Brandi Jewett is an enterprise reporter for the Grand Forks Herald with beats focusing on northwest Minnesota, unmanned aircraft systems and East Grand Forks city government. Other positions she has held at the Herald include Grand Forks city government reporter, general assigment reporter and news intern. A native of Valley City, N.D., 24 years worth of winters haven't scared her out of the state yet.
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By now, most college freshmen have survived their first week of college. Some of you are already hitting the books while others are hitting the streets in search of people to meet and things to do. Some are homesick and some are drunk (literally or figuratively) on new freedoms. Whatever you choose for your college priorities, I'm here to bestow a little advice on you. The most important thing you need to know is this: College isn't high school. As a freshman, you're coming into college with a clean slate.
A low unemployment rate and competition from North Dakota's Oil Patch region has local employers struggling to fill thousands of open jobs. Grand Forks staffing agencies and job experts say filling positions has become more difficult for employers, especially in industries such as retail, production, health care and construction. The allure of high wages in the Oil Patch is pulling workers out of the Grand Forks market, according to Tom Fetch, a business service consultant with Job Service North Dakota's Grand Forks office. The situation is exacerbated by low unemployment.
Results of a survey taken this summer and revealed Thursday indicate respondents favor the idea of building a new facility over remodeling the current Grand Forks Public Library. Survey takers were asked to score criteria using the number five for "strongly agree" and one for "strongly disagree" with other responses falling in between. About 720 people filled out the survey. Building a new library received more high-end scores than its counterpart, with 43 percent saying they strongly agreed with the idea compared to 18 percent strongly agreeing with a remodel.
Drivers speeding on Ruemmele Road in Grand Forks could see more flashing lights in their future. The City Council is reviewing a request to place radar signs on the road to decrease the amount of speeding traffic on the road. A radar sign displays the driver's actual speed and some models begin flashing warning lights if a speed passes a certain limit. The council's safety committee voted Tuesday to table the request until Sept.
It's an obstacle Grand Forks developers say they face often when attempting to construct apartment buildings in the city: resistance from residents. Neighborhood members often band together, sign petitions and voice their protests to city officials, City Council and others entities involved in the construction approval process. Sometimes residents want changes to building designs, promises of nice landscaping or additional buffers to keep out the riffraff.
While college students are often portrayed as the typical renters in Grand Forks, a growing number of older residents in the next decade could have developers thinking twice about who their target customers are. The city's senior population is expected to increase by 20 percent in the next 10 years, according to data assembled for the Grand Forks Housing Authority's 2012 housing needs assessment. "To date, the community has done well serving the housing needs of the elderly population," the Housing Authority's Executive Director Terry Hanson said.
Finding an apartment can be challenging, but for those who have a dog or cat in tow the task can be nearly impossible, according to Grand Forks renters. Patrick Bailey, 23, has been renting in the city for four years while studying history and political science at UND. He said he preferred to live near campus or his downtown job, but his permanent roommate, Lou, has made finding a home tricky in the past. Lou is a 5-year-old Australian shepherd and black lab mix. "It's difficult to find places that do allow dogs," Bailey said. Places that do often have a weight restriction.
It's a basic lesson in supply and demand, but a lack of apartments and an increase in rent has made life anything but simple for Grand Forks renters. Serena Lackman, 23, recently moved into a one-bedroom apartment, a goal she has had since moving out of UND's residence halls three years ago. Her income-based rent is lower than the rent charged for similar places and allows her to keep her place while going to school for her second degree. "It's the only way I can afford to live by myself," Lackman said. "It's really disappointing.
Grand Fork resident Aaron Castoreno can sum up the city's rental market in two words. "It sucks," he said. "Basically, you can't find anything, or it's gone right away." The 28-year-old father of two has been searching for a house to rent near his children's elementary school for about of six months. He and his wife Taylor gave up trying to buy a home near West Elementary a while ago, he said. They've toured a few homes in that neighborhood, located just east of UND's campus.
In a move that left some Grand Forks City Council members shocked and others smiling, Mayor Mike Brown cast a tie-breaker vote Monday against the proposed expansion of the city's recycling program. "Why spend $2.4 million when it's working just fine," Brown said of the current system. The expansion was part of a proposed six-year contract with firm Waste Management.