Kevin Killough is the business reporter for the Grand Forks Herald. You can reach him with story tips, comments and ideas at 701-780-1244.
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Record-high vacancy rates are good news for renters, but the impact extends throughout the community. The Greater Grand Forks Apartment Association biannual vacancy survey released last week showed vacancies in the city are at the highest level they've been since February 2011, at 9.38 percent. This was an increase of 1.88 percent over last summer. "The market is turning into a renter's market as opposed to a landlord's market," said John Colter, executive director of the association.
How compliant is your favorite restaurant with health codes? According to the health department reports, schools are among the most compliant establishments in Grand Forks. Not a single school in Grand Forks was cited for any critical infractions last year. Javin Bedard, environmental health manager for the Grand Forks Public Health Department, attributed the result to a number of factors, including low staff turnover and high levels of staff training.
Police have identified the man found encased in ice under a pier of the railroad bridge in downtown Grand Forks as Donald James Campbell, 31, of Cando, N.D. Police say Campbell also used the Rescue Mission as a temporary local address. They are not certain how long Campbell had been in Grand Forks. The body was discovered by a pedestrian walking along the river on Wednesday afternoon. By 9 p.m. that evening, police had cut Campbell's body from the ice and transported it to the medical examiner's office.
As their father retires, the Cameron sons are stepping in to run the family's businesses, Crookston Building Center and Dakota Valley Lumber in Grand Forks. Justin and Jarid Cameron took over the family business in March from their parents, Ruth and Wesley Cameron. "It's time for us to step in now," Justin Cameron said. The businesses provide drafting and lumber services, primarily for residential developments, to owners and contractors. Wesley Cameron first purchased the Crookston store in 1988 and opened it as Crookston Building Center the following February.
Jean Wald will celebrate her 90th birthday at the end of the month, and she probably won't get cash from her co-workers at the Ramada Inn. A few years ago, they held a collection for her birthday. Among several employees they got about $100 together. Later, Ann Vossekuil, a sales director at the Ramada, asked Wald what she did with the money. "Oh, I gave it to the church and said a prayer for you all," Wald told Vossekuil. Vossekuil said ever since then they get her gift certificates so she'd buy something for herself.
Thief River Falls is gaining a major retailer. Tractor Supply Co. will be opening a new location in Thief River Falls. The expected opening will be sometime this fall. A company representative said the store is in the very earliest stages of planning and few details are available at this time. While staffing will depend on many factors, the typical Tractor Supply outlet has about 12 to 15 full- and part-time positions. The representative said the appeal of Thief River is the store's offerings are meant to support "rural lifestyle needs."
On Thursday and Saturday nights, Connor Braaten works double duty. Braaten works for both ridesharing services Uber and Lyft, which began operations a few weeks ago, launching their separate services within a week of each other. At any moment of the day, anyone can open the app on their smartphone and see how many drivers are operating and how long it would take to get picked up. Each driver is represented as a car on the streets of a city map.
Grand Forks native Jozy Hansen may appear on tonight’s episode of NBC’s “The Voice.” Hansen’s audition appeared last Tuesday, which won her a spot on one of the competing teams. Contestants perform blind auditions for a panel of celebrity musicians, who then may choose them for their teams.
Apartment vacancy rates in Grand Forks are up. The Greater Grand Forks Apartment Association released its biannual figures on vacancy rates. Out of 10,208 apartment units in Grand Forks, 958 of them are vacant. This is an increase of 1.88 percent over July figures. Efficiencies showed the greatest increase in vacancy rates. Out of 273 apartments classified as efficiencies, 23 of them are vacant for a rate of 8.42 percent. In July, efficiencies showed the lowest rates of all the classifications at 1.21 percent.
Sometimes referred to as the sharing economy, people are hiring freelancers for various services over the internet or from their phones. Uber and Lyft, which recently began operations in Grand Forks, are among the more popular examples of this phenomenon, but the practice is moving into everything from photography to food delivery. And now it includes dog walking. Rover.com puts dog owners in touch with dog sitters. The website works a lot like similar services.