Governor Dalrymple is proposing $80 million for parks and conservation projects. he proposal is included in his 2015-2017 budget. Of that $80 million -- $50 million would go to the existing Outdoor Heritage Fund – and another $30 million for improvements to state parks.Under the proposal $750,000 would be set aside to establish a state campground in the Pembina Gorge with the develpment of 20 basic campsites and construction of restroom and shower facilities. An investment of $850,000 is also proposed for the following for the replacement of the restroom and shower facilities at Iclandic State Park near Cavalier. The money would also go to repair, overlay and chip seal the park roads at Icelandic. A number of other parks would see improvements as well. Dalrymple says he’s made legislative leaders aware of it – and he believes they will support it.
North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger is informing voters this election season to use the website vote.nd.gov for information on the upcoming statewide elections. Jaeger says the website contains information on polling sites and hours along with details on each of the eight measures on the ballot this year. Detailed information on all candidates up for statewide, legislative and judicial positions is also available. Jaeger says voters will be able to view sample ballots and find absentee voting information as well. This year’s election in Nov 4th.
Congressman Kevin Cramer has officially called on the Canadian government to let the grain shipment performance mandates it is imposing on rail companies permanently expire. In a set of individual letters to Canadian Ambassador Gary Doer, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, and the U.S. Surface Transportation Board (STB), Cramer outlined his growing concerns about the mandates and the recent fines levied by Canada against Canadian National Railway (CN).
The Canadian government decided in March of this year to fine Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) and CN if either fails to move at least 536,250 metric tonnes of domestic grain per week. Cramer first expressed his concerns about the mandates in a letter to Ambassador Doer in March, and followed up by meeting with Doer and Canadian Member of Parliament Rob Merrifield. After the mandates were renewed on August 1, Cramer reiterated his concerns about U.S. agriculture producers and shippers being placed at a disadvantage in a subsequent letter to Doer.
The letters sent by Cramer are in response to Doer’s reply, which did not specify whether Canada plans to again renew the mandates after they expire on November 29.
“I respect the fact that you want to protect your domestic and international patrons. Your customers are also our customers. But, the nexus between your performance mandates, and their implicit encouragement for CP and CN to provide less service to the United States, in my opinion provides a solid foundation for a successful trade violation claim,” Cramer wrote to Doer.
In addition to his letter to Ambassador Doer, Cramer separately asked the STB to join his effort to persuade the Canadian government to allow the mandates to expire on November 29th, called on U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman to investigate Canada’s actions for potential trade violations, and asked U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to speak with Canadian Transport Minister Raitt and Agriculture Minister Ritz to encourage the Canadian government to allow the mandates to lapse.
“Yesterday I received electronically a letter from Ambassador Doer, indicating “the railways have met or exceeded required volumes on a weekly basis, demonstrating the requirements are achievable.” Assuming these mandates are predicated upon actual, rather than political need, doesn’t this statement actually confirm coercion at the expense of CP’s and CN’s United States customers? No one, especially CP and CN, benefit from poor service,” wrote Cramer to the STB.
A Grafton flu shot clinic that was postponed because of a delay in vaccine shipment has been rescheduled. The clinic will now be held on October 7th at Unity Medical Center. It was originally scheduled for late September. North Dakota Department of Health Immunization surveillance coordinator Amy Schwartz says the department is encouraging people to get their flu shot. She says those most likely to have complications with the illness include children ages 6 months to four years; adults 50 and over and people who have underlying health problems along with pregnant women. Schwartz says over 40,000 doses of flu vaccine have been shipped to North Dakota so far this year. She says last year the state reported over 2900 flu cases. Of that, 149 people were hospitalized with 8 flu related deaths.
Voters in the Minto School District have approved a $5.8 million school expansion and renovation project. A 60% majority was required for the referendum to pass. The final vote was 240 in favor and 137 against. The project comes at a time of near record enrollment for the district. K-12 enrollment this fall is 234, just shy of the record 238 students that were enrolled in the 2004-2005 school year. The project will include a 5,500 square food addition to the High School along with a remodeling of the elementary and Junior High wings. Superintendent Linda Lutovsky says she's pleased that the community supported moving forward with the project. She says with enrollment for the school projected to remain level or grow over the next decade, the expansion should address the lack of space in the district. With the 74-mil increase now approved, the owner of a $100,000 home in the district can expect to pay an extra $333 in taxes per year.
The Grafton Area Chamber of Commerce is inviting everyone to the city's first ever Fall Fest which gets underway tomorrow. The three day event will start with a fashion show at Marketplace on 8th tomorrow night at 7:00 pm with the sponsoring stores staying open after the show until 10 o'clock. On Friday night there'll be a Chili Cook Off and Pie Contest from 5-7 pm at the Grafton Armory. Chamber Director Todd Morgan says five dollars will buy four bowls of chili. Prizes and Grafton Bucks will be awarded for the top three chili entries. Morgan says participants have until close of business on Thursday to get registered. The festival wraps up on Saturday with horse drawn trail rides through the newly upgraded trails at Lestikow Park. Rides run from noon to 4:00 pm and are free to the public. Lunch will be served for five dollars a plate from noon to 2:00 pm. Morgan says its a great time of year to ride through the trails since the leaves are beginning to change color. He says this is Grafton's first fall festival and he's hoping the Chamber can continue to build on it and make it even better next year.
The North Dakota Department of Health has confirmed the state's first case of Enterovirus D-68. The disease has been identified in a child from Stutsman County. The child was hospitalized with a respiratory illness that caused difficulty breathing, cough and wheezing. The patient is no longer hospitalized and recovered at home. State epidemiologist Jill Baber says this is the first confirmed EV-D68 case that has been reported in North Dakota, however she says enteroviruses are not reportable to the North Dakota Department of Health, so the number of cases being reported are not necessarily representative of the number of EV-D68 cases in the state.Enteroviruses are common respiratory viruses that affect an estimated 10 to 15 million people in the United States each year, most often in the summer and fall.
Pembina County Historical Museum Administrator Zelda Hartje is reminding area residents that the museum will be closing for the season on October 1st. She says however it will be available for visits and tours throughout the winter months. Hartje say appointments for Museum visits or assistance with research can be obtained by calling 701-265-4691 or emailing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
An online fund has been set up for Grafton couple Brian and Amanda Mlcoch. The Mlcoch's home at 928 Kittson Avenue suffered extensive smoke and water damage due to a fire last Thursday night. The website asks those wishing to help to make a monetary donation for the couple and their four children who lost most of their possessions in the blaze. The fund was created by Amanda's cousin Karissa Lietz-Bladow with the goal of raising $10,000. Bladow says clothing is the most urgent necessity at this point. She says donations are automatically deposited into the Mlcoch's account so the couple won't have to wait for a check to be cut and sent in the mail. Over $3,000 has been raised so far.
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has appointed North Dakota Insurance Commissioner Adam Hamm to a two-year term as the state insurance commissioner representative on the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC). In this role, Hamm will represent the interests of all the nation’s state insurance regulators on the council. Hamm is the current President of the NAIC. FSOC is a fifteen member body comprised of the nation’s chief financial regulators, including U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew who chairs the council and Federal Reserve Board Chair Janet Yellen. The council was created by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Protection and Consumer Protection Act in 2010 to monitor the safety and stability of the nation’s financial system, identify risks to the system, and coordinate a response to any threats. Hamm says he's honored to have been selected by his fellow regulators to represent their system of insurance regulation. He says he looks forward to working with the nation's chief financial regulators as they take the next steps to promote a stable insurance marketplace and protect the broader financial sector.