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Forum: Second Recovery Reinvented set for Sept. 5 in Fargo

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BISMARCK — The second Recovery Reinvented, the conference focused on battling addiction hosted by Gov. Doug Burgum and first lady Kathryn Helgaas Burgum, has been scheduled for Sept. 5 at the Fargo Civic Center.

Helgaas Burgum said Friday, May 11, the event will “give people the tools to eliminate stigma, promote advocacy and help establish a supportive culture around recovery in their communities.” The governor and first lady invited the general public to the daylong event, along with a range of stakeholders that included behavioral health providers, faith communities and first responders.

The event will be held the same week as the North Dakota Behavioral Health Conference, which will be hosted by the state Department of Human Services’ Behavioral Health Division in Fargo.

“These two events, jointly, provide an opportunity to continue driving change in North Dakota’s behavioral health system — putting focus on prevention, early intervention, treatment and recovery,” Pamela Sagness, director of the Behavioral Health Division, said in a statement.

Registration information will come later.

Bismarck Tribune: Governor’s Main Street Initiative meets Mandan leaders

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Gov. Doug Burgum says the city of Mandan has some of the best bones he’s seen.

“Some communities have lost some of (those) historic structure(s) because they’ve been torn down or there’s not enough left and they’re kind of starting over, but Mandan’s got a chance to do some really interesting infill projects, which they’ve already done, as well as doing historic renovation in combination of those two things,” the governor said after a roundtable discussion Wednesday with Mandan government and business leaders.

Gov. Doug Burgum gives his opening remarks to a gathering of Mandan business owners, local and state public officials and residents at a round table discussion related to his Main Street Initiative economic development policy on Wednesday in Mandan.

Meeting for his Main Street Initiative, Burgum evoked infrastructure, workforce and amenities in the 90-minute discussion. Talking points largely revolved around workforce development and recruiting labor.

TJ Russell, chairman of Cloverdale Foods, described his company’s experience with recruiting from Puerto Rico and Guam. Some fields, such as meatpacking or housekeeping, are “lower on the totem pole of where people want to be in life,” he said.

“No one woke up in the morning and said, ‘Gee, I want to clean hotel rooms for a living,’” he said. “It’s not on the list.”

Others in Mandan’s business community described barriers and strategies in hiring and retaining employees.

Aaron Vetter, CEO of Farm Credit Services in Mandan, said baby boomer retirements have led to about a 50 percent turnover in the last three or four years–positions filled by millennials, who he commended for their work ethic.

Luke Richter, of TrueNorth Steel, said federal mandates make it difficult for him to recruit high schoolers.

Mandan restaurateur Edgar Oliveira emphasized having “dignity where you work,” as well as the need to hire from outside for positions that can’t be filled locally.

State Rep. Todd Porter, R-Mandan, of Metro Area Ambulance, said early introduction for kids to cultivate interest in certain fields is important for “getting kids interested in subjects while they’re young” and “to get them addicted to the jobs we have.”

Mandan City Commissioner Shauna Laber told the Tribune she’s glad Burgum came to see Mandan and pointed to the Mandan Depot Bier Hall as a good example of revitalization and a public-private partnership.

“When you’re redeveloping in a downtown, you’re dealing with old infrastructure, you’re dealing with unknowns … the space design (is) very limited,” she said. “If somebody’s willing to take that on and make it work for them and put the money in, I think that’s where we need to try to keep our downtowns vital because otherwise they just turn into slums and eyesores and nobody wants to go there.”

Burgum told the Tribune he was impressed by the “real sense of community pride” from across entities in Mandan — from local governments and boards to business leaders and schools: “This is a community that wants to reach its full potential.”

He said the Main Street Initiative has found more than 70 existing state programs or tools for communities’ economic development, while continuing to visit North Dakota towns to learn about what works locally.

“There’s nothing stopping Mandan from having its best and brightest days in the future with the assets that they have in place today and with the strong economy we have,” the governor said.

 

My ND Now: North Dakota student awarded SADD Student of the Year

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Over 400,000 students across the United States are involved in SADD – which is Students Against Destructive Decisions. And one North Dakotan has stood out among them.

Lauren Roscoe is a senior at New Rockford-Sheyenne High School. She has been chosen as SADD’s Student of the Year. Roscoe was honored this afternoon by Governor Doug Burgum and the First Lady. The organization promotes students to make positive life decisions throughout their lives. She joined 6 years ago and hasn’t looked back.

“I loved what it stood for. Advocating for the no-use lifestyle, taking away the stigma around mental health. I really just wanted to be a part of something that was larger than myself,” said Roscoe.

Because of this honor, Roscoe will travel around the country as the organization’s advocate.
And next summer-she has an internship at the U-S Department of Transportation.

Prairie Business: Williston, Gov. Burgum unveil plan for city development

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WILLISTON, N.D.—When the last airplane takes off from Sloulin Field and the airport site is decommissioned, the city will have an immense opportunity that is 640 acres wide. Deciding what to put in that field of dreams wasn’t just a matter of deciding what to build, Cardon Global CEO Don Cardon told a packed house of Williston residents who gathered in the Grand Williston Hotel to learn more about the city’s plan for the land. “It’s absorption,” Cardon said. “It’s how long will it take to build out the 640 acres. You cannot do it all at once. And you have to activate the whole space. You have to do it in a way that triggers ongoing inspiration.”

 

Cardon talked about a small town of 5,000 or so that created a big hotel with a water feature inside it that is full 365 days a year, despite being in such a small community. “It’s full year-round because you have created an experience,” he said.

That’s what Cardon Global hopes to do with Sloulin Field over the next 10 years, in three phases of development.

“We are trying to activate opportunities,” Cardon said. “We are trying to create a quality of life. Things that make people say, ‘I want to go to Williston.'”

Cardon spoke about the “art” behind the development, but it was Kurt Culbertson, chairman of Design Workshop, who shared the details everyone was waiting to hear.

“There is enough land here to hold all your dreams,” Culbertson said. “And all the kinds of uses you can imagine.”

Among the first things that will be need to be done, however, are some nuts and bolts. Namely, extending roads like 42nd and 32nd Streets, which presently are blocked by the airport, to complete the network of streets in town.

“As you all know, the airport has been a barrier north and south, east and west,” Culbertson said. “Completing the network of streets will allow greater mobility in this part of town.”

The first phase will be 150 acres on the front and eastern side of the property that will include some early retail in the high visibility area of Sloulin Field. A civic park complex is part of the concept as well, and the existing hangar will be repurposed into an innovation center for business startups. The phase will also include about 200 units of housing.

The second phase will skip to the portion that is toward the rear and western portion of the site, and fairly far removed from visibility. It’s not good for office or retail, but, being adjacent to the existing golf course, it will be a good site for housing.

Phase three is the bulk of the development. When that occurs and how big it is depends on how successful phase one has been, Culbertson said.

That area will have access to the innovation center, and might be a good area for new businesses to come into the area. It will include another area for extended housing, as well as a reserve site for an elementary school.

Some of the possibilities mentioned for the area included things like a skating pathway, with an area that would be a spot for pickup hockey games in winter, and turn into a splash pad in summer.

The existing terminal will become an interpretive center for new visitors to the community to learn more about Williston and its energy industry.

The design process will follow several key concepts, among them the idea of mixed-use developments, such as those Gov. Doug Burgum has been touting as part of the Main Street initiative.

The development will have a central gathering place with restaurants, shopping, a civic center complex, and a large new hotel to serve the conference center.

People might ask why a new hotel when there are so many already in that area.

“The conference center might accommodate 2,000 people,” Culbertson said. “So any new hotel would only serve a fraction of the demand.”

The center would have the potential to raise the base occupancy for all hotels, he added. “A rising tide lifts all boats,” he said.

Burgum, speaking after the plan was revealed, said it was exciting to see what is happening in Williston, and that he has been impressed with all that the city has already accomplished.

“This is a real opportunity for Williston to have this size of an infill project for Williston, and to have the economics and resources behind it to do something that’s special,” he said.

Burgum added that he sees a lot of things in the Sloulin master plan that play into what he’s been promoting with the Main Street initiative.

Mixed-use developments that allow people to walk to work, walk to entertainment venues, walk to the grocery store are the kinds of places the Millennial workforce of today are seeking, he said, and communities in a state with more than 14,500 job openings — many of them in Williston — have to think about that.

“We go on vacation and have those places,” he said. “Then we go home and have this idea that we cannot have those spaces back home. But we can build those kind of spaces here.”

In addition to being what the young workforce of today wants, these types of developments are more tax effective, Burgum added, pointing out that the larger footprint means building out more miles of infrastructure.

Every mile of water and sewer line costs taxpayers more. Additional space usually also means increased numbers of police officers to patrol the area, as well as more firefighters and fire houses.

“We can’t keep designing the way we are,” Burgum said, pointing out that the big box retailers that thrived off traffic counts are being “killed” by online shopping.

Fargo, he added, has a million square feet of open retail space from big boxes that have shut down.

“Who is going to fill a million square feet if not big box retailers?” he asked. “And guess where that is? It’s in an empty parking lot by an arterial route. On main streets, things can come and go, and it’s not catastrophic to the tax base. So it has to be things like Sloulin, because in five years, it won’t be big box retailers.”

Forum: Seeking ‘regulatory framework’ to integrate drones into airspace, feds select North Dakota for national program

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BISMARCK — The North Dakota Department of Transportation was selected for a national program aimed at hastening drones’ integration into the skies, state and federal officials announced Wednesday, May 9. The state DOT was among 10 entities selected for the federal Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program, which U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said will gather data to “form the basis of a new regulatory framework to safely integrate drones into our national airspace.” An event announcing the selection at the state Capitol featured Chao on a live video feed from Washington, D.C.

 

“This collaboration allows us to develop policy that will one day serve as a blueprint for the rest of the country,” said Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford, who chairs the commission that oversees the state’s drone test site.

The North Dakota DOT listed several possible drone activities under the program, including reconstructing traffic crashes, expediting emergency responses during floods and inspecting pipelines. The agency will work with the state’s drone test site, along with local, state and tribal governments and companies like CNN, Airbus and Xcel Energy.

The three-year program stems from a directive signed by President Donald Trump last year. It doesn’t include direct federal funding but allows state and local governments to get quicker federal airspace approval and establish “innovation zones” for drone testing, according to the state DOT.

Sanford noted North Dakota was designated as one of the country’s six test sites for researching drone airspace integration just a few years ago. U.S. DOT General Counsel Steven Bradbury said the new program is “building off those test sites.”

“The pilot program is really going to give us a lot of data and there’s going to be a lot more community engagement so that we really get people comfortable with expanding the bounds of UAS operations,” he said.

The program attracted 149 proposals. The University of Alaska-Fairbanks, the city of San Diego, the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and the Lee County Mosquito Control District in Florida were among those selected.

Members of North Dakota’s congressional delegation welcomed the state’s selection. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said integrating drones into the national airspace “will mean tremendous growth in this technology, bringing investment and good jobs, while also supporting our national security.”

Burgum participates in ‘Shadow a Student Challenge’ at Beulah High School

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BEULAH, N.D. – As part of his K-2 innovation task force, Gov. Doug Burgum participated in the “Shadow a Student Challenge.”

Burgum traveled Beulah High School hallways, just like the students, throughout the entire day.

He followed around junior Phoebe Garman to better understand education through a student’s eyes.

Garman says it’s a cool experience to interact with the governor in this way.

“I don’t know, it feels like we kind of have a posse going around,” laughed Garman.

Burgum says his visit provided good insight into current teaching practices.

He even wrote down notes to get the full high school experience.

“Just came from pre-calc and was having some memories of Mrs. Dallmeyer, my great high school math teacher. It was a good refresher to get back in there,” said Burgum.

Burgum also says he wants to make sure North Dakota stays at the forefront of education because K-12 education is vital to the future of our state.

“It’s important that we’re laying the ground for 21st century skills starting in high school. We have to do that, we have to make sure that our education system is keeping up,” said Burgum.

Burgum also adds that one of the biggest items in the general fund for North Dakota is funding K-12 education.

My ND Now: Governor Burgum shadows a student at Beulah High School

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In many ways, change starts from the ground up. Governor Doug Burgum is taking that to heart in experiencing North Dakota’s K-12 school system. Shelby Rose was there and has the story.

Beulah High School got a bit of a surprise this morning. Governor Doug Burgum is here to shadow a student for an entire day.

“The idea is to put yourselves right in the shoes of students today in North Dakota and experience high school the way they’re experiencing it,” said Governor Burgum.

High school Junior Phoebe Garman was the lucky student showing the governor the ropes. She had no idea about the surprise guest until 20 minutes before class started.

She said, “It’s kind of crazy, but I think it’s really good because he gets to see it first-hand of what we experience every day.”

Governor Burgum says he chose Beulah because it’s a great representation of schools around the state, not too big and not too small. He went to classes like U.S. History and Pre-calculus, even getting a refresher on polynomials.

Governor Burgum added, “It’s such an opportunity for us to support all the great educators we have in our state. They’re doing innovative, new things. And to also get a chance to try to think about how in a world that’s changing so rapidly, how can we reinvent the way we deliever education better than we ever have before.”

Beulah Public Schools considered it a huge honor for the governor to visit – even on such a short notice.

“I just hope that he sees the great things happening in North Dakota schools. You know, we’re not by far ahead of anybody, but it’s good that a governor can come and spend the say with a student and see the great things that are happening in our public schools,” said Beulah superintendent Travis Jordan.

The visit is all a part of the governor’s innovative education initiative to bring these new ideas into North Dakota schools.

Looking at those shots of Governor Burgum in class, you can’t help but have some serious Billy Madison flashbacks.

Bismarck Tribune: Federal regulators meet with industry, tribe to discuss flaring solutions

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Federal regulators who play key roles in oil and gas development on the Fort Berthold Reservation said Wednesday they’re working to streamline the permitting process to reduce natural gas flaring.

Representatives from the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Bureau of Land Management met with oil operators, state officials and leaders from the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation to discuss solutions.

North Dakota flared about 256 million cubic feet per day of natural gas in February due to inadequate pipelines and other infrastructure to capture the gas. The highest flaring rates typically occur on Fort Berthold, where wells produce a lot of gas and federal permitting processes take longer.

Gregg Bourland, deputy regional director for trust services with the BIA, said federal agencies are working to improve the efficiency of approving pipeline right-of-ways to get projects in the ground sooner.

“The rights-of-way don’t just benefit industry or the oil company, they benefit my beneficiaries,” Bourland said during the meeting at United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck.

MHA Chairman Mark Fox said reducing natural gas flaring is a priority for the tribe, and he wants to find ways to remove hurdles to capturing the gas.

“There are so many things we can do with the gas other than light up the night, impact our environment and then not get paid the royalties for resources that belong to us,” Fox said. “We’re greatly concerned about it.”

The industry has waited longer than a year in some cases to get a pipeline right-of-way approved by the BIA, said Zac Weis, chairman for the North Dakota Petroleum Council’s tribal lands committee. In other cases, the agency has been able to expedite the process and get projects approved more quickly, he said.

For industry, it’s important to have certainty with the regulations and the timeframe it takes to develop a project, Weis said.

BIA representatives outlined the right-of-way review process and what’s required for an application to be considered complete.

The federal agencies also offered to have additional workshops to educate the industry about the process.

Tribal member Joletta Bird Bear, of Mandaree, said landowners are not being properly consulted about oil and gas projects.

“Our voice needs to be heard in that process. Things are not going as you think they are,” Bird Bear told the federal agency representatives. “This has to be a cooperative process.”

Bird Bear also said bonding that regulators require for pipelines is inadequate to address the potential harm to the environment in the event of a spill.

“That’s an issue that must be addressed if there’s going to be meaningful results,” she said. “That’s my land you’re talking about, and that’s my drinking water.”

Fox also raised concerns that federal agencies do not implement tribal policies when they approve oil and gas projects. For example, MHA requires oil development to be at least 1,000 feet away from Lake Sakakawea, but the BLM has permitted wells within that setback.

In addition, the tribe also has a rule that royalties should be paid on gas that is flared after one year.

The BLM is reviewing flaring that occurred at Fort Berthold prior to 2017 to determine if it was avoidable or unavoidable. If it’s determined it was avoidable, the companies would be ordered to pay royalties. Fox said he’s frustrated about the BLM’s backlog with that review process.

“I know we’re owed money for gas capture that should have occurred,” Fox said.

Don Judice, deputy state director for the Division of Energy, Minerals & Realty for the Montana-Dakota BLM Office, said there’s no statute of limitation for capturing royalties on Indian minerals.

Once the BLM’s legal department completes a review, addressing that backlog will be a priority for the agency, Judice said.

It is rare to get all of the stakeholders in the same room together to discuss solutions, according to North Dakota Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford, who said he hopes the results could be a model for energy development on all tribal lands.

“I feel like this is a historic collaboration,” Sanford said.

Also Wednesday, Gov. Doug Burgum met in Washington, D.C., with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who oversees federal agencies including the BIA and BLM. They discussed water and minerals management, tribal affairs and national parks, according to Burgum’s office.

“We’re fortunate to have a leader from Montana who understands the issues facing North Dakota, our tribes and our energy development,” Burgum said in a statement.

 

 

More than 3,000 join Gov. Burgum for inauguration party in Bismarck

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BISMARCK—Doug Burgum’s inauguration as North Dakota’s 33rd governor was celebrated at the Bismarck Event Center Wednesday, Jan. 4.

The evening affair brought together a range of elected leaders from all levels of government. Tribal leaders also joined Burgum on stage, where Burgum and Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford listened to a drum circle from the Oakdale Singers of the Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara Nation and received a tribal gift.

More than 3,000 were in attendance at the celebration, according to estimates supplied by an event organizer to Burgum’s spokesman Mike Nowatzki.

Wednesday night’s celebration was the third in the day’s public events to mark Burgum’s inauguration. A breakfast focused on substance abuse issues, while a luncheon revolved around tribal affairs.

The event included musical performances from Tigirlily, a musical duo made up of two sisters from North Dakota, and Jared Mason, a former cast member of the Medora Musical who has performed on Broadway.

No state funds were used for Wednesday’s inauguration events, Nowatzki said. It’s organized by the Inaugural Citizens Committee and funding comes from donations, he said.

The leading sponsor of the celebration event was Whiting Petroleum, according to an event program. Other sponsors included Microsoft, where Burgum was an executive.

Burgum, a Republican, was elected in November after campaigning as an outsider to state government.

Burgum highlights government reinvention in State of the State

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Gov. Doug Burgum called on lawmakers to join him in his quest to reinvent state government Tuesday during his first State of the State Address before a joint session of the Legislature.

 

Burgum kicked off the 2017 session by calling on North Dakotans to adapt to a changing world and economy.

 

“Anything being done simply because ‘that’s the way we have always done it’ should be and must be rigorously and respectfully questioned,” Burgum said. “And no matter what, we must have the courage to admit that we can always do better.”

 

Burgum’s speech was short on details. However, he said he’ll be finalizing his budget proposals and introducing them during the first few weeks of the session.

 

Burgum said the budget has grown sharply in the past decade and, with declines in the energy and agricultural industries creating a revenue shortfall over the past year, a correction is needed.

 

“Right now is the time to right-size government, to balance our budget without raising taxes, to fund our priorities and do more with less,” Burgum said.

 

A nearly $1.4 billion budget shortfall required two rounds of budget cuts last year.

 

Former Gov. Jack Dalrymple outlined a $13.475 billion budget proposal during the December organizational session. His budget includes a balancing act between cuts to hundreds of state employee positions, replenishing state rainy day funds and a state takeover of county social services to make a 12 percent state-paid property tax credit permanent.

 

“We must begin the long, hard process of reforming property taxes — and we’re open to any and all ideas to reform our current system,” Burgum said. “True long-term reform requires that we reduce the cost of local government.”

 

Burgum also addressed the Dakota Access Pipeline protests and the impact on relations between the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the state.

 

“The Dakota Access Pipeline protests began with a debate concerning legitimate issues raised by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, including protecting our valuable water resources and a desire for genuine government-to-government consultation,” Burgum said. “Those original concerns have been hijacked by those with alternative agendas.”

 

Protesters have been camping in southern Morton County and opposition to the $3.8 billion, four-state project has led to more than 570 arrests and millions in law enforcement response costs since August.

 

Burgum said local, tribal, state and federal agencies will need to work together to clean up the protest camp site when the protests have ended.

 

“Vacating the unauthorized main camp on Army Corps land — cleaning up the abandoned cars, illegal structures and human waste from months of occupation — will be a costly and time-consuming effort,” Burgum said.

 

He told lawmakers relationships between the state and the tribes have been frayed since the protests began and they’ll take time to repair.

 

“I pledge my administration to a fresh start in our relations with all tribal nations who live with and among us,” Burgum said. “Our goal is to understand each tribe’s individual issues and circumstances so that we may move forward together.”

 

Burgum will hold meetings with leaders of each of the state’s tribes this week. Legislative leadership also has a separate series of meetings this week.