Local Stories

Oil patch growth creates funding nightmare

Nov 7, 2017
Amy Sisk / Inside Energy

The decade-long shale fracking boom in North Dakota sent the population of oil patch communities soaring. These towns beefed up their public services to accommodate all the newcomers, but this sent their finances plummeting at a time when the price of oil tanked.

Now many oil patch cities are tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars in debt. They’re looking for stable funding to pay back their loans while hoping all the new residents choose to stay.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The state Health Department has submitted proposed rules for the Medical Marijuana Program to the Legislature’s Administrative Rules Committee.

But the availability of medical marijuana is still months away.

The interim director for the Health Department’s Division of Medical Marijuana – Jason Wahl – said the rules basically deal with the “compassion centers” – which will manufacture the medical marijuana – and the dispensaries, where people can come to purchase the product.

Office of Management and Budget

The state of North Dakota will continue to use Moody’s Analytics as its revenue forecasting consultant.

It’s a two year contract, with an option to extend.

The state’s Office of Management and Budget issued a “request for proposals” for a revenue forecasting firm.

"In the end, it was only Moody's that submitted a proposal," said State OMB director Pam Sharp. "We thought we were going to get another one, but on the very last day, they contacted us and told us they chose not to submit a proposal."

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Even though the big Sandpiper Pipeline project has been put on indefinite hold – and may not be built – the North Dakota Public Service Commission is extending a “construction inspection” contract for the project.

The pipeline was to extend from the Bakken, across northern North Dakota  to Superior, Wisconsin – 161 miles in length.

A third party firm is hired to make sure construction work is done properly and to the specs set out in the siting permit.

But if the project is on hold, why is the contract being extended?

Maple River Winery grows from modest beginnings

Nov 6, 2017
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

One of the owners of the Maple River Winery in Casselton credits the state’s Pride of Dakota program with helping him grow the business.

Greg Kemple and his wife own the winery and distillery. Maple River Winery began in 2002.

"I was young and naive," Kemple said. "We were like, 'OK -- let's start a small and simple hobby."

Kemple said from that humble beginning, the business has grown.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The North Dakota Public Service Commission hasn’t yet had a chance to look at Otter Tail Power Company’s proposed electric rate increase.

It would be its first increase in 10 years. And the paperwork was filed this week.

"They're looking for $13.1 million," Commissioner Brian Kroshus said. "That would be an 8.7% increase. It's definitely a sizable request."

The utility said it means an average residential customer would see their monthly bills go up by $11.50. For business customers, the increase would be about $22 a month.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The North Dakota Public Service Commission has given its okay to Otter Tail Power for a North Dakota wind farm and a South Dakota Natural Gas power plant.

The two will replace an aging coal plant in Fergus Falls.

The natural gas plant will be built near Astoria, South Dakota – and the Merricourt Wind Farm will be built near Ashley.

"This is replacing the Hoot Lake facility in Fergus Falls (MN)," said Commissioner Brian Kroshus. "That plant, I believe, will be decommissioned in 2021."

New 'Blue Book' to feature Pride of Dakota

Nov 3, 2017
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger has unveiled the new state “Blue Book.”

The book contains a number of facts, statistics and stories about North Dakota. It's published every two years.

This year, the book unveiling came on the state’s birthday – November 2nd – where North Dakota is celebrating 128 years of existence.

"The entire goal of the Blue Book is to preserve our heritage," Jaeger said at a Capitol news conference.

The first copy of the Blue Book was given to the Governor’s office. Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford accepted on behalf of the office.

T.McDonald / Prairie Public

Governor Doug Burgum says global trends are starting to shape how services are being delivered. As reporter Todd McDonald tells us, the Governor has a chance to explain what that means for Higher Education when he spoke with an interim legislative committee at NDSU, Thursday.

Search underway for missing Stanley, ND woman

Nov 1, 2017

Search parties are expected to fan out from Newtown, Thursday, in an attempt to locate a missing woman from Stanley, North Dakota. 32-year old Olivia Keri Lone Bear was last seen on the evening of October 24th leaving Ranchman’s… a bar and grill east of Newtown. Mathew Lone Bear is Olivia Lone Bear’s cousin. He says an organizational meeting was held this (Wednesday) morning to develop the search effort.


News from NPR

Before they dress their turkeys, mash potatoes or pull piping hot pies from the ovens this Thanksgiving, people will tie on aprons.

It's the stories and people behind those aprons that have delighted EllynAnne Geisel for years.

Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, apologized to his constituents in a statement Wednesday for a lewd photo of him that was published anonymously Tuesday on Twitter. The congressman said that he sent the photo to a woman he was in a consensual relationship with while separated from his second wife.

"I am sorry I did not use better judgment during those days. I am sorry that I let my constituents down," the statement read.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Myanmar says it has struck a tentative deal with neighboring Bangladesh for the return of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslim refugees who fled across the border amid a brutal military crackdown.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Main Street

The Blenders ~ Preserving the Ojibwe Language ~ Better Business Bureau ~ Movie Review: Wonder

Wednesday, November 22 – It wouldn’t be the start of the holiday season without a visit from Tim Kasper of the Blenders. In addition to the new show they’ll be touring, there’s a new CD: “Holy Night,” a collection of ten songs, a blend of new and old favorites. ~~~ A month-long Native American Cultural Celebration has been taking place at Minot State University. One of the featured presenters is English teacher Alex DeCoteau, who presented his thesis, "We are not trying to save the language;...

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