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General News

Grand Forks County bridge collapses

Jul 23, 2019
Grand Forks County Sheriff's Office/KNOX

An historic Grand Forks County bridge came tumbling down under the weight of a truck Monday. 

According to the Grand Forks County Sheriff’s Department the truck was three times the weight limit for the crossing which spans the Goose River.

DSU 'dual mission' plans continue

Jul 22, 2019

Dickinson State University continues on its “dual mission” path.

DSU President Dr. Thomas Mitzel said this is to meet demand from industry in western North Dakota.

For example, Mitzel said in May, the University held two communications workshops, and in July started a “Certified Nursing Assistance” program. He said both had overwhelming response.

Mitzel said a task force was appointed to look at things that needed to be addressed quickly, and those programs will be rolled out this fall.

BSC will offer four year degree in cyber security

Jul 22, 2019

Bismarck State College is now offering a four-year bachelor of applied science in cyber security.

BSC President Larry Skogen said the program began with discussions with faculty and staff in the college’s energy programs.

"The reality is, all our electricity in our grid is managed over the Internet," Skogen said. "The Ukrainians found that out, that the Russians could get on the Internet and shut them down. So we started having conversations about how vulnerable we were."

Skogen said an advisory group believed BSC absolutely needed to offer it.

Courtesy US Geological Survey

The US Geological Survey has been doing research into how historic oil and gas production in the Williston Basin has affected native amphibians in the Prairie Pothole Region.

The study specifically looked at wastewater produced by the historic oil activity, and whether metals that occur in those brines ended up in wetlands, and affected the amphibians.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem has filed a lawsuit in federal court in Bismarck, seeking $38 million from the Corps of Engineers for costs associated with the Dakota Access Pipeline protests.

The suit says the Corps allowed protesters to illegally set up camps on Corps land. Protesters were there for about 8 months in three separate camps.

"These folks were all trespassers," Stenehjem said. "They were illegally on federal land. They did not have the permits that are required by the Corps own regulations."

When a North Dakota Attorney General issues a formal opinion, it is deemed to have the force of law until challenged in the courts.

Current Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said that has been upheld by the state Supreme Court a number of times – most recently in the “Legislature versus Burgum” case.

Stenehjem said how Legislators react to Attorney General opinions is "directly proportionate" to how much they like the opinion.

A member of the Legislature’s Audit and Fiscal Review Committee wants the results of performance audits of two state agencies to be referred to the Attorney General’s office for possible criminal prosecution.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

State Auditor Josh Gallion said he will not follow state law that requires him to seek permission from the Legislative Audit and Fiscal Review Committee before launching a performance audit of a state agency.

Language inserted into the auditor’s budget bill by the 2019 Legislature set out that requirement. But a subsequent Attorney General’s opinion said that would be an unconstitutional intrusion by the legislative branch into an executive branch agency, and would likely be found unconstitutional.

The state has filed a formal request with the federal Department of Transportation to block a new Washington state law that would, in effect, ban Bakken crude from being off-loaded from rail cars into any Washington state refinery.

The law prohibits Washington’s refineries from unloading crude from rail tankers unless that crude has a vapor pressure of less than 9 pounds per square inch.  Bakken operators say that’s not possible without removing some of the oil’s valuable components.

New voting devices being 'put through their paces'

Jul 17, 2019
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

At a warehouse in north Bismarck, the Secretary of State’s office is putting new voting devices through the paces.

"We're doing 'acceptance testing,'" said Secretary of State Al Jaeger. "We're making sure all the pieces we have received are working properly."

Jaeger said there are more than 900 pieces of equipment.

"We're checking everything out," Jaeger said.

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