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Big Sky Airlines to stop East Coast operations

Big Sky Airlines to stop East Coast operations:Big Sky Airlines says it will ground its East Coast operations Jan. 7 because of disappointing revenues.

Big Sky Airlines to stop East Coast operations:Big Sky Airlines says it will ground its East Coast operations Jan. 7 because of disappointing revenues.

Big Sky, which serves 15 cities in the West, provides flights to small Western communities under the federally subsidized Essential Air Service program.

Bluhm named publisher:Roger Bluhm, a 21-year newspaper veteran, is the new publisher of the Valley City (N.D.) Times-Record.

Bluhm has been editor and general manager of the weekly Griggs County Courier in Cooperstown for the past two years. His new job was announced by Horizon Publications Inc., which owns the Valley City newspaper.

Farmers, ranchers spend more insurance: Farmers and ranchers are spending more on health insurance than most Americans and some are struggling to bear the burden, according to a report released this week by a Boston-based health advocacy group.


The report, by the Access Project, found that farm and ranch families spent an average of $7,247 on health insurance in 2006.

The researchers' sample included farm and ranch families in Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Dickinson hospital in need:A plan to ease the financial woes of St. Joseph's Hospital and Health Care Center in Dickinson, N.D., is linked to the hospital in Richardton, N.D., about 25 miles away.

The Richardton Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center Inc., has been designed as a critical access hospital through the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The designation, given to rural hospitals, provides higher Medicare reimbursements, officials say.

Under federal law, critical access facilities must be at least 35 miles from each other. That means St. Joseph's in Dickinson is too close to Richardton to seek the designation and the higher reimbursements that could help it cope with years of operating losses. Officials estimate the critical access status could bring the Dickinson hospital about $4 million more a year from the federal government.

Kerry Weems, the administrator for the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, joined Sens. Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgan, and Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., in a recent visit to Dickinson. Officials suggested the Richardton hospital could be converted to a long-term nursing care center, giving up its status as a critical access hospital. But the state has a moratorium on nursing home beds.

Minnesota power line opinion:Utilities in Minnesota are embarking on their biggest power line project in more than 30 years. The public gets its chance to weigh in starting next week.

The $1.6 billion project proposed by CapX 2020, an industry group, involves three high-voltage power lines stretching across 630 miles.


The proposal includes a 230-mile line from Brookings, S.D., to the southeast Twin Cities; a 250-mile line from Fargo to Monticello, Minn.; and a 150-mile line from the southeast Twin Cities to Rochester and LaCrosse, Wis. Exact routes have yet to be determined and might be influenced by the public's concerns.

Environmental concerns are also prime, with some environmental leaders disagreeing about the need for the lines and the boost they might provide to wind power.

Another 68-mile line from Bemidji to Grand Rapids, Minn., is being considered separately.

- Herald wire reports

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