John Hageman covers local business and North Dakota politics. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Bemidji Pioneer.
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CANDO, N.D.—A semi-retired farmer from Cando will fill a vacant seat in the North Dakota Legislature left by Republican Rep. Curt Hofstad's sudden death last month. District 15 Republicans voted Saturday to appoint Greg Westlind, a longtime friend of Hofstad's, to the seat, just a couple of weeks before lawmakers convene in Bismarck for a special session called by Gov. Jack Dalrymple to address the state's budget shortfall. Westlind hasn't been sworn into office yet, but he anticipates doing so before the special session, which is scheduled for Aug. 2 through 4.
A spate of violence here and abroad has prompted North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple to order state agencies to fly the U.S. and state flags at half-staff for two dozen days so far this year, already surpassing last year's total.
CROOKSTON—Barley grown outside of Fisher, Minn., is finding its way into the region's craft beers. Vertical Malt, a startup business in Crookston run by Adam Wagner and his father, Tim, uses barley grown on the Wagner farmland between Grand Forks and Crookston to create malt, a main ingredient in beer. The business has been operating for a year in the Valley Technology Park, a city-owned startup incubator, and has sent its products to craft breweries in the area.
Property owners hope new restaurants in two highly visible Grand Forks buildings will find long-term success where others have not. This week, a Grand Forks City Council committee recommended approving a food and beverage license to Sickies Garage Burgers & Brew to operate at 1419 S. Columbia Road. And across town, Dan Sampson has signed a lease with what he described as a "national chain," which he declined to name, to occupy the former Dickey's Barbecue Pit restaurant at the corner of DeMers Avenue and South Washington Street.
The retirement of a longtime state senator in northwest Minnesota has opened up multiple intra-party battles leading up to the Aug. 9 primary election. Sen. LeRoy Stumpf, DFL-Plummer, announced earlier this year he would not seek re-election in the fall, ending 36 years in public office. That means a new face will represent Minnesota's most northwestern counties in the state Senate.
AgCountry Farm Credit Services is moving its Grand Forks operations to a newly built office building at the intersection of 32nd Avenue South and Interstate 29.
A new program through UND's Center for Innovation seeks to teach veterans the ins and outs of starting and growing their own business. The Veterans Entrepreneurship Program includes three phases: a five-week online self-study curriculum starting next month, a VEP "boot camp" at UND in October and roughly half a year of mentoring starting in November.
Benedict Gorecki, a UND benefactor who was remembered as a savvy businessman and generous philanthropist, died Saturday at his Milaca, Minn. home. He was 87. The Gorecki Alumni Center on the UND campus is named for Gorecki and his wife, Dorothy. The couple provided the lead gift of $5 million for the project, said Dave Miedema, senior director of development at the UND Alumni Association and Foundation. They also made contributions that benefitted UND's College of Engineering and Mines as well as the College of Business and Public Administration.
Altru Health System's breast center is preparing to go 3D. The health care organization installed new mammography equipment in its South Columbia Road clinic this week that will produce three-dimensional images, which Dr. Lashonda Soma said will allow for better detection of "true abnormalities" and result in fewer callbacks. The new equipment takes pictures of breasts in "thin slices" and can be viewed by radiologists almost as if they were flipping through a book.
Another restaurant is hoping to find success in the revolving door of businesses at 1419 S. Columbia Road in Grand Forks. Sickies Garage Burgers & Brews, which has locations in Fargo and Bismarck, submitted an application for a food and beverage license to the city of Grand Forks, according to a city memo. Kerry Fernholz, an owner of the restaurant, said he hopes to open by the end of August or early September.