Grady McGregor is a city and state politics reporter for The Dickinson Press. He joined The Press in July 2017.
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I walked into the House of Manna for the first time this week to do a story about Manager Nan Rapp. While interviewing Rapp, nearly a dozen longtime donors brought in hand knit blankets and hats, kitchenware and many other donations at different times. Volunteers, some of whom have help there for decades, buzzed around helping to sort out the goods and prepare them for the afternoon donation hours.
Concrete has been laid, steel beams are in the ground and crews are working through the winter to complete a new expansion to the Dunn County Courthouse in Manning. The courthouse project is on track to finish spring of 2018, but in order to open the county is depending on continued funding from federal mineral royalties and mineral extraction taxes on federal lands, which provides about $5 million to Dunn County each year.
ND Moves, a statewide North Dakota Department of Transportation initiative to promote active and public transportation, held an open house on Tuesday evening to discuss the state's long- term plans to build better infrastructure for public and active transportation. On the first of two public input tours around the state, representatives from NDDOT gathered information from Dickinson residents on Tuesday about the transportation needs of the community.
North Dakotans passed a ballot measure to legalize Medical Marijuana in the state over a year ago with 59 percent of Stark County voters supporting legalization. Now, Stark County is beginning to draft an ordinance that could eventually bring medical marijuana to the area.
In just a few weeks, residents of Dickinson and Stark County may not only be ringing in the new year with parties and hopeful resolutions, but also a completed county courthouse. Rod Cockeram, of Scull Construction, project manager for the new addition to the Stark County courthouse, believes his construction crews will be clear of the site and the building will be ready to open by the beginning of next year.
The Board of University and School Lands awarded the Dickinson Municipal Airport six grants totalling $1.4 million Wednesday to help make improvements at the airport related to oil-impacted development. The largest grant awards from the Land Board were for the new Williston Municipal Airport that is under construction. Grants to the northwest North Dakota airport totaled more than $18 million. Airports in Mohall, Stanley, Tioga and Watford City also received grants ranging from $80,000 to nearly $1 million.
The Stark County Commission unanimously rejected a wave of tax abatement claims on Tuesday from several major property owners in the Dickinson area including Walmart, large apartment complexes and several other hotels and businesses. It follows an earlier decision by the Dickinson City Commission. The main issue was whether Dickinson Tax Assessor Joe Hirschfeld overvalued the Dickinson properties and is levying unfairly high taxes against them.
The Dickinson City Commission passed the first hearing of an ordinance that will allow the operation of pet day cares within residential zoning districts, provided that the businesses are able to meet certain requirements and qualify for a special use permit. Outgoing city attorney Haylee Cripe described the details of the ordinance to the commission, including a summary of the pet day care standards, the types of homes permissible for these types of businesses and processes for filing and handling complaints.
After months of heated debate, Jessica Uran's Happy Hounds Dog Day Care may soon be codified into city law, and open the possibility for similar pet day cares to operate in the city. On Monday, the Dickinson City Commission will consider an ordinance to allow for pet day cares to operate under special use permits in residential areas of Dickinson.
It was impossible not to smile during Jackie Bird's performance at Dickinson State University's student center on Wednesday evening. Bird performed with her son Gordon Bird II, who she affectionately called "big boy." The performance, which included dancing, singing and even ventriloquism, blended practices from Bird's Mandan-Hidatsa and Sisseton-Wahpeton heritage.