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Monday, February 06, 2017


GREEN LIGHT “This will enable the company to complete the project, which can and will be built with the necessary safety features to protect the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and others downstream.” -- Sen. John Hoeven. The Army Corps of Engineers has been directed to proceed with the easement needed to complete the Dakota Access Pipeline.

AFTERMATH OF PROTESTS “I came here to fight for the environment. A lot of this stuff was donated and used once and now it's garbage. It's like the aftermath of a hurricane." -- Joe Britt, in charge of the deconstruction of the DAP protest camp. Heavy equipment authorized by Standing Rock is clearing the camp.

MORE TO COME Activists, concerned that pipeline work may resume, are regrouping. Protesters attempted to form an illegal camp on private property near the camp being cleared. After protestors refused to leave, the Morton County Sheriff’s Department arrested 76 people. Among those arrested was Chase Iron Eyes, an unsuccessful candidate for Congress in the fall elections. Iron Eyes has a prison record. ND lawmakers worked overtime to form emergency legislation to assist law enforcement with anticipated protests.

BLUE LAWS “Simply put, government shouldn’t tell private businesses when they can and cannot open their doors. Many people have limited time to get their errands and shopping done over the weekend, and allowing retailers to open for business before noon on Sundays is an important step to strengthen North Dakota’s retail sector and overall economy.” -- Statement by a ND legislator when the House voted to repeal the state’s Sunday closing law -- the Senate has yet to vote.

HOUSING PRICES ND’s economy continued to cool last year, but home prices rose. Grand Forks and Bismarck-Mandan have higher median home prices than the Minnesota Twin Cities ($232,000), Fargo-Moorhead ($202,000) was less costly than the other three, but had the highest percentage rise from 2015 (9%).

DEVILS LAKE has been slowly receding for five years, but may be back in the news. Weather wizards say there is a 25 percent chance the lake may break the old flood record this year because of unusually heavy snow fall. If that happens, the lake will reclaim farmland and could impact the regional economy. The National Weather Service also added the Souris River Basin to its list of concerns -- the heaviest snowfall is downriver from Minot in Velva and Towner.

KEYSTONE Since 2011, 230 miles of heavy steel pipe has been stored near Gascoyne in southwest ND. The pipe was for the stalled, if not abandoned, Keystone XL project. As a result of actions by President Trump, Keystone construction may resume. The pipeline originates in Canada and passes near the southwest corner of ND. Although the pipeline is primarily for crude oil from Canadian oil sands, it can also accommodate oil from ND.

KLJ is a Bismarck engineering firm with 750 employees at 23 offices in six states. The firm expanded by serving pipeline companies in the oil and gas industry. They are one of Bismarck-Mandan’s major employers. The company seeks growth outside ND.

LIKE PULLING A TOOTH "Every study that directly compared the work of dental therapists with that of dentists found that they performed at least as well. Rarely in the scientific literature, in fact, do we find such an overwhelming consensus based on empirical research." -- Journal of Dental Research. A Grand Forks Herald editorial quoted the preceding and recommended that ND’s Legislature allow dental therapists. The ND Dental Association opposes such legislation, although nearly half of ND counties have no dentist or just one. Minnesota has a successful dental therapist program.

RNGLING BROS. CIRCUS recently called it quits, but was once a staple of entertainment in ND, touring the state on mainline railroads. At one time, a Ringling Bros. performance came in four separate trains, 82 cars in all. There were two dining cars, 13 coaches for performers, 28 stock cars for elephants and livestock, and 39 flatcars for wagons, cages and tents.

PRESIDENT TRUMP’S immigration orders sparked panic in Somali communities in ND and Minnesota. Many gain immigration status through family reunification provisions, sometimes referred to as chain-link immigration. A senior at an international high school in Minneapolis despaired that he might not be able to bring his parents and seven siblings from Ethiopia. A classmate worried she might not be able to bring her family from Uganda.

FARGO, TOO Countries from which immigrants have temporarily been banned have been the major source of refugees in ND. Lutheran Social Services said the president’s order has stopped about 40 refugees from coming to the Fargo area next month. Hassan Hajipouri has been trying to bring his nephew’s family from Turkey. The director of an immigrant center in Moorhead said “the order has upset the sizable Somali community in the Fargo area.”

DAKTOIDS: Building permits in Minot in 2016 were half those in the prior year, reflecting slowdown in the Oil Patch.  

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