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Wednesday, December 05, 2018


THE COMMON SCHOOLS TRUST FUND in ND has $4.5 billion in assets and provides a growing share of state aid to public schools.  The state’s 111,000 public school students are receiving nearly $2 billion in aid during the current 2017-19 state budget period.  About 15 percent of the aid comes from the trust fund, which is growing as a result of revenues from energy sources.  The fund helped the state keep school aid stable during the recent budget crunch.  ND’s growing trust funds make it one of the most financially sound states.
F-M TOP TEN  “A lot of people say there’s not much architecturally special about Fargo-Moorhead. I beg to differ.” — Steve Martens, retired NDSU architecture professor.  The Forum developed a Top Ten list with help from local architects.  The most unusual structures were in Moorhead where the 1984 Hjemkomst Center echoes a viking ship; its companion Hopperstad Church is a clone of a 900-year-old Norwegian stave church.  Two Broadway buildings make the list: The 1930 Black Building now being extensively renovated and the 1926 Fargo Theatre, the city’s informal logo.  The former Northern Pacific Railway Depot (1898) was the oldest structure on the list.
ONE TOO MANY BOARDS  A state task force advocates three boards to govern ND’s 11 institutions of higher education.  One board each for UND and NDSU and another for the rest.  A GF Herald editorial strongly advocates a two-board solution believing the two research universities should have a common board and be collaborative rather than competitive.  The Herald also believes two boards would be easier for the Legislature to swallow.
MYSTERY OF THE CPO  The trendy title chief people officer was adopted for the person leading ND’s Human Resource Management Services.  With considerable fanfare, Kelsey Roth was hired from Blue Cross Blue Shield on Oct. 30 to fill the job.  She called the job an “amazing opportunity.”  The CPO is also a member of the governor’s Cabinet.  Two weeks later she resigned, declaring she wasn’t the “best fit” for the $140,000 CPO job.  The Forum News Service is probing her abrupt departure — so far, with no success.
IT’S WORTH A TRY  “An argument can easily be made that this is the most effective way to deliver services, with empowered and motivated professionals inside a particular community.”  — A Minot Daily News editorial praised scholarships awarded to 11 ND Indian students who will study behavioral health and addiction issues.  The $360,000 of scholarships originated with the United Health Foundation and are administered by the American Indian College Fund.  They are intended to empower members of reservation communities to return and help communities with substance abuse.
FARM ECONOMY IS TROUBLED  “The worst ag banking conditions were in states with the heaviest concentrations of corn and soybeans. Almost all bankers in those states reported that farmers plan to sell land or equipment to try to make loan payments.” — From a StarTribune article about increased farm bankruptcies in the Federal Reserve District which includes ND and surrounding states.  Bankruptcies in the District have doubled in the past four years.
HERE SHE COMES AGAIN  ND Indian reservations have a special tolerance for leaders with criminal records.  The Twin Buttes Elementary School on the Ft. Berthold Reservation has only 38 students.  A Bismarck Tribune article by Amy Dalrymple indicates Melissa Starr, a previous board president at Twin Buttes, was convicted in 2006 of defrauding the school, sentenced to prison and ordered to pay more than $309,000 in restitution.  So far she has paid a little over $20,000.  Forgiving voters elected Starr to the board again.  Felicia Haseleu, who is superintendent and principal, said her reaction to the election result was “disbelief.”
TOUGH DECISION  “We would be so grateful for your help.  We had nowhere else to turn.”  — A member of the Inkster Faith Lutheran Church with a desperate public plea to save their 134-year-old church building.  The church, located in northern Grand Forks County, serves only 10 families and has no money.  The congregation’s plight is widely shared by a dwindling number of rural churches.  As small farms consolidate into large, mechanized farms, the number of rural residents shrinks.
RECIPE FOR WINTER  About this time each year, Minot State University inflates “the bubble,” a 70-foot air-supported dome covering its football and soccer fields.  The 86,000 square foot dome is used by the community for a variety of outdoor sports.
MOORHEAD GOES LEFT  “Hey, North Dakota young people tired of the political climate in that state, come on over. We'd love to have you in Moorhead.” — Forum columnist Mike McNeely contending Moorhead has become sharply liberal — the Democratic candidate for governor won by 18 points in Moorhead, 7 points better than he did statewide.  McNeely smuggly concluded, “Yup, Spudville is more left than the People's Republic of Minnesota as a whole.”
WOLVES TERRIFIED BY BLOW-UP DOLLS  “Non-lethal methods including livestock guard animals and even blow-up dolls like those seen at used car lots can work and can be very cost effective to reduce predator-livestock conflicts” — Letter from Maureen Hackett of Hopkins, Minnesota, President of Howling for Wolves, who opposes removing wolves from the Endangered Species List.  What are the chances farmers will respond favorably?
TALENT ATTRACTS  “We didn’t invest in companies, we invested in people” — The opinion of a St. John’s University economist as to why the Twin Cities metro area economy has outpaced Midwestern cities such as Milwaukee, Des Moines and Detroit.  Greater Minneapolis residents have a higher percentage of college degrees and greater household income than the aforementioned cities.  StarTribune columnist Lee Schafer points out technology companies choose cities that have educated, talented people.
DAKTOIDS:  Montana State will be NDSU’s playoff opponent in Fargo tomorrow at 3 p.m. — the game will be broadcast on ESPN3 . . . The average age of Ramsey County (Devils Lake) farmers is 60 — a common aspect of rural counties . . . ND has two oil refineries and a third is planned near Belfield.  This week AIC Energy Corp. filed an application for a fourth refinery between Williston and the Montana border.

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