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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The 2017 city budget planning process continues for the Grand Forks City Council, with its members getting their first look at proposed operating budgets for several city services. Emergency services in the city will see an increase in funding, both from the city and a fee increase passed by public vote in June. The Public Safety Answering Point, which handles calls for service and emergency assistance in Grand Forks County, saw a continued increase in call volume in 2015. The numbers are consistent with a trend the center has posted since 2011.
The course is set for Grand Forks voters to decide if they support the city upping its sales tax to raise money for future water, sewer and street projects. The City Council unanimously approved Monday a resolution calling for a 0.75 percent sales tax to be placed on the Nov. 8 ballot. The money raised from the tax only could be used for water, sewage and street infrastructure projects.
Area business and political leaders spent Monday making the case for a large defense contractor to consider expanding to Grand Forks. Executives from Raytheon, which manufactures numerous products including sensing systems for large unmanned aircraft systems, listen to the pitch and received a tour of Grand Sky business park. "We brought officials from Raytheon to Grand Forks to highlight the kind of dynamic UAS technology and business environment we can offer them — an environment they won't find anywhere elsewhere," said Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D.
WARREN, Minn. — Residents in Polk, Norman and Mahnomen counties will have the help of Minnesota grant funds to become safer and healthier bikers. The Northwest Regional Development Commission in Warren, Minn., was one of three organizations to receive bicycles, trailers and other supplies from a state program to improve health, according to a Friday news release. St. Cloud Area Public School District and Willmar Community Education and Recreation also were named as recipients.
As Dave Alexander tells it, every second of every day there are 60 aircraft built by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. flying worldwide. On Thursday, one of those aircraft spent a few minutes in the air over Grand Sky business park to mark the first flight of a large unmanned aircraft by one of the park's tenants. Alexander, president of aircraft systems for General Atomics Aeronautical, was one of dozens on hand to watch the flight, which also celebrated the recent start of classes at the company's flight training academy.
HILLSBORO, N.D. — His target just out of sight, Kent Ridl leaned into the left turn until his plane found itself once again on a straight course. "There it is," said co-pilot Ken Schuler, whose eyes hadn't left the quarry during the turn. "Keep coming, keep coming, keep coming." A few hundred feet ahead and above their position flew an unmanned aircraft busy photographing the sprawling farmland below them. The pair had one mission: keep the aircraft in their sights at all time. "It's a position game all day long," Schuler said.
The potential for using unmanned aircraft systems in the insurance industry has some companies looking to North Dakota for help with researching applications. The technology can be used for aerial inspection purposes that could help those companies evaluate damage to homes following severe weather, among other uses. The Northern Plains UAS Test Site, which researches the safe integration of unmanned aircraft into the national airspace, has seen interest from the industry.
It was another year of rebuilding for East Grand Forks city finances in 2015 as the city works to catch up on expenses and increase its cash reserves. The City Council was presented Tuesday with the city's comprehensive financial report for that year, with the only item drawing concern being a statement about the city's general fund balance and its relation to the city's overall spending.
It was hard to tell whose smile stretched the farthest Tuesday among supporters at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Robin Hall, UND's latest aerospace building. Larry Martin, chairman of the UND Aerospace Foundation Board of Directors, surmised that it would have belonged to the late John Odegard, the namesake and founder of the university's school of aerospace sciences. "If John were with us today, his smile would be as wide as this room," Martin said, standing in the first floor commons of the new 66,000-square-foot building.
MANVEL, N.D.—Cleanup continued Monday after a semi trailer damaged in a rollover spilled hundreds of gallons of diesel in a ditch Saturday morning about 1 mile north of Manvel. The spill, which was estimated at 250 to 300 gallons, was contained within the waterlogged ditch and the diesel removed from the area, state Spill Response Program Manager Bill Seuss said. During the initial cleanup, crews constructed a containment dike to prevent the spill from spreading. A pumper truck was used to vacuum diesel and water from the ditch.