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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An attorney for Grand Forks County property owners who resisted construction of a oil pipeline on their land welcomed Enbridge Energy Partners' decision to suspend its Sandpiper Pipeline project. The company announced Thursday it had shelved the project, which would carry crude oil from western North Dakota to Superior, Wis., citing market conditions and regulatory delays in Minnesota. It will withdraw applications pending with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. Enbridge said the Sandpiper is likely outside its "current five-year planning horizon."
A wine bar that opened last year in downtown Grand Forks is moving to a new home on the city's south end. Helix Wine and Bites is moving from its tight space at 110 N. Third St. to a retail center near Choice Health and Fitness on South Washington Street. It'll be neighbors with businesses such as Signature Jewelers and Dunn Brothers Coffee. Owner Mike Schepp anticipates the bar will close its downtown location sometime in November before reopening to the public on the south end in January.
Construction has begun on a new infrastructure project at the Grand Forks International Airport that its director hopes will make better use of the airport's facilities. Crews are working to add a road, taxi lanes and run-up apron on the east side of the airport, just north of the terminal. The taxi lanes will give general aviation planes a path from their future hangars to smaller runways on that side of the airport, said Ryan Riesinger, executive director of the Grand Forks Regional Airport Authority.
Grand Forks Herald veteran Kirsten Stromsodt was named the newspaper's editor Tuesday afternoon. Herald Publisher Korrie Wenzel informed the news staff of the decision on the day Steve Wagner left the editor post. Wagner was hired as the Forum News Service director in Fargo earlier this month. While he was disappointed by Wagner's departure, Wenzel called Stromsodt a "reader-first" kind of journalist. "That, coupled with her lifetime connection to the Grand Forks region, will mean great things for the Herald," he added.
Employees at Natural Grocers' new store in south Grand Forks had to keep an eye on their front door in recent weeks. Eager shoppers often stopped by only to find out the store hadn't yet opened. Workers pried open the automatic doors, handed the would-be customers a flier and sent them on their way. "We've been doing that for the past two and a half weeks," said Chantel Larabee, the Natural Grocers store manager. That ends Tuesday.
Infrastructure projects in northwest Minnesota are in limbo after Gov. Mark Dayton announced there would be no special legislative session to address an unresolved bonding bill leftover from the regular session in May.
Already operating with tight budgets, Grand Forks area nonprofit organizations are bracing for a new federal rule that will expand the number of people eligible for overtime pay. When it goes into effect Dec. 1, the rule will roughly double the threshold below which most white-collar salaried employees are guaranteed overtime pay, from $23,660 to $47,476 a year. The head of the Greater North Dakota Chamber and some state lawmakers have expressed concern over the rule, but nonprofits also are expected to feel its effects.
The Grand Forks Regional Airport Authority finalized a slimmer 2017 budget Thursday. The budget projects a roughly 9.4 percent drop in operating revenue from its original 2016 budget, from $4,315,149 to $3,911,451. That's due in part to a 52 percent cut in landing fees, brought on largely by FedEx's planned departure from the Grand Forks International Airport.
A commercial condo development is in the works near Interstate 29 in southwest Grand Forks. Matt Baasch, a developer of the project, said he and his partners brought a similar concept to West Fargo a couple of years ago. The idea involves about 29 buildings that are targeted for entrepreneurs who need some garage, warehouse or office space. Baasch said the buildings have been used for personal "man cave" space as well.
Construction of a new straw pulp plant in north Grand Forks could start next year. Hua Sun, chief operating officer of North American Green Pulp, said his group is working on financing the project. He hopes to be operational after the 2017 harvest season. "Many, many factors can change the schedule," Sun said.