Congressman Kevin Cramer has released updated data from BNSF Railway on the continuing rail delays facing North Dakota agriculture producers. The report indicates 16,761 rail cars were running an average of 23.4 days late as of March 21. This is an increase of 10.1 and 11.9 percent respectively from the previous report issued March 12. Cramer said he released the data in the interest of keeping agriculture producers and other affected citizens informed on delays facing the region. He says he will continue to share updated information to the public until the situation is resolved.
There'll be a new business in Edinburg within the next few weeks. Charlotte Klose of Hoople plans on opening a Veterinary Clinic in the former Cafe and Bowling alley there on Highway 32. Klose hopes to have the clinic up and running by the middle of April. She says the building is in very good shape and will provide plenty of room for both large and small animals. Klose has been a mixed animal practitioner for 18 years. She's spent the last 15 years working at Golden Valley Veterinary Service in Park River but says the timing was right to try it on her own. She and her husband are currently working on the remodeling process. She says the plan is to continue the renovations in phases so they'll be able to take in small animals by mid April. Klose says the bowling alley portion of the building will eventually be turned into a barn to accommodate livestock and horses which she's currently treating on location.
The Red River Regional Council is in the process of developing economic and community strategic development plans that will guide the activities of the Nelson, Pembina, and Walsh County Job Development Authorities and Regional Council over the next five years. A Grand Forks County Strategy Committee is currently being formed. Committees have been appointed to review 25 development strategies, review quality of life initiatives, develop steps of action and to provide recommended strategic plans. The Council will be holding town hall meetings around the area over the next few weeks to discuss these plans. A meeting is scheduled in Pembina County on Monday evening from 6:30-8:30 at the Emergency Operations Center in Cavalier. The Public is encouraged to attend. The council would like to hear if residents would like their counties to engage in any of the possible strategies and if they feel they can be successfully implemented. A meeting is set for Walsh County at the Chase Building in Grafton on Wednesday, April 2nd.
The U.S. Census Bureau has released the agency’s annual metropolitan/micropolitan area and county population estimates. The estimates show population growth across all regions of North Dakota. The state had a number of communities and counties ranked as some of the fastest growing in the nation. Of the nation’s 10 fastest growing metropolitan areas, Fargo and Bismarck ranked fourth and fifth respectively. In-migration in the state has been increasing the past few years and has been the most significant factor in the state’s population growth since the 2010 Census. The estimated net in-migration to North Dakota was 6,900 in 2011, and up to over 18 thousand in 2013. The Census Bureau reported that North Dakota’s population has reached 723,393 residents, an all-time high.
North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring recently presented Billie Carik of Cavalier Public School with the third place prize in this years Pride of Dakota Essay Contest. Students from Bismarck, Fargo, Halliday, Minot and Scranton were also winners. The theme of this year’s contest was “North Dakota Agriculture: Growing for You and Me." Goehring says the essays and posters clearly demonstrated the understanding the students had of the importance of farming and ranching. He said at a Tuesday news conference that he was very impressed both by the students knowledge and their skill in communicating it. The winners received monetary awards from the North Dakota Bankers Association. The Pride of Dakota program fosters the development and growth of small businesses and especially businesses that are farm-based or rely on agricultural commodities. More than 500 companies are Pride of Dakota members.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers St. Paul District will start the late winter drawdown of Homme Lake west of Park River today. The pool is currently at an elevation of 1,077.5 feet and climbing. Starting today, water releases of approximately 60 cubic feet per second will be released from Homme Dam. The corps says the targeted drawdown elevation of 1,074 feet should be reached near the end of March. Corps officials are encouraging caution to everyone near the river downstream of the dam during this time because of the increased river flows. Ice conditions will also deteriorate and become unsafe on the Park River.
The Town of Brocket is holding its 17th annual Pioneer Square day at the Pioneer Square building on Saturday. The day will consist of various events starting at 9:00 a.m. with a preview of auction items. A bake sale starts at 9:30 with lunch starting at 10:30 and running throughout the day. Organizer Rita Heinz says the live and silent auction will start at 11:00. She says some of the items up for auction include tickets to the Medora Musical, gift certificates, casino packages, auto items and much more. The auction will help raise funds for Brocket Square which Heinz says is a very important building in the community. She says money raised will go towards a new generator for the facility along with general upkeep. The building is the former Brocket school which was renovated back in 2000. Heinz says volunteers put in over 25,000 hours completing the project. She says the building now serves as a community center as well as an emergency shelter for Brocket residents.
More than 800 people attended the eight deer meetings held around the state the last two weeks in February. Several hundred additional hunters either watched the final meeting broadcast online. Game and Fish received about 400 written online comments and many other direct emails and phone calls. Game and Fish wildlife chief Randy Kreil says the long-term hope is that habitat trends will allow them to rebuild the deer population from where it is now to a level that is satisfactory to the deer hunting public. Game and Fish set up the meetings and public comment process to explore some ideas for changes in deer license allocation the agency has received in recent years, in response to a declining deer population and fewer available licenses. In 2008 Game and Fish allocated nearly 150,000 licenses and in 2013 the total fell to 59,500. As with all issues, Game and Fish is open to continuing public input. The general department email address is firstname.lastname@example.org; and phone is 701-328-6300.
The Walsh County Job Development Authority and the Red River Regional Council will be hosting a Town Hall Meeting for Walsh County residents next week. The meeting will be held at the Chase building in Grafton on Wednesday April 2nd from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The purpose is to gather ideas from residents concerning economic and community development in the County. Development strategies selected by the Walsh County Strategy Committee will also be reviewed. The Regional Council and JDA wish to gather thoughts and visions on the future of the County for their 5 year plan.
President Obama signed flood insurance reform legislation on Friday. The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 slows the unaffordable rise of insurance premiums while moving towards a fiscally solvent national flood insurance program, and instructs FEMA to continue extending exemptions for flood-proofed basements. The bill retroactively repeals portions of the Biggert-Waters Act, allows communities to be reimbursed for successful challenges to FEMA maps, and expands the scope of the affordability study already required to be conducted by FEMA. Until a true risk premium is reached, an annual $25 surcharge for primary residences and $250 for non-residential structures and secondary homes will be assessed. Total annual increases for any property may not be increased by more than 18% a year. In addition, the bill allows for monthly premium payments, optional high-deductible policies, removes the home sale/new policy rate increase trigger, requires FEMA to recognize adequate progress made on construction of flood protection systems, and authorizes the exclusion of detached structures from the mandatory purchase requirement. The legislation passed the House of Representatives on March 4, and the Senate on March 13.