Roots and Creation: 1973-1979
As with any organization, the North Dakota Building Officials Association was born of an idea. The idea took form in 1973 at the first organizational meeting of buildings officials and other interested persons from around the state. The minutes of that first meeting have been lost but those attending shared common concerns centered on providing the best possible living and working environments for the people of North Dakota. During the course of that meeting and subsequent organizational meetings, rough methods began to emerge to accomplish that basic goal. Minutes of these early meetings identify the specific objectives of professionalism and uniformity of code and enforcement.
The first officers were elected at the second organizational meeting, held February 19, 1974. Ed Karsky of Dickinson was voted president and re-elected twice. Neil Berquist of Fargo was elected as vice president and Alan Clark of Devils Lake served as secretary/treasurer. Regional representatives to the executive committee were elected as follows: Jack Hegedus of Bismarck, southwest, Ed Dreyer of Minot, northwest; Leonard Aalgard of Grand Forks, northeast; and Adolf Tryba of Wahpeton, southeast. With these officers, the group became the North Dakota Building Officials’ Association.
The idea of a state-adopted model building code, first discussed at this meeting, became a long-standing goal of the Association and fostered dialogue with, and an understanding of, several other individuals and state organizations. Over time these interrelationships would pay significant dividends in statewide cooperation and credibility for the Association.
The Association addressed another of its principal goals fall meeting in 1974—the education of its membership. Attendees at that meeting agreed to sponsor a seminar on the CABO One and Two Family Dwelling Code. They also committed to active support of proposed legislative bills that might lead to standardized construction and code enforcement in the state.
Membership in the early Association was small. Modest growth took place between 1974 and 1977 until the members laid ambitious plans dramatically expand the membership. There was a pervasive feeling among the members that the Association had somehow gone adrift and sat in stagnant waters. New membership and a revitalized programming effort would jointly be needed to reawaken the spirit that had founded the Association a few years earlier. The members expressed their desire for more and longer discussion of mutual concerns that they may have experienced in their localities which would foster a more uniform application of the pertinent requirements by all of the jurisdictions.
By 1979 plans for membership expansion and revitalized programming had been only partly realized. Members continued to be express concerns that smaller communities which could most directly benefit from Association membership were not being reached. They agreed that better and more-timely meetings and education were prerequisites to reaching these individuals. In addition, they instituted an expanded mailing of announcements of meetings and seminars in attempts to include these other jurisdictions. Several attempts followed over the course of the next few years to mail everyone listed as a building inspector by the Secretary of State’s office. This approach proved successful to some degree. A handful of the state’s smaller jurisdictions discovered the benefits involvement with the Association.
During 1979 the Association placed additional emphasis on gaining recognition. Press releases on seminar availability and meeting results became popular, creating increased awareness of the Association, its objectives, and its activities. Also in 1979, the Association began to supply prospective members with preprinted application forms to simplify the application and recordkeeping process for the secretary/treasurer. New members were given wallet-sized membership cards to further emphasize the commonality of the Association’s membership and objectives.
Growth and Commitment: 1980-1989
The Association saw many firsts in the 80s. The presentation of plaques to outgoing Association presidents began shortly before 1980. At the fall meeting of 1983 Ron Strand of Devils Lake was recognized as the first Building Official of the Year. In April of 1984 the Association commissioned the first pins symbolizing membership in the North Dakota Building Officials Association. These pins proved extremely popular at national meetings for not only their appearance and class but also their relative rarity. The September meeting of 1984 saw the first instance of a city mayor presenting a presidential service plaque to President James Weight of Jamestown.
The North Dakota Building Officials Association printed its first informational brochure. Soon its distribution included not only prospective members but state colleges and information desks at such conventions as the League of Cities and the Association of Counties.
1986 was a watershed year for the organization’s credibility. Rather than being ignored the Association was asked by the North Dakota Association of Builders to supply a group of its members for a task force studying the issues of contractor licensing and code enforcement in the state. The Association had “arrived”. In recognition of the demands on the Associations treasury created by more involvement in several areas of interest, dues were increased in the fall of 1986 from $15.00 to $25.00.
Due in large part to the efforts of the Association, Governor George Sinner signed the first North Dakota Building Safety Week Proclamation on January 29, 1987. Awareness of the benefits of quality building inspection services was on the increase and the Association stood squarely at the forefront of this effort. Building Safety Week was celebrated the first week of every May until the International Code Council (ICC) changed it to Building Safety Month in 2010.
The Association has given some formal recognition to its members over the years. One honorary membership had been awarded to Leonard Aalgard of Grand Forks on the occasion of his retirement. In March of 1987 the Association voted to reaffirm its appreciation of the efforts of its members who had persevered through years of public anonymity. Plaques were awarded to Neil Berquist of Fargo and Richard Chyles of Mandan upon their respective retirements.
At its meeting in the fall of 1987 the Association made preliminary moves to secure a tax exempt identification number. At this same meeting the idea of incorporation as a non-, or not-for-, profit organization was introduced but temporarily set aside for further study. By 1989 great strides had been taken in membership retention and education. To foster a continuation of these efforts the Association voted to extend the terms of its officers from one year to two.
Education and Dedication: 1990-Present
Members met twice a year in cities throughout North Dakota. The meetings came to include education on new products, enforcement concerns, and changes to the adopted codes. Over the course of the next decades the organization reaffirmed its commitment to educating and uniting its members in creating safe and code-compliant work and living spaces. It expanded its ties with the South Dakota Building Officials’ Association and the Association of Minnesota Building Officials. In 1992 the North Dakota Building Officials’ Association established its Educational Institute. In 1998 the members met to discuss the ISO rating and joint training seminars with the eastern Minnesota International Council of Building Officials Chapters. In 2002 (?) scholarships to the annual business meetings of the ICC were introduced and in 2006 the Association became a part of the ICC Upper Great Plains Region III organization with Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Bi-annual meetings first included trade shows to introduce members to new topics and construction techniques in 2008 (?) and the shows have been a rousing success.