Tax season is almost here, and for many North Dakotans it can be a stressful process.
But free help is available from the AARP Foundation, which is currently looking for volunteers for its annual tax preparation program.
Fritz Schwindt, who is coordinating this year's effort, says there are just a few weeks left for volunteers to sign up.
"So, we need someone that at least is a little bit familiar with computers," he states. "We do have training on how to use the software and certainly for tax law as well."
Last year, AARP says more than 100 volunteers helped about 8,700 North Dakotans file their taxes. The program is being hosted at more than 11 sites across the state, including senior centers and churches.
With tax preparation services sometimes costing hundreds of dollars, Schwindt says the AARP Foundation's service can help many low to moderate-income residents in the state, regardless of how old they are.
"We have like a 99 percent accuracy rate, so that we have very few errors on our returns, and it's free," he stresses.
Volunteers do not have to be AARP members, and the group is also looking for people who want to help by working as greeters or schedulers.
Anyone looking to volunteer can go to AARP.org/ND.
Four deaths in Minnesota this month have pushed the number of fire fatalities this year to the state’s highest level since 2011.
The numbers are not as grim in North Dakota, where fire deaths are headed for a three-year low.
Hoping to prevent deadly blazes as the year winds down, fire marshals in both states are reminding residents to be careful in the kitchen.
“Cooking has been and continues to be one of our No. 1 causes of fires,” North Dakota Fire Marshal Ray Lambert said.
In Minnesota, 52 people have died in fires so far this year, an 18 percent increase over last year’s total of 44.
This month, there were three fire deaths in three days: a 24-year-old man in Alexandria on Dec. 11, a 25-year-old woman in Mountain Iron on Dec. 12 and a 5-year-old Ham Lake girl on Dec. 13. A fourth fatal fire and the most recent of the year killed a Minneapolis man on Dec. 17.
The top three causes of residential fires in Minnesota are what the state fire marshal’s office calls holiday staples: cooking, heating and open flame.
Minnesota Fire Marshal Bruce West urges residents to stay in the kitchen while cooking, to not leave candles and space heaters unattended, to keep matches and lighters away from children and to test smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.
In North Dakota this year, there have been four fatalities, which ties the 2012 total. A recent peak came in 2013 with 10 deaths.
Lambert said that in the past decade, North Dakota has averaged about six fire deaths per year. He said all four deaths this year were accidental:
For many of the fatal fires this year in Minnesota, what sparked the flames was undetermined. But for fires with a pinpointed source, the most common cause was careless smoking, according to records kept by the state fire marshal’s office.
It was a cigarette that ignited the Fargo-Moorhead area’s last fatal fire. The 2013 blaze, which struck a south Fargo apartment building, killed Jesse Madson, 30, and his girlfriend, Angela Wentz, 42.
While the metro area hasn’t experienced any fire deaths this year, there have been serious injuries. Most recently, a woman burned her hands and face during a Monday house fire in north Fargo, and she was flown to a Minneapolis hospital for treatment. The cause of that fire remains under investigation, Fargo Fire Chief Steve Dirksen said.
The chief said that this time of year, his department usually sees an uptick in fires related to heating. He advises residents to keep combustible material away from heat sources.
Dirksen says most fires, fatal or otherwise, are avoidable. “A majority of the fires are things that could be prevented if people just followed some simple precautions,” he said.
Forum News Service contributed to this report.
Minnesota fire deaths
2015 … 52
2014 … 44
2013 … 44
2012 … 50
2011 … 56
2010 … 39
2009 … 35 (lowest on record)
North Dakota fire deaths
2015 … 4
2014 … 6
2013 … 10
2012 … 4
2011 … 7
2010 … 5
2009 … 9
Sources: Minnesota and North Dakota fire marshals
Gov. Jack Dalrymple today welcomed news that North Dakota’s population has reached an all-time high of 756,927, an increase of 16,887 residents since last year’s U.S. Census Bureau count. North Dakota’s population has grown by 2.5 percent since last year, the largest percent increase among all states, the Census Bureau reported today. “It’s great to see that our economic growth continues to keep North Dakotans home and that we are attracting new residents who come for good jobs, a strong economy and our great quality of life,” Gov. Jack Dalrymple said. “After decades of out-migration and population decline, North Dakota’s economy continues to drive a dramatic shift in our demographics. North Dakota’s population is growing, getting younger and our citizens are taking advantage of more opportunities than ever before.” In the early 2000s, North Dakota was one of only a few states with a declining and aging population. The state began to reverse that trend in 2004, with an estimated population of about 645,000 residents. Since then, North Dakota’s population has grown every year, with a total increase of more than 110,000 residents. The in-migration of adults of child-bearing age is playing a major role in the state’s current population trend, said Kevin Iverson, manager of the North Dakota Census Office. In just the past 10 years, the number of births in North Dakota has steadily increased from about 8,380 to last year’s birth count of 11,352. Additionally, North Dakota is becoming younger, with the state’s median age dropping in 2014 to 34.9 years of age – two years younger than the median age recorded just 10 years ago, Iverson said. North Dakota’s median age is now the 4th youngest in the nation. In 2010, North Dakota’s median age ranked 24th, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Driving North Dakota’s positive demographic trends are the state’s economy and plentiful job opportunities. North Dakota’s economy continues to be among the nation’s strongest. In the past five years, the state’s economy has averaged an annual growth rate of nearly 12 percent, four times that of the national economy. North Dakota’s unemployment rate of 2.7 percent is the nation’s lowest. The state has created more than 123,000 net jobs since 2000, and employers currently report having nearly 16,000 open positions. Personal incomes in North Dakota have also improved dramatically in just the past 10 years. In 2004, the state’s per-capita personal income was below the national average and ranked 38th among all states. Last year, North Dakota’s per-capita personal income ranked 4th highest among all states at 121 percent of the national average.
Andy Adamson, Jr. former Pembina County Commissioner and long time Drayton businessman has announced that he will seek the District 10 Republican endorsement for the North Dakota State Senate seat currently held by Joe Miller. Miller has announced that he will not seek re-election.
Adamson is a life-long resident of the Red River Valiey. He attended Thief River Falls Jr. College, Moorhead State College, and graduated from Wisconsin Institute of Mortuary Science in Milwaukee in 1970. In 1973 he moved to Drayton and owned and operated funeral homes in Drayton, ND, and Hallock and Stephen, MN. He has also had retail experience as a partner in Johnson Stores in Drayton and Pembina, ND, Spinning Wheel Restaurant and Andy's Drive-In at Drayton.
In 2004 Adamson was elected Pembina County Commissioner representing District# 5. He serv'ed on the commission until his retirement in 2014. During this time he was very active in the North Dakota Association of Counties and the Red River Basin Commission. He also served several terms on the Board of Directors of the Red River Regional Council in Grafton, ND. He has also been an advocate for local development corporations and a long-time member of Drayton Economic Development Corporation.
Adamson commented that our state and district will face many new challenges in the future. Ag prices, oil prices, taxes and budget issues, federal and state unfunded mandates, drainage issues, and many others. He also feels that his business experience and service as a county commissioner should be,an asset serving in the senate. He said that if elected, it would be an honor and a privilege to represent the residents of District 10.
North Dakota potato stocks are up 15 percent from a year ago. State growers, dealers, and processors held 19.5 million hundredweight of potatoes in storage on December 1, according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Current stocks represent 71.7 percent of the production. Total stocks are defined as all potatoes on hand, regardless of use, including those that will be lost through future shrinkage and dumping. The National Agricultural Statistics Service collects variety data in seven States, accounting for 82 percent of the 2015 United States fall potato planted acres. The seven States conduct objective yield surveys where all producing areas are sampled in proportion to planted acreage. Variety data are actual percentages from these surveys. In North Dakota, the following varieties accounted for 10 percent or more of acres planted in 2015. Russet Burbank variety accounted for 35.6 percent of potato acreage planted. This was followed by Prospect at 11.8 percent of plantings, and Umatilla at 10.0 percent.
WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today announced that the year-end funding bill for Fiscal Year 2016 includes authorization and funding for new starts and construction of flood protection projects. The senator said the measure includes nearly $690 more than the Army Corps of Engineer’s proposed budget for construction and authorizes new studies and construction activity that will help to advance flood protection projects in the Fargo-Moorhead and Minot regions.
Hoeven worked on the Appropriations Committee to include language in the FY 2016 Energy and Water funding bill, which has now been included in the year-end legislation. Congress is expected to pass the measure later this week. Specifically, the legislation will:
“The new year-end funding bill takes a big step to help communities like Fargo-Moorhead and Minot advance vital flood protection projects by authorizing new starts and studies, as well as by increased funding for construction,” said Hoeven. “We’ve secured relief for many of our residents through infrastructure investments, water retention and affordable flood insurance. The bill we’re on track to pass this week continues that progress for major flood infrastructure for the Red River Valley and the Souris River region.”
Hoeven also worked to include additional funding for FEMA’s flood mapping activities. The year-end legislation directs FEMA to take local communities’ flood protection projects into consideration when mapping flood hazards and to coordinate the mapping process with the phases of large projects. The measure provides an additional $165 million above the FY 2015 level for flood mitigation programs and boosts the Flood Hazard Mapping and Risk Analysis Program to $190 million and the Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) Grant Program to $100 million.
Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring says the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is soliciting comments on tolerance revocations for the insecticide chlorpyrifos, the most widely applied insecticide in North Dakota.
Chlorpyrifos is in common products such as Lorsban, Dursban, Stallion, Whirlwind, Yuma and many others.
On August 10, 2015 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ordered EPA to respond to an administrative petition regarding chlorpyrifos. The EPA also performed a human health risk assessment on chlorpyrifos, which indicated risk in some instances.
“Due to the EPA’s finding and the court order, EPA published a proposal that will eliminate agricultural use of chlorpyrifos,” said Goehring.
Goehring said that the EPA is soliciting feedback and encouraged those involved in crop and livestock production, food manufacturing and pesticide manufacturing to submit comments.
Goehring said those affected by the proposed revocation of chlorpyrifos should provide the EPA information such as:
· Why chlorpyrifos is important to their operation
· Which pests are not controlled by other products
· Which commodities benefit the most from chlorpyrifos applications
Comments must be submitted before the January 5, 2016 deadline at www.regulations.gov/, docket IDEPA-HQ-OPP-2015-0653.
Minto High School in Minto has been named the North Dakota State Winner in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest, a program that encourages teachers and students to solve real-world issues in their community using classroom skills in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The High School is among the nation's 51 State Winners (representing all 50 states and Washington, D.C.) and will receive $20,000 in technology tools with a chance to become one of the contest's 15 National Finalists. One winner from each state was selected from more than 4,100 applicants. A proposal was submitted to the contest by 10th grade teacher Linda Lutovsky. Since Minto is prone to heavy flooding due to sprint melt or heavy precipitation. Lutovsky and her students will use the money and STEM-skills to determine the impacts of agricultural drainage on peak watershed flows in addition to the impact of subsurface drainage, drain tile. Then, students will postulate how agricultural drainage systems should be designed to maximize benefits and minimize adverse impact.
Future Contest Stages:
. For the next several weeks, all 51 State Winners will work with
students to bring their project to life and create videos of their
classrooms in action.
. From this pool of 51 State Winners, 15 National Finalists will be
selected. The National Finalists will then pitch their idea live in New York
to a panel of judges and America will be able to vote on their favorite
. From there, five National Winners will be named and honored at an
awards ceremony in Washington, D.C, where they will also get the opportunity
to meet their Congressmen and Senators.
Walsh County State's Attorney and Grafton resident Barb Whelan was hurt in a rollover crash on Saturday morning near Park River. According to the North Dakota Highway Patrol, 52 year old Whelan was driving south on Highway 18 at around 9:45 a.m. about 5 miles east of Park River when she lost control of her SUV while trying to overtake another vehicle. Whelan's SUV then went into the west ditch and hit a culvert which caused the vehicle to roll. The Highway Patrol says though Whelan was wearing her seat belt, she was taken by ambulance to First Care Hospital in Park River and later listed in stable condition. Reports to the media state Whelan has since been released. Whelan's SUV was totaled. The crash remains under investigation.
Dry edible bean production in North Dakota is forecast at 8.94 million hundredweight (cwt) for 2015, up 2 percent from last year according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics. Total planted acres for dry edible beans, at 655,000 acres, are up 4 percent from 2014. Harvested acres, at 635,000 acres, are up 3 percent from last year. The statewide yield for 2015 is forecast at 1,410 pounds per acre, down 20 pounds from a year ago. Pinto beans account for 55.1 percent of the total production; at 4.93 million cwt, they are down from 5.68 million cwt in 2014. Navy beans account for 18.9 percent of total production, while black beans were 18.4 percent, pink beans 1.5 percent, and all chickpeas 1.5 percent. All other bean classes represent 4.6 percent of the State’s total production