks and Recreation Commission members are paid $150 per month. The chair is paid $200 per month.

Incumbent Mark Ukestad is seeking reelection. Also seeking a four-term term are Anton Goss, Ryan Harty and Joshua Meade.

The candidates were asked six written questions and were asked to provide biographical information. Their written answers were limited to 175 words for each question and were not changed or edited.

Biographical information for candidates for Jamestown Parks and Recreation Commission:

Anton Goss.jpg

Anton Goss

Contributed / Anton Goss

Employment or occupation (former if retired): Collins Aerospace
Education: Bachelor in Chemistry
Immediate family: wife, Brita; 3 children.
Up to 5 memberships/organizations of which you are a member. Drift Prairie owner/board member; Buffalo City Church

Ryan Harty.jpg

Ryan Harty

Contributed / Dacotah Bank

Employment or occupation (former if retired): Business banker for Dacotah Bank
Education: Master’s in Educational Leadership from UND, Bachelor of Science in Business Education from VCSU, Bachelor’s of Arts in Business Administration with concentrations in management, finance, and marketing from the University of Jamestown
Immediate family: wife, Brandi; 3 children, Brady, Evan and Madelyn
Up to 5 memberships/organizations of which you are a member: Safe Shelter Board, Jamestown Dollars for Scholars Board, St. James Basilica, Jamestown Soccer Club Board and Jamestown High School Boys’ Soccer Board

Joshua Meade.jpg

Joshua Meade

Masaki Ova / The Jamestown Sun

Employment or occupation (former if retired): Warehouse operations trainer, Dakota Growers Pasta, Carrington, N.D.
Education: B.A., Physiology and Health from Maharishi University, Fairfield, Iowa
Immediate family: Dog-sitting Fenrir, 2-year-old black lab.
Up to 5 memberships/organizations of which you are a member: Prospect in Jamestown Chapter of Crusaders Motorcycle Club

Mark Ukestad

Mark Ukestad

Employment or occupation (former if retired): Retired elementary classroom teacher at Jamestown Public Schools, special educ. para at Washington Elementary and school bus driver.
Education: Elementary Education/Phys. Education from Valley City State University. Drivers Education degree from Minot State University.
Immediate family: wife, Bonnie Jo, married for 32 years; 2 children, Tyler, physical education teacher and head football coach at Northern Cass and married to Sarah; and Alyssa, physical education teacher, K-6, and head volleyball coach in Hancock, Minnesota
Up to 5 memberships/organizations of which you are a member: North Dakota Officials Association, National Association of Sports Officials, Jamestown Elks, Pheasants Forever and Jamestown Education Association

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1. Why should voters choose you to represent them on the Jamestown Parks and Recreation Commission?
Anton Goss: Parks are a vital part of the community and community building and uplifting is a top priority of mine.
Ryan Harty: I am the best candidate for this position because of my passion for community engagement, my background in the public sector, and my proven track record of leadership. My vision for enhancing recreational opportunities and making Jamestown a destination city aligns with the mission and vision of Jamestown Parks and Recreation department, making me an ideal candidate to foster positive change.
Joshua Meade: How’s it going Morley? I would like to introduce myself, I have lived in Jamestown since 2010, having moved here from Iowa to find better job opportunities. I drive to Carrington to work at Dakota Growers Pasta where I drive a forklift with some management responsibilities. I enjoy many park and rec facilities: I am a daily user of the Trac Center, I am currently dog-sitting Fenrir and we walk to the dog park. I want to give back to my community by serving on the park board, what caught my interest about park board was hearing that a long-serving member is retiring. I want to thank him for his contributions and I would try my best to continue to have the quality park services we have all enjoyed.
Mark Ukestad: I have been a commissioner since 2008, helping Jamestown Parks and Recreation continue to thrive so they can support the health and well-being of everyone, everywhere. I believe parks and recreation are essential to the citizens of Jamestown and so do the people who live there.

2. What do you think would be the most significant thing to accomplish by the Parks and Recreation Commission if you were elected?
Goss: My goal is to restore the parks to a high level of pride within our community.
Harty: I do not believe there is on significant thing/goal that needs to be accomplished by Jamestown Parks and Recreation. The department needs to constantly adapt and changes to the needs of our community. I will focus on responsible stewardship, improving existing resources, and fostering community appeal. As a park board member, I’ll ensure that taxpayers’ money is used efficiently and transparently, maximizing benefits for the community. By enhancing and upgrading Jamestown Park and Recreation facilities, Jamestown will provide residents with better recreational opportunities and attract more visitors. My dedication to making Jamestown a desirable destination will help grow the city I love.
Meade: In 2017, Jamestown lost its outdoor pool. In the recent survey, the pool was a high priority. I would try to find the resources to bring an outdoor pool to Jamestown. I also feel that a diving board is important. I feel a pool should offer something for everyone, and an important feature of a pool, is a diving board.
Ukestad: The building of Two Rivers Activity Center, which I have been a part of since 2008 when the committee started meeting, and the construction of the new baseball fields which has been a longtime goal of the JPR and baseball enthusiasts in our city.

3. What Jamestown Parks and Recreation facilities, if any, need to be addressed?
Goss: I’d like to explore the idea of an outdoor pool.
Harty: There will always be a need to maintain and enhance Jamestown Parks and Recreation facilities. The reason some of the facilities are in dire need of upgrades is because of the lack of a prior maintenance and replacement schedule. With the newly created strategic plan, there will be or should be a maintenance and replacement schedule. This plan will help guide the board on what needs to be replaced or upgraded. The current city parks need to be addressed in the near future. I also would like to all athletic/activity spaces enhanced such as but not limited to soccer, skate park, hockey, etc.
Meade: Another main concern of the public is outdated playgrounds and facilities at the parks. One person commented to me, “I bring my grandkids to play on the same equipment that I grew up playing on.” I recognize that resources are limited, and some equipment has been updated, but much more work remains.
Ukestad: Another sheet of ice would be beneficial. Our staff at John L. Wilson Arena has done a wonderful job up there with 2 sheets of ice. Ice demands seem to go up every year, and they seem to fit everyone in. Another sheet would help alleviate scheduling problems.

4. What is your vision for Jamestown Parks and Recreation five years from now.
Goss: Five years from now I see our Parks having more diversification, the study of an outdoor pool completed and the beginning stages of planning for an outdoor pool.
Harty: In five years, my vision for Jamestown Parks and Recreation is one of vibrant, inclusive, and well-maintained public spaces that serve as hubs for community engagement, recreation, and relaxation. I want to help the community of Jamestown grow and become a destination city.
Meade: I feel that Jamestown is a city that could thrive in the upcoming years, or could fall behind. Current statistics show Stutsman County unemployment less than 2%. If employers can not fill positions, that creates a problem. Also, I miss being able to sit in the lobby at fast food Mexican restaurants. That means we need to attract more workers to Jamestown. I feel it’s important to be realistic as what will make Jamestown an appealing place to move too. People want a nice place to live and spend their leisure time. I feel updated parks will absolutely make Jamestown a more appealing place to live and work and should be the priority over building a “theme park.” I feel the government is responsible for nice parks, and a “theme park” is something to be created by private investors, not tax payers.
Ukestad: Everyone in Jamestown has access to a park, public space or recreational opportunity to relax, be active, socialize and connect with nature.

5. How do you plan to involve local businesses in community events and programs hosted by Jamestown Parks and Recreation to boost economic activity and community engagement?
Goss: As a local business owner I know the importance of supporting my community. I’d like to see a representative of the Parks and Rec attending the STIR events that local businesses attend, bringing awareness of the Parks and Rec opportunities to local businesses directly.
Harty: Involving local businesses in community events and programs hosted by Jamestown Parks and Recreation can be a win-win situation, boosting economic activity while enhancing community engagement. There are many different strategies we could use as a board to involve local businesses. We could partner with business to co-host events. Providing vendor opportunities where we invite local businesses to set up booths to showcase their products or services to attendees is another way to engage community members with events sponsored by the parks and recreation. Sponsorship and volunteer opportunities are a couple of more ways to involve businesses in community events. By actively involving local businesses in community events and programs, Jamestown Parks and Recreation can create mutually beneficial partnerships that contribute to the economic vitality and vibrancy of the community.
Meade: I want to create quality parks and park programs that will attract the workers that local businesses need. In 1970, the population of Jamestown was 15,385 and after over 50 years the population only grew to 15,690. Jamestown grew by 2% in 50 years. I check “job service” and there was over 1,000 local jobs available. I feel that planning for strategic growth is important for Jamestown to continue to shine.
Ukestad: We have been doing a great job with this already. Amy Walters, our director, and her staff, is in constant contact with local businesses and local leaders with what is going on with JPR and its functions. Whether it’s having community meetings/public forums, or meeting one on one, our city is in the know of what is going on with JPR.

6. Recent survey results say an outdoor swimming pool, restrooms and multi-use trails were rated as high priorities for investment. The top high-priority areas for programs and activities were community special events, walking/hiking activities, swimming and swimming lessons and education classes and programs. What, if anything, can be done to move those priorities forward?
Goss: As your Parks and Rec commissioner I would create and define milestones to be crossed showcasing progress made on the priorities of the people. The voice of the people is highly important to me; when the voice is heard and acted upon, the people behind that voice take pride in what was accomplished. We all live in this great city and working together is what makes it a community worth staying in.
Harty: For Jamestown Parks and Recreation to move forward with the priorities identified in the recent survey results, they must be proactive in the decision-making process. The first step is to utilize the newly created strategic when prioritizing the results from the surveys. Using the strategic plan will help the board allocate funding for budgeting purposes to move the priorities forward. Lastly, Jamestown Parks and Recreation needs to continue to engage the community in discussion and partner with other organizations to ensure needs are met and to maximize potential financial resources. By taking proactive steps to address the priorities identified in the recent survey results, Jamestown Parks and Recreation can make meaningful progress towards enhancing community amenities, increasing recreational opportunities, and improving overall quality of life for residents.
Meade: I am grateful to live in Jamestown, and with all the freedoms we celebrated this week during the Memorial day holiday. I encourage everyone to keep promoting their ideas to make our community better. Get out, get involved, the sky is the limit. As a daily Trac Center user, I see first-hand that the staff and managers are always trying to offer more programs and meet the needs of the public. I want to thank the Park and Rec staff and managers in all the departments for continuing to create great programs and facilities.
Ukestad: Bathrooms in our parks and other facilities have been updated and some are in the process right now. People can go to our website and view all of the events taking place this summer, fall, and winter. Kite fest, street hockey at Wilson Arena, National Park and Recreation month in July just to name a few…….many activities going. Also, a list of parks and trails are on the site. As far as the pool situation goes, we have listened to what the public wants/needs. We need to take care of some other projects going on, then hopefully tackle the pool situation. Life guards, there is a shortage, not just in our city, but everywhere. If we can get a full staff, swimming lessons and other aquatic activities can go!

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