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Affordable Housing Developers, Inc., is working toward building a new 16-unit complex for low-income seniors and people with disabilities. The Dickinson-based nonprofit purchased two buildings from The Arc of Dickinson in 2017 for its Dacotah Ridge Apartments project. "It's what we call an acquisition and rehabilitation project," Andrea Diede, AHD executive director, said. "We got funding from state and federal agencies to acquire the buildings and update them, and that's what we've been working on."
An expansion is being planned for Fairfield's Prairie Elementary. Two classrooms will be added, one of which will include the school's library and computer lab, Shae Peplinski, Billings County School District principal, said. "Currently, the students we have are utilizing other space in the building. Small rooms that aren't even meant to be classrooms. And our computer lab is in a storage room," Peplinski said. Space is also needed for its preschool program, Assistant Principal Danielle O'Brien said.
The City of Beach has received a $50,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The funds will be used for a business expansion and retention survey, Beach Auditor Kimberly Nunberg said. The survey will help guide the community in its business development planning, budgeting, and service efforts to better meet local business needs.
A new half-cent sales tax dedicated to public safety will appear on the November ballot. The sales tax would supplant, not supplement, money being drawn from Dickinson's general fund, Haylee Cripe, sales tax committee member, explained at the Aug. 7 meeting of the city commissioners. "Public safety taxes the general fund pretty heavily," Cripe said. "About 41 percent of the general fund goes to public safety." For 2019, the Dickinson Police Department is requesting a $5.6 million budget and Dickinson Fire Department is requesting $2.3 million, Cripe said.
JLG Architects of Dickinson has been chosen to oversee the construction of a new county social services building. The decision was made at Tuesday's regular meeting of the Stark County Commissioners. Rather than expand on or renovate the existing building at 12th Street West, commissioners have decided on a new building to be located near CHI St. Alexius Health.
Dickinson Paleontologist Denver Fowler and his team are continuing summer field work at Montana's Judith River Formation, where a complete, articulated tyrannosaur skeleton is being uncovered. Fowler has called the Montana site "the most exciting I've ever found." Last year, Fowler found three tyrannosaur sites there. One find had its feet sticking out of a cliff, with all of the bones attached. The feet were placed anatomically correct, both pointing toward each other and fully articulated.
Negotiations between the city and a private developer for a new shopping center continue. Five Diamonds Development of Draper, Utah, wants to build a shopping center on the Interstate-94 business loop and bring in four major national retailers: TJ Maxx, Hobby Lobby, Shoe Dept. and Dollar Tree. However, this can only be done if the city pays to expand Fairway Street.
Dickinson's garbage routes are changing with the city's new recycling program, which is set to launch in October. "We're making them easier for our drivers and easier for our people," Rachel Shumaker, city recycling coordinator, said. Starting in October, between Interstate 94 and Villard, east of Sims Avenue garbage will be collected Tuesdays. West of Sims, it will be collected Thursdays. All neighborhoods north of Interstate-94 will be collected Friday. The largest section of Dickinson being affected is neighborhoods south of Broadway Street.
Dickinson State University could become a polytechnic campus, Tom Mitzel, DSU president, told city commissioners Tuesday. To better meet regional and state workforce needs, DSU could begin offering certificate and license programs. DSU was asked by the North Dakota University System to consider the change, Mitzel said. Students in western North Dakota, he said, are "not able to get everything they need" for the workforce needs coming through the region.
Hotel visits in Dickinson were down in 2017, but remain steady overall, Terri Thiel, Dickinson Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director, said. In 2016, 45.2 percent of Dickinson's rooms were occupied. In 2017, that number dropped to about 42 percent. "It was some of our lower occupancy," Thiel said. "Going into May (figures), we're starting to see some of that coming up again." Dickinson CVB uses, among other tools, the Smith Travel Report to gauge how well hotels are doing locally and across North Dakota.