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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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HILLSBORO, N.D.—Rising several stories above the surrounding farmland, a crane topped off a stack of metal shipping containers with a military-grade antenna and radar dish Monday. The structure makes for an odd sight but will serve a vital function in an upcoming agricultural research project as it will receive data collected and transmitted by an unmanned aircraft.
Resurrection Cemetery in East Grand Forks could be waiting a little longer for a new storage facility for lawnmowers and other equipment. A proposal to building an estimated $25,000 garage on cemetery grounds came before the City Council at its Tuesday work session, but varying opinions on how to proceed with the project could delay it. The city has received bids from companies to build a structure that would house mowers and other equipment that are driven to the cemetery from the Civic Center—a distance of about 2 miles.
After a February visit to North Dakota, a Norwegian unmanned aircraft systems manufacturing firm is back again and is looking to jump into the area's existing business climate. Leaders from Robot Aviation arrived in Grand Forks this week for a site visit that includes touring potential facilities and meeting with organizations it could partner with for various flight and equipment testing and development initiatives.
CROOKSTON—Three northwestern Minnesota cities have received $1.7 million in state grants for rehabilitation projects focused on rental housing, homes and commercial buildings. The grants announced for Crookston, Lancaster and Thief River Falls were part of the nearly $17.9 million that will be awarded to cities across the state as part of the Small Cities Development Program. In Crookston, the $600,875 will be concentrated on revitalizing the city's downtown, specifically rehabilitating rentals and improving the exteriors of commercial buildings.
NEW ORLEANS—A federal announcement this week that promotes students using unmanned aircraft as part of their education is drawing praise nationwide, including from UND students and faculty. Michael Huerta, administrator for the Federal Aviation Administration, announced Wednesday that students now can use small unmanned aircraft for educational and research purposes.
THOMPSON, N.D.—The failure of an $11 million school bond referendum to expand Thompson Public School is weighing heavily on those who have campaigned for its approval. "Heartbreaking is an understatement," said Deb Kolling, a member of the Thompson Vote Yes/Yes Committee, which was formed to raise support for the referendum.
THIEF RIVER FALLS — The Thief River Falls School Board has extended an offer to an Austin, Minn., man for its superintendent position. At a special meeting held Tuesday, the board passed a resolution to enter into contract negotiations with Brad Bergstrom, the director of human resources for Austin Public Schools, which serves about 4,600 students. Thief River Falls Public Schools has a district enrollment of about 2,000 students.
THOMPSON, N.D.—Thompson Public School officials have declined to release unofficial results of a referendum held Tuesday for a $11 million expansion project. Late Monday night, the school district did note the vote attracted a record turnout of 981 voters. The addition will need a majority of 60 percent to pass. Certification from Grand Forks County is needed before the results are considered final. The results are expected to be released this morning.
PEMBINA, N.D.—A Canadian semi driver was injured Tuesday afternoon after his truck and a cattle trailer it was hauling tipped on its side at the Interstate 29 exit ramp for Pembina. Randy Northcott, 56, was treated at the scene for non-life threatening injuries, but seven of the 38 cattle he was transporting died during the rollover or were euthanized afterward, according to a news release from the North Dakota Highway Patrol.
The East Grand Forks Police Department will have to wait a little longer before it can upgrade its computers in its squad cars. The City Council held off on approving a $18,100 purchase of laptops for the cars Tuesday because at least one of its members thinks there might be less expensive options that could serve the department just as well.