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Monday, June 25, 2018

SCHMID: LOOKING BACK FROM THE LEFT COAST - JUNE 25, 2018

GRAND FORKS HAS UAS MUSCLE:  The Grand Sky Technology Park, the Northern Plains UAS Test Site, the UND aerospace school, the Customs and Border Protection UAS facility and the Grand Forks AFB.  Sen. Hoeven invited the Secretary of Homeland Security to GF this summer to see the area’s array of UAS assets, which could play an important role in a new plan for security along the northern border.  ND’s congressional delegation sees GF and the state having a significant part in future border security.
 
ND GROWS YOUNGER  From 2010 to 2017 the median age in the state decreased from 37 to 35.1.  During the same period, the national median age rose from 37.2 to 38.  Credit the Oil Patch and Fargo for much of ND’s median age decrease.
 
CONTRACT RENEWAL FOR KENNEDY?  Mike Jacobs’ column this week described how the ND Board of Higher Education has dealt with contract renewal for university presidents.  But the column was mostly about the decision the BoHE will make next week about contract renewal for UND President Mark Kennedy, recently a candidate for the presidency of Central Florida.  Kennedy has one year left on a three-year contract and one state senator called him “a looker.”  Jacobs said opinion about Kennedy is divided in Grand Forks.
 
WIND FARMS jump through lots of hoops to get permits.  An example — sometimes the plans must be modified to protect migrating birds.  Courtenay Wind Farms has 100 turbines about 15 miles north of Jamestown.  The turbines are big fellows — the tips of the blades are 426 feet above ground.  Although Courtenay has been operating since 2016, it must jump through another hoop — application for a Permit for “Taking” Bald Eagles.  The proposed permit from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife specifies that the farm may accidentally kill one eagle a year or five in a five-year period.  While you contemplate horrible deaths for eagles, consider that cats kill more birds than the entire energy industry (from a Forum article by Patrick Springer).
 
TRIBAL COLLEGES  ND has 5 of the nation’s 32 TCUs (Tribal Colleges & Universities), only Montana has more.  There is one at each of ND’s four main reservations plus United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck.  The TCUs are federally funded.  Tribal colleges in ND are academically unimpressive — Candeska (Spirit Lake) President Cindy Linquist said her school has bad graduation rates (as low as 15 percent) reflecting the poor preparation of K-12 students from reservation schools.  However, she considers the colleges serve a greater purpose as cultural and learning centers for the reservations.  For example, she said Candeska’s library is a community center and the most prominent facility of its kind on the reservation — some tribal members even park outside to access the library WiFi on their cell phones.
 
UNREPENTANT  A late South Dakota Governor was notorious and unrepentant for being a serial speeder.  He even joked about it quipping “Bill Janklow speeds when he drives,” that is, until he blew through a stop sign and killed a motorcyclist.  In ND, Democratic candidate for attorney general David Thompson is similarly blasé about his speeding, he said, “I travel a lot of miles, and it's wide open spaces here in North Dakota.”  He was recently cited for driving 80 mph in a 55 mph zone near Grand Forks.  A GF Herald editorial didn’t think his attitude was cool — they said he should acknowledge his latest infraction and demonstrate a sincere effort at self-improvement.
 
LITTLE DID THE OWNERS KNOW that the Great Plains Synfuel Plant in Beulah would be overwhelmed with business in its first year of fertilizer production.  They prepared for the 2018 spring planting season by storing 40,000 tons of nitrogen fertilizer, but in a two-week period in May they shipped 80,000 tons.  The company became an almost instant tycoon in the regional fertilizer business.  While not planned that way, fertilizer is already half of the company’s business.
 
BROOKS BOLLINGER is a wealth advisor in Minneapolis inducted into the ND Sports Hall of Fame last weekend.  A quarterback at Central High in Grand Forks, he was also a member of its state champion basketball team.  As a four-year starter at Wisconsin, he took the football team to three bowl wins.  Bollinger was drafted by the NFL Jets in 2003 and also later played with the Vikings and Cowboys.
 
DRUNKEN DRIVING seems a forgivable offense in ND.  Many political candidates and office holders have DUIs.  This week Stark County (Dickinson) Auditor Kay Ann Haag was arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence.  In 1997, she was arrested, fined and given a suspended sentence for DUI.
 
POLICE MUST BE LIKE SOLOMON  Last week I mentioned here that Minneapolis backed away from arresting people for low level downtown drug crimes because they were “black men and women who are low income and homeless.”  This week a Star Tribune editorial conditionally supported the action saying the "MPD should pay close attention to whom they arrest and under what circumstances.”  There was immediate blowback from about 100 Tribune readers almost all disagreeing with the editorial.  Their comments are hard to summarize, but this one came close: “How would you like to be a cop in this town? ‘Well, we saw them committing a crime, however after reviewing their socio-economic and racial status we decided we couldn't make an arrest.’ “
 
BUT!  The Tribune acknowledged there is a problem: “If unchecked, frequent, visible drug transactions, panhandling and harassing speech and behaviors do have an impact on how safe workers, residents and visitors feel.  The city must address . . . the range of lesser livability offenses that occur downtown.”
 
 
DAKTOIDS:  In April, ND oil production of 1.2 million barrels a day was up over five percent and nudged the all-time high of 1.23 mbd . . . The planned oil refinery near T. Roosevelt National Park has received a final air quality permit — Meridian Energy will begin construction on ND’s third refinery . . . Teachers in Minot start at $42,000/yr — with experience and education they top out at $78,000 . . . ND will start collecting sales tax from online sales based on yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling.
  

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