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Panelists bring experience from all parts of North Dakota

Thursday night's "Saving North Dakota" Roundtable includes participants who have lived in different corners of the state -- people who can speak from different perspectives:...

Thursday night's "Saving North Dakota" Roundtable includes participants who have lived in different corners of the state -- people who can speak from different perspectives:

- Married just a month ago, Laura Devick, 21, of Fargo is director of faith formation at Holy Cross Catholic Church, West Fargo.

She has lived in Jamestown, N.D., attended high school in Fargo, and graduated from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, where she met her husband, Matthew.

The roundtable, she hopes, will involve "out-of-the-box" thinking and explore how "we could not only be national, but world leaders in improving the quality of life for many, including wind and solar power, education and community building. ...

"I am eager to participate in helping more young people to consider 'coming home' as a viable option, and feel good about their decision. This will take time, and much community growth," Devick said.


- If Thursday's roundtable accomplishes one thing, Chris Skeldum wants it to "give people ideas and information so they can understand the problems faced by workers and their families and help create solutions so people can stay in North Dakota and raise their families.

Family is on Skeldum's mind -- he has a 13-year-old son and his wife, Karen, is expecting their second child.

Skeldum, 34, assembles tractors at Case New Holland.

Like many people, he once worked in the service sector with jobs in the fast-food industry.

He lives in Moorhead, although he has had a big taste of North Dakota life as a one-time resident of Cleveland, Courtenay, LaMoure, Cogswell and Fargo.

- Donna Wood is a single mother with three daughters ages 15, 12 and 9.

"We are a typical family trying to make a living as best we can," said Wood, whose occupation involves doing background investigations for employers.

She also works as a retail cashier.


Wood, 34, of Fargo has lived in Bismarck and Parshall, N.D.

"I would like to see the roundtable open two-way communication between the people of North Dakota and the people who can make a difference -- be they government, the business community, or both," Wood said.

"Throughout the history of North Dakota are tough times, and today we face a difficult situation ... The future is not laid out before us in stone, but clay.

"What we mold with it is of our own choice."

- Chad Peterson is vice president of Lightowler Johnson Associates, an architectural and engineering firm with headquarters in Fargo.

But, at age 31, he has other business interests, including commercial property and a small paper company.

The roundtable should include "brainstorming," with one of the main focuses being "good jobs" for people in North Dakota after they graduate from school.

"... The problem is that starting salaries are not competitive. If we can encourage people to stay for five years by providing competitive salaries and careers, chances are they will stay," Peterson said.


He is active in Cass County civic affairs, as chairman of the county Park Board and as a member of the county Planning Commission. He is on the board of directors of the North Dakota Community Foundation, and is a 1999 graduate of the F-M Leadership School.

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