Mike Nowatzki reports for Forum News Service. He can be reached at (701) 255-5607.
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BISMARCK – State Engineer Todd Sando informed the State Water Commission on Wednesday that he will retire by the end of June, capping a 31-year career with the agency. The 54-year-old Sando joined the agency in January 1985. The commission’s nine-member board hired him as state engineer in July 2010, replacing Dale Frink, who had retired the previous month. “It’s hard for me to do this because water has been my life,” Sando said.
BISMARCK – The first track inspector hired by North Dakota regulators for a new rail safety program created in the wake of two fiery oil train derailments has earned his federal certification while finding more than 400 defective conditions and over a dozen violations, PSC officials said Wednesday. The three-member Public Service Commission received notice Monday that inspector Karl Carson is now certified by the Federal Railroad Administration, PSC chairwoman Julie Fedorchak said.
BISMARCK – State lawmakers pressed a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers official here Tuesday for assurances that the federal agency will fund its share of the Fargo-Moorhead flood diversion project beyond the $5 million announced last month that put it on the corps’ to-do list.
BISMARCK – A group trying to raise $1 million in private donations to help pay for a new North Dakota governor’s residence is pushing back its timeline by a few months, but co-chairman Jim Poolman remains confident the money will materialize despite the state’s economic downturn. Commitments of more than $500,000 that were announced just before Christmas are now in the bank, meeting the requirement for construction to begin, Poolman said Tuesday before updating a panel of lawmakers about the fundraising effort.
BISMARCK – Two months after cutting 60 jobs and closing seven offices to cover a $4.1 million budget shortfall, Job Service North Dakota has received extra federal dollars to hire temporary staff to help deal with unemployment insurance claims that continue to roll in at record levels.
BISMARCK – A decades-old vision of sending Missouri River water to eastern North Dakota to provide relief during times of drought has found a new path forward – and it starts underground. A recently completed study confirms that a system of collector wells along the Missouri River can gather enough water to service the entire Red River Valley Water Supply Project, said Ken Vein, vice chairman of the 13-county Lake Agassiz Water Authority, the project’s local sponsor.
BISMARCK – Recently announced budget cuts in North Dakota have the state’s biggest health care providers saying patient care will suffer and has one lawmaker questioning a state agency’s decision-making. The North Dakota Department of Human Services was forced to slash $54 million from its general fund budget which could mean the loss of an additional $61 million in federal funds, lawmakers learned this week.
BISMARCK – North Dakota’s budget woes and slumping oil industry loomed large as the three GOP hopefuls for governor squared off in their first debate Thursday, pitching their visions for reviving the state through lower taxes, spending cuts and diversifying the economy and sparring over social issues like abortion and marijuana.
BISMARCK – State agencies will be asked next month to build smaller budgets for the next biennium, but one lawmaker questioned Thursday why their starting point won’t include the budget cuts made last month to help offset a more than $1 billion revenue shortfall. “To me it looks like we’re putting our head in the sand again,” Rep. Roscoe Streyle, R-Minot, said during a meeting of the Legislature’s Budget Section.
BISMARCK – Three candidates competing for the Republican Party’s endorsement for governor will clash in a rare debate on a historic stage here Thursday, each aiming to distinguish himself as the leader to guide North Dakota through tumultuous economic times. State Rep. Rick Becker of Bismarck, Fargo entrepreneur Doug Burgum and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem will square off at 7 p.m. at the 102-year-old Belle Mehus Auditorium.