Brandi Jewett is a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald with beats focusing on northwest Minnesota, unmanned aircraft systems and East Grand Forks city government. A native of Valley City, N.D., 26 years worth of winters haven't scared her out of the state yet. Follow her work at grandforksherald.com, on her blog at droningon.areavoices.com and on Twitter and Instagram: @brandijewett. Send tips and story ideas to email@example.com.
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THIEF RIVER FALLS—A new set of hockey players are one step closer to hitting the ice in Ralph Engelstad Arena this fall. A deal nine months in the making progressed this week in a signed contract that paves the way for a Superior International Junior Hockey League franchise in Thief River Falls.
East Grand Forks will move forward with a intersection study that could pave the way for construction of a roundabout on the city's southern end. The City Council voted unanimously Monday to allow Alliant Engineering to complete an intersection control evaluation of Bygland Road's intersection with Rhinehart Drive at a cost of up to $9,990. A roundabout has been suggested as a solution to traffic congestion at the intersection.
THIEF RIVER FALLS—Thief River Falls City Council members voted unanimously this past weekend to offer the job of city administrator to Rodney Otterness. The council authorized its labor and personnel committee March 12 to begin employment negotiations with Otterness, with a salary range of $90,000 to $105,000. The committee likely will meet today and speak with Otterness over conference call, Mayor Brian Holmer said Monday. "Right now, we're at the point where we've said 'You're our No. 1 pick, and we're ready to negotiate,' " Holmer told the Herald.
The potential construction of a roundabout at Bygland Road and Rhinehart Drive is being explored by East Grand Forks city leaders. The idea was first proposed in a traffic study completed on Bygland Road last year, but a construction project proposed near the intersection has officials looking closer look at installing a roundabout at the same time.
NEWFOLDEN, Minn.—More progress on creating an outdoor learning space near Marshall County Central Schools will soon be taking root. Earlier this week, 10th grade biology students began seeding a 6-acre area with native grasses as part an effort to convert it to a restored prairie, part of which would serve as an outdoor classroom. Laurie Fairchild, a private lands biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, led Thursday's seeding effort, which required students to systematically drop the seeds over the land.
UND can now take pictures and video from unmanned aircraft for commercial use, but federal officials aren't ready to let the school to get into the business of unmanned flight training just yet. The university submitted a petition in August asking the Federal Aviation Administration to grant it permission to collect data using the aircraft, also known as drones, and conduct unmanned aircraft systems flight training.
CROOKSTON — The Diocese of Crookston is seeking the dismissal of a civil lawsuit filed by a man who claims the organization's negligence made sexual abuse he was subjected to by a priest possible. The suit filed on behalf of the plaintiff, a man referred to as Doe 19, states the diocese failed to properly supervise the Rev. J. Vincent Fitzgerald at a time when it knew the sexual abuse of children by clergy was a problem. "The diocese risked these kids' safety and future to, as documents show, avoid scandal," Michael Finnegan, attorney for Doe 19, said Wednesday.
A public hearing for $1.6 million in proposed street repairs drew dozens of residents Tuesday to East Grand Forks City Hall, where some voiced concerns about the potential burden on their tax bills. The city does receive some state aid to pay for some of the road work, but the remaining $941,500 would be raised through special assessments. The hearing marks the first step in getting the repair project off the ground, but like others before it seeking special assessments to pay for what state money won't cover, it didn't receive a warm welcome from residents.
East Grand Forks residents passed a 1 percent sales and use tax to cover the renovation of the city swimming pool Monday, but that doesn't mean it's a done deal. While the tax has cleared a local hurdle, it still must garner approval from the Minnesota Legislature in order to become active. The tax passed by a vote of 1,236 to 523 in the city's first mail-in special election.
A 1 percent sales and use tax proposal received the approval of East Grand Forks voters Monday through a special election. The tax garnered 1,236 votes out of 1,759 cast in the city's first mail-in election, according to unofficial results. Voters have been submitting ballots by mail and in person by absentee vote for the past several weeks. In order to become active, state legislators also need to approve the tax. Should it pass at that level, the tax could become active as early as July.