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REGIONAL BRIEFS: Ground broken at site of future N.D. refinery

From the Forum News Service

North Dakota

Federal budget problems keep Badlands overlook closed

DICKINSON, N.D. -- Travelers along Interstate 94 in western North Dakota won't have the use of a popular scenic overlook area this spring.

Due to the recent sequestration in Congress and subsequent federal budget cuts nationwide, Theodore Roosevelt National Park officials have decided not to open the popular Painted Canyon Overlook in April, park spokeswoman Eileen Andes said Monday.

Visited by an estimated 290,000 people in 2012, the overlook -- which features parking, restrooms, a small visitor center and a spectacular view of the North Dakota Badlands -- just east of Medora is usually open from April 1 through the end of October. That won't be the case this year.

"Right now, because of the budget cuts, Painted Canyon is closed until further notice," Andes said. "The North and South park units are still open and we still have access to the Elkhorn Ranch. We're still committed to providing great customer service and protecting the resources of the park."

The budget cuts represent a 5 percent reduction in the park's overall budget. Andes said the decision to close Painted Canyon was made by park staff.

(DP Painted Canyon file photo)

Man killed in crash with semi

WILLISTON, N.D. -- A head-on collision between a car and a semi-trailer killed an Alexander man Saturday.

The 2000 Dodge Neon crossed the center line on U.S. Highway 85 about seven miles west of Watford City about 7:45 a.m. Saturday, according to a press release. Rory Idler, 30, was killed when the Neon crashed into a 2007 Kenworth driven by 54-year-old Terrance Anstett of Ray.

Anstett was not injured in the accident and was wearing his seatbelt, while Idler's safety restraints are unknown, according to the press release.

(WH, not for web use)

Ground broken at site of future N.D. refinery

DICKINSON, N.D. -- A who's who of North Dakota political and business leaders were in Dickinson on Tuesday for the groundbreaking of the state's first oil refinery in more than a half-century and first in the United States since 1976.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple and U.S. Sens. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., headlined a group of more than 100 state, local and industry leaders as the first dirt was moved for the construction of the Dakota Prairie Refinery, which is targeted to be completed by late 2014.

"This is a great day for North Dakota and especially southwest North Dakota," Dalrymple said. "This is a $300 million investment coming into the Dickinson area, and it gives us an opportunity to use our own Bakken crude oil right here in our state."

The facility -- which is projected to create 100 full-time jobs -- will specialize in refining diesel fuel and will sit on a 318-acre site four miles west of Dickinson.

MDU Resources and Indiana-based Calumet are partnering to make the facility -- the first refinery in the state since 1956 -- a reality.


Syngenta offers sugar beet scholarships

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Syngenta is now accepting applications from students in sugar beet growing regions for a $1,500 sugar beet scholarship.

One scholarship will be awarded to a student living in each sugar beet growing region, including Region 2 (North Dakota) and Region 3 (Minnesota).

Student applicants must be:

-- Involved in 4-H, FFA and/or the sugar beet industry.

-- Majoring in or intending to major in an agriculture-related field.

-- A current high school senior or college freshman, sophomore or junior.

The application form can be found at The application deadline is June 14.


Rimrock Stages bus service suspended

BILLINGS, Mont. -- The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has ordered Rimrock Stages to suspend its bus service across Montana and North Dakota.

The directive followed an inspection at the company's headquarters Friday in Billings.

According to the Billings Gazette, the bus company was cited for 79 safety violations.

The paper reported that owner Thorm Forseth said it will likely take weeks to address the problems.

The company had been offering service from Fargo to Billings, with additional routes north and west to destinations such as Helena, Great Falls, Missoula and Whitefish.


Police: After firing, man threatened to burn bosses' house

FARGO -- An arrest warrant has been issued for a Fargo man who is charged in Cass County District Court with posting messages on Facebook asking someone to burn down the house of the bosses who had just fired him.

Court documents filed Friday say Cass Mortenson, who is 35 or 36, was fired from O'Leary's Pub on Feb. 4 for overstating the number of hours he worked at the bar.

Two days after he was fired, the owners of the pubs in Moorhead and West Fargo, Michael and Karyl O'Leary of Mesa, Ariz., received screen shots showing Mortenson's Facebook page with a picture of a past ex-manager burning an "O'Leary's" shirt, police allege in the charges.

According to court records, the post included a message from Mortenson saying, "they fired me jefe...can you drive over to Mesa and burn their house down? I'll give you the address..."

Police allege in the complaint that in a post on that thread, a friend of Mortenson wrote, "Cass lemme know address."

The O'Learys told police they were terrified the fired worker would burn down their home, as he'd also been talking about visiting them in Arizona in the past, court records claim. They asked local authorities in Arizona for extra patrols near their home.

Mortenson is charged with a single count of terrorizing, a Class C felony.



Alexandria not interested in buying historic building

ALEXANDRIA, Minn. -- An idea for the city to buy the Carnegie Library Building in Alexandria has run into a wall.

After studying the proposal, which was requested by the Douglas County Historical Society, city staff determined that the building wouldn't meet a city purpose, serve a city function or be cost-effective. The building, which was last used for offices and as a Catholic bookstore, has been vacant for about 10 years. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

City Administrator Jim Taddei updated the Alexandria City Council on Monday night. He noted that while staff determined that the city has the authority to purchase the building, which is for sale at $799,000, it wouldn't need the office space.

Also, staff determined that it would cost $9,453 to own and maintain the building, while revenues from monthly rents would amount to $6,133, leaving a shortfall of $3,320 per month.

The historical society asked the city and county this month to consider buying the building. It wants to use the lower level of the building for historical records and research. The upper level would be used for offices, traveling historical exhibits and rented out for social gatherings.


Attorney general to investigate potential Sanford-Fairview merger

FARGO -- A possible merger between Sanford Health and Twin Cities-based Fairview Health Services faces scrutiny from the Minnesota attorney general.

Attorney General Lori Swanson said she will hold hearings beginning April 7 to investigate what she characterized as a potential "takeover" of Fairview Health, whose locations include the University of Minnesota Medical Center.

"It raises a number of regulatory concerns," Swanson said, describing Sanford as an "out-of-state" entity while noting that Fairview is a century-old charitable organization, and the University of Minnesota Medical School is a treasured state asset.

Both Sanford, based in Fargo and Sioux Falls, S.D., and Fairview said exploratory talks are in the early stages, and no agreements have been made.

"It is an unfortunate description of these timely and well-intended talks as some kind of 'takeover' or acquisition," Kelby Krabbenhoft, Sanford's chief executive officer, said in a statement, chafing at suggestions that Sanford is an out-of-state suitor.

Sanford, chartered in North Dakota, has more than $1 billion in revenues in South Dakota and more than 6,000 employees in Minnesota, Krabbenhoft said.

A statement from Fairview said its board of directors "is exploring whether a merger or other type of partnership makes sense."

No comment was available from the University of Minnesota Medical School, which has been affiliated with Fairview since 1997.