Patrick Springer first joined the reporting staff of The Forum in 1985. He can be reached by calling 701-241-5522. Have a comment to share about a story? Letters to the editor should include author’s name, address and phone number. Generally, letters should be no longer than 250 words. All letters are subject to editing. Send to firstname.lastname@example.org
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FARGO — The prescription of narcotic opioids in North Dakota has fallen sharply over the past several years in what a physician's advocate described as a "cultural change" in response to rising concerns over the opioid epidemic. The number of opioids dispensed in North Dakota dropped from 180,410 in early 2015 to 139,836 this fall, or 22.5 percent, according to figures from the North Dakota Board of Pharmacy's prescription drug monitoring program.
FARGO—LeAnn Toppen's trip to the emergency room led quickly to the discovery that she had ovarian cancer. A biopsy confirmed her doctors' suspicions. After surgery and 18 weeks of chemotherapy, Toppen is cancer free. But she soon learned through genetic testing that she had inherited a gene that also placed her at high risk for developing breast cancer.
FARGO—Kathy Smith has been getting annual mammograms since the age of 29, when her doctor recommended the regular screens after her grandmother died from breast cancer. "I think I've been doing it every year," said the 52-year-old Smith, who lives in Lake Park, Minn. Although mammograms are widely recommended, there is really no clear agreement about how often women should receive the screens or how old they should be to start regular screens.
BISMARCK — Gov. Doug Burgum has appointed members to his task force to study North Dakota's higher education governance structure and help public colleges and universities better meet the state's "educational and workforce needs." The 14 task force members, announced Thursday, Dec. 21, were selected from a pool of more than 230 applicants, which Burgum said reflected "intense interest" and "demonstrates the passion North Dakotans feel toward their higher education system."
FARGO — Meredith Staker's life depended in part on the accuracy of a face mask that vaguely resembles the type worn by hockey goalies. It had to be sculpted to the contours of her face in order to immobilize her head. She would have to lie perfectly still while a machine delivered multiple beams of radiation that would converge in the back of her brain, in the location that enables her to see, with great precision.
FARGO — Supporters of North Dakota's yet-to-be implemented medical marijuana law warned that voters will get a chance to negate restrictions imposed by legislators through a proposal to legalize recreational pot use. The warning, mixed with multiple expressions of frustration over delays in rolling out the program, came in a hearing Thursday, Dec. 14, to take public testimony on proposed administrative rules for the law, passed in November 2016 by almost 64 percent of voters.
FARGO — Brandon Medenwald grew annoyed by dismal office "in and out" boards — so annoyed that he decided to build a smartphone application to better track people as they came and went from the workplace. In collaboration with a couple of friends, he developed an app called Simple In/Out, which they made available free over the internet. Over time, users flocked to the app, and many were willing to pay for a version with more features.
FARGO — The Bank of North Dakota has accumulated a $131 million pool of money earmarked for a college saving program, but so far only a small share of residents are taking advantage of this option. The state-owned bank has a 529 higher education savings plan, called College SAVE, with earnings that grow free of state and federal income taxes.
BISMARCK—A female surveyor who worked in the North Dakota Oil Patch has filed a complaint against her former employer, claiming she was fired in retaliation for reporting discriminatory behavior by a colleague. The former employer denies her allegations. Sarah Gulenchyn, 40, said her co-worker regularly used racial slurs in her presence, including slurs about Native Americans. Gulenchyn, a native of Duluth, Minn., who is temporarily living in Dickinson, N.D., said she is Jewish and also has Lakota Sioux ancestry.
FARGO—More than 200 people, many with strong ties to public higher education, have applied for positions on Gov. Doug Burgum's task force to study governance of the North Dakota University System. The governor's office received 233 applications by the filing deadline, midnight on Thursday, Nov. 30, and now the governor's staff must review the applicants so the governor can name the 15-member task force.