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General News

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

A 42-unit apartment building in northwest Mandan was severely damaged by fire Sunday.

The blaze was reported shortly after noon. Firefighters say it began in a third floor patio – and spread throughout the upper floor.

"The entire third floor was consumed," said Morton County Emergency Manager Tom Doehring. "It will be uninhabitable, and it will have to be reconstructed."

Fire crews from Mandan, Bismarck, the nearby Marathon Oil Refinery, and rural departments responded. They fought the blaze in 90-plus degree heat and humid conditions.

A group wants to place a measure on the ballot that would end the prohibition on marijuana in North Dakota.

The group has submitted a proposed initiated measure to amend North Dakota’s Constitution.

"It really is time," said Jody Vetter of Bismarck, the steering committee chairperson. "We can't keep arresting our citizens, even though it is an infraction -- it's still on your record. It just needs to stop the stigma."

Recreational marijuana measure proposed

Jul 12, 2019

Marijuana measure                                     7-12-19 ddt

There’s another attempt to legalize recreational marijuana in North Dakota.

A group has submitted a proposed Initiated Constitutional measure to allow recreational marijuana.

The measure limits individuals to 12 plants. It would require a license to sell marijuana products, and it prohibits the sale of marijuana products to anyone under the age of 21.

Church sexual assault victim goes public

Jul 11, 2019
T.McDonald / Prairie Public

A Rolette County woman is speaking up and telling her story about being sexually abused by a Catholic Priest. Prairie Public Reporter Todd McDonald has details…

UND Student Union rebuild going forward

Jul 11, 2019

The state Board of Higher Education has given UND permission to issue up to $80 million in bonds for a new Student Union.

But the actual cost may be less than that.

UND students voted to approve the project, with the bond payoff to come from increased student fees.

Interim UND President Josh Wynne had asked the staff to take another look at the proposal – because he was concerned about increased student debt load. But he told the Board he supports the project.

Reclamation work continuing at Gascoyne Mine

Jul 11, 2019

The mining stopped in the mid-90s.

But the reclamation work goes on.

Knife River Coal continues to work on reclaiming the Gascoyne Mine in southwestern North Dakota. It has one permitted parcel left to reclaim.

"This has taken decades," said Public Service Commissioner Randy Christmann, who holds the PSC's reclamation portfolio. "While some of the features were tiny, they weren't ignored."

Christmann said the company needed to make sure the reclamation was done correctly, even though mining operations had ceased -- and no revenue was coming in.

PSC looking at Dakota Access capacity plans

Jul 11, 2019
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The developers of the Dakota Access Pipeline are taking the next step in expanding the pipeline’s capacity.

The current capacity is 500,000 barrels of oil a day.

Energy Transfer Partners has now applied to the North Dakota Public Service Commission to site a new pumping station in Emmons County, west of Linton.

"It will consist of five 6,000 horsepower electric motors and pumps," said Commissioner Julie Fedorchak. "It will allow for pipeline transportation of up to 1.1 million barrels of crude oil per day.

North Dakota’s Insurance Department has fined Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota $125,000 after a 16-month “market conduct exam” found it had improperly denied certain claims and failed to report some insurance fraud.

Insurance Commissioner Jon Godfread said the focus was on mental health and substance abuse claims. He said a lot of the problems came in disagreements over the level of treatment.

"Your doctor says, 'You need 10 days of in-patient treatment,' and Blue Cross may come back and say, 'No, you need three," Godfread said.

Durum acreage down in ND

Jul 10, 2019

North Dakota producers have planted a lot less durum this year.

The North Dakota Wheat Commission reports durum acres fell to 750,000 – the lowest since 2011.

Wheat Commission marketing director Jim Peterson said it stands to reason.

"Typically, producers need $1 to $1.50 a bushel premium to grow durum over spring wheat," Peterson said. "That's primarily because of the quality risk."

Peterson said durum has a higher quality threshold to make milling quality.

"That just hasn't been there in the last couple of years," Peterson said.

BSC President Larry Skogen to retire in summer 2020

Jul 9, 2019

The president of Bismarck State College will retire June 30th, 2020.

Larry Skogen has served as BSC’s leader for 12 years. Skogen said he’s leaving on a “high note” – after what he described as a “wonderful” Legislative session.

"The support we got for our health sciences program, the polytechnic initiative, pay raises for our employees -- all of this was just really, really wonderful," Skogen said in an interview with Prairie Public.

What also drove his decision -- the campus is beginning a strategic planning effort.