Andrew Haffner covers higher education and general assignment stories for the Grand Forks Herald. He attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where he studied journalism, political science and international studies. He previously worked at the Dickinson Press.
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An email exchange late last week between UND President Mark Kennedy and a state legislative leader reveals lingering frustration after last year's steep budgetary cuts to higher education. North Dakota Sen. Ray Holmberg, R-Grand Forks, said he "felt the need to set the record straight" with Kennedy after the university leader made comments aimed at the Legislature on a March 20 radio program.
The calendar would tell us that spring is here, but a step outdoors says otherwise. Carl Jones, a meteorologist with the Grand Forks office of the National Weather Service, said wintry conditions have lingered in the region, dumping snow and dropping temperatures well below their seasonal average. "It definitely is much colder than it should be at this time of year," Jones said. Average temperatures for now, he continued, should hit a high of roughly 45 degrees and a low of 24.
Grand Forks leaders long have tried to square their plans for the community with statistics indicating that poverty rates here are some of the worst among cities in North Dakota. But the basis of the comparisons also might need another look. "Sometimes, we overlook these basic demographic issues that are really important and really illustrative," Mark Schill, a vice president at Praxis Strategy Group in Grand Forks, said Thursday. "I think it's helpful to start with that and then unpack it to see what's going on."
The world is at war—and every sneeze, a battleground. Multidrug-resistant bacteria, also known as "superbugs," have taken on an increased focus from medical researchers as older drugs continue to lose their effectiveness in curing disease. If evolution is a fight for survival, then medicine is an arms race between antibiotics and fast-adapting microbes. A recent international study with research from UND could give us a new molecular weapon that attacks hardy bugs from the outside-in.
Heat radiated from the boilers of the UND steam plant Tuesday, making stark contrast against the chill in the facility's open-air coal shed. A length of rail still gleams beneath coal dust on the floor. But the railroad connection is now just a piece of historical legacy. Kyle Specht, the plant's maintenance supervisor, said the expansion a few years ago of the nearby geological sample library had encroached on space for the plant's fuel stockpile. Now, the Wyoming coal that fires some of the plant's oldest boilers is regularly trucked in to avoid disruptions.
The Chester Fritz Auditorium is in its 40s and, like others around that age, it's had some work done. Betty Allan is the director of the concert hall on the UND campus, the site of graduations and rock shows alike. Beyond some refurbishing here and there, she says, the aesthetic of the theater area is original to the hall's 1972 opening. Other elements, thankfully, are not. One example Allen points to is the "giraffe carpeting," done in retro orange, gold and brown, built into the lobbies of the auditorium and torn out within the next 15 years.
UND is hosting a set of three finalists next week to interview for the role of chief operating officer for campus. The candidates are in line to follow high-level administrator Alice Brekke, who is currently scaling down her workload as part of a phased retirement plan offered through last year's employee buyouts. Brekke, the vice president of finance and operations, keeps track of the university budget and facilities, overseeing a wide swath of campus activity.
Interns of the world, unite. A recently launched joint venture between UND and a local economic development group is well on its way to creating as many as 15 new internships this year in the Grand Forks area, according to the initiative's point person.
Grand Forks Police arrested a man Wednesday night after they discovered a homemade bomb in a home while investigating a shooting report. According to a police news release, officers were called about 7 p.m. to Sam's Club at 2501 32nd Ave. S. for a report of shots fired. They determined a group of men in two vehicles exchanged shots from a small-caliber rifle during an altercation. The men were known to each other and no one was injured, police say.
A Fargo man is accused of raping a 19-year-old woman in Grand Forks after giving her alcohol. Arsenio Lamare Oquinn, 28, is charged with the Class A felony of gross sexual imposition of an impaired woman following the alleged October rape. He was also charged with the Class A misdemeanor of contributing to the deprivation of a minor for supplying the woman with alcohol. A criminal affidavit describes the case as beginning when Oquinn arrived at the woman's residence at about 10 p.m. on the night of the incident.