POLITICAL NOTEBOOK: Plans unveiled to base unmanned aircraft at GFAFBU.S. Defense Department leaders moved forward with plans to base unmanned aircraft at Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota’s congressional delegation announced Wednesday.
U.S. Defense Department leaders moved forward with plans to base unmanned aircraft at Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota’s congressional delegation announced Wednesday.
Officials recently signed a Record of Decision, which allows the Air Force to begin construction and personnel planning to follow the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission process. That 2005 process resulted in a directive to establish an unmanned aircraft mission at Grand Forks.
Current plans call for establishing air space for training south of Devils Lake with a transition corridor and arrival and departure zones over the base, as well as construction of new infrastructure on the base.
Sens. Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgan and Rep. Earl Pomeroy, all Democrats, said in a joint statement that it’s “another important step” for the city because the Air Force has signed off on the mission plan to base unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, in Grand Forks.
“With this action, the base and community will begin to see real progress toward Grand Forks’ future missions and its status as a hub for the next generation UAVs,” the delegation wrote.
The Base Realignment and Closure plan calls for at least two types of drones to be launched and recovered at Grand Forks Air Force Base: the high-flying Global Hawk reconnaissance aircraft and the Predator, a smaller reconnaissance vehicle that also can carry air-to-ground missiles.
Initially, Global Hawks will be flown by active duty pilots, and the Predators will be operated by Fargo’s 119th Wing of the North Dakota National Guard.
Potter, Hoeven to come to GF
Republican Gov. John Hoeven and Democratic-NPL state Sen. Tracy Potter will be in Grand Forks on Monday for a joint appearance — but not a debate — as they campaign for North Dakota’s U.S. Senate seat.
The Grand Forks Senior Center on Monday announced its October lineup for “Mind-Full Mondays,” during which several statewide and local candidates will speak about issues that pertain to seniors.
The center is located at 620 Fourth Ave. S., and all candidate discussions are scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. on Mondays. Events are open to the public.
- Monday: Hoeven and Potter, candidates for U.S. Senate.
- Oct. 11: Candidates for the North Dakota Legislature from District 43, which includes most of southwestern Grand Forks. Democratic-NPL candidates include House candidate Don Vangsnes and two incumbents, Rep. Lois Delmore and Sen. JoNell Bakke. Republican candidates include Curt Kreun and Don Dietrich for the House and Lonnie Laffen for the Senate.
- Oct. 18: Candidates for the North Dakota Legislature from District 17, which includes southern Grand Forks and Brenna Township. Republican candidates include incumbent Sen. Ray Holmberg and House candidates Mark Owens and Mark Sanford. Democratic-NPL candidates include Senate challenger Thomas Petros and House candidates Bernell Bachmeier and incumbent Rep. Louise “Weezie” Potter.
- Oct. 25: Mike Flannery and Bob Rost, candidates for Grand Forks County Sheriff.
Dorgan urges polling site at Spirit Lake
Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., urged Benson County officials Wednesday to reverse a previous decision and add a polling site for voters on the Spirit Lake Indian Reservation.
There has traditionally been a polling site on the county’s portion of the 495 square mile reservation. But county officials earlier this year decided the nearest polling location would be in Minnewaukan — making Spirit Lake the only reservation in the state that won’t have a polling location this election.
Minnewaukan is about 20 miles from the reservation, a fact that Dorgan worries could cause problems for many Spirit Lake residents who do not have reliable transportation.
In a written statement, Dorgan said he was “extremely disappointed” that county officials decided to not restore a polling site on the reservation.
“Their decision will disenfranchise Spirit Lake residents who will have difficulty exercising their right to vote this November because of the county’s wrong-headed choice,” he wrote.
Dorgan sent a letter to the Benson County Board of Commissioners earlier this month to ask them to reverse their decision.
N.D.-Manitoba water talks scheduled
An upcoming series of talks in Washington, D.C., will address several water policy conflicts between the state of North Dakota and the Canadian province of Manitoba, Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., announced Wednesday.
The talks will be held Oct. 7 and 8. Participants include Dorgan, Gov. John Hoeven, Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., and Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., as well as Canadian Ambassador to the U.S. Gary Doer, U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Jacobson and Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger.
Dorgan worked with both ambassadors to arrange the talks, and more discussions could be scheduled if progress is made at these meetings.
Johnson reports on local politics. Reach him at (701) 780-1105; (800) 477-6572, ext. 105; or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.