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Monday, April 30, 2018


GOV. BURGUM TO SHAKE UP ND UNIVERSITY SYSTEM by cutting more than $50 million from its 2019-21 budget.  He points out the system is graduating many students who have trouble finding jobs, while critical fields such as nursing and economically successful programs at the State College of Science are underfunded.  Burgum wants to make the universities more nimble and responsive.  He acknowledged a need to address deferred maintenance on campuses, but hinted overall campus buildings exceed needs.
IT’S THE ND GOVERNOR'S TRAVEL BUDGET, STUPID  The travel budget in the ND governor’s office is relatively small — $55,000 for two years.  Yet the governor's travel spending recently surfaced as an issue.  State Auditor Joshua Gallion's office is conducting a performance audit of Burgum's "travel related expenses.”  The GF Herald and the Forum both rose to Burgum’s defense saying “wait a moment” — the real problem is an overly small budget.  They pointed out that Burgum has extensively used his own money to keep travel spending in line with the budget.  They welcomed his energetic travel and said he had visited 15 ND towns as part of his Main Street initiative.  The papers thought his accomplishments were more important than his travel budget.
ND INDUSTRIAL COMMISSION EMBARRASSMENT  A critic of the ND Industrial Commission alleged "You have the biggest, most powerful organization in the state and they cannot keep their minutes up to date.  It's bad management.  I find it extraordinarily frustrating.”  The critic was right — the commission is eight months behind publishing minutes.  Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, a member of the commission (as is the governor), was chagrined and offered to make recordings of sessions available until minutes are hopefully published in June.
SENATOR HEITKAMPS' ENFORCER  Tessa Gould is Sen. Heidi Heitkamp’s secret weapon — Gould squashes critics.  All this according to columnist Rob Port who alleges he is regularly denied an opportunity to interview the senator.  Gould is a Jamestown native and graduate of Jamestown U. who managed Heitkamp’s 2012 upset victory and became her chief of staff.  Politico (a Wn. D.C. publication) put Gould on a “power list” of “women to watch” in national politics.  To complete the context, Port is probably Heitkamp’s biggest critic and is a supporter of her 2018 election opponent Kevin Cramer.
DAKOTA GROWERS PASTA in Carrington is a successful example of a value-added business.  In its case, commodity durum wheat is processed into retail and institutional food products.  DGP is the third largest pasta producer in North America.  Jack Dalrymple, then a future governor, founded the company as a cooperative in the early ‘90s.  A series of organizational changes followed: DGP became a public company which was sold and resold and is today a subsidiary of Post Holdings in St. Louis.  Post proposes to make DGP the nucleus of a spinoff of its private brands into a public company.  ND needs more companies that add value to commodities and give greater balance to the state economy.
TWO LARGE FARMS BANKRUPT in the northern Red River Valley were 40 miles apart, both brought down by declining commodity prices and production challenges.  Both had impacts on suppliers and associated businesses.” — From an Agweek article about the bankruptcies of two big farms: Ron McMartin’s McM Inc. of St. Thomas, ND, and Bill Sczepanski of Stephen, MN.  Erik Ahlgren, a bankruptcy attorney associated with both situations, described the two farmers as “big pushers” who relied heavily on rental land.  The article indicated many other farmers were in “lender mediation” and Sczepanski’s failure may have brought down a cooperative elevator.  In other words, the farm crisis is not over yet.
ND AND ITS NEIGHBORS, Montana, South Dakota and Wyoming, are small states with somewhat similar economies.  Their populations in 2018 ranged from 574,000 (WY) to 1,062,000 (MT).  There is wide variance in their per capita GDPs, in 2016, ND was highest at $64,000, WY $60,000, SD $48,000 and MT lowest at $40,000.   For the five years then ended, per capita GDPs in the four states were relatively constant, except for ND, where low commodity prices caused a falloff in 2016.  Per capita and household incomes had a pattern similar to GDPs with ND highest and MT lowest.
YOU CAN’T JUST BE A BUFFALO  It’s not enough to be the “World’s Largest Buffalo.”  Jamestown’s director of tourism says the city needs to refine its brand in a way that connects to local business and other attractions.  The Buffalo brand has not been integrated in a beneficial way with the rest of the city.

THE LURE OF BIG CITY LIGHTS  A panel of 18 young people concluded Jamestown will have difficulty attracting and keeping people like themselves.  A Sun article indicated limited choices in retail, restaurants and midrange housing and careers will likely limit how attractive Jamestown is to young people.

JOUSTING WINDMILLS  Columnist Lloyd Omdahl made a somewhat futile gesture to rally support for community newspapers.  He said, if local customers continue to shop in bigger cities and rural populations decline further, the papers face a real struggle.  Both conditions are likely to continue.
MINORITIES SLIPPING BEHIND  ND has 112,000 students and a growing percentage are minorities.  The following should alert state educators: 10 percent of the students are American Indians and 6 percent are black.  Those two racial categories have the state’s lowest academic achievement.  Future state productivity will rely on improving their academic success and skill levels.
BAD BOYS, BAD BOYS, whatcha gonna do when they come for you.  The Fargo Forum searched the backgrounds of candidates in Cass County’s spring primary.  Nine had criminal records including one felony theft and another candidate who plea bargained a felony to a misdemeanor.  DUIs were the most common problem and candidate responses were fairly uniform: “It was good for me — I’ve learned my lesson — I hardly drink anymore.”
DAVE OSBORN was a standout football player at UND in the early 1960s who went on to play running back and fullback for the NFL Vikings.  The Cando native earned a 1970 Pro Bowl selection.  He said he still keeps tabs on how UND football is doing, but finds it's tough to call the team the Fighting Hawks after playing as a Fighting Sioux.
DAKTOIDS:  Doug Mitchell (86) was born in Courtenay and his wife Adeline (84) was born in Mott.  The Jamestown couple, who married in Adeline’s hometown in 1954, died last week just days apart . . . Developers of the Dakota Access Pipeline donated $5 million to the engineering department at the U. of Mary in Bismarck, in part, to show appreciation for the support Nodaks gave the pipeline . . . A Minnesota developer plans to build ND’s first major utility-scale solar project on a 1,600 acre site near Casselton . . . Average teacher pay in ND is $53,000 (27th in nation), SD is $47,000 (49th), and national average is $60,000.


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