Sports Illustrated calls the Lamoureux hockey family in Grand Forks “perhaps the most remarkable sporting clan in the United States.” The family was the lead story in a recent SI issue. Father Pierre was on a UND national championship hockey team; mother Linda was also a varsity athlete at UND. But it is the six children, four boys and twin girls, all of whom have played at the highest levels of either college or professional hockey, who are the real story. The family lives a short distance from the English Coulee in GF and, as the children grew up, they used it as their private winter training rink. The 20-year-old twin girls, Monique and Jocelyne, are on the UND women’s hockey squad and were also prominent members of the 2010 Olympic Silver Medal Team USA. They are the first female athletes at UND to win an Olympic medal.
The big story out of ND last week was the Florida Tristani family who were unable to navigate the Germans from Russia culture in the small town of Hazelton. Tribune columnist Clay Jenkinson may have been nearing deadline when the AP story broke. He quickly spotted his new theme, “North Dakota is an acquired taste,” and reeled off many reasons (and stereotypes) why the state is not for everybody. He even suggested there should be mandatory counseling for people planning to move there. A Chicago reader said it’s not all that complicated -- ND is a “state that tests a human’s will and physical capabilities” and “it’s whether you can function under such difficult conditions.”
The best defense is a strong offense. Hazelton didn’t buckle in the face of potentially negative articles about the town. Instead the town listed its efforts to remain strong. Bev Voller, a member of the Hazelton Development Corporation, described a variety of programs for maintaining a quality community. She wrote: “Because of the recent story about Hazelton, our community has received hundreds of e-mails and telephone calls from people across the nation interested in living, working or starting a business in Hazelton.”
Herald economist Ralph Kingsbury disdains the word “huge” -- he prefers not to use it in discussions of economics. But now he must, the Bakken development in western ND is too real, too big. He acknowledges the state’s history of booms, particularly, in the energy industry, but sees the Bakken as something different -- something that could affect the state’s future for a half century. This time, western ND could define the state.
The Bismarck Tribune has it about right. The state’s current prosperity is the result of sound policies and . . . a good deal of luck -- a surging oil industry. The state’s fiscal conservatism, both in government and business, and its requirement for a balanced budget have helped the state weather a severe national recession. But if other states want to share ND’s success, they need to legislate a big piece of luck.
Should the “Mighty Midgets” stay or go. Discussions about the Dickinson H.S. nickname intensified. The name arose in the ’40s and ‘50s to describe how the team dealt with larger opponents by being small and fast. Others weren’t buying it -- the vice president of public relations for a Tustin, California-based nonprofit said, “The word ‘midget’ is recognized by Little People of America as highly offensive to the dwarfism community.”
AP writer James MacPherson’s Hazelton story found a nationwide audience. He has another ND story that may do the same. Headed “American Indian reservation reaping oil benefits,” his article relates how the Three Affiliated Tribes at the Ft. Berthold Reservation are raking in oil millions. Since the Bakken oil boom began, the tribes have hauled in more than $179 million in lease payments, more in royalties and taxes is one the way. This is good news for the TAT and the state. It may create envy among the state’s other impoverished tribes, who have nothing similar in their futures.
ND has one of the highest overall high school graduation rates in the nation, not unexpected, but good news nevertheless. However, a UCLA report indicates Indian students in the state have one of the worst graduation rates in the country, second only to South Dakota. The report is weak on causation -- reasons given are very similar to those cited for failing urban schools. Most Indian students in ND attend decidedly rural, reservation schools. The fact that the report comes from California and is part of a civil rights project may help explain the following: The report says “that parents and children should not be blamed for a school’s low performance.” What, not even a little? Who does that leave to take the blame? Teachers, staff and school boards (almost all Indian) are all that’s left.
The Twin Buttes Elementary School on the Ft. Berthold Reservation must have a bulls eye painted on its side. In 2007, the majority of the school board was hauled off to jail for stealing $665,000. The following year, two crooked Chicago businesses bilked the school for $100,000 on a federal government technology program. But here’s some good news -- the frauds are getting smaller. Denise Painte (25) recently loaded up on $5,000 of prepaid gift cards which she charged to the school.
You’ve read descriptions of ND as the “Saudi Arabia of wind power.” That may be an exaggeration. The state does rank high among states in wind energy potential, but is only No. 6 in that respect. Neighboring South Dakota comes in No. 5.
In nearly every corner of the state, chances of major spring flooding are increasing. Name a river or creek: Red, Sheyenne, James, Knife, Apple or Beaver -- flooding prospects are high. Herald Editor Mike Jacobs said “Flooding is imminent” in the Red River Valley, yet “Nearly every day brings new objections to options suggested for flood control.” Jacobs said “Concessions are going to be necessary” for almost every RRV community. He said, “The faster these truths are faced, the faster real flood protection can be achieved.”
NDSU specialists gazed at 2009 crop statistics and concluded 2009 was a pretty good year -- a very good year indeed. The value of 2009 production was down from 2008, a year of record crop prices, but most 2009 yields were excellent. ND edged out Kansas to remain the No. 1 wheat state -- ND also kept the lead in the production of barley (36% of the nation’s total), sunflowers (43%), flax (95%), canola (90%) and dry edible beans. In the wheat category, ND has the No. 1 position in both hard red spring wheat and durum.