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., 25 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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CROOKSTON — The amount wasn't as high as some had hoped, but a $20 million increase to Minnesota's Local Government Aid program for 2017 survived the legislative session. Proponents of the increase had pushed for $45.5 million, but the approved amount still will mean funding bumps for area cities. Crookston, which receives the highest amount of aid in Polk County, will see an increase of $116,000 for 2017, City Administrator Shannon Stassen said.
For the first time in months of discussion, a proposal to broadcast and record East Grand Forks City Council meetings heard no audible dissent Tuesday. City staff members have drafted a budget that comes in just under the $25,000 grant awarded to fund the project, and the proposal quietly moved forward for final consideration by the City Council. Under the proposal, the city would purchase five video cameras and other equipment capable of broadcasting city meetings on TV and online.
ST PAUL—The tumultuous end of the Minnesota Legislature's most recent session Sunday produced mixed results for the city of East Grand Forks. The city received legislative approval for a sales and use tax to cover its swimming pool renovation, but the failure of the bonding bill means a $5.3 million grant for a sewage interconnect project slipped through the city's fingers. A failed bill doesn't spell the end of the $10.7 million interconnect project, which would pipe waste from East Grand Forks to Grand Forks for treatment.
UND faculty members are planning to use a rural piece of university property to conduct research utilizing unmanned aircraft to train law enforcement officers and map vegetation. Oakville Prairie, an area with more than 900 acres of land about 12 miles west of Grand Forks, will be home to the projects set to begin in June. Both projects received approval last week from the university's UAS Research Ethics and Privacy Committee, which grants permission for any research activities associated with UND.
CROOKSTON—All three Polk County commissioner races will be contested in this year's general election, with six candidates filing their paperwork for the office this week. The filing period for county, state and federal offices opened Tuesday in Minnesota with another 11 days left before it closes. So far, the only incumbent who has filed to defend their seat is District 5's Don Diedrich, whose residence is listed as Warren. Challenging Diedrich for his seat is Donald Casmey of East Grand Forks.
It took a team effort for five Discovery Elementary School fourth-graders to place enough dirt around the exposed roots of a tree before declaring its planting a success. Each took a turn with the group's lone shovel while used their hands to scoop dirt into the hole. "I've dug a hole before, so I kind of know how to fill it," 10-year-old Alex Talle told his classmates while shoveling dirt around the tree's base. "I had never planted trees. All I did was dig holes."
Uncertainty surrounding the public availability of data from research partially paid for by state dollars has a UND committee exploring a request for an attorney general ruling on the matter. The school's Unmanned Aircraft Systems Research Ethics and Privacy Committee voted Wednesday to move forward with the process of seeking an opinion from Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, which will likely require the involvement of other state and university system officials.
The filing period for candidates looking to run for various levels of political offices opened Tuesday in Minnesota. Candidates have until 5 p.m. May 31 to turn into their filings to the appropriate office, which ranges from local clerks to the Minnesota Secretary of State. This period includes candidates for federal offices, state senators and representatives and county offices. All seats in state House districts 01A and 01B and in state Senate District 1 will be open for candidates filings as well as the District 7 seat for U.S. House.
WARROAD, Minn.—Voters approved a $16 million bond referendum Tuesday that would pay for expanding and improving Warroad Public Schools facilities. Unofficial results released by Superintendent Paula Foley showed the referendum passed 786 to 511—one of the largest election turnouts the city had seen recently. "It was definitely a groundswell that made this happen," she said Wednesday. "We're lucky, and we only have good things to look forward to in Warroad."
The East Grand Forks Parks and Recreation Department could have a new leader by the end of summer. Former Director Dave Aker was reassigned earlier this month to another role within the department to "duties that are more accommodating to him," City Administrator David Murphy said. Murphy could not comment further on the move, citing privacy stipulations set forth by HIPAA—the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.