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That’s how Creighton University professor Ernie Goss describes his latest Mid-American Business Conditions Index.

The index comes from a survey of supply managers in the Mid-American region, that includes North Dakota.

Under the formula, an index under 50 indicates an economic slowdown – and the region’s index slumped to 49.1.

North Dakota’s index remained barely above growth neutral, at 50.1

"Things are really slowing down right now," Goss said in an interview. "We're seeing it in our region, in North Dakota, and across the US."

Reimagining the Rural West

Oct 1, 2019

North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum is chairman of the Western Governors Association and brought the group to Fargo for a one day workshop. Reporter Todd McDonald has details...

K-12 Coordinating Council meets for the first time

Oct 1, 2019
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

It’s called the K-12 Coordination Council.

The Council actually replaces the Education Technology Council. Its mission is to find areas of collaboration among schools, and to identify gaps and duplications in services.

It held its first meeting in Bismarck.

"Excellence is a team sport," Gov. Doug Burgum told the Council. "Innovation is a team sport. Being number one in the country in education is going to require a team sport."

Burgum said it's an opportunity for working together to accomplish things "that maybe haven't been accomplished before."

It's been more than eight years since Minot was hit with the "flood of record."

Over 4100 homes and businesses were damaged or destroyed.

But the city continues to recover.

"I'd like to think that, if most people come into town, the remnants (of the flood) are hard to find," Minot Mayor Shaun Sipma said in an interview with Prairie Public. "Most people are going to take a look at the construction activity we have going on with flood control. That's kind of the optics of the recovery process."

ND farm financial stress

Sep 30, 2019

Many North Dakota farmers are under financial stress.

NDSU state agricultural financial specialist Bryon Parman said you see it in higher loan demand, as well as loan restructuring. He said, for example, loans of over $1 million have drastically increased.

"You can pretty much attribute that to the fact that most of the working capital is burned up," Parman said. "So most of the operating expenses is coming from borrowed funds."

And the biggest reason for that?

Minot is again talking about establishing a curbside recycling plan.

It’s the only one of North Dakota’s four largest cities without a recycling program.

Minot Mayor Shaun Sipma said a few years ago, the city was ready to launch a program. The city even purchased equipment to make it easier for city crews, and bought the special receptacles.

"Then the recycling market fell into the tank when China said, 'We don't want your garbage any more,'" Sipma said in an interview with Prairie Public.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

North Dakotans could see two different measures on the ballot next year to legalize recreational marijuana for adults.

One comes in the form of a state Constitutional amendment. The other would be a statute.

"It is time cannabis is taken out of the failed war on drugs," said Jody Vetter of "ND For Freedom of Cannabis” – the group that is pushing for the Constitutional change. She told the Legislature’s interim Judiciary Committee the one-page measure calls on the Legislature to write the law to regulate the commercial sale of cannabis in North Dakota.

'Kids Count - North Dakota' will change next year

Sep 25, 2019

The Annie E. Casey Foundation has decided to close the “Kids Count – North Dakota” center by the end of the year.

That’s due to a change in direction.

The Kids Count program for North Dakota was housed at NDSU in Fargo. It has been providing data on children and families in the state.

"Historically, the Casey Foundation's objective has been policy change through reliable data," said Kids Count North Dakota director Karen Olson. "From that perspective, we have a great capacity as a social science research center at a university."

'The Banquet' launches 'Adopt-A-Block'

Sep 25, 2019
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The program is called “Adopt A Block.”

It’s an outgrowth of “The Banquet” – a meal outreach program, housed at Bismarck’s Trinity Lutheran Church. It serves free meals four times a week – dinner Tuesday and Thursday, and Lunch Saturday and Sunday.

“Adopt a Block” is the newest program.

"It's the outreach part of 'The Banquet,'" said Banquet chairman of the board Jim Barnhardt.

Barnhardt said “Adopt A Block” serves low income areas of Bismarck with a food distribution truck that sets up in designated areas and provides grocery items to those in need.

New sign for the state Capitol

Sep 23, 2019

The sign, it is a changin’…

It's the sign at the entrance to the state Capitol grounds in Bismarck. The current sign has been removed – and the new one is going to be a lot larger.

"It's going to be about six times larger than the existing sign," said state facilities management director John Boyle. "It's going to be a little bit further back, because it will be in proportion to the green space of the Capitol mall."

The sign will also be lit.