Tribune writer Lauren Donovan observes, “some struggle to ‘get their heads around’ the idea of North Dakota as a major economic player.” In a lengthy Sunday article, Donovan described how state departments such as Workforce Development, Commerce and Transportation are scrambling to define needs in the 17-county oil patch for themselves and the 2011 Legislature. Overall, they expect to have “the most comprehensive survey ever taken of infrastructure needs and social impact from oil development.” One key objective: separate short-term needs driven by oil development from long-term needs after the drilling is largely complete. Officials say their assessment is difficult because of the fast moving nature of the oil industry in ND.
One of the trickiest aspects of the survey is determining how to help workers who do not have the high wages of oil field workers. Some are underemployed and working in lower wage jobs in the retail and service industries. They often can’t afford training needed to obtain one of the thousands of jobs opening each year in the ND oil industry, but are confronted by high rents and a shortage of housing. Job training programs are expected to be one outcome of the survey. Recommendations for affordable housing is another.
Columnist Clay Jenkinson shares his travel experiences with Tribune readers. Recently, he returned from Cairo marveling at a city with 70,000 people per square mile. He noted that with such density ND’s population could fit into a single township “with oodles of room to spare.” Yes, many oodles, a ND township is six miles square and at Cairo’s density would accommodate about 2,500,000 people, roughly the population of a mid-sized state like Nevada.
Do small town people seem to dress better than they used to? An online shopping service reports that Nodaks are far and away the No. 1 online shoppers in the nation. Why do they spend so much time with their noses pressed against the window waiting for the UPS truck? The remoteness, cold, limited local choices? They all make sense, but there must be something else. All surrounding states share some of those features, but compared to ND they barely participate in online shopping. South Dakota is ranked No. 49.
She is a prostitute who blackmailed a Valley City pastor right out of his job, but Bunny Byington is not remorseful. She merely sees her experience as one of life’s small slips. “I am not a stupid fool. I just made a stupid, foolish choice.” Bunny’s current ambition is to get out of jail and write an inspirational book for women about multiple chances to turn their lives around. Go Bunny!
Fargo Forum editorial policy is puzzling. Why does an otherwise solid newspaper have such overheated editorials? It appears to go something like this: Opinions delivered in a moderate voice and recognizing both sides of an argument are easy to ignore. To make an editorial point, it pays to exaggerate, raise the volume and use rousing adjectives. The Forum’s August 1 editorials (relatively mild) included the following. An unsigned editorial headed “ND kids apparently don’t count” was about the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s No. 12 (top 25 percent) ranking of the state on the well-being of children. ND had previously ranked No. 7. The editorial concluded the ranking “suggests an embarrassing and shameful poverty of spirit” in the state.
A second editorial by Editorial Page Editor Jack Zaleski lambasted downstream opponents of the F-M flood diversion. He labeled their arguments “stupid” and full of “hyperbolic exaggeration.” His parting shot: “They should say they just don’t want the damn thing, and to hell with the 175,000 people in the Fargo-Moorhead metro. After all, that’s what they really mean.” See, I may be merely making the Forum’s point -- that their editorials draw attention.
The Forum ran out of prairie roses. Each week the Forum awards prairie roses to good people, leafy spurge to miscreants. On August 2, tolerance exhausted, the Forum had nothing left but leafy spurge -- their most sour mood in recent years.
ND has a long list of higher education institutions. First, the public university system with six 4-year schools and five community colleges. Additionally, there are five tribal colleges. That’s 16 taxpayer supported colleges in ND, making the state one of the most over-colleged in the nation on a per capita basis. South Dakota has a smaller number of public colleges than ND. Wyoming’s mix, while not ideal, probably makes the most sense -- it has one public university, seven community colleges and one tribal college.
The Standing Rock Sioux are quite proud of their new $40 million (per campus website) replacement for Sitting Bull College at Ft. Yates. They graduate about 50 students with associate degrees -- that’s an $800,000 facility investment to support each graduate. It’s a one hour trip to Bismarck where there is a private 4-year university, a public community college and another tribal community college (UTTC). It’s difficult to say which of the 16 publicly supported colleges is most redundant, but it is not difficult to see that the total number and type of colleges exceed the state’s reasonable needs.
Be watchful driving out on the prairie -- strange things may happen. A Max woman was cruising blithely along US Highway 83 when a lightning strike deployed the air bags in her car causing a big surprise and minor injuries.
Classify this under “I don’t understand:” Mandan’s Leadership, Pride and Image Committee urged the city commission to spend $45,000 on a “Made in Mandan” theme. Proponents say it will “improve pride” and complement the city’s other theme, “Where the West Begins.” The commission is skeptical, unlike the mayor, who said, “We have an image problem and we have to address that.”
Try this rat snake on for size! An apparently dissatisfied customer tossed a 2-1/2 foot rat snake through the drive-in window of Taco Johns in Williston.
The Thunder Mt. Rockfest at the Rock Dakota Ranch in Sawyer (July 7-10) had disappointing attendance. Bands such as Rock Sugar, Survivors, and Blood, Sweat and Tears were stiffed. Brian Hill of Rock Sugar said, “The festival didn’t go as good as they (the promoters) wanted, they panicked and are turtling . . . or, they’re just evil and they’ve taken the money and split.”
Sykeston native Esther Kundert of W. Fargo worked for the government for 25 years, mostly with the IRS, before throwing it over and becoming a barista at Red River Coffee. Esther died in August at age 74.
In May, 92-year-old Faith Mitzel drove in the opposite lane near Devils Lake killing one motorcyclist and seriously injuring two others. After a $20 fine, she’s back. The day before her 93rd birthday, she was stopped for a traffic violation in Devils Lake -- no driver’s license, no insurance and no current license on the car. Faith still thinks she’s done nothing wrong and should be able to drive. Happy Birthday!
DAKTOIDS: Easy to see why budget officials in Minot are grinning -- the assessed value of homes rose about 10% again this year . . . Another Minot score -- the State Fair and its new grandstand had over 300,000 visitors -- a new record.