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Tuesday, August 07, 2018


THE BAKKEN IS BACK  Tom Rolfstad, the retired director of Williston Economic Development, described the remarkable impact of the Bakken on ND’s economy in the last decade.  The recent monthly record oil production of 1.244 million barrels a day compares to production of 156 thousand barrels a day in 2008.  He said the ND oil industry is 20 percent of the state’s employment, but 30 percent of its wages.  The state has better roads, new law and medical school buildings, and major water projects made possible by the oil industry.  He indicated balance sheets in Bakken cities need further repair (heavy debt) and the region is still short of amenities.  He stated, however, the state is much stronger than it would be without oil production.

THE APPLEBEE ROAD  ND’s eight larger cities form a grid: four cities on the I-94 corridor with four counterparts on Highway 2.  The twins are Fargo/GF, Jamestown/ Devils Lake, Bismarck/Minot and Dickinson/Williston.  Five Fargo Olive Garden employees drove 840 miles in 13 hours to visit Applebee restaurants in the eight cities.  They wrapped up at one of Fargo’s three Applebees.  Rewards were enormous — gifts, treats and hugs at every Applebee — the team ended the trip with a lifetime supply of Applebee t-shirts.

STANDOFF AT THE NDSC  Gov. Burgum and the Republican-controlled Legislature fought to a draw in a much watched ND Supreme Court case.  The court found some of the governor’s vetoes were “ineffective,” but also found the Legislature had overstepped its bounds on two of the same bills.  Both sides marched away and declared victory.

LLOYD OMDAHL described the battle to keep grocery stores in dozens of ND’s fading small towns.  Omdahl wrote, “With the customer base declining, main street businesses must adapt to new and more effective retailing strategies . . . The small grocers that have been reorganizing have wisely restructured to include the community with stock purchases and city ownership.”  Their efforts are also aided by the ND Ass’n of REAs and the state’s Rural Grocery Initiative.  Most realize this is a short-term holding action and the stores and their sponsoring towns will eventually expire..
RENEWABLE DIESEL  Each day, 18 cars of renewable diesel will leave the Dickinson area for California, if Andeavor's plans to convert its crude oil refinery to a soybean oil refinery are approved.  The refinery presently produces 20,000 gallons daily of diesel from crude oil; the new format will produce 12,000 gallons daily of renewable diesel.

BEWARE OF PARENT DEBT  ND has an old (1877), but rarely used “filial support” law which allows hospitals and nursing homes to go after the children of patients for unpaid bills.  Typically it is used when parents have transferred significant assets to their children prior to a parent’s admission to a care facility.  Still, some children who received no assets have been shocked to be billed by desperate nursing homes.  There is a hope ND will modify this statute in the upcoming legislative session.

MAJORITY-MINORITY SCHOOLS  There are now 27 such school districts in Minnesota — double the number just five years ago.  The minority schools used to be mostly in the Twin Cities and Indian Reservations, but now include many smaller cities, usually those having some type of meat processing plant.  Pelican Rapids is an example, about 40 miles southeast of Fargo, its schools are half minority and the city has a turkey plant — most of the minority students are Latino, while a smaller but significant percentage are Somali.

WELCOME TO LITTLE AFRICA  It’s frequently mentioned here that Minnesota and the Red River Valley have the largest Somali concentration in the nation.  Rarely mentioned is that Minnesota also has the largest Ethiopian Oromo diaspora in the U.S.  In Africa, recent clashes between Oromo and Somali have left hundreds dead and thousands displaced.  This week, over ten thousand Oromo gathered in Minneapolis to welcome Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed at the Target Center.  A Somali city council member introduced a resolution asking Abiy to end the crisis and several Somali picketed the Target event.

ANOTHER PM VISIT  Katrin Jacobsdottir, the prime minister of Iceland, will visit the 119th Annual Deuce of August Icelandic Celebration in Mountain, ND (pop. 92) this weekend.  This is the largest Icelandic event in the country.  ND’s governor and congressional delegation will be hanging around.  Mountain can be found about 85 miles northwest of Grand Forks.

RETIRED BASKETBALL COACH DALE BROWN likes to collect laudatory statements about ND.  Here are two:

  • “Here you sweat by summer and shiver by winter and work and pay for everything you get, so that by the time you are an adult you are spiritually prepared for more hard work. North Dakota life has been meant to make of you a tough fighter, and a hard worker.” — Elwyn Robinson (author and former UND history professor).

  • “There is a devotion to the old virtues of hard work and personal integrity. There is also loyalty to family, friends, and community. And there is a general decency, civility, and tolerance in human relationships.” — David Danbom (NDSU professor).

BIG SPENDERS  There was a time, not long ago, when a $100 million deal was big news in ND.  Not anymore, Northern Oil and Gas, a Minnesota company that invests in leases and drilling projects in ND, announced this week it will buy an interest in 10,600 acres in the Williston Basin for $100 million.

THE LONG TAIL OF THE DAPL PROTESTS still includes 100 outstanding criminal warrants issued for people in 25 states.  The Water Protector Legal Collective is holding meetings at Indian Reservations in the Dakotas to counsel people who have warrants.  Those individuals may have future problems if they don’t resolve the warrants.  The Collective plans to disband this month as the number of unresolved cases dwindles.

DAKTOIDS:  Hazen (#2) and Carrington (#11) are high on the list of the 100 Safest Cities in America.



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