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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The defense attorney for a Grand Forks man accused of murder is trying to have statements his client made during initial conversations and interviews with police officers kept out of trial. At hearing Friday morning in Grand Forks, District Judge Dan Hager heard arguments on a motion to suppress evidence, in which defense attorney Theodore Sandberg argues his client was too intoxicated and sleep deprived to understand his rights.
After building a foundation over the past three years in Grand Forks, the Downtown Development Association is now turning its attention to East Grand Forks. Large-scale events and other initiatives already connect the two downtowns on numerous occasions throughout the year. Expanding the DDA's presence to East Grand Forks would give it an opportunity to promote both downtowns at once, said Stacey Majkrzak, executive director of the association.
A remote-controlled aircraft park proposed for northern East Grand Forks is facing some opposition from nearby residents. A vacant city-owned lot at Eighth Avenue Northwest and 23rd Street Northwest is the preferred site for a flying field requested by the Red River RC Flyers club, but homeowners nearby say people have already been out in the area flying without authorization and causing disturbances.
ST. PAUL — Two bills focused on initiatives in East Grand Forks haven't made much progress in the Minnesota Legislature's current session, but officials expect them to pick up the pace soon. Introduced in March, one bill seeks approval for a city sales and use tax while the other requests the state to issue a grant for a wastewater interconnect project, but both have yet to reach the floor of either chamber for a vote.
A request to use city-owned land for establishing a flying site for radio-controlled aircraft is back before the East Grand Forks City Council this week. The paperwork is in order and Red River RC Flyers is looking for a stamp of approval from the council for the club to use vacant land once home to the city landfill off of Eighth Avenue Northwest. "I think we're down to the point where it looks like it's feasible," Club President Tom Stennes said.
THIEF RIVER FALLS—Boutique Air has been selected by the U.S. Department of Transportation to provide air service to Thief River Falls. The department released an order Tuesday awarding the company a two-year contract to serve as the city's air carrier. "We do not have an official service start date," said Carissa Balestreri, a representative for Boutique Air. "Once we finalize the operational details, we will have a better understanding of our start date. We will also be updating our website with information as we receive it."
North Dakota has garnered national attention for its investment in unmanned aircraft systems, and state officials hope to keep building on the success that has come with it so far. Part of Brian Opp's job as manager of aerospace development for the state's commerce department is to promote those success stories when it comes to business and research ventures featuring the technology.
The second time proved to be the charm for approving a three-year contract between the city of East Grand Forks and engineering firm Widseth Smith Nolting. Council members remaining mum Tuesday before casting their votes of 5-2, with council members Henry Tweten and Clarence Vetter dissenting. The quiet didn't last, as later in the meeting, Tweten added to what has been his ongoing opposition to council's decision to renew a contract with the firm rather than open it up for other companies to bid for.
An East Grand Forks police officer has parted ways with the city following a special City Council meeting held Tuesday night regarding his performance. In a meeting closed to the public, the council approved a settlement Tuesday that included the termination of Officer Scott Jordheim's employment with the East Grand Forks Police Department, City Administrator David Murphy said. "All I can say is it's a mutually agreed upon settlement," he said.
The U.S. Senate passed its version of the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill Tuesday, which includes legislation benefiting unmanned aircraft research efforts in North Dakota. Among them are a five-year extension for the FAA's test site program, which designated six sites where researchers are charged with exploring ways to safely integrate unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace.