Bismarck Tops Safest Cities in North Dakota

BISMARCK – Once again the National Council for Home Safety and Security, has announced their annual Safest Cities in North Dakota Report for 2017. In order are; Bismarck, West Fargo, Wahpeton, Valley City, and Jamestown are the Top 5.

Western North Dakota’s main hub and the state capital Bismarck, is the second-biggest city in the state. Bismarck remains one of the most-popular destinations in the state and is recognized as one of the fastest-growing small cities in America.

Perhaps surprisingly, it also holds the title of safest city in North Dakota, which is pretty impressive for a city of its size. How impressive? Bismarck saw 1.47 violent crimes and 13.04 property crimes per 1,000 people last year.

Originally named Missouri Crossing and later Edwinton, the city eventually came to be known as Bismarck when the Northern Pacific Railway named it after German Chancellor Otto Von Bismarck, in the process hoping to attract German investment and settlers. (It was the discovery of gold in the Black Hills that was much more successful in drawing people to the area.)

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To identify the safest cities in North Dakota, we reviewed the most recent FBI Uniform Crime Report statistics along with our own population data and internal research. We eliminated any cities that failed to submit a complete crime report to the FBI and removed cities with populations under 5,000. Note that our use of the word “cities” is versatile, refers to populations of 5,000 and over, and thus includes places with the words “town” and “township.”

The Top 12 Safest Cities in North Dakota, 2017

1. Bismarck 11. Mandan
2. West Fargo 12. Watford City
3. Wahpeton
4. Valley City
5. Jamestown
6. Dickinson
7. Grand Forks
8. Fargo
9. Minot
10. Williston

The remaining cities were ranked based on the number of reported violent crimes (aggravated assault, murder, rape, and robbery) and property crimes (burglary, arson, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft) per 100,000 people. These variables were then weighted, with violent crimes accounting for 70% of the total (due to their severity) and property crimes accounting for 30%. Finally, we moved the decimal point over a few spots to show rates per 1,000 people.
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University of Mary’s Coach Roger Thomas to Retire

BISMARCK – The University of Mary announced the retirement of its athletic director, Roger Thomas, effective June 30. Thomas, who has been the university’s athletic director since 2008, has had a tremendous career for the Marauders, leading the school’s athletic departments in fostering scores of top-caliber athletes to All-American citations, and making the transition to the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) of the NCAA Division II from the NAIA. During the transition from Mary’s first A.D., Al Bortke, Thomas had the duty of bringing the school into compliance with its new rank.

“It’s with great pride, gratitude and humility that I have had the opportunity to serve the University of Mary and the Sisters of Annunciation Monastery during its new era of NCAA athletics—a time of great growth for our campus and our student athletes,” said Thomas. “My hope was always for our student athletes to graduate from the University of Mary as champions in their own hearts—knowing they gave it their all in the classroom, competitively in their sport and then confidently go into their communities as true servant leaders. It’s bittersweet that I come to the end of my career in athletics. Having worked with so many wonderful athletes over the years, it’s rewarding to know we helped shape their character and better serve society—and we did it the right way.”

Coach Mike Thorson said of Thomas, “Roger Thomas’s leadership has created a tremendous opportunity for coaches and athletes to excel. Roger believes in the vital role of athletics in forming character and molding young men and women into outstanding servant leaders. His contributions to the university have been invaluable. We wish him the very best in his retirement.”

Before coming to Mary, Thomas had a distinguished career at the University of North Dakota as UND’s head football coach from 1986-98 and the athletic director from 1999-2005. As the winningest football coach in UND history he compiled a record of 90-43-1 for a win percentage of .674. He guided North Dakota to five NCAA Division II postseason appearances while his team won three straight North Central Conference championships from 1993-95. Thomas was a four-time region coach of the year and a three-time NCC Coach of the Year.

As UND’s athletic director, Thomas oversaw the opening of the Ralph Engelstad Arena, Betty Engelstad Sioux Center and Alerus Center. Also under his watch North Dakota won NCAA national titles in football and men’s hockey – the latter of which earned Thomas and the UND skaters a trip to the White House and a congratulatory meeting with the president of the United States. In 2008 Thomas relocated his storied career to the University of Mary, helping to make the transition from NAIA to NCAA Division II.

Roger Thomas has been an exemplary leader at the University of Mary, fully committed to both athletic excellence and academic achievement, and to the vital importance of athletics in building character and fostering the Benedictine values the University of Mary was founded upon.

“The University of Mary is saddened to lose an athletic director so well respected as Roger is throughout the region, but we trust that God will continue to bless us with people like him who will continue his legacy of excellence,” said Greg Vetter, executive vice president of the university. “We are grateful for his service and know that his legacy, along with our new fieldhouse and the fulfillment of Vision 2030, will signal a bright future for athletics at the University of Mary.”

A search for Thomas’ successor will begin immediately.

Officials Encourage Producers to Monitor Flood Threats

BISMARCK – Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring is encouraging farmers and ranchers in northeast and north central North Dakota to monitor conditions and evaluate their operations for potential flood impacts that could affect livestock and other property.

Rivers and streams in northeast North Dakota are expected to crest this weekend. National Weather Service data indicates snow melt with a significant rain event could create overland or increased river and stream flooding.

Goehring suggests all producers take a few moments during their spring preparations to plan the movement of their livestock, and review the locations of feed, stored grain, chemicals and equipment both inside and outside of storage buildings. He also encourages producers to be aware of roads susceptible to floodwaters that could limit emergency travel and access to livestock or stored grain.

“Producers in flood watch or warning areas should monitor forecasts closely, identify steps to minimize impacts to their livestock and property, and keep accurate documentation, including dates and photographs of impacted property,” Goehring said.

River flow forecasts show the potential to impact agricultural operations, including the potential to cut off farmsteads. Governor Doug Burgum has also issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency in Walsh County based a potential record flooding of the Park River.

“Make sure that your weather radios and communication equipment are in good working order and monitor the radio for new forecasts,” he said.

Basin Electric’s Response to President Trump’s Clean Power Plan Executive Order

BISMARCK – Basin Electric CEO and General Manager Paul Sukut today issued the following statement on President Trump’s executive order on the Clean Power Plan (CPP): “President Trump’s announcement today is a positive step forward in our efforts to seek time and flexibility when it comes to developing a carbon management plan, hopefully, in the context of a national energy policy.

“EPA’s Clean Power Plan would have significant impacts on Basin Electric and our membership. Of the 13 states hit the hardest by this rule, eight are in Basin Electric’s service territory. Financially, Basin Electric would have to spend billions of dollars to comply. These dollars would simply cover adding new generation and potentially impact the operations of our existing facilities. This does not even include the expense of additional electric, gas or transmission infrastructure to support the new generation required to meet the proposed mandates of the CPP. These costs would be unfairly borne by our membership.

“Over the last decade, Basin Electric and our membership have taken a leadership role in the development of renewable generation. We’ve added more than 1,500 megawatts of wind generation to our system (which represents approximately 23 percent of our generation capacity), invested more than $1 billion in natural gas generation resources and have invested more than $1.6 billion in emissions control technology to make our already clean generation fleet even cleaner. Even more, our Dakota Gasification Company’s Great Plains Synfuels Plant is home to North America’s largest carbon capture and sequestration project – capturing more than 30 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2). Our most recent project to add urea production to the Synfuels Plant continues that tradition by capturing CO2 to make urea and for sale as a food grade product. It’s important to note that the CPP, as proposed, did not allow Basin Electric credit for our current investments in natural gas generation or renewables, nor our carbon sequestration efforts through Dakota Gas.

“President Trump’s action today does not, however, impact Basin Electric’s efforts to seek a viable path forward in a carbon constrained future. We are actively seeking solutions that reduce our carbon footprint while keeping coal as part of our energy portfolio, preserving both the reliability and cost competitiveness of our members energy supply. In addition to our wind and natural gas investments, we are actively working to advance clean coal technology. Examples include hosting the Integrated Test Center at our Dry Fork Station, Gillette, Wyo., and our investments in research, most recently, in the development of a high efficiency power generation technology that generates high quality CO2 as a product stream, along with participation in DOE’s CarbonSAFE program to further the science of CO2 sequestration in saline aquifers.”

In November 2015, utilities across the country, including Basin Electric, filed a Motion to Stay with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which was denied. On Feb. 9, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court granted Basin Electric and several other petitioners’ Motion to Stay the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, giving the current administration time to review the rule and issue today’s executive order.

Protest Clean-Up Cost North Dakota $38 Million

BISMARCK – Governor Doug Borgum seeks federal reimbursement as a potential means of recovering the $38-million cost of policing and cleaning up after protestors who demonstrated against the Dakota Access Pipeline for months, according to a new article by Forbes.

All options are on the table,” according to Mike Nowatski, a spokesman from Borgum’s office. “The governor’s office has been in discussions with both the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and White House officials to emphasize the state’s position that federal reimbursement is warranted.

Greenpeace – one of the several environmental groups that were present at the camps and raised millions in donations from around the world at the height of protests’ media coverage – said it was not responsible for the clean-up, charging Energy Transfer Partners and the consortium of companies that built the pipeline with the job instead.

 “Any environmental concerns sit at the feet of the pipeline decision-makers,” group spokesperson Perry Wheeler said in an email.

Standing Rock Sioux Chairman David Archambault II, one of the main tribes that organized the dissenting movement against the $3.8 billion DAPL, expressed his condemnation of the way environmental protestors managed federal lands to VICE News.

He continued: “Before this entire movement started, that was some of the most beautiful land around. There was a place down there where eagles, over 100 eagles would come and land. There were game down there — deer, pheasants, elk, geese. Now, it’s occupied by people. And when masses of people come to one place, we don’t take care of it.”

The camps housing protestors from across the nation were located on the flood plain, meaning any waste that remains will likely be carried by the rain into the Cannonball River, contaminating local water resources as spring emerges.

Highway 1806 South of Mandan to Open on Friday

MANDAN – The Morton County Sheriff’s Department and the North Dakota Highway Patrol will continue their phased reopening of State Highway 1806, by allowing two-way traffic via pilot cars beginning noon on Friday, March 17. The pilot cars will escort vehicles approximately nine miles between Fort Rice and a point south of the Cannonball Bridge. This process will continue until state and county officials determine it is safe to resume normal traffic flow.

“The conditions were met to continue our phased approach to reopening Highway 1806,” said Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier. “We understand that opening this road is important to facilitate the routine business and commutes that take place along the 1806 corridor. We ask motorists to be patient as we continue this phased approach to fully reopening Highway 1806.”

Contractors have removed 21,480,000 pounds of trash and debris from the three areas of land managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Contractors and the North Dakota Department of Transportation are working this week to clear additional debris from ditches and mud from the roadway south of Backwater Bridge.

“From the outset, our priorities were public safety, protecting the environment and bringing this situation to a peaceful resolution,” said Gov. Doug Burgum. “With the camps and roadway cleared, we can now move toward re-establishing traffic on Highway 1806 and restoring normalcy for the residents of Morton and Sioux counties and all of North Dakota. We ask for the cooperation of all parties to ensure a smooth transition.”

Motorists should expect delays of up to 30 minutes and to plan their travel accordingly. Anyone hindering the pilot car process or parking along the highway will be subject to arrest.

Law enforcement will continue to patrol the area. Roads may become slippery due to mud and other debris from trucks entering and exiting the roadway.

North Dakota Ranks #2 in National DUI Rankings

BISMARCK – Longtime residents of the Peace Garden state, have long known about their skeleton in the closet when it comes to national rankings, DUI problems.

In an effort to keep Americans safer on the roads this year, BackgroundChecks.org ranked states with the worst DUI problems. The report was released on March 9, 2017. BackgroundChecks.org used a combination of CDC, Department of Transportation data, and local state data, to create a comprehensive scoring for each state.

North Dakota was ranked #2 on the 10 worst states with DUI Problems .

The top 10 states with DUI problems in America are Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, South Carolina, Mississippi, New Mexico, Kentucky, and Maine.

“The fact that over 10,000 people a year die from DUI related accidents is a travesty”, said Trent Wilson, co-author of the research. “We hope this research will open some eyes and make people think twice before drinking and driving.”

DUIs were on the rise in 2016, according to data released late last year by the CDC.

BackgroundChecks.org is an organization devoted to Public Safety, Online Privacy, Home Security, and Open Government. Their technology tools and resources are used by hundreds of thousands of users each to month. As part of their commitment to public safety, they constantly conduct new research to shed insight on issues that affect the public welfare.