TREASURE ISLAND - COINS AND PRECIOUS METALS
Quote without comment: “This is the most exposure the World’s Largest Buffalo has received since it was renovated by Hampton Hotels.” Jamestown was thrilled when a national television crew filmed the city’s highlights, including two homes for the elderly.
The Jamestown Sun made a first -- it awarded its dreaded Buffalo Chips to a fish. The fish is the silver carp which has found its way to ND via the James River. The carp is an invasive species and causes all kinds of trouble. The fish can grow to over 40 lb. and leap 10 ft. in the air. Boaters in high-speed watercraft have been injured by airborne fish.
Behind the scenes of ND’s new prosperity local problems simmer. Townships in Stutsman County increasingly owe money to the county -- they have exhausted their funds repairing water damaged roads. A county commissioner said, “It isn’t that the townships are shirking their duty. They just don’t have the money, after experiencing high water every year since 1993.” Around Devils Lake local governments can no longer afford the local matching share of raising flooded roads. Gov. Dalrymple cited FEMA rules as part of the problem. Millions of dollars have been spent to raise roads to provide access to just a handful of rural farmsteads. The governor said “why not buy the house for $150,000 and be done with it.” A new FEMA official agreed, but said “federal regulations are difficult to change.”
Good news from ND’s congressional delegation -- 42 ND counties have won the disaster sweepstakes -- that leaves only 11 slightly disappointed counties. Those 11 may slip aboard later in the year by qualifying as “contiguous” counties. Some of the counties qualified because of drought, others because of excessive rain. Each year nearly half of ND’s counties find their way on to the USDA natural disaster list and its attendant benefits. Certain counties have been on the list for many consecutive years. You might be surprised to learn that disasters are strangely selective -- they prefer years in advance of elections.
“I know nothing -- NOTHING!” -- this is the defense made famous by the bumbling Sergeant Schultz in TV’s Hogan’s Heroes. Dickinson State President Richard McCallum was the latest to use the defense when he denied all knowledge of the enrollment of 180 bogus students, including the mayor of Dickinson and his wife. McCallum was, of course, shocked by the charges, also insulted and offended. He testified before a state administrative law judge.
TV anchors develop adoring fans -- often they develop something else -- a legend in their own minds. When an anchor is released, managers better watch out and be sure attorneys are covering their backs. Michelle Turnberg was a TV anchor in Fargo until mid-2010, was let go and recently became a columnist for the Forum. In her column, she said “I feel compelled to comment” (on the circumstances of her dismissal). She followed with a tale of embarrassment, anger and suffering -- all caused, in her view, by a condescending manager trying to improve his bottom line. The Forum received considerable commentary about the treatment of women in TV and whether they are ushered out the door at the first signs of aging.
Hettinger, get ready, you’re next. Dept. of Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms warned that choking traffic, dust, huge demand for water and man camps were all headed for Hettinger County (the town of Hettinger is in Adams county) as oil development edges south. Helms said he tried to warn everybody three years ago and now time is running out. County officials said they are hustling to prepare for an invasion of oil rigs.
The Williams County sheriff first said a positive ND thing, “On one hand, we need to count our blessings,” then he got down to business, “On the other hand . . . We have come to the point here where we’re almost overwhelmed. It’s very close.” Arrests in Williston for crimes such as DUI, assault and theft in the first half of 2011 were already twice the total for all of 2010.
Trucking is booming in ND and so are crashes involving trucks. The industry is estimated to have grown in excess of 100 percent during the last year and truck crashes in the first half of 2011 were double the entire year 2005. Truck fatalities in 2011 appear to be on track to double 2005, and injuries for 2011 are likely to triple 2005. The state and counties can’t stay ahead of the growth in truck traffic.
An interesting project that didn’t happen: “ND Horizons” reports, that in 1964, U.S. Sen. Quentin Burdick proposed a 500-foot statue of Sakakawea along I-94. That would be twice the height of the ND Capitol and nearly as high as the Washington Monument. The statue was to be made of glass block and projected to cost $28 million (in 2010 dollars). It would have been eye-catching, alas, the idea was rejected by the National Park Service.
Coal ash is a byproduct of generating electricity with coal. The ash has useful applications including use as a substitute for cement. An ambitious federal EPA would like to classify coal ash as a hazardous waste and make it unmarketable. Sen. John Hoeven has introduced federal legislation, supported by ND Sen. Kent Conrad and SD Sen. John Thune, that would maintain ND’s current standards for disposing of coal ash.
Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. raped and killed UND coed Dru Sjodin in 2003 and was sentenced to death in 2006. It is almost safe to say that in 2013, ten years after the murder, Rodriguez’s sentence will still be on appeal. His new defense attorney, a Chicago law professor, has labeled the former defense team incompetent and contends Rodriguez was retarded and temporarily insane at the time of the crime. This is an all too familiar pattern for death penalty cases -- millions of dollars spent in the courts and defendants likely to die of natural causes before appeals are exhausted. The Rodriguez case is one more argument for abolishing the death penalty, which is largely futile, a boon to attorneys and a hoax on taxpayers.