Sam Easter is a City Government reporter for the Grand Forks Herald. You can reach him with story tips, comments and ideas at 701-330-3441.
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Justin Berry has heard the chatter about the six-figure sum a Grand Forks man bequeathed the library. So far, though, it hasn't been terribly helpful. "What people have told me—it's all over the map," said Berry, a member of the Library Board and one of a handful of people who will decide how to use the donation. "It's 'Use the money to buy land for a new building,' or 'Don't use the money to buy land for a new building.' Also, 'Use the money to buy new furniture,' and 'Don't use the money to buy new furniture.' "
For Mary Saunders, the first few months of 2017 were nothing more than a series of trips to the hospital—and she's lucky not to be deep in debt.
Grand Forks is poised to take a stance for inclusion and against bigotry—but not until leaders negotiate the details. City leaders voted 7-0 to table a resolution backing inclusion and diversity at a city committee meeting on Monday evening, setting up a City Council vote on Dec. 18 on a revised draft. City Council member Sandi Marshall, who submitted the resolution, will meet with fellow member Danny Weigel to settle its language.
Nick Jensen and his father, Warren, were out on the Greenway on Friday afternoon, building a cool creation they hope will bring skaters to downtown Grand Forks in droves. It's a "Freezeway," a sort of free-form, path-shaped skating rink stretching up and down a section of the Greenway just south of the Sorlie Bridge. Jensen, who won a Knight Cities Challenge grant to pursue the idea, said it's a work in progress—but in as soon as a few weeks, it could be open to the public, with a grand opening to follow in January.
Neighbors of Joe Neel Jr., the Grand Forks man who left a seven-figure sum to the community, never knew much about him.
Grand Forks Fire Chief Peter O'Neill will retire after Jan. 5, stepping down to spend time with his family after a nearly 45-year career with the Fire Department. "I'm healthy and I'm enjoying my job. But I think that a different fire chief could take our fire department one more step into the future," he said. "I have a few things I want to do with my family and my friends. Sometimes work gets in the way of that. It sounds silly, but I want to enjoy the rest of my life."
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., called for the resignation of Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., on Wednesday morning, joining morning surge of Democrats who began demanding Franken step down after reports of a seventh woman accusing him of inappropriate conduct. “We must commit to zero tolerance,” Heitkamp wrote on Twitter. “Which is where I believe we as a country and Congress should be -- and that means Senator Franken should step down.”
Grand Forks city leaders will wait another two weeks to decide where voters hit the polls next year, voting 4-0 to table a selection process for the 2018 primary and general elections' voting locations. The move will allow more city leaders to vote on the process. City Council members Dana Sande, Bret Weber and Danny Weigel were all absent from Tuesday evening's meeting, Weber has been described as especially interested in voting on the matter.
In June, more than 4,700 Grand Forks residents filtered through the Alerus Center—and only the Alerus Center—to vote on the future of a downtown's Arbor Park. It was another sign of the polling consolidation popping up across the state, as voting locations continue a years-long drop.
Tammy Knudson says the numbers have stayed the same, but that hard drugs have increasingly crept into her daily experience helping children for Grand Forks County. "I think there's always been a strong component of drugs and alcohol on our cases, but we're seeing more," she said. "And we're seeing more severity—with heroin, with methamphetamine, and the significant impact it's having in the people that use it."