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Tuesday, September 12, 2017


PRESIDENT TRUMP’S Wednesday speech before 700 guests at the Andeavor Refinery (formerly Tesoro) in Mandan was a major event in the state, but relatively unnoticed elsewhere. Anyone expecting a major policy announcement would have been disappointed, instead the president generalized about tax and regulatory reform saying ND was an “inspiring example of the amazing things that are possible when we unleash the genius of American innovators. This state is a reminder of what can happen when we promote American jobs instead of obstructing American jobs."

GUESTS ON AIR FORCE ONE included ND’s Congressional delegation, Trump’s daughter Ivanka, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn. Gov. Doug Burgum and Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford met Trump at the airport. When asked why Trump was popular in ND, Burgum told columnist Rob Port, “People in North Dakota are self-reliant,” adding that the people here appreciate Trump’s “straight talk” and that he’s “not overly reliant on being politically correct.”

U.S. SEN. HEIDI HEITKAMP joined Trump on the stage. “Everyone is saying, ‘What's she doing up here?’” Trump said. “But I'll tell you what — good woman, and I think we'll have your support.” Heitkamp’s potential election opponents were dismayed, others thought Trump was attempting to maneuver her into supporting Republican tax reform. After the speech, Heitkamp said she’s committed to “fixing our broken tax code.”

ACROSS THE WIDE MISSOURI The ND Dept. of Transportation is completing a $340 million, 60-mile, four-lane expansion of U.S. Highway 85 from Watford City to Williston. The last part of the project, an $80 million bridge across the Missouri River south of Williston, was opened to traffic last week. The bridge is the single largest infrastructure project in DOT history.

A LIFE OF HARD WORK Marie Schock (94) was born on the family farm near Alfred (25 miles southeast of Jamestown) and attended a nearby one-room school before marrying Benjamin. Her obituary documents the life of hard work that followed: She and Bennie farmed at various locations south of Jamestown . . . they worked as janitors at the Dickey County Court House while she was a waitress in Ellendale and did house cleaning . . . in Jamestown both worked as custodians at the Stustman County Bank until retirement and she also worked in the bakery of White Drug. Life slowed down for Marie when Bennie died in 1998.

GRANDMA BOOP had an easier road. According to her obituary, Bette Murphy (80) of Larimore spent most of the last two decades at her grandchildren’s activities. A proud and joyous grandparent. Beyond that, she enjoyed a host of social activities. She is survived by her husband “Spud.”

CONTRADICTION Last week, a Washington Post study indicated ND seniors faced some of the nation’s highest costs for assisted living in a one-bedroom apartment. The October Consumer Reports indicates that ND’s average annual cost of $40,000 was below the national average of $43,500.

FORTY DEFICIENCIES were considered a few too many. The Lake Region Correctional Facility in Devils Lake must shut down within 30 days if significant improvements are not made. The jail has been plagued by escapes -- its population consisted mainly of federal inmates.

FISHER INDUSTRIES, headquartered in Dickinson, is one of four companies selected from 200 applications to build a prototype border wall. Fisher received $500,000 to build a 30-foot long, concrete prototype on the Mexican border.

MOGADISHU, MINNESOTA CANCELED The HBO TV series was to be your opportunity to learn about the large Somali community in Minneapolis. There are conflicting views: The show’s director described it “as a family drama set within a Somali-American family.” Opponents were “concerned that the show would stereotype Somalis as potential terrorists -- an image the community has been fighting.” At any rate, HBO decided not to move forward.

HMONG Yes, we know about Minnesota’s large Somali population, which make Minneapolis the nation’s Somali capital, but we know less about its Hmong. They are 80,000 strong making Minnesota also “the Hmong capital of the United States.” Labor Day was Hmong Day at the state fair.

THE AMERICAN GREAT LOOP takes you down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico, then follows the Intercoastal Waterway up the Atlantic Ocean, and then back through the Great Lakes to the Duluth area of Lake Superior. The Abbys, a couple from Aurora, Minn., plan to take their 40-foot motor yacht on this route.

STICKER SHOCK The Minnesota Private College Council has 17 members. The average annual cost at council schools exceeds $50,000, although most students pay less because of subsidies. Carleton and Macalester are in the mid-$60,000 range. Enrollments are declining and council members are concerned sticker shock is driving away students.

DAKTOIDS: Miss North Dakota, Cara Mund, shared her secret at the Miss America contest in Atlantic City -- she wants to be ND’s first woman governor . . . Iris Westman is the oldest living Nodak -- the 1928 UND grad is 112 . . . Williston’s wastewater treatment plant can handle a population of 60,000 people -- the new $105 million facility has a ways to go -- Williston has about 30,000 people . . . A federal judge in Minneapolis has ordered a temporary halt to the $2.2 billion Fargo-Moorhead Diversion Project.

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