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Monday, April 17, 2017


DEVASTATED “It was April 1997 and Grand Forks had been gutted by flood, fire and the desperate evacuation of its 52,000 residents. The ice-choked Red River of the North had pushed miles beyond its banks that spring, swamping fields, roads and entire towns.” -- Star Tribune. The article said, “Even as the 20th anniversary of the Great Flood approaches, few in Grand Forks care to look back.”

REBIRTH The Star-Tribune observed, that at the time of the 1997 flood, “Amid the ruin, some wondered whether the city could, or should, rebuild.” The Tribune said, “Grand Forks today is a far cry from the bedraggled city of survivors 20 years ago.” The article noted that now “downtown is crowded with shops,” there are huge new flood walls and the city has “a greenway three times the size of New York’s Central Park.”

WHO’S POPULAR? A Morning Consult poll finds ND Gov. Doug Burgum’s 69% approval rating makes him the most popular red state governor and third most popular overall. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton is ranked 25th with a 58% approval rating. ND’s U.S.Senators both rank among the top 20 in popularity.

PRICY WINGS The fixed-wing program in UND’s aviation department is the most popular program on campus with 800 students. Would you like to enroll? If so, start saving your pennies. Flight costs alone are $63,000 -- that’s in addition to regular student enrollment costs.

LEVERAGE "What you may not know is that 75 percent of those gifts came from out-of-state donors.” -- Testimony of DeAnna Carlson, CEO of the UND Alumni Association, before the Senate Appropriations Committee. She supported the continuation of state Challenge Grants which partially match private donations to ND universities. The grants have been eliminated in the 2017-19 budget. Tom Dennis at the GF Herald said the “program has done enormous good for the universities at modest cost.” The program is also supported by Gov. Burgum.

THE LEGACY FUND was created by the ND Legislature in 2010 to save a portion of the state’s oil and gas revenue for the inevitable time when oil production drops. Legislators are hungrily eyeing the fund to help with the state’s current budget shortfalls. An analysis by the Great Plains Institute indicates that a “Spend All Earnings” scenario could reduce the 2060 balance of the fund by $80 billion compared to a “Reinvest All Earnings” scenario. The GPI says the fund “stands at a critical juncture.”

MINOT TAKES IT ON THE CHIN “This would be the first time in recent record keeping or memory where we have seen a significant drop in market value from the prior year,” -- Kevin Ternes, Minot City Assessor. Residential property values dropped four percent this year, while apartments and hotels dropped up to 30 percent following double digit drops in 2016. The drops reflect overbuilding during the oil boom. Citywide property values dropped about seven percent from last year.

SAD STATS The cancellation of women’s hockey at UND has led statewide news and commentary. The women’s program lost $1.9 million in 2016 and averaged 800 fans a game, while the men’s program lost $163,000 and averaged 11,500 fans a game. Compelling reasons to end the women’s program.

MORE LOSSES A Forum article reported that all sports at NDSU and UND lost money in 2016. NDSU had three programs which lost over $500,000, led by women’s basketball which lost $687,000. NDSU football lost $200,000. UND had ten programs that lost over $500,000 led by football at $2.3 million.

AN EARLIER ERA “Ray was a steward of the land that provided a living for his family, and was a caretaker of the cattle that they raised.” -- The obituary of Raymond Sabinash (90) of Kensal. He attended country school until the 7th grade, at which time he became a farmer. The obit went on to say that during the early years of his marriage “They (Ray and his wife Joyce) took care of Ray's siblings (11), and also raised their six children and took care of Joyce's grandmother and mother.” This is a glimpse of an earlier time when there were few government safety nets and families were forced to take care of themselves. Ray leaves three great-great grandchildren.

DAKTOIDS A Rolla police officer was asked to find a stranded motorist -- he did, and rear-ended the vehicle and hospitalized the driver standing nearby . . . Gary Tharaldson of Fargo owns Tharaldson Ethanol, the sixth largest ethanol producer in the U.S., and owns Tharaldson Motels, which owns 35 hotels and is developing an additional 60 . . . Fundera selected ND as the top state in the nation for women entrepreneurs -- Minnesota ranked fourth . . . In February, ND oil production again pushed above one million barrels a day.

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