Mike Nowatzki reports for Forum News Service. He can be reached at (701) 255-5607.
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BISMARCK -- Airports around North Dakota's Oil Patch were awarded $27.8 million in grants Thursday by the Board of University and School Lands. The Land Board formally approved the 11 applications to add new passenger terminals, acquire new land to expand runways and parking lots and purchase equipment, among other projects. Minot's airport received the bulk of the funding -- $21.2 million. Bowman received $1.8 million and Dickinson $1.2 million. The airports will first need to secure local or federal funding for their projects to receive the grant money.
BISMARCK -- The group wanting voters to change the state constitution to take a slice of oil taxes and put it toward conservation can start collecting signatures to put it on the November 2014 ballot. Secretary of State Al Jaeger approved the Clean Water, Wildlife and Park Coalition's petition for circulation Thursday. Coalition Chairman Steve Adair said the group is ready to collect the required 26,904 signatures needed to put the issue on the ballot and amend the state constitution.
BISMARCK -- As the state Department of Public Instruction takes calls from school districts about closing schools due to excessive heat, a group of parents who want the school year to start after Labor Day are using the high temperatures to their advantage. "We don't typically call off school for heat in North Dakota," said Matt Strinden, the department's director of teacher and school effectiveness. "It's very unusual for us to have problems with heat." Since Monday, temperatures have soared into the mid-90s and heated up classrooms in many schools without air conditioning.
LEITH -- Residents "want him out," but a white supremacist says he plans to stay in this tiny North Dakota town where he bought up property with the vision of creating a white nationalist community. In an interview Friday, Craig Paul Cobb said he was fired from his road construction job but doesn't plan to leave Leith, about 70 miles southwest of Bismarck. "I plan on staying and that (losing his job) freed me up to get more propaganda and bring more people to Leith," he said.
BISMARCK -- North Dakota's top oil regulator said Wednesday about 1,500 oil wells around the Oil Patch are flaring natural gas and not connected to a pipeline. Of those, he said upwards of 450 are in such remote locations, it's unlikely they will ever get connected. "We want to do something to encourage them to implement new well processes," said Lynn Helms, director of the Department of Mineral Resources.
BISMARCK -- A state fund used to help provide affordable housing for low-and moderate-income families is $3 million richer. Wednesday, U.S. Bank contributed the largest, single contribution to North Dakota's Housing Incentive Fund during a check presentation at its Bismarck office, putting the bank's total contributions to the fund up to $4.2 million since the fund was created. Gov. Jack Dalrymple called the contribution an "astounding amount." "They want money going out to communities and know it will be invested wisely," Dalrymple said. Tim Hennessy, regional president of U.S.
MANDAN -- The 98-degree temperature here Monday, just days before most North Dakota schools are back in session, helped a group of concerned parents illustrate the need to start school after Labor Day. "We can't change the weather, but we might be able to change the school calendar," said Kelly Heinert during a news conference to kickstart an initiative to put the issue on the November 2014 ballot for a statewide vote.
BISMARCK -- The trial for a Dickinson woman alleged to have fraudulently collected donations after experiencing medical complications has been pushed back over a month after a prosecutor violated the court's timeline for submitting evidence. The criminal complaint filed November 30 against Cynthia Ell says Ell persuaded a Billings County resident to write her a check for more than $166,000 to pay her mortgage.
BISMARCK -- Don Morton, a senior director with Microsoft in Fargo, said Wednesday that businesses have to help attract students to North Dakota's 11 public colleges and be more proactive to build a strong pool of potential employees. "Partnerships is everybody doing their part. Businesses have such a vested interest in higher ed, why not get engaged and help guide things?" said Morton, a former North Dakota State University football coach who also is a member of the State Board of Higher Education.
BISMARCK -- U.S. Sen. John Hoeven said Tuesday the key to getting a five-year farm bill passed in Congress hinges on working with the House on reductions to the food stamp program. But it remains to be seen how easy that may be. The Senate is proposing to reduce the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by $4 billion. A House bill that sought $20 billion in cuts failed, and the House later passed a farm bill that did not include the food stamp program. A separate proposal addressing SNAP is slated to be voted on once Congress returns from the August recess.