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Monday, January 07, 2019


SOMETHING’S HAPPENING  In the first half of 2018, taxable sales in ND grew at a respectable rate of around 9.5 percent, then boom, third quarter sales rose 18 percent.  As you might guess, Oil Patch cities such as Williston (29%) and Watford City (49%) were driving the increase.  Fargo (4.5%) increased modestly, Bismarck (0.7%) barely made the cut and Grand Forks (-9%) lost ground.  Williston slipped by Bismarck to become No. 2 for Q3 sales after No. 1 Fargo.

LUCKY TO STAY EVEN  "A positive number, even a small one, is good when there are concerns about the economy." -- Jamestown Mayor Dwaine Heinrich reacting to flat third quarter sales in that city compared to the 18 percent gain statewide.  Jamestown is typical of ND communities with largely ag economies.
HESS CORPORATION is one of ND’s major oil producers.  The company told an investor conference it plans to drill 160 new wells in ND in 2019.  CEO John Hess said they are investing despite low oil prices, because global investment is falling “far short of forecasted needs.”
NEW PROJECTS WILL REDUCE FLARING  Prior to 2000, $100 million industrial projects in ND were rare or nonexistent.  Since that time they are commonplace.  Oneok (a natural gas-related company) is seeking a permit to build a $125 million natural gas liquids pipeline to link its plants in Watford City to a major pipeline just inside Montana.  The director of the ND Pipeline Authority said the proposal will reduce the state’s natural gas flaring — about 20 percent of the natural gas produced in ND in October was flared.  Natural gas liquids production in ND is estimated at 500,000 barrels per day, while pipeline capacity is only 400,000 barrels.

CLIMATE CHANGE has been largely beneficial to ND farmers.  Whether it is man caused or cyclical, over the last 100 years the growing season has become 12 days longer, average temperatures have risen 2.6 degrees and there is greater rainfall.  These statistics come from ND State Climatologist Adnan Akyuz.  A recent federal report shows ND is the hottest spot for climate change in the U.S.  Climate changes have resulted in a significant shift to more corn and soybeans.  Soybeans are the state’s largest crop in value, and corn and wheat crops have roughly equal values.

“IT AIN’T GOING TO BE A BED OF ROSES, but this whole session’s not going to be a bed of roses.” — ND House Majority Leader Chet Pollert reflecting on budget challenges prompted by continued low prices for the state’s major commodities.  The Legislature revoked the governor’s right to introduce his proposed budget as a bill.  Former Gov. Ed Schafer called the rule change “awful.”  He believes the respective budgets should have more equal footing — the governor’s budget reflects operational needs; the legislative budget indicates how it will be funded.

GOV. BURGUM in his first two years as governor has pardoned more people than his predecessor did in six years in office.  He is particularly concerned about convictions for alcohol and substance abuse that prevent a person from getting, say, a license or a job, when that person is “contributing to society.”

MORE FOR LESS  ND and its neighbors SD, MT and WY are the four states producing the fewest college-going high schools students.  ND is projecting a further decrease in such students.  Columnist Lloyd Omdahl noted the irony of “fewer students, more boards.”  He was referring to the proposal to split the State Board of Higher Education into three boards.

DANIEL SEMINOLE (40)  The obituary begins “Our beloved Daniel Lyndel "Lone Man" Seminole died on Thursday, December 13, 2018 under circumstances we are still trying to understand.”  Seminole died after interacting with the MacIntosh County Sheriff’s Dept. — he is from White Shield, ND.  The obituary continues with an extraordinarily frank description of his life.  He is described as multicultural (half German from Russia, half Arikara/N. Cheyenne) and of Lutheran and Indigenous spirituality.  The obituary said it was hard to capture Daniel whose life was defined by crimes and addiction, but also by his love of horses and efforts to be better “through prayer, ceremony and going into nature.”

WHAT’S WRONG WITH THIS QUOTE?  ”My biggest concern is making sure we do justice to what actually needs to be taken care of, but that we do it in a hastily enough way to where we're not trying to stack a disturbing amount of kids into these elementary and middle school classrooms, and they don't know what we're going to do, and how they're going to teach and how to get the desks in.” — A Killdeer English teacher stressed by school overcrowding.

SMALL OBSERVATION  I’m sure, that not long ago, the staff of the Jamestown Sun was larger than that of the Williston Herald.  Today, the Sun has eight staff contacts and the Herald has twelve.  The proportion is roughly similar to Wikipedia’s estimates of their respective city populations: Jamestown 15,000, Williston 26,000.

DER SPIEGEL, the best-selling news magazine in Europe, admitted a former journalist fabricated a story about Fergus Falls, Minnesota (about 20 miles east of Wahpeton).  His story was about supporters of President Trump in rural America.  Der Spiegel sent a reporter to Fergus Falls to apologize and rewrite the story.

BOOZE ON THE REZ  “She favors lifting the distillery ban because it fosters Native American self-determination.” — About Winona LaDuke, Minnesota White Earth Reservation, who commented on a new law permitting alcohol distilleries on reservations.

SKEPTICISM ABOUT AG  “I think he’s got a different agenda that, quite frankly is anti-law enforcement.”  — President of the Minneapolis Police Officers Federation re new Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison.  From a St. Paul Pioneer Press article about the reasons many members of law enforcement consider Ellison persona non grata.  Ellison has been a member of Congress and was a criminal defense attorney early in his career.

DAKTOIDS:  ND’s population is estimated at 760,000, the 47th largest state.  The state is entering a period of slow, but sustained growth . . . ND is the only state prohibiting shopping on Sunday morning . . . A ND state representative proposes to charge electric vehicle owners an annual “road use fee” of $248 — highest in the nation — only 140 such vehicles are registered in ND. 

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