Local Stories

ND Association of Counties

The executive director of the North Dakota Association of Counties says you’ll see some differences in your property tax bills this fall.

Mark Johnson said the 12 percent buy down is gone. Johnson says with the slowdown in the oil industry, state lawmakers decided the state could no longer afford that.

"Legislators said that on the floor," Johnson said in an interview. "They said it's probably not sustainable."

Johnson said at the time the 12 percent buydown passed, legislators wanted to, as Johnson put it, "Share the abundance we had for a couple of years."

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

No word yet from the US Geological Survey on whether it will do an updated assessment of the oil in the Bakken and Three Forks formations.

Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) and others asked USGS for that reassessment recently. That could lead to more exploration and development in the Bakken.

State mineral resources director Lynn Helms saids USGS is now talking about a full Williston Basin-wide assessment in a few years. Helms said some oil investors have told him that might be a better approach.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

State school superintendent Kirsten Baesler has launched a new “strategic visioning process” – with a goal of strengthening public education in North Dakota.

Baesler said this will involve various state educational agencies and education groups.

"There are a lot of things going on right now in North Dakota," Baesler said. "Each agency is working very hard."

But Baesler said right now,the agencies are going in their own direction.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The director of the North Dakota Corrections Department’s Division of Juvenile Services wants to change the conversation about measuring whether the state is doing a good job with rehabilitating youth.

"I am a little passionate about the notion of positive youth outcomes," Lisa Bjergaard said in an interview.

Bjergaard said all too often, the success of a program in corrections is measure by the rate of recidivism – that is, people who go through the system, but later re-offend.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Mostly good news…not great news.

That’s how North Dakota Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms characterized the July oil production numbers.

"Oil production was up 15,000 barrels a day in July," Helms said at his monthly "Director's Cut" briefing. "That's about 1.4 percent."

Helms said natural gas production was up at about the same pace.

"They're not huge jumps, but very positive," Helms said.

Helms says production is about 5 percent over forecast -- and that should offset some of the current prices, that are lagging behind forecast.

ND Legislature

An interim Legislative committee has begun its study of health insuarnce for public employees.

Sanford Health has the current contract to provide that insurance. But the Interim Health Care Reform Review Committee is looking at the possibility of adopting a “self-insurance” plan for North Dakota public employees. Right now, the state has a “hybrid plan” – which combines elements of a fully-paid plan with self-insurance.

Plains Folk Essay: Song of Memory

Sep 14, 2017

Mary Louise Defender Wilson is a storyteller, historian, scholar, and educator of the Dakotah and Hidatsa people. She’s among this year’s honorees to the North Dakota Native American Hall of Honor. 

Physics of Parachutes

Sep 14, 2017

The first couple weeks of school, kids might be easing back into their studies. But, there’s no denying it now. After Labor Day, school is fully back in session. Main Street’s Ashley Thornberg found a group of eager learners who didn’t wait for school to start. They were anxious to try out advanced math during the dog days of summer with science educator Dr. Erin Nyren.

Interim committee studying juvenile justice reform

Sep 14, 2017
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

An interim Legislative committee has begun its study of the juvenile justice system.

Members of the Justice Reinvestment Committee are hoping that some of the juveniles who now go through the court system will be able to be diverted into community-based treatment programs.

The Department of Corrections Director of the Division of Juvenile Services, Lisa Bjergaard, said some work toward that reform is already underway, thanks to the study done two years ago, and the recommendations that came from the Council of State Governments.


News from NPR

Chancellor Angela Merkel is in position to rule for a fourth term, according to early exit polls in Germany's national election, which also saw voters send the right-wing Alternative for Germany party (AfD) to Germany's parliament, the Bundestag.

Preliminary results show German voters gave Chancellor Angela Merkel a mandate for a fourth term today, but with far fewer votes than needed for her to govern without forming a coalition.

Merkel had campaigned on her record as a highly respected leader not only in Germany, but internationally as well as record low unemployment and strong economic growth. But German unhappiness over her refugee policy that allowed more than a million asylum seekers into the country since 2015 was something she never fully recovered from.

The weekend saw an escalation in the war of words between Washington and Pyongyang, complete with a U.S. show of military might over the waters near North Korea and jitters over what seismologists say was an earthquake near a North Korean nuclear test site.

When it comes to brownie recipes, one would usually expect to hear ingredients such as flour, sugar, eggs and chocolate. But one woman dished out a most unusual addition – a heavy serving of infidelity. It all started when The New York Times published Katharine Hepburn's Brownies Recipe two years ago.

Last week in the Russia imbroglio: Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, got some bad news; members of Congress put social networks, including Facebook and Twitter, under the interrogation lights; and with all these many lawyers now running around — the meter is running too.

Much more below.

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Main Street

The GameChanger Ideas Festival ~ News Chat with Dave ~ Matt Reviews "Mother!"

The GameChanger Ideas Festival gets underway tomorrow in Bismarck. This year’s theme is “In Justice: Rethinking America's Criminal Justice System.” Joining us with a preview are Kayla Schmidt of the North Dakota Humanities Council, and featured speaker Tom Gash, author of Criminal: The Truth About Why People Do Bad Things.” ~~~ Historian and writer Tom Isern shares a Plains Folk essay titled “Prairie Post Offices.” ~~~ Another excerpt from Vietnam Memories as we hear from David Sherzer of...

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