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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Hard feelings over Grand Forks Public Schools' budget problems seem to be popping up in unexpected places. During a Monday discussion about federal grant money at a City Council meeting, council members expressed their reservations about approving $99,700 for a new playground at Wilder Elementary School. The council approved the grant, but not before questioning if the money for the project should be distributed by the city. "The district continues to spend taxpayer money but can't afford to buy playground equipment," council member Dana Sande said.
After months of discussion and vetting, the Grand Forks city budget received final approval Monday from City Council without an audible complaint. The meeting was a different scene from last year, when more than a dozen residents turned out to chastise the city for raising taxes. This year, a single letter protesting an increase in taxes was sent to the city, according Mayor Mike Brown. The budget vote also passed without comment from council members, though the group spent more than an hour debating numbers at its last meeting. In the end, city property tax rates won't be going up for res
Drivers zipping along Ruemmele Road in south Grand Forks may see more flashing lights in response to their climbing speedometer needles. Two temporary speed radar signs could be placed on the road -- which curves at 90-degree angle -- to quell speeders that have neighbors in the area nervous.
If it can break even until the end of the year, Grand Forks' Alerus Center could post a nearly $500,000 profit. "The football games are the single biggest factor for the remainder of this year," Finance Manager Darryl Jorgenson said. The loss or gain of other events also could affect the projected profit, according to Executive Director Cheryl Swanson. This year's profit won't be the biggest one in the city-owned event center's history.
After receiving no reply from the city attorney, a Grand Forks resident has sent a complaint about a City Council member to a higher disciplinary board. In a letter sent May 15 to City Attorney Howard Swanson, resident Doug Marshall asked for an investigation of his claims that council member and lawyer Doug Christensen voted on city business he should have recused himself from because of professional conflicts of interest. Two months later, Marshall said he was "appalled" he did not receive confirmation that the city had received it. "There was no response, zero acknowledgement that they h
Cuts to spending and a deficit are on the horizon for Grand Forks Public Schools following a Monday night School Board vote. New calculations from the district's business manager, Vicky Schwartz, put the school's projected deficit for the 2013-14 school year at a little more than $1 million after the board chose to raise taxes by a smaller amount than suggested by administration. Those administrators are now meeting to decide where they can afford to cut within the district's $87 million budget. "The conversation has started," Schwartz said.
The number of homes under construction and the available lots for building homes are growing in Grand Forks, according to local officials. New apartments, townhomes and single-family homes constructed this year combined could come in at more than 1,500 units, according to City Planner Brad Gengler. "We've seen a dramatic increase (in construction)," he told a crowd gathered at the Chamber of Commerce office Wednesday in Grand Forks. Gengler was part of a panel providing an update on the city's tight housing market and progress made in increasing its housing inventory. The amount of land av
Grand Forks' tight housing market has been the source of frustration for many people who have recently attempted to own or rent a home. After months of study, a city commission determined the housing crunch was caused in part by the city's supply of housing not keeping up with demand. The Blue Ribbon Commission on Housing had the task of studying the housing market, diagnosing problems with it and suggesting solutions to those problems. It released its report nine months ago.
In an effort to keep pedestrians from crossing a patch of North Columbia Road illegally, Grand Forks and UND are considering the construction of a fence near the street. The proposed 6-foot-tall aluminum fence would start on the east side of Columbia Road near the street's intersection with Second Avenue North. From there it would run south and meet with the Columbia overpass wall -- a distance of approximately 300 feet.
Nearly 40 people broke into a round of applause Monday when a motion to increase property taxes by 28.6 percent failed at the Grand Forks School Board meeting. But the motion that passed in its place received little fanfare from residents. That motion, proposed by board member Kelly Hogness, puts the district's new tax rate at 89.78 mills.