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Associated Press North Dakota News

Monday, June 24th 2019

AP-ND--2nd Right Now

Jun 24, 2019 5:20AM (GMT 11:20) - 838 words

WEST FARGO FATALITY

Passenger dies when car hits parked vehicles in West Fargo

WEST FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Officials say a 38-year-old man who was a passenger in a Honda Civic died when the car collided with parked vehicles in West Fargo.

The North Dakota Highway Patrol says the crash happened about 2:30 a.m. Sunday. A 34-year-old man who was driving the car veered into the wrong lane and struck a parked pickup truck and pushed the truck into a parked car.

The passenger was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver was taken to a Fargo hospital. His condition is not known.

The patrol says all three vehicles had extensive damage. The parked vehicles were not occupied at the time of the crash.

Names of the two men have not been released.

MINOT-PROPERTY TAXES

Minot budget picture looks brighter with help from state

(Information from: Minot Daily News, http://www.minotdailynews.com)

MINOT, N.D. (AP) — Administrators of a city in the North Dakota oil patch say residents should get a break on property taxes in 2020, due in large part to help from the state Legislature.

The Daily News reports that Minot City Manager Tom Barry says the city is receiving more than $6 million from the state in so-called hub city funding, which designates a small percentage of oil and natural gas production money and distribution taxes to Minot, Williston and Dickinson.

That is more than double the total that Minot was allocated in the last session. Without that, Barry says, the city's financial outlook would "look very different."

Many Minot residents were upset by a considerable property tax increase last year.

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WILDFIRE LAWSUIT

3 settle suits over prescribed burn that became a wildfire

(Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com)

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — Three landowners from northwestern South Dakota who sued the federal government for a 2013 prescribed burn that turned into a wildfire have settled their cases.

The Rapid City Journal reports that settlement agreements were filed for a total of $241,000.

The prescribed burn was lit by the U.S. Forest Service on the Dakota Prairie Grasslands in the Lemmon area, near the border of South Dakota and North Dakota. It was meant to cover 210 acres of federally owned land, but it became a wildfire that burned for several days and destroyed pasture land for cattle.

Affected landowners filed more than $50 million worth of administrative claims that were denied by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Landowners then filed multiple lawsuits in 2015, which were eventually consolidated into one case.

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EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT OFFICIAL-INVESTIGATED

North Dakota official investigated for credit card use

(Information from: KXMB-TV, http://https://www.kxnet.com/)

BURLINGTON, N.D. (AP) — The co-director of Ward County's emergency management department in North Dakota is under investigation for allegedly using an office credit card for personal expenses.

KXMB-TV reports Christina Weber was placed on leave without pay Friday during a special county commission meeting while the charges against her are investigated. Officials told her that her salary would be put in escrow for possible payment if she's reinstated.

Weber briefly addressed the county board asking for an explanation but then said she would seek legal counsel when she was asked if she knew what the situation involved.

Weber was appointed to her position in March.

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WOMAN DEAD-SUBMERGED CAR

Woman found dead in car submerged in ravine

CANDO, N.D. (AP) — A North Dakota woman who had been reported missing was found deceased in a car that was submerged in a coulee.

The Towner County Sheriff's Department says it was looking for a 31-year-old Cando woman, who was reported missing around midnight. Her car was found at 7 a.m. Friday, submerged in the ravine about 11 miles west of Cando, just north of state Highway 17.

Her name has not been released.

FUGITIVE ELEVATOR MANAGER

Ex-Minnesota grain elevator manager gets 8 years in swindle

(Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com)

FERGUS FALLS, Minn. (AP) — The former manager of a western Minnesota grain elevator has been sentenced to eight years in federal prison for a swindle that cost his employer millions of dollars.

Fifty-six-year-old Jerry Hennessey of Dalton pleaded guilty in February to mail fraud and tax evasion in a 15-year scheme to defraud the Ashby Farmers' Co-Operative Elevator Co. in Ashby, Minnesota.

Prosecutors say Hennessey used the money to pay for exotic hunting trips, real estate and credit card debt.

The Star Tribune reports Hennessey concealed the payments as expenses for the co-op. He eventually got a line of credit of about $7 million for the co-op, then used that account to cover more than $5 million that prosecutors say he stole from the company.

Hennessey disappeared for two months before turning himself in in December.


Associated Press North Dakota News

Sunday, June 23rd 2019

EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT OFFICIAL-INVESTIGATED

North Dakota official investigated for credit card use

(Information from: KXMB-TV, http://https://www.kxnet.com/)

BURLINGTON, N.D. (AP) — The co-director of Ward County's emergency management department in North Dakota is under investigation for allegedly using an office credit card for personal expenses.

KXMB-TV reports Christina Weber was placed on leave without pay Friday during a special county commission meeting while the charges against her are investigated. Officials told her that her salary would be put in escrow for possible payment if she's reinstated.

Weber briefly addressed the county board asking for an explanation but then said she would seek legal counsel when she was asked if she knew what the situation involved.

Weber was appointed to her position in March.

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WOMAN DEAD-SUBMERGED CAR

Woman found dead in car submerged in ravine

CANDO, N.D. (AP) — A North Dakota woman who had been reported missing was found deceased in a car that was submerged in a coulee.

The Towner County Sheriff's Department says it was looking for a 31-year-old Cando woman, who was reported missing around midnight. Her car was found at 7 a.m. Friday, submerged in the ravine about 11 miles west of Cando, just north of state Highway 17.

Her name has not been released.

FUGITIVE ELEVATOR MANAGER

Ex-Minnesota grain elevator manager gets 8 years in swindle

(Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com)

FERGUS FALLS, Minn. (AP) — The former manager of a western Minnesota grain elevator has been sentenced to eight years in federal prison for a swindle that cost his employer millions of dollars.

Fifty-six-year-old Jerry Hennessey of Dalton pleaded guilty in February to mail fraud and tax evasion in a 15-year scheme to defraud the Ashby Farmers' Co-Operative Elevator Co. in Ashby, Minnesota.

Prosecutors say Hennessey used the money to pay for exotic hunting trips, real estate and credit card debt.

The Star Tribune reports Hennessey concealed the payments as expenses for the co-op. He eventually got a line of credit of about $7 million for the co-op, then used that account to cover more than $5 million that prosecutors say he stole from the company.

Hennessey disappeared for two months before turning himself in in December.

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ROOSEVELT LIBRARY

Burgum: Low chance for referendum to repeal library funding

(Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com)

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Gov. Doug Burgum says a voter referendum to repeal a budget provision for a proposed Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library would likely have a "low chance" of passing.

Those who oppose the Legislature's approval of $50 million to operate and maintain the library in Medora are petitioning to place a referendum on the June 2020 primary ballot to repeal the state funding, which must be matched by $100 million in private money.

The Bismarck Tribune reports one opponent, Riley Kuntz, says the library is a "gross misappropriation of funds" for a project that honors a president who wasn't even from North Dakota.

Roosevelt spent four years on a ranch in the North Dakota Badlands while in his 20s. The area is now a national park and the state's top tourist attraction.

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OILFIELD SAFETY

New oilfield safety program a time-saver, officials say

(Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com)

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The North Dakota Petroleum Council and state officials say a new oilfield safety training program, 18 months in the making, will be a time-saver for tens of thousands of contract workers.

Council president Ron Ness says 50 oil companies worked on the standards for the One Basin-One Way curriculum which aims to save time for oilfield contractors who often sit through multiple, redundant safety trainings on workplace hazards in a year. North Dakota's oilfield has about 32,000 contracted employees.

The Bismarck Tribune says the two-part program involves four hours of classroom instruction, followed by refresher training the next year and then repeats. The training network TrainND Northwest in Williston and the North Dakota Safety Council will conduct the orientations in Bismarck, Dickinson, Fargo, Minot, Watford City and Williston.

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LIQUOR LICENSE-RACE

Liquor license denied, owner says decision is racial

(Information from: KVLY-TV, http://www.valleynewslive.com)

WEST FARGO, N.D. (AP) — City regulators have decided not to renew a liquor license for a West Fargo bar and its owner says it because she and many of her customers are black.

The West Fargo Liquor Control Board this week denied the license renewal for Awake Lounge citing noise complaints. The bar's license was suspended for two weeks in November after neighbors complained noise from the lounge kept them up at night.

Owner Ritchell Aboah says she's done several things to reduce the noise, including removing some music speakers. Aboah tells KVLY-TV a "blind person can tell that this is a racial situation. They do not want us here."

City officials say Aboah can appeal the liquor control board's decision and Aboah says she plans to do just that.


Associated Press North Dakota News

Friday, June 21st 2019

NORTH DAKOTA WOMEN'S HOCKEY LAWSUIT

Suit seeking to reinstate North Dakota women's hockey tossed

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — A judge has thrown out a discrimination lawsuit by 11 former University of North Dakota women's hockey players seeking to have the program reinstated.

The complaint filed last summer alleges the university violated Title IX laws that prohibit women from being treated differently because of gender. School administrators cited budget woes when the program was dropped in the spring of 2017.

U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland said the players did not prove a "substantial disproportionality" between men's and women's athletic opportunities.

Attorney Daniel Siegel, who represents the players, says he's unhappy with the ruling and is considering whether to appeal.

The team reached the NCAA quarterfinals two straight years when twin sisters and U.S. Olympic stars Monique and Jocelyne Lamoureux were on the roster.

DAKOTA ACCESS PIPELINE-EXPANSION

Dakota Access pipeline operator plans to double capacity

(Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com)

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The operator of the Dakota Access pipeline is planning to nearly double its capacity.

The Bismarck Tribune reports that Energy Transfer Partners plans to expand the pipeline's capacity from more than 500,000 barrels per day to as much as 1.1 million barrels.

ETP told North Dakota Public Service Commission in a letter Wednesday that the expansion will let the Texas-based company meet growing demand without additional pipelines or rail shipments.

The Dakota Access pipeline carries oil from North Dakota through South Dakota and Iowa to a shipping point in Illinois. The company said last year that it was planning to ship more crude to the Gulf Coast.

The pipeline sparked massive protests near the Standing Rock Indian reservation before it was completed and began moving oil in 2017.

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PRISON POPULATION

North Dakota female prison populations hit capacity

(Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com)

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota's female prison population has reached capacity, leaving some inmates in the custody of counties.

The Bismarck Tribune reports that the state's female prison population reached capacity for the first time in May.

Under 2017 legislation, county inmates are transferred to state prisons based on the severity of crimes, medical needs and other factors. Last week, only six of 12 inmates intended for movement from county to state were admitted.

The statewide system for women has a daily average capacity of 224 inmates.

Donnell Preskey, who represents the North Dakota Association of Counties, says a mechanism must be established to reimburse counties for the cost of holding inmates who should be in state facilities.

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GAS TAX REFUND

Gas tax refund deadline approaching

(Information from: KXMB-TV, http://https://www.kxnet.com/)

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota's tax commissioner has a reminder about an important deadline.

Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger says July 1 is the last day to apply for a refund of state taxes paid on fuel in 2018. The refund is available for fuel purchased to run farm, ranch and industrial equipment used off road.

KXMB-TV reports farmers and ranchers can receive a refund of 23 cents per gallon and industrial consumers can get 22.5 cents per gallon. Fuel purchased for use by an emergency medical services operation also qualifies for a refund of 23 cents a gallon.

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PIPELINE LEAK

8,400 gallons of produced water spills in Stark County

DICKINSON, N.D. (AP) — About 8,400 gallons of produced water has spilled in Stark County because of a pipeline leak.

North Dakota's Department of Environmental Quality says the pipeline operator, Scout Energy Management, reported the spill earlier this week when it occurred west of Dickinson and contained it.

Produced water is a mixture of saltwater and oil that can contain drilling chemicals. It's a byproduct of oil and gas development.

State officials have inspected the site and are continuing to monitor it.

BANKERS SURVEY

Bankers survey indicates improving farm economy in 10 states

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Bankers surveyed in parts of 10 Plains and Western states are seeing improvement in the region's farm economy.

The Rural Mainstreet survey released Thursday shows the survey's overall index rising from a stunted 48.5 in May to 53.2 this month. Any score above 50 suggests a growing economy, while a score below 50 indicates a shrinking economy.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss, who oversees the survey, says higher agriculture commodity prices and rebuilding from recent floods boosted June's index. Goss also noted that despite negative consequences from trade tensions and tariffs, nearly 7 of 10 bank CEOS surveyed support either raising or continuing the Trump administration's current tariffs.

Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.

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