John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.
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After a century in business, a Crookston bank is changing its moniker. As of Dec. 12, Crookston National Bank will go by Northern Sky Bank, said Jim Ingeman, the bank president. "It's an opportunity for us, we think, to better position ourselves for the future with a name that lends itself to some nice marketing opportunities," he said. Besides coinciding with with its centennial, the change comes at the same time the bank changes from a national charter to a state one. That means they couldn't have "national" in their name anymore, Ingeman said.
For Lonnie Laffen, the debate over the future of Grand Forks' Arbor Park is about more than whether a downtown green space should be used for condos and commercial space. The president of JLG Architects said whether the city redevelops the park may have implications for Grand Forks' ability to recruit workers and keep up with other cities in the region. The millennial generation he's looking to attract to his firm likes dense, urban spaces, Laffen said.
Grand Forks health care providers and others are turning to mobile technology to remind patients and clients of upcoming appointments. Automated text messages and emails notifying people of upcoming appointments are helping reduce time spent by office staff on those tasks, as well as cut down on the number of missed appointments. For some, the new ways of communicating with patients are replacing traditional methods.
The head of North Dakota's oil industry association said the news that a group of oil-producing countries would cut production next year is a "sign of optimism," but how much the decision boosts prices remains to be seen. Ron Ness, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, welcomed the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries' decision to reduce output by about 1.2 million barrels per day to 32.5 million barrels per day in January. It's the first time OPEC agreed to output cuts since 2008, according to Reuters.
A new nonprofit foundation is making progress toward purchasing a popular northeastern North Dakota ski area. The Pembina Gorge Foundation, which had its first meeting a month ago, is seeking to purchase Frost Fire near Walhalla, N.D. Richard and Judith Johnson have owned the property for more than four decades, but Richard died in March and Judith is looking to retire.
John Olson's email inbox has been inundated lately with messages about the election. The details vary, but the overriding message is clear: Don't vote for Donald Trump on Dec. 19. As one of North Dakota's three electors, Olson is tasked with representing his state in the Electoral College by casting a vote for one of the presidential candidates. And even though Trump won North Dakota with 63 percent of the vote, Olson said Monday he's been receiving "hundreds" of messages asking him to vote against the Republican president-elect.
The ownership structure of a popular downtown Grand Forks restaurant is changing, according to a liquor license renewal submitted to the city.
Local small businesses are welcoming another installment of the annual answer to Black Friday. Small Business Saturday marks its seventh installment today. The event encourages consumers to shop at local businesses in their community. Last year, 95 million people shopped at small businesses on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Those shoppers spent more than $16 billion, according to the National Federation of Independent Business.
After 34 years, Minnesota's Senate District 1 will have new leadership when the state Legislature convenes in January. Republican Mark Johnson, an East Grand Forks attorney, will take the reins from LeRoy Stumpf, a longtime Democratic lawmaker who announced his retirement in February. That news sparked a six-way race for the Republican endorsement, which Johnson ultimately won.
Steve Gander has lived through a handful of major floods in the Grand Forks area, including the record 1997 Red River flood that decimated the two communities bordering the sleepy river. But two decades later, Gander isn't concerned about another similar disaster. "I probably have about as much worry about the repeat, massive flood through our community as I (worry about) a piano falling on my head," the incoming mayor of East Grand Forks said.