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Bismarck-based University of Mary could see a big freshman class this fall.

“We're expecting about 33 percent more commitments from incoming freshman than at this time last year,”  said Director of undergraduate admissions at U-Mary Chip Hinton. He said that could mean a freshman class of 475 to 500.

"This would be the largest freshmen class in the history of the University of Mary,” Hinton said.

To what does he attribute that interest?

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

More than 700 people are attending the Governor’s first-ever Main Street ND Summit, being held in Bismarck.

The conference is designed for community leaders, to give them tools to make their cities vibrant, so they can attract new people.

"We're competing against every other state for 21st century talent," Gov. Doug Burgum told reporters at the Summit. "It's not enough any more just to have jobs available."

Burgum said the state needs to have communities available that are attractive and livable.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The North Dakota School Boards Association held a seminar on teacher negotiations in Bismarck.

This comes as school districts are struggling with tight budgets.

The 2017 Legislature did not cut funding for local schools, but it didn’t increase funding, either. North Dakota School Boards Association Executive Director Alexis Baxley said that’s put a number of districts between a rock and a hard place.

Bismarck's Kirkwood Mall to get a face-lift

Feb 8, 2018
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

50 years ago, ground was broken for Bismarck’s Kirkwood Mall.

Now, the Mall is undergoing a face-lift.

Part of the reason for it was a flood the mall suffered a year ago. Proceeds from the insurance settlement will help pay for the renovation.

Plans include new flooring, new paint, new chairs and places for people to stand or sit around small tables.

Keith Grotewald owns Lee’s Hallmark, one of the original stores in the mall, opening in 1970. He said the mall has changed along with shoppers’ wants and needs.

Helping people with disabilities stay at home and in their communities, rather than putting them in group homes or nursing homes.

That’s the mission of the North Dakota Statewide Independent Living Council.

"It's to help people to live in their communities, their homes, and living independent lives," said council chairman Brittney Hogan  of Minot. She was asked how North Dakota is doing toward fulfilling that goal.

"I think we have some great centers for independent living," Hogan said. "But being such a rural state, we have barriers."

Kroshus running for the remainder of Kalk's PSC term

Feb 6, 2018
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Public Service Commissioner Brian Kroshus (R) is seeking election to finish the remaining two years on former Commissioner Brian Kalk’s term.

Kroshus was appointed by Gov. Doug Burgum last year – and by state law, would have to run in the next statewide election if he wanted to keep his seat. Kalk resigned to take a job with the Energy and Environmental Research center in Grand Forks.

PSC wants to extend state rail inspection program

Feb 5, 2018
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The North Dakota Public Service Commission will ask the 2019 Legislature to continue the state’s rail inspection program.

The 2015 Legislature agreed to create it, with a sunset clause in 2019.

"Prior to my arrive here, when I would look at the rail inspection program, I would ask the question, 'Why do we have an inspection program when the feds already have inspectors out there?'" said Commissioner Brian Kroshus.

Kroshus said a year ago, his answer would have been 'no." But he said he now supports it.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The Badlands Conservation Alliance and the North Dakota Wildlife Federation want to get a conversation started on oil, gas and energy development in North Dakota.

The two groups have produced a film called “Keeping All the Pieces,” in an attempt to get more public interest in the topic.

The groups say there's no planning document for development, or for reclamation.

"We have 14,000 wells now, and we're on our way to 50,000 to 60,000," said North Dakota Wildlife Federation past President Mike McEnroe. "What do we want out of this, 20, 30, 40, 50 years from now?"

People who want to start manufacturing facilities or “compassion centers” for medical marijuana in North Dakota will have difficulty getting a loan from a bank or credit union – and will also face barriers if they want to deposit money from medical marijuana sales into a bank account.

"Marijuana is still considered an illegal substance, said North Dakota Bankers' Association president Rick Clayburgh.

The federal government still considers it a "schedule one" drug.

During the 2017 drought, the Bank of North Dakota established two special loan programs to help ranchers stressed by the dry conditions.

One was to help farmers find feed for their cattle. A second would help rebuild cattle herds after a number of cows were sold because of a lack of feed.

"But what we found was that, despite the fact that we've had these two programs out there, we've not had any usage," said BND President Eric Hardmeyer.

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News from NPR

When U.S. long track speedskaters Heather Bergsma, Brittany Bowe, Mia Manganello and Carlijn Schoutens won bronze Wednesday in the team pursuit event, they broke a Team USA drought. It was the first long track Olympic medal since the Vancouver Games of 2010.

Donald Trump Jr. says he was impressed by the poor people of India.

During a visit to promote his family's luxury apartments, Trump Jr. had this to say in a television interview with the Indian channel CNBC-TV 18.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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http://saltedlands.org/

Salted Lands Council ~ Mother Language Day ~ Crop Diversification

Wednesday, February 21 – Fintan Dooley is a land and mineral rights attorney. He’s also a member of the Salted Lands Council. He works to strike a balance between the needs of the oil industry, and the preservation of the land. ~~~ Today is International Mother Language Day, celebrating diversity and variety. Dr. Sayeed Sajal is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Minot State University . He shares how MSU observes this day. ~~~ Crop diversification was the name of the game at the...

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