In the last 10 years, Grand Forks’ southern end has grown. A lot. Herald correspondent Sam Easter reports that a rush of new residents and construction has meant thousands of new people in the area, driving up the number of constituents for state Sen. Ray Holmberg, R-Grand Forks. In his legislative zone — District 17 — the latest U.S. Census Bureau numbers show the population has surged from about 13,900 people to more than 20,400. That means change is on the way, likely dramatically redrawing Holmberg’s district, which now includes not just Grand Forks’ south end, but rural areas south and west of the city. That change is doubly likely given how much population counts have shrunk in District 42, near UND’s campus.

Crews return to northwest Minnesota blazes, after weather concerns, fires now are more contained

After rain swept through the region on Friday, Aug. 20, the size of two large fires in Lake of the Woods County was unchanged, but the precipitation helped firefighting crews identify hot spots. The Herald's Adam Kurtz reports that what is being called the “North Norris Fire” north of Norris Camp in Beltrami Island State Forest remained at 79 acres, the same area it occupied on Friday. According to an update from the Minnesota Incident Command System, it was listed as 60% contained on Saturday, up from 45% on Friday. The “Square Fire” northwest of Graceton, Minn., also continued to burn across 87 acres, but was listed as 30% contained, up from 15% on Friday.

$260.9 million maintenance list is Grand Forks Public Schools’ most comprehensive in decades, staff say

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Even if Grand Forks voters approve a do-over request from Grand Forks Public Schools to hike property taxes, the money it would raise would only make a dent in the district’s long – and recently expanded – list of facilities needs. The Herald's Joe Bowen reports that school district administrators have organized a Sept. 28 vote that will decide if the district can increase residents’ property taxes by 10 mills. If approved, the referendum would mean a $94.64 increase to the property taxes paid each year by the owner of a $210,300 home – the median value in Grand Forks – and a further $2.5 million each year for the district, whose administrators have put together a $260.9 million list of problems at the 17 schools they maintain.

Large Grand Forks venues, UND not immune to employment crunch

An ongoing labor shortage in Greater Grand Forks isn't just limited to restaurants and retailers – it's also becoming acute at the Alerus Center, the Ralph Engelstad Arena and UND, just as they prepare for a full schedule of events and the return of college students. The Herald's Adam Kurtz reports that the onset of fall, and the return of college students, brings a boost to Grand Forks’ population. As the city's event schedule returns from a pandemic lull, some larger employers are hoping the returning students will fill needed spots for upcoming sports and entertainment events. Some employers have added incentives to attract workers, the first time they have done so.

Coffee shops in region struggling with plastic cup shortage with no end in sight

Derek Mogen, store manager of Wired Bean Coffee in East Grand Forks, has been paying 50% more for plastic cups now as he did this spring. The Herald's Jacob Holley reports that the shortage has affected businesses across America – namely coffee cafes. Shortages in plastic cups, lids and straws have been ongoing, and when supply is in stock, the prices are through the roof. The problem originally began as part of the COVID-19 pandemic, when plastic was being used to make personal protective equipment.

Subcommittee ranks former Holiday Inn first among three sites for proposed career and technical education center

A subcommittee of the Career and Technical Education Workforce Center steering committee has preliminarily ranked the former Holiday Inn -- more recently known as Grand Forks Inn and Suites -- on Gateway Drive near Interstate 29 at the top of a list of potential locations for a new career and technical education center. The Herald's Pamela Knudson reports that other options, ranked second and third, are a City Business Park site and an addition to Red River High School. The facilities subcommittee has eliminated a fourth option, the former Sears building at the Columbia Mall, said Shari Elgin, chairperson of the 11-member subcommittee.

North Dakota, Minnesota lawmakers dismayed over continued U.S.-Canada border closure

Elected officials in North Dakota and Minnesota reacted with dismay after the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced on Friday, Aug. 20, the day before travel restrictions were ostensibly set to end, that U.S.-Canada land border crossings would remain closed to nonessential travel into the U.S. for at least another month. The Herald's Adam Kurtz reports that officials were unified in their criticism of the Biden administration’s continued border restrictions which also include the U.S./Mexico border. The southern border, some legislators say, is porous, and illegal immigration continues on a daily basis, while vaccinated travelers are unable to enter the country, and impact the economic well-being of border regions.

UND welcome weekend marks a return to normal, as well as students

A gradually clearing grey sky and gusting winds greeted UND students, their friends and families for welcome weekend on Saturday, Aug. 21. The Herald's Adam Kurtz reports that it was a turnaround from a year ago, when students were disallowed from gathering in large groups, and all students residing on campus had to stay in single-person dorm rooms. That isn’t the case this year, as students can have roommates and participate in welcoming activities that run throughout the weekend, which give this year’s move-in day a feeling similar to those before the coronavirus pandemic.

Mum's the word at Trevon and Beth Unruh's farmstead near Grafton

Even during the dog days of late August, when the mercury is flirting with 100 degrees, fall is in the air at Trevon Unruh’s farm near Grafton. The Herald's Ann Bailey reports that rows upon rows of chrysanthemums ready to burst into blooms fill a plot near his home. Thousands more are scattered in pots on landscape fabric-covered ground on Unruh’s farmstead. In all, Unruh and his wife, Beth, have 7,500 chrysanthemums in shades of red, yellow, orange, purple and pink. They sell the flowers wholesale to grocery stores in the region, to local farmers markets and by direct retail on his farm to customers who stop in.

New clothing collection is a good fit for Goodridge, Minn. country music duo

Goodridge, Minn., country music singers Kendra and Kansas Jensen are stepping into the fashion world with a new clothing collection. The Herald's Ann Bailey reports that the duo, who call themselves The Jensen Sisters, are partnering with Simply Boutique in East Grand Forks and Warren, Minn., to market the clothes, which include boots, jeans and jackets. The Jensen Sisters collection will be available year round, and feature new arrivals each month.