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Friday, January 20, 2012


“Arrive a guest. Leave a Legend” -- This puzzling phrase is the new slogan of ND’s tourism department, which doubled down by placing the slogan on Facebook along with a “flirtatious” ad suggesting the state is a good place for pickups.  What are the chances somebody will get fired over the “Legend” branding?  Professional literature for branding and advertising recommends slogans which are clear and believable and fit real life perceptions.

ND Sen. John Hoeven called the proposed pipeline to carry oil from Canada to Texas Gulf Coast refineries the "largest shovel-ready project in the country" with the potential to create thousands of jobs and reduce American dependence on oil from the Middle East.  He added it would also keep Canadian oil from going to China.  Hoeven made the the GOP’s national weekly radio address on January 14.  His thoughts were echoed by editorials in the Bismarck Tribune and Fargo Forum.

President Obama blocked the Keystone XL oil pipeline mentioned above.  This is an unpopular decision in ND, as well as Montana and South Dakota.   ND Dem. U.S. Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp quickly put her finger to the wind and called the president’s decision “the wrong one.”  She said she would work to reverse the decision “even if it means upsetting members of my own party.”

Sidney, Montana is midway between Williston and Glendive.  Sherry Arnold, a popular teacher in Sidney, is missing and believed murdered -- two Colorado men have been arrested and are in a Williston jail.  Location of the murder may be key, since Montana has a death penalty and ND does not.  Previously, Arnold attended college in Dickinson and taught in Minot.  Although there has been no information about the men’s employment, the incident is creating talk about the connection between violent crime and workers attracted to the Oil Patch.

Was it a “frenzied” estimate?  A Dickinson Press editorial marveled how that city is becoming more frenzied like Minneapolis.  It noted Minneapolis had a “5 million-plus” population, while Dickinson has only 20,000.  The population of Minneapolis is about 400 thousand, the 5 million plus number is the population of Minnesota.

“Moe is my friend” was the way Middle East immigrants referred to Muhannad Tahtamouni who did business in Grand Forks as Moe’s Motors.  Moe liked to sell used cars he didn’t own to fellow immigrants -- sometimes more than once.  Moe’s friends may now visit him in jail.

The new SheSays section of the Fargo Forum has succeeded in one ambition -- creating interest and controversy.  A recent topic was women fighting among themselves about feminism.  The Forum published reader responses -- here is a quote from one:The new section in the Forum is certainly not the first time a wealthy man created some inane activity to keep his idle wife busy.”  What is the point of that comment?  It may be this.  One of the contributors to SheSays is Chris Linnares, the wife of Forum publisher Bill Marcil Jr.  She refers to herself as an international author, Brazilian psychotherapist and creator of Diva Dance -- a way to use dance to improve health and self-esteem.


Deanne Bear Catches, the tribal prevention coordinator for Standing Rock, is excited about the campaign; Coby Rabbithead, her counterpart at the Three Affiliated Tribes, feels the same.  They are praising a new campaign to curb prescription drug abuse on the state’s reservations.

The bubble floating over the ND Cowboy Hall of Fame is full of question marks.  Why was the retirement of director Darrell Dorgan announced well after he left?  Will the Medora organization default on a bonds issued to pay for a new building?  Why did it have unpaid bills to Medora going back a year?  The Hall of Fame has asked for help from Medora and Billings County.

A crude calculation indicates that natural gas wasted or flared each year in ND could heat all the homes in the state for over two years.  Despite that discouraging news, the situation is getting better.  The state burns off 34 percent of the natural gas it produces, but hopes that $3 billion of planned infrastructure investment will bring the flaring down to 10 percent, still much higher than the national average of 1 percent.

Nodaks are becoming accustomed to announcements of staggering infrastructure projects -- some otherwise very large projects are lost in the noise.  An example, a square mile industrial park is planned four miles north of Williston -- it will have a truck stop with parking space for 400 trucks.

When columnist Lloyd Omdahl launched a discussion of the “No Child Left Behind” act, it was hard to see where he was going.  You found the answer near the end of his column -- he would like to see ND pull out of the national program and launch its own initiative using a significant allocation of state oil revenues.

Over the years, I’ve mentioned the death notices of tough and accomplished ND women.  I’m adding “Kitty” Anderson (84) of Powers Lake to the list.  She worked as a rancher, welder and electrician, later returned to college, obtained a nursing degree and began a career in health services.  In between these activities she had 14 children, now scattered across the nation.

This year’s flood in Minot was probably the city’s greatest disaster.  But the anhydrous ammonia spill a decade ago was Minot’s most intense disaster.  Over 700 people were treated at local hospitals when 31 CP cars derailed and 150,000 gallons of anhydrous was spilled and vaporized.  A Minot Daily News editorial said, “Ten years after the accident, Minot remains a railroad town, and trains rumble through the city every day, a constant reminder of the events of Jan. 18, 2002.”

Two articles about Somalis appeared in ND newspapers on the same day.  An article in the GF Herald said “at least 21 men have left Minnesota to join al-Shabab” (a terrorist organization in Somalia).  Two have died as suicide bombers.  Banks in Minnesota have stopped participating in money transfers to Somalia -- the transfers usually involve informal brokers at each end called hawalas.  A Fargo Forum article reported transfers are still being originated by a hawala in Fargo.  The Forum article noted Fargo has about 2,000 Somali residents.

DAKTOIDS: By mid-January, the ND University System had received 16 applications for chancellor.  They range from a drill sergeant to a veterinarian on one hand, and from a university president to a CEO on the other . . . Bismarck Tribune columnist Ken Rogers wonders “if the new oil-field North Dakotans will shape the character of the people who live here, or if long-time residents will shape the character of the newcomers?” . . . The border crossing at Pembina is the fifth-largest between Canada and the U.S. in terms of trade value . . . The Forum reports Sanford Health and Bismarck Medcenter One are discussing merger.  The combination would extend Sanford to central and western ND.

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