The stormwater systems underneath the Vail Circle and Glen Circle subdivisions near South Columbia Road and DeMers Avenue can be overwhelmed by more than an inch or two of rainfall, a problem that was underscored by a September 2019 downpour that flooded streets and basements in the neighborhood. The Herald's Joe Bowen reports that the city has made some of the upgrades recommended in a 2002 study, and now hopes for a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant that would pay for about 80% of the upgrades suggested by a similar study completed this year.

Alerus posts record first-quarter net income for 2021

Alerus Financial Corporation had a banner year in 2020, and that momentum has carried on into the first quarter of 2021. The Herald's Adam Kurtz reports that the company is reporting first-quarter earnings of $15.2 million, up from $10.2 million in the last quarter of 2020 and well beyond the $5.4 million reported in the first quarter of 2020. According to Alerus CEO Randy Newman, 2020 was a record year for the bank, which carried over into 2021. Growth was driven in part by fees generated through the bank’s mortgage, retirement and benefits and wealth management areas.

Nelson County leads the way in North Dakota vaccination rates; Slope County comes in last

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According to a New York Times database, Nelson County, with a population of about 3,000, is the most vaccinated county in the state, with more than half of all residents fully vaccinated. It’s a remarkable feat of public health and a harbinger that things soon will change. Herald correspondent Sam Easter reports that of North Dakota's 53 counties, three top the 40% plateau, including Nelson (51%), Cavalier (43%) and Rolette (41%). Twenty-two counties have vaccination rates between 30% and 40%, and 21 counties are between 20% and 29% vaccinated.

Northern Roots Boutique partners with California-based apparel company

A Grand Forks boutique is partnering with a Los Angeles-based fashion apparel company to bring the brand’s clothing to the local market, while receiving business mentorship. The Herald's Adam Kurtz reports that Northern Roots Boutique is one of 87 independent clothing shops spread out across the county that has been selected to partner with Liverpool Los Angeles in the company’s Destination Liverpool Shops program. The local boutique was selected from a pool of 300 candidate shops based on sales, and recommendations from suppliers.

UND names two new Chester Fritz professors

Biology professor Vasyl Tkach and sociology professor Daphne Pedersen were named as Chester Fritz Distinguished Professors in April. The Herald's Sydney Mook reports that the Chester Fritz Distinguished Professorship is UND’s highest academic honor. The award was established with an endowment gift from the late university benefactor Chester Fritz (1892-1983). Selection is based on professors' achievement, professional contributions and recognition by colleagues.

COVID-19 vaccination site near Drayton, N.D., is a hot spot for truckers

Dozens of truckers, most of them Canadians, made a planned stop at a rest area near Drayton on Wednesday, April 28, to receive their first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine from the North Dakota Department of Health. The Herald's Ann Bailey reports that the truckers – and anyone else 16 and older – are eligible to receive the vaccine and a booster next month at no cost through the Essential Workers Cross-Border Vaccination Initiative, per an agreement between North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister. The initiative allows truckers and others who want to be vaccinated to receive them at a North Dakota Department of Health trailer parked at the rest stop south of Drayton.

Nearly complete, Hallock dam facelift has multiple recreational, safety benefits

Construction recently wrapped up on the Two Rivers Fish Passage Restoration and Habitat Enhancement project in Hallock, the Herald's Brad Dokken reports. Funded primarily by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council, the $2.3 million project, which began last winter, essentially “reconnects” the South Branch of the Two Rivers, a Red River tributary, through the strategic placement of rocks and boulders to create a series of rock riffles and rock-arch rapids structures that gently slope for several hundred feet downstream from the dam.

Major issues emerged during North Dakota's 2021 legislative session. Here's a rundown

North Dakota lawmakers are heading home after nearly four months of work at the state Capitol in Bismarck. Both chambers of the Republican-dominated Legislature ended their biennial regular session just after midnight on Friday, April 30, but the effects of the more than 500 laws they made will be felt by North Dakotans for years to come. Forum correspondents Jeremy Turley and Adam Willis round up some of the major themes and highlights of the 2021 legislative session.

North Dakota lawmakers throw lifelines to the coal industry

Preserving North Dakota's declining coal industry was a priority mission for state lawmakers when they arrived in Bismarck on Jan. 5, and in the months since, the Legislature has taken historic steps to slash taxes on coal producers and rewrite regulations to keep the fossil fuel source economically competitive. Forum correspondent Adam Willis reports that in an unprecedented session for North Dakota coal power, lawmakers cut taxes on the industry and reworked regulatory policies in hopes of preserving the fossil fuel's place on the state electricity grid.

30 minutes to vote in North Dakota? Officials say it would be more of a guideline than a rule

A massive North Dakota elections package that now awaits the signature of Gov. Doug Burgum contains a provision that would put a 30-minute time limit on casting a ballot at a polling place. Forum correspondent Adam Willis reports that state election officials say the time limit is aimed at preventing backed-up polling lines and would not be enforced to the letter of the law, but some Democratic lawmakers criticized the provision as a strategic restriction.