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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

SCHMID: LOOKING BACK FROM THE LEFT COAST - JANUARY 22, 2018

THE MAIN STREET ND SUMMIT will be held in Bismarck Feb. 12-13. The event kicks off Gov. Burgum’s main street initiative and is intended to bring national development experts in front of community leaders and interested citizens. The objective according to Burgum is “vibrant, healthy communities that people want to live in.” The speakers are Charles Marohn (author of “Thoughts on Strong Towns”), Robert Gibbs (urban retail planner) and Roger Brooks (expert in destination management). The main challenge for the speakers will be to make their ideas relevant to the state's small cities.
 
HIGHER OIL PRODUCTION and stronger prices translate into better news for ND’s economy and budget. Lynn Helms, director of the ND Mineral Resources Dept., reported an increase in November production and an expectation that production would set new records in the first half of 2018.
 
CARA MUND, 2018 Miss America, is a popular speaker on the ND banquet circuit. One example is the Bismarck-Mandan Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner where she delivered a message on leadership. Her sponsors were effusive, the chamber president said “She is a tremendous example for this entire community” and another Bismarck leader enthused "She's driven; she's passionate; she brings vision to reality."

“THEY ARE NO LESS DESERVING” A former Fargo resident’s letter expressed pleasure at having “the 2018 Miss America (Cara Mund) come from our very own state.” After that, his intentions became less clear. He saluted ND girls and women who didn’t make it so big -- those who were Miss Shorthorn, Pork Princess, etc. Don Homuth wrote “These are young women whose moment of fame is small and brief” and they “didn’t attend Brown University (as Cara did).” He said they embody “the sense of values, hard work, honest living and promise that have been the hallmark of North Dakotans for generations.” This is summarized from Bob Lind’s Neighbors column in the Forum.
 
A GOOD INTENTION had an unexpected outcome. The Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. Sen. John Hoeven spearheaded a last moment change in the new tax law to help farm cooperatives and their members. There are unintended consequences -- the change greatly handicaps non-cooperative competitors — could put some out of business. Lawmakers are looking for a reasonable solution. Heaven is dedicated to fixing the problem and a technical corrections measure is one possibility.
 
THERE’S AN ECHO Sen. Hoeven sees the tax reform bill as largely favorable to ND; his Democratic counterpart Heidi Heitkamp expressed serious concerns about the bill. Daryl Lies of Douglas leads the ND Farm Bureau — he echoed Hoeven; Mark Watne of Velva heads the ND Farmers Union — he echoed Heitkamp.
 
ACTOR OR FOOTBALL STAR? “Actor and North Dakota native Josh Duhamel will continue to be the state's public face.” — Dept. of Commerce Director Sara Otte Coleman said Duhamel had been awarded a $365,000 contract lasting through 2019. An interesting sidelight — Coleman said she talked to an agent for Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Carson Wentz, another ND native, who has become a professional star. Wentz did not appear to be interested at this time. She acknowledged ND isn’t “well-known” and needs to build its brand.
 
RED FAWN FELLIS is a high profile defendant in trials related to the Dakota Access Pipeline protests. She pleaded guilty to civil disorder and gun possession by a convicted felon. In turn, prosecutors dropped a more serious weapons charge.
 
WANT A PRESTIGIOUS JOB? UND has many key job openings. Two top priorities: Vice President of Finance and Vice President of University Relations. Deans for the Law School and Business School and a leader for the Center for Innovation are close behind.
 
MONSTER SNOWPLOWS ND is home to 32 monster snowplows. The devices are attached to the rear of conventional plow trucks allowing them to clear an entire two-lane highway or one side of an interstate in a single pass. The tow plow attachments extend beyond the sides of the truck and reduce the time and number of rigs needed to clear roads. Stay well back, the rigs produce a snow cloud, and forget about passing until the operator pulls over. The rigs look more bizarre when they also pull a 2,000 gallon tank carrying liquid de-icer.
 
DEADLY BORDER Last year, an estimated 1,000 refugees crossed into Canada near the Pembina Border Crossing. The wave continues, but with a deadly winter aspect. Minneapolis taxi drivers are alleged to bring illegal refugees (mostly Africans) to fields near the border and dropping them in severe winter weather. One refugee nearly perished in -40 wind chill conditions. Residents of the border area demand a stop to the practice of abandoning refugees in remote locations during severe weather, so far, no practical way has been found to prevent it.
 
THE MORE THE MERRIER The St. Paul Pioneer Press discussed Minnesota attitudes toward refugees. Minnesota has been a welcoming state with 13% of the nation’s refugees, but only 2% of its population. Sponsoring agencies, such as Lutheran Social Services, say the more refugees the better. Kim Crockett, a spokesperson for the Center of the American Experiment, expressed concern that agencies like LSS have more say on refugees than local government. The Press reported “when many refugees end up enrolled in Medicaid or assistance programs such as those for housing or transportation or language study, Minnesotans absorb the extra costs.” Crockett said, “When we question this, we are told that is mean-spirited, bigoted and xenophobic.”
 
DAKTOIDS: ND is the only state with over 50 percent of its exports to Canada — NAFTA is critically important . . . Bill Chaves, Athletic Director at E. Washington, was hired for the same position at UND . . . A GF Herald editorial noted that athletics plays such a large role in the area “that Chaves, simply by taking office, becomes one of the most influential figures in Grand Forks.” 

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