Korrie Wenzel: Ring out the old, ring in the new

On this, the last day of 2015, it's easy to look in the rear-view mirror and ponder the happenings of the past 12 months. There was so much news to report.

Korrie Wenzel
Korrie Wenzel

On this, the last day of 2015, it's easy to look in the rear-view mirror and ponder the happenings of the past 12 months. There was so much news to report.

There was tragedy. In January, a terrible bus/train collision in Larimore, N.D., cost two lives. In May, a man entered Wal-Mart and shot two people-killing one-in an incident that ended when he turned the gun on himself and took his own life.

There was news at UND. The nickname change recently was voted the year's top story by Herald staffers, and rightly so, since it dominated the news and conversations throughout town. Also, President Robert Kelley announced his retirement, which was followed by news that former Gov. Ed Schafer will take over as president from January through July.

There was news in sports. The UND hockey team skated into the national semifinals, but came up short. Coach Dave Hakstol later announced he was leaving Grand Forks to become the coach of the NHL's Philadelphia Flyers. The UND football team was wrongly snubbed by the postseason selection committee.

There was news in business. The UAS park at the airport broke ground and will prove to be a great boon to industry in and around Grand Forks. A proposed fertilizer plant that will create hundreds of jobs in Grand Forks isn't yet official, but it continues to plod forward. Both projects will loom large in 2016.


And there were many notable deaths. One of the more recent was the Dec. 8 death of George Widman, of local candy fame.

Meanwhile, as 2015 dwindles into its final hours, it's fun to look ahead through the windshield and wonder what's to come in 2016. Time will tell, but so far, here is what we know-or suspect, depending on the case:

At the polls: Grand Forks will have a feisty mayoral election. The spice likely will come from challenger Terry Bjerke, a veteran of the City Council and a man who freely speaks his mind. The incumbent is longtime mayor Mike Brown, whose calm demeanor will contrast with Bjerke's blunt style.

Also, North Dakota will have a new governor in 2016, as Gov. Jack Dalrymple has announced he will not run in November. North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven and Rep. Kevin Cramer both are up for re-election. And with President Barack Obama reaching his two-term limit, the nation will have a new leader, as well.

Easy reading: Grand Forks likely, and finally, will decide whether to build a new library and, perhaps more important, where to put it. Two locations-downtown or along South Washington Street-remain as options.

Big splash: East Grand Forks will have a decision to make, too. The city will have an election March 7 to decide whether to initiate a five-year, 1 percent sales tax to pay for a swimming pool renovation. If the voters approve, the tax proposal will go before the Minnesota Legislature.

Penny for infrastructure: Grand Forks also could see a sales-tax initiative come to a vote in 2016. The extra penny, some city leaders say, is needed to fund infrastructure projects.

Ice time: Hockey will be in the news, thanks to the World Under 18 tournament coming to the Ralph Engelstad Arena in April. Of course, we're hoping UND will be playing for a national title in April as well.


Art plan: Art likely will be a big topic in 2016. Earlier this month, the city of Grand Forks unveiled its anticipated public arts master plan. The 100-plus-page document could be used as a blueprint by city leaders and art boosters, and hopefully provide coordination between many art-related factions in town. We hope this bears fruit, since the art scene in Grand Forks is too fractured in its present form to move forward productively.

New president, logo: UND's Kelley leaves office next month. Schafer will take the helm for the first half of the year, and then a new president is expected to be in office at UND by late summer. Meanwhile, a new logo-one that represents the new Fighting Hawks nickname-should be done before the next school year begins.

-- Korrie Wenzel for the Herald

Related Topics: UND NICKNAME
Opinion by Korrie Wenzel
Korrie Wenzel has been publisher of the Grand Forks Herald and Prairie Business Magazine since 2014.

He is a member of the Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corp. board of directors and, in the past, has served on boards for Junior Achievement, the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation, United Way, Empire Arts Center, Cornerstones Career Learning Center and Crimestoppers.

As publisher, Wenzel oversees news, advertising and business operations at the Herald, as well as the newspaper's opinion content.

Wenzel can be reached at 701-780-1103, or via Twitter via @korriewenzel.
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