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Monday, July 24, 2017

SCHMID: LOOKING BACK FROM THE LEFT COAST - JULY 24, 2017

LOW PRICES for both oil and farm crops highlight the risk of ND’s reliance on unprocessed commodities. Despite the commodity slowdown, investments are being made in projects to produce value-added products. Tesoro is retrofitting its Dickinson refinery to process soy and corn oil into renewable diesel to be blended with petroleum diesel. Oasis Midstream is expanding its McKenzie County natural gas plant to make it the largest processing plant in the state. The Bismarck Tribune said both projects offer long-term benefits for the state: “One reduces the waste of natural gas and the other provides a market for products and results in a quality fuel.”

“SO FAR, SO GOOD” -- GF Herald appraisal of Gov. Doug Burgum. A Herald editorial noted Burgum had a 66 percent favorability rating, No. 4 in the nation (Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton is No. 22). The Herald felt it was too early to reach a definite conclusion on Burgum: “Time will tell.”

THE MAGIC CITY Where did Minot find that name? Well, it didn't happen recently. In the 1880s, Minot was a tent town part of the construction of the Great Northern Railroad. The tents were replaced almost overnight with houses and the city’s speedy growth led to the nickname “The Magic City.” Minot was incorporated in 1887 and is now observing its 130th birthday. The Minot Daily News summarized today’s city of 50,000: “Minot is a trade center for northwest and north central North Dakota along with Canada and Montana. The city is surrounded by agriculture and is in the eastern boundary of the oil-rich Williston Basin.”

JAILS CLOSE TO HOME ND counties are expanding their jails. In 2017, nine counties will spend $230 million to build 890 new jail beds bringing jail capacity to over 2,600 beds. What’s happening -- has there been an outbreak of lawlessness? No, new ND laws require more prisoners to be kept at the county level -- an effort to stabilize the population of the state prison in Bismarck. Costs will shift from the state to the counties.

A REGIONAL BENEFIT “Grand Forks, East Grand Forks, Crookston and Thief River Falls are separate cities, each with their own leadership and destiny. But really, those four cities are intertwined through their shared interest in the region doing well.” -- A GF Herald editorial explained why the expansion of Digi-Key Electronics in Thief River Falls is monumental news for the region. Digi-Key is constructing a massive plant which will house 1,000 new workers. The expansion is forecast to add upwards of $500 million in annual economic output for the region.

DON’T BOTHER TO LOOK UP, it’s just another tornado. Last week seven tornadoes were confirmed in the Red River Valley. One was described this way: "It collapsed at least one shed, snapped numerous trees and tossed dozens of large 2,000-pound round hay bales more than a half mile across a sugar beet field. It also snapped at least a half dozen wooden power poles along its path." Fortunately, the tornadoes were in rural areas and victims were hay bales.

THE BAD SEED Ward County farmers have persuaded their County Commission to withdraw from a 7-county cloud seeding program designed to inhibit hail and promote rain. The farmers think the program achieves the opposite.

THE BANK OF JOHN DEERE has stepped into a void created by a reduction in bank lending to overextended farmers. The Wall Street Journal says Deere recently become the fifth largest ag lender in the U.S. The world’s largest manufacturer of farm equipment is willing to lease or loan to borrowers who have high equity (property values in excess of liabilities). Deere’s objective is to keep farmers on their feet and facilitate sale of tractors and combines -- a calculated risk that prices for farm products will recover. Leasing has become the favorite way of financing farm equipment.

TELEMEDICINE is the use of technology, usually via video, to diagnose patients remotely. Telepharmacy allows retail pharmacies in remote areas to operate without a pharmacist present. The use of both technologies is growing rapidly in rural areas of ND.

THEY BITE “If residents see any mink in the area, they are asked not to approach them because they may bite.” -- Lang Farms, the owner of 30,000 to 40,000 mink released by burglars in central Minnesota. Residents were asked to call the farm “so the animals can be recaptured by experienced mink handlers.” Officials said, “The release of predatory domestic animals will have a negative impact on the surrounding native wildlife population.”

“THE CITY OF MINNEAPOLIS is in a real pickle with this one. A white female shot by a Somali police officer, who is also refusing to cooperate.” -- From a letter to the Star Tribune. The shooting incident connects a number of troubling issues in the city: rising crime, police shootings, concerns about and between the women who are mayor and police chief, and a Somali community which lags on most measures of social progress. The city has been pressured to increase the number of blacks (including Somalis) in positions of authority. The Somali officer involved refuses to talk or be interviewed -- he has been with the police less than two years and has a law suit and two pending complaints against him. The city is almost equally tongue-tied about the incident.
JANEE HARTEAU, Minneapolis police chief, broke the silence and condemned the actions of the Somali police officer, Mohamed Noor, saying his actions were not reflective of the department. A friend said Noor feels he has been "thrown under the bus" by his colleagues, who accuse him of improper police conduct.

DAKTOIDS: The Trump administration rejected ND’s request for a disaster declaration to cover the $38 million cost of policing the Dakota Access Pipeline protests . . . Say good-bye -- UND will demolish seven campus buildings by mid-August. Other buildings are closed and may face the same fate . . . UND is included among the top ten universities in the nation for online learning. It has 3,200 distance-only learners out of about 15,000 students.

TREASURE ISLAND - COINS AND PRECIOUS METALS

 

 

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