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Team Grand Forks may not quite be at the point where it has to pull its goalie and go for broke. But that moment sure feels like it's only a few minutes of game-time away. City and UND leaders should recognize the urgency, and start treating the possible loss of the North Dakota state boys and girls hockey championships as the civic disaster that it is.
It was almost over the top. OK, so it was over the top, especially at the end of the speech. That's when Mayor Mike Brown—illuminated by flashing green strobes and framed by giant screens showing cheering fans—led the attendees in chanting, "I love Grand Forks." Twice. Yes, that was over the top. But the huge audience at the Alerus Center for the State of the City address was in a forgiving mood, judging by their smiles as people stood up by their tables after the speech and got ready to leave.
Down below the Nutrition Facts label, down below the list of ingredients, down below the "Campbell Soup Co., Camden, N.J.," mark on the proposed label from a can of Spaghetti-Os, is this announcement. It's printed in agate, the tiny type that newspapers use for sports-score roundups and the stock market page: "Partially produced with genetic engineering. For more information about GMO ingredients, visit WhatsinMyFood.com." Is that what the fuss has been about?
Good news: While the Grand Forks Police Department may be understaffed, some 15-20 trained, licensed and experienced officers are available to supplement the department's workforce. Better news: The officers already are paid for. So, using them won't cost taxpayers anything extra. Grand Forks residents, are you interested?
Let's look at the record. Because once we do, we'll see that there's no justification other than pure politics for Minnesota House Republicans' proposal to slash the share of Local Government Aid that goes to Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth.
There are developments now and then at UND that ought to make North Dakotans sad, mad or ashamed. The fact that Fighting Sioux merchandise now is on sale in Engelstad Arena isn't one of them. Here's the bottom line where the Fighting Sioux nickname is concerned: UND did not bring about the nickname's demise. The NCAA did.
Back in 1967, if a person had proposed building Grand Forks' new Red River High School on farmland far to the south — say, on the site that now holds Discovery Elementary School — that person would have been laughed out of town. And he or she wouldn't have had to go far, given that 17th Avenue South (where Red River wound up) was the southern edge of much of Grand Forks back then. But while a far-south location for Red River would have been plenty inconvenient for a few generations of students, it sure would be coming in handy now.
Disposal. Radioactive waste. North Dakota. Maybe it's not surprising that the first time those five words were said in a sentence, they were the only words that North Dakotans heard. Even though the rest of the sentence went like this: "It is a scientific research project that will not involve radioactive waste at any time and is in no way a precursor for any radioactive waste disposal in North Dakota."
The "old" nuclear power industry is stalled in the United States. And the industry is likely to stay that way, as long as the price for natural gas — the fuel most electric utilities are using to power their new plants — stays low. But a "new" nuclear power industry is in the making, and North Dakota as well as Minnesota should take note. At the very least, the states' congressional delegations should update federal regs to encourage "new" nuclear research, because this technology could wind up generating lots of America's electric power for a very long time to come.
The next time you find yourself in Washington near the Capitol grounds, take a stroll a few blocks to the north. There -- away from the crowds on the National Mall, away from the heaviest traffic and the busiest office buildings -- you’ll find a tranquil, tree-lined, park-like space.