Are Red River Valley winters especially harsh, or are residents just complainers? The Forum set out to score the question considering matters such as coldness, wind, and snow. Their answer -- winter in the RRV is actually quite bad. WDAY meteorologist Daryl Ritchison summarized: “This is certainly one of the harshest habitable places people live.” Heavier cold air pools in the shallow depression of the Red River basin. Cold and wind create a wicked combination -- the Forum stated “there’s no city with higher winds that’s as cold as Fargo.”
Three Affiliated Tribes Chairman Tex Hall addressed the Legislature on behalf of ND’s Indian tribes. He said ND tribes have the highest unemployment and poverty rates in the U.S. and in Indian Country. Hall stated that drawbacks of the state’s oil boom outweigh the benefits for ND’s tribes. His reservation (Ft. Berthold) has 87 oil wells with many more to come -- ND’s other three major reservations have none.
Hall’s solutions to reservation problems all leaned one way. His predecessor recently negotiated an agreement with the state to share oil tax revenue -- Hall wants to reopen the agreement and increase the tribe’s share. He also wants more money and help for roads, unemployment, education, water and law enforcement. Was anything missing? Yes, Hall did not present any specific proprosals for the tribes themselves to address these problems. This is an all too familiar pattern.
Gov. Dalrymple says it should not be necessary to reopen the revenue sharing agreement with Ft. Berthold. He said his proposed budget already includes money for roads on the reservation.
Hall indicated ND’s 10,000 Indian students have a 57% high school graduation rate. The principal at Ft. Totten attributes the low achievement to lack of parental involvement, poverty and isolation. The issue is difficult to address because of the number of tribes, school boards, and agencies involved.
Federal spending in ND in 2009 totaled $8.6 billion -- $13,300 per capita. The largest portion (20%) is social security, federal crop insurance (15%) was next, and Medicare was 10%. ND is usually one of the highest per capita states due to its high proportion of Social Security recipients and farmers.
The San Francisco 49ers were once the most feared and respected team in football. No more, the team just completed its eighth consecutive losing season and celebrated by firing its clownish coach. You ask, with slight impatience, what does this have to do with ND? The new 49ers general manager, Trent Baalke (46), was once athletic director at Shanley High School in Fargo and an assistant football coach at NDSU. Baalke is a Wisconsin native who graduated from Bemidji State. Baalke’s profile rose in early January when he hired Stanford Coach Jim Harbaugh.
In his 2001 book about “Visionary Entrepreneurs of Agriculture,” Concordia Professor Hiram Drache described Ron Offut of Fargo as “the nation’s largest potato farmer.” Offut also founded a chain of heavy equipment dealerships. The Offut School of Business will open at Concordia College in the fall of 2012 with a very forward-looking feature: the business school expects to raise $50 million and of that amount nearly two-thirds will go into an endowment to support its program.
THE SUNDAY OPINION PAGES: Herald Editor Mike Jacobs discussed ND’s new congressional delegation: “Politically, Hoeven and Conrad are closer than Berg is to either of them, even though he and Hoeven are both Republicans and Conrad is a Democrat.” To cure Berg’s loneliness, Jacobs suggested that Berg team with Rep. Collin Peterson whose Minnesota 7th District has much in common with ND. The Fargo Forum cautioned that ND had much work to do to create “well-paying jobs and career opportunities” outside the oil industry -- the state must continue to diversify its economy. A Bismarck Tribune editorial on the same date was almost a refrain: “The Tribune thinks that lawmakers should continue to be aggressive in doing what they can to diversify the economy.”
Columnist Lloyd Omdahl has an independent point of view. He noted that the Board of Higher Education turned down UND’s request for a new medical school building, but he does not feel badly about that outcome, citing the ratio “seven out of 55.” Of 55 UND med school graduates last year, only seven are doing their residency in the state. ND needs more doctors and Omdahl said if the medical school expects more funding, it needs to improve the 7 to 55 ratio. A Bismarck doctor responded: “Residencies cannot be created by legislative whim in a state where there is an insufficient number of patients to provide an adequate training experience.” He contended that many of the state’s doctors had been trained in out-of-state residencies.
Each time the UND Fighting Sioux nickname issue seems settled -- it springs to life. In mid-January three bills were introduced in the Legislature to preserve the nickname. The bills face an uphill challenge, but they are indications of a great latent discontent with the manner in which the Fighting Sioux issue was handled by the Board of Higher Education. House Majority Leader Al Carlson, a sponsor of one of the bills, said he considered the nickname “a proud part of North Dakota history.” The grumpy Fargo Forum called Carlson a "panderer."
The Spiritwood Station power plant near Jamestown, scheduled to begin operations next year, will have a lot of unused steam capacity. A group spearheaded by consultant Steve Froehlich proposes a 30-acre greenhouse using steam from the power plant to grow leaf lettuce for regional distribution. The proposal needs to be taken from the fantasy stage to a feasibility study and strategic plan.
Bosnian brothers Sead (44) and Senad Mustafic (25) staged at least 37 auto accidents in Fargo, collecting from $1,000 to $7,000 on each incident. The brothers will be jailed for only 30 days, but may face deportation. Their attorney argued for no jail time, saying the brothers had learned their lessons and were cooperative. Oh, we don’t want to hurt their feelings.
DAKTOIDS: The ND Geological Survey has detected shallow natural gas in 52 of 53 counties in the state . . . About one percent of UND’s 14,200 students are from Norway and almost the same percentage are from Canada.