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Thursday, December 21, 2017


THE NDSU FOOTBALL TEAM ran over Wofford College 42-10 last week in a FCS playoff. Tonight, the Bison play Sam Houston State (Texas) in a semifinal game at the Fargodome to be broadcast on ESPN2 at 7 p.m. (Fargo time). This afternoon, South Dakota State plays at defending national champ James Madison (Virginia) -- SDSU was the only team to beat the Bison this year. This creates the intriguing possibility of a national championship game featuring NDSU and SDSU.

TWO OUTSTANDING YOUNG NFL QUARTERBACKS met Sunday in Los Angeles. The Phildadelphia Eagles Carson Wentz faced the Los Angeles Rams Jared Goff . In the 2016 NFL draft, Goff was No. 1 and Wentz was No. 2. Wentz won the day -- his team won 43-35 and he had four touchdowns and one interception -- but the win came at a terrible cost. Wentz has a torn ACL and is out for the season. The loss of Wentz was devastating to the Eagles who had gone from worst to first. There has been a nagging concern that Wentz took too much physical risk.

CROSSING THE LINE The Forum says Scheels is “your go-to spot for swag.” That’s Philadelphia Eagles swag -- conventional gear like hoodies and knit caps. Wentz merchandise at other stores is a bit more lively (“Wentzylvania” T-shirt and Wentz Vinyl Figure), but a Wentz-themed candle likening him to Jesus Christ is absolutely creepy.

JACK ZALESKI is the Forum’s retired editorial page editor who continues to write a Sunday column. He was known for a “take no prisoners” editorial style. The style is not dying easily. He warmed up for the spring Fargo City commission elections by attacking two sitting commissioners saying they have damaged the city’s image. David Piepkorn for “his war against immigrants and refugees.” Tony Gehrig for wanting to turn downtown Fargo back into a “empty-storefront urban catastrophe.”

LITTLE WALMART entered ND just this year and is mushrooming. Dollar General has 11 stores in the state, 8 under construction and is considering 79 more. The stores are in small towns -- 2,000 population or less. Present stores are all in or near the Red River Valley, but newer stores are entering the central part of the state. Initially, stores in the communities Dollar entered feared significant sales loss. Generally, this has not happened -- the 7,500 square-foot Dollar stores are more likely to take business from nearby Walmart stores. Make no mistake, this is a tidal wave sweeping retailing in the state’s small towns.

FAMILY DOLLAR has 21 stores throughout ND and preceded Dollar General in the state. Family favors ND’s larger cities, has a strategy different from Dollar General and is struggling. The two chains were covered in a Forum article by Blake Gumprecht.

THE MINOT DAILY NEWS assessed the commercial and industrial real estate markets in Oil Country. At the start of the oil boom, there was strong demand in Minot because its infrastructure was more developed than communities such as Williston and Watford City. Investors were attracted to the opportunities in Minot and some sectors, such as hotels, may have become overbuilt. As the boom matured and oil prices declined, infrastructure in western cities caught up and Minot was left holding the bag. Realtors see a sideways market in Minot until sales tax collections and oil prices improve. Improved business conditions in western cities are attracting investors, Minot not so much.

RED FAWN FALLIS (38) is charged with civil disorder, discharging a firearm in relation to a felony crime of violence, and possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon in connection with the Dakota Access Pipeline protests. The Denver resident’s federal jury trial is set for Jan. 29 in Fargo. A hearing ending this week in federal court in Bismarck considered whether certain evidence and statements from Fallis should be suppressed. She is a member of the Oglala Lakota tribe and had previously lived in ND.

NEW GRAND FORKS HOSPITAL A year ago the main clinic of Altru Health in Grand Forks collapsed. This accelerated consideration of a replacement for the over 40-year-old hospital. Altru proposes to build a $250 million hospital -- location and funding are not finalized.
DOES THIS LOOK RIGHT? An article by April Baumgarten in the GF Herald indicated the former Macy's store in the Columbia Mall was assessed at $6 million last year. The vacant 9,000-square-foot store is reported to have recently sold for $400,000 in an online auction.

WHAT WOULD TEDDY WANT? The Dickinson fairgrounds had been chosen as the site for the T. Roosevelt Presidential Library. In light of a large new donor, the library’s foundation board voted to look at alternative sites. The Badlands are a possibility. Historian Clay Jenkinson, a key advocate of the library, thinks “it’d be a shame” if they didn’t continue to work closely with Dickinson State.

JOE NEEL JR. was mentioned last week for his surprise $675,000 gift to the GF Public Library. It turns out that was only part of gifts totaling about $1.6 million, including $500,000 to GF Parks and $100,000 each to UND and the State College of Science. Neel Jr. was a reclusive bachelor who was a career draftsman at the GFAFB; his father Joe Neel Sr. was remembered as a brilliant, but severe UND biology professor.

MINNESOTA REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT has been dominated by Somalia which accounted for nearly half of arrivals in 2016. The Star Tribune also reported “family reunification dominates resettlement in the state (a program admitting relatives of earlier refugees).” Federal policy temporarily suspends refugees from Somalia and the family reunification program as well. The combination has dramatically reduced refugee arrivals in Minnesota -- 76 refugees arrived in October and November compared to 600 in the same months in 2016. There is a corresponding effect on new Somali refugees in ND.

WHAT’S HAPPENING IN MINNESOTA? Lt. Gov. Tina Smith has been picked as a replacement for Sen. Al Franken . . . Minnesota was picked the "best run" state by 24/7 Wall Street . . . Minneapolis is hosting the Super Bowl on Feb. 4, but there may be a problem. If the Minnesota Vikings have playoff games at the U.S. Bank Stadium, the NFL may have insufficient time to prepare for the Super Bowl . . . Minneapolis has a troubled black community, relatively, one of worst off in the nation -- the city's latest solution, increase bureaucracy -- the city council voted to establish a Division of Race and Equity.

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