Suppose, in 2004, a federal court stated control of narcotics in a Minot hospital was so bad that “To do nothing . . . would be a tragedy.” Suppose further that the hospital did not address the problem, had chaotic records and billing, hired unlicensed doctors and nurses (some with criminal backgrounds), left many positions unfilled, diverted patients to other hospitals, and had six CEOs in a three-year period. Would these conditions receive substantial attention from government, law enforcement and the media? Of course! Well, all these things did happen, not in Minot, but at the Indian Health Service hospital at Belcourt on the Turtle Mt. Reservation. The situation has received very little public attention.
In February this year, an AP article stated that Timothy Davis Jr., a pharmacy worker at the Quentin N. Burdick Memorial Hospital in Belcourt, pleaded guilty to stealing 49,000 hydrocodone pills (a pain killer) in just a one-year period. Three confederates assisted him in selling the pills. As the court said seven years ago, “To do nothing . . . would be a tragedy.”
Worry in Winnipeg. The city sits at the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers and residents are concerned that both rivers may crest at the same time, creating an all-time flooding threat. The Red River flows north and reaches Winnipeg from the ND/Minnesota border. The Mouse (or Souris) River originates in Canada and dips down into the Minot area before flowing north back into Canada. It is one of the major rivers feeding the Assiniboine River before it reaches Winnipeg from the west. River levels in Grand Forks are watched very carefully in Canada, since the Red crests in Grand Forks about two weeks before the Winnipeg area.
The National Weather Service flood update for February showed an increased likelihood of spring flooding on most ND rivers. The news was particularly bad for the Sheyenne River communities of Valley City and Lisbon. The Sheyenne is the longest in ND, flowing from the Harvey area southeasterly to Lisbon and then looping north to enter the Red north of Fargo.
Spring flooding in ND is raising more than the usual concerns. Grahams Island State Park is the most-visited state park. Park authorities say it may be closed this summer because Devils Lake might swamp the access road. Many communities have long-term care facilities which could be disrupted by flooding. The ND Long Term Care Association is devising a statewide evacuation plan.
In a recent editorial, the Fargo Forum crowed that “higher education in North Dakota has advanced to become one of the best public systems in the nation.” The Forum was defending the ND system against legislative critics. Blogger Rob Port always hates to spoil a party, but he pointed out Forbes Magazine has ranked the top 600 schools in the country and NDSU was ranked 577 and UND was ranked 579. The good news, they were ranked; the bad news it wasn’t the best neighborhood -- the two ND schools were ranked near Howard University (584), Catawba College (588) and University of the Ozarks (598). Forbes said the list is based on the quality of the education, the experiences of the students and how much they achieve.
TREASURE ISLAND - COINS AND PRECIOUS METALS
Why did the Forum and the Jamestown Sun publish a 2,000 word AP article about Somali crime gangs in the Twin Cities? Possibly because Fargo has a sizable Somali population and Jamestown has a small, but growing number of Somali residents. The Somali gangs in Minnesota are involved in robberies, prostitution and murder. The article said there were seven gang-related killings in Minneapolis in a 10-month period. In the Twin Cities, large Somali populations live in very concentrated areas. A Sun reader said Somali youth in Jamestown are better integrated into the overall community and predicted they would be unlikely to join gangs.
Last week, I mentioned the “Raccoon” incident involving members of the Carrington High School wrestling team who placed what they thought was a dead raccoon in the storage compartment of their school bus. The raccoon turned out to be alive and, when given a chance, ran away. The story didn’t end there. Because of rabies concerns, the team forfeited its wrestling match. The story became one of those cute (or bizarre) items that goes viral and makes the national news. Reception in ND was particularly harsh (over 70 comments to the Fargo Forum alone). Team members, the wrestling coach, the Carrington HS administration and school board, and even the town itself received scathing criticism. There were threats of booing and boycotts for Carrington and its teams. Be careful what you do in a slow news week.
Sen. Conrad is one of the Senate’s acknowledged budget experts and he is a self-proclaimed Deficit Hawk. That is, until it comes to spending in ND, then he wears the decorated hat of a defense expert. Minot AFB manages 150 active nuclear missile silos -- according to Conrad they are all vital and are needed to “hedge against an uncertain future.” As to the ancient B-52s at Minot, they should not be touched and the base badly needs improvement. Top Air Force brass have indicated for some time B-52s are not a strategic necessity.
The Lexicon 700 lists for $560,000 and has 576 hp and a grain tank that holds 400 bushels. This German-made combine is for sale at Butler Machinery in Grand Forks. The German monster was described in a GF Herald article about the state of ag equipment sales. Despite combine prices ranging from $400-550 thousand, some “big-hitting” farmers get new machines every year. Other farmers eagerly buy the used castoffs for prices upward of $300,000. In February, wheat was selling for $10 a bushel; corn prices were twice the normal level.
Northwest Minnesota is possibly the snowmobile capital of the world. The February 16 Wall Street Journal had a remembrance for Edgar Hetteen (90) who was a founder of both Polaris and Arctic. He is considered to be the father of the snowmobile. Arctic in Thief River Falls and Polaris with a plant in Roseau are among the top four worldwide snowmobile companies. Hetteen left both companies at an early stage and did not get wealthy from snowmobiles. He was more successful with ASV, another manufacturer of small tracked vehicles.
On the same page of the WSJ as the Hetteen obituary was another Minnesota related article -- it was almost as chilling as a snowmobile ride. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton is proposing a top state income tax rate of 14%, which would be the highest of any state. Meanwhile, ND was considering legislation which would lower its income tax rate. Maybe ND can attract some rich new residents.