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Tuesday, July 24, 2018

SCHMID: LOOKING BACK FROM THE LEFT COAST - JULY 23, 2018

NEW RECORDS  In May, ND cruised to new records for oil and gas production, as well as the number of producing wells.  Oil production increased 1.4 percent to 1.24 mbd; nearly 40 percent of production came from McKenzie County (Watford City).

“SLOW AND STEADY” is the outlook for the ND economy for the next few years according to an economist from Moody’s Analytics.  State revenues midway in the 2017-2019 biennium are about three percent ahead of forecast, but state budget managers remain cautious.  For the next couple years ND is expected to be an underperformer compared to the nation.  Ag commodity demand and prices remain the biggest uncertainty.

REGS FOR RV PARKS  After a tornado ripped through a Watford City RV park last week killing one, displacing 200 residents and destroying 120 units, there is general agreement that current regulations are substandard and the state needs tougher rules for RVs and mobile homes.  There are two general avenues: First, build more housing, so fewer people are living in RVs; second, develop better standards for those who must.  The oil boom created such rapid development in places like McKenzie County that regulation never caught up.  Enforcement is also an issue.  Many older units are “grandfathered” from new regulations.

NOT QUITE THE STATE'S TALLEST  The $100 million Block 9 office tower will be the tallest building in Fargo and the biggest project of its type in state history.  The Kilbourne Group expects to start construction in late August and be completed about two years later.  The tower will be 235 feet (the state capitol in Bismarck is 242 feet) and be accompanied by a 379-stall parking ramp.

NOT A GIRLY GIRL  U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp is seen as a potential swing vote for Trump’s Supreme Court nominee.  An AP article in the Star Tribune defined the issue: “Will the everywoman persona that makes her popular at home be enough to fight off attacks from the right if she does not side with the president on his pick for the top court? Or will she lose support from within her party if she does?”  The article also drew this picture: “The lines on her face tell a story of 62 years of bracing northern winters, high-profile political wins and crushing losses.  When she locks eyes in conversation, those lines quickly appear when she lets loose her hard laugh, as she did at the counter of a suburban Bismarck coffee shop.”  She told the AP "No one ever accused me of being a girly girl.”
THE GF HERALD experienced more shocks.  Earlier, their building was sold and staff reduced.  This week, the Herald announced it will no longer print the paper on Monday and will close its GF print facility and consolidate printing with the Fargo Forum.  The Herald emphasized its online edition and the publisher said the moves are “meant to ensure our own stability and future.”

CAREFUL WHAT YOU SAY!  The Star Tribune reported, “The U. of Minnesota is considering a new ‘gender identity’ policy that would assure transgender men and women, as well as others, the right to use whatever pronoun they wish on campus — whether it’s he, she, ‘ze’ or something else.”  Well, ok, that seems unnecessary, but hardly threatening.  Here’s where it gets sticky.  The Tribune article continued, “And everyone from professors to classmates would be expected to call them by the right words or risk potential disciplinary action, up to firing or expulsion.”  All of this to avoid an indignity known as misgendering.  Many faculty and students see the proposed policy as going too far, as one said “a bridge too far to cross.”

UNIVERSITY RESEARCH HAS A MULTIPLIER  The state’s preliminary biennium budget includes $10 million for research to be shared by NDSU and UND.  They each want $25 million — a huge $40 million gap.  The GF Herald believes the matter should be reconsidered — quoting UND Pres. Mark Kennedy and UND’s Energy and Environmental Research Center, the Herald said, for example, that a small improvement in oil recovery means billions more for the industry and many millions for the state in related taxes.  There’s more, ND and Grand Forks need to defend a leading position in the UAS industry.  The Herald concurs with the joint request for more research dollars made by presidents of the two major universities.

IF ONLY HE HAD SAVED HIS CAVALRY UNIFORM  Ernest Hubacker, 102, of Jamestown died last week and his obituary reads like a history lesson.  Ernest graduated from high school in the middle of the Great Depression and he spent nearly four years in the Civilian Conservation Corps, a federal agency designed as an alternative to unemployment.  After Pearl Harbor, he was drafted into the Horse Cavalry in Ft. Riley, Kansas, where he trained horses and mules.  The cavalry ended about that time, he was retrained in California and taken by troopship to India and then Burma.  He fought Japanese on the famous Burma Road and then transferred to China to train Chinese soldiers.  Ernest was there when the war ended and he moved on to a relatively long and uneventful civilian life.

MINNESOTA INDIAN LEADER WINONA LADUKE has vowed to turn the rebuilding of the Enbridge pipeline in that state into another Standing Rock-type protest.  Forum columnist Rob Port contends the protests in ND accomplished little, but created a political backlash against the anti-pipeline movement.  He said ugly protests in Minnesota will invite political resentment and “Protests organized around the egos and careers of professional activists like LaDuke aren't likely to accomplish much.”

DAKTOIDS:  Yes, it has to be mentioned — Carson Wentz was married this week in Pennsylvania . . . The Grand Forks Lamoureux twins were in front when their Olympic women’s hockey team was awarded ESPY’s “Best Game” of the year.  They are the first born-and-raised Nodaks to ever win an Olympic gold medal . . . Business Insider named the Capitol as ND’s “most beautiful building.”

    

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