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Reitan recipient of Book of Golden Deeds honor

Book of Golden Deeds award recipient Mike Reitan pictured with his wife Michelle and WF Exchange Club President Chris Heise. Submitted photo

West Fargo Assistant Police Chief Mike Reitan has been honored by the West Fargo Exchange Club with their Book of Golden Deeds Award. This year's announcement holds added significance since Reitan also happens to be a member of the West Fargo Exchange Club, having joined in 2005.

The award is presented annually to a community individual who has made a significant impact through their involvement in a variety of endeavors, with Reitan definitely ranking high in this regard.

Reitan grew up in Casselton, graduating fromm Central Cass High School in 1976. He earned two associate degrees through the Community College of the Air Force and his bachelor degree from the University of Mary, Bismarck, in 2003, graduating magna cum laude.

In 1976, he joined the North Dakota Air National Guard, spending 33 years before retiring in 2009 as a Chief Master Sergeant. During this tenure, he experienced 57 deployments all around the world, including leading a group in response to Hurricane Katrina Relief. He also was the recipient of several medals, including two for meritorious service; three AF commendations; and one for Mississippi Emergency Service.

On a civilian level, he served as a City of Casselton police officer from 1984 to 1987, transferring to the West Fargo Police Department in 1987 being promoted to Sergeant in 1995 and Assistant Chief in 2005. As a member of the department, he graduated from the National FBI Academy in Quantico, Va. in 2000; was named West Fargo police officer of the year in 2001; received life saving awards on two occasions; and was recently elected vice president of the North Dakota Peace Officers Association.

He has also developed and implemented an emergency disaster plan for the city, and most recently was instrumental in saving the city several hundred thousands of dollars through his work with federal grants allowing the city to obtain equipment such as large generators that help power some buildings and lift stations in emergencies and a wide variety of police equipment. He is also responsible for obtaining the latest COPS Grants which will provide funding for two patrol officer positions for three years.

Away from work, he has been active in a variety of other areas: as a member and volunteer at Hope Lutheran Church; and as a member of the North Dakota Enlisted Association, the West Fargo VFW, American Legion and AMVETS. He has also been avidly involved with West Fargo scouting since 2003; active as a Hunter Education instructor; and for heading up the West Fargo Senior Citizens Committee as a key player in establishing West Fargo's first senior center.

Reitan, who resides in West Fargo with his wife, Michelle, and sons Nicholas and Nathan, said he was totally surprised by the Book of Golden Deeds recognition saying his wife made sure it was a well kept secret.

His initially joined the Exchange Club for the venue it provided for meeting business and other retired people in the community and the excellent networking opportunities it presented. Since coming on board, areas of involvement have focused on helping out with fundraising events whenever possible, assisting with the Meals on Wheels program, and also providing support with a variety of other activities.

Joining him for the special occasion were his parents, Bud and June Reitan of Casselton, his mother-in-law Carol Lovejoy of Argusville, his wife and two sons, and other friends and acquaintances including Frank Lenzmeier, friend and partner in seeing the senior center's implementation to fruition, General Pat Martin (retired) Air Component Commander of the North Dakota Guard, and Judy Millar, representing the senior committee.

Announcement of the award was made by West Fargo Mayor Rich Mattern, with the presentation of the plaque conducted by West Fargo Exchange Club President Chris Heise.

Mattern commended Reitan on the occasion, noting that "Mike is one of those people that is very dedicated to West Fargo. Not only that, he is involved in so many other things such as scouts and working on the senior citizens committee. He also has an extensive military record. He is very deserving of the award. It again shows that we have some of the best people working for our city."

Others providing remarks during the program were Lenzmeier; Colonel Mark Ugelstad (retired) past commander of the 119th Civil Engineering Squadron, the section of the guard Reitan was involved in; Mark Holtz, executive director of the Northern Lights Council of the Boy Scouts of America; and West Fargo Police of Chief Arland Rasmussen, also a member of the Exchange Club, playing a key role in getting Reitan initially involved. The speakers were introduced by Exchange Club member and program chair of the community service committee Shawn Preabst.

In his comments Rasmussen, who has served in the police department with Reitan since 1995, said that "Mike exemplifies what we all should do and what we all want to be. A question we ask at our interview for officers goes like this: Is it more important to do the right thing or to do things right? If you ever got or get an e-mail from Mike you will find at the bottom of his e-mail a motto that he lives by each and every day. "It's not about being right, it's about doing right.'

"As Chief of Police we tell our officers they are held to a higher standard.

As Chief of Police I know there is no higher standard than what my Assistant Chief of Police stands for and represents. Mike exemplifies what we all should do and what we all want to be. The West Fargo Exchange Club could not have made a better selection than awarding Mike Reitan the recipient of The Book of Golden Deeds."

Reitan, who has earned a reputation for almost being humble to a fault, said receiving the accolade was a memorably proud experience. "It made me feel really good to be recognized by my peers. I just really want to thank the club for the honor and those that nominated me and everyone in attendance during the ceremony."