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From the Forum News Service

North Dakota/Minnesota

N.D. takes pro-business sign campaign to Twin Cities

FARGO -- The Greater North Dakota Chamber is taking its high-profile billboard campaign, which touts the state’s business climate, to the Twin Cities.

A billboard soon will be going up next to westbound interstate traffic leaving the Minneapolis area, said Andy Peterson, president and CEO of the Greater North Dakota Chamber.

He said a billboard next to Interstate 94 near Fergus Falls is scheduled to be retired, but he didn’t say when that will happen.

The chamber’s campaign raised the ire of some in the Fargo-Moorhead area in the spring when a sign went up along Interstate 94 near Moorhead that boldly declared: “North Dakota: Open for Business.”

The implied message was that Minnesota was not as warm to commerce, and that led to criticism from Moorhead City Council member Mark Hintermeyer, as well as from Craig Whitney, president and CEO of the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber.

The Moorhead sign disappeared after about two weeks and reappeared near Fergus Falls.

While the sign near Moorhead rankled some, Peterson said he also has heard from North Dakota natives who now operate Minnesota businesses who told him they are hesitant to expand their Minnesota activities and would like to come back to North Dakota.

“To us, it’s about reputation, and I think it will help build our reputation in the long term,” Peterson said of the buzz generated by the signs.


North Dakota

Delta to add nonstop flights between Fargo, Atlanta

FARGO -- Delta Airlines has announced new seasonal nonstop service between Fargo and Atlanta starting Dec. 21.

“We continue to see growing demand in this marketplace, especially from customers wanting to connect to the Southeast and Latin America during the winter season,” said Joe Esposito, Delta’s managing director for domestic network planning.

Esposito said with the new seasonal service to Atlanta, Fargo customers will have access to more than 200 nonstop destinations at the world’s largest single airline hub.

“We are delighted that Delta is providing seasonal service through their Atlanta hub,” said Shawn Dobberstein, executive director of Fargo’s Hector International Airport.

The new service will include a flight that departs Atlanta at 7:15 p.m. and arrives in Fargo at 9:30 p.m. and a flight that leaves Fargo at 6:15 a.m. and arrives in Atlanta at 10:10 a.m.

The service will be available starting Dec. 21 and it ends March 29.


Postmaster promises to improve N.D. Oil Patch mail delivery

WASHINGTON -- Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe promised Wednesday to help improve postal service to North Dakota oilfield housing units and to assist with meeting postal service hiring challenges in North Dakota, according to U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp.

Donahoe and U.S. Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware, chairman of the committee that oversees the U.S. Postal Service, met with Heitkamp on Wednesday about the postal challenges facing North Dakota.

A key issue in western North Dakota has been the inability of many oilfield workers to receive mail, Heitkamp said.

Donahoe committed to develop strategies to overcome the challenges of delivering mail to RV parks, crew camps and other oilfield housing units by setting up clusters of mailboxes or developing new addresses as needed to provide access.

Donahoe also said he would give local hiring officials the authority they need to hire more employees.

Heitkamp also emphasized that she thinks switching to five-day postal service delivery would be harmful to rural areas, small businesses and seniors.


Man suspected of taking picture under woman’s dress turns himself in

FARGO – Fargo police say a man suspected of taking a photo under a woman's dress at a Fargo store turned himself in after seeing his photo on TV.

Police asked for the public’s help to identify a suspect Wednesday morning in a disorderly conduct case from June 13 in which images of the suspect were captured on store video.

Later in the day, police Lt. Joel Vettel said a 27-year-old Fargo man turned himself in.

Vettel said the man’s identity is not being released at this time.

The Fargo city prosecutor’s office said later that the police reports will be going to the Cass County state’s attorney’s office for review of possible charges.

According to a report released by Fargo police, witnesses told police a man standing in the checkout line at a local Target store placed his hand, containing a cellphone, underneath the dress of a female victim.

The victim was standing in line directly in front of the suspect, the police report stated.

The suspect then ran out of the store, the report stated.


Closer N.D. business, higher ed ties are goal of meeting

FARGO -- North Dakota higher education officials and business leaders from around the state will meet Aug. 14 in Bismarck to talk about the state’s workforce needs.

Andy Peterson, president and CEO of the Greater North Dakota Chamber, said higher education mainly benefits two groups – students and employers – and he said it’s time businesses assume a larger role in shaping the workforce graduating from North Dakota’s colleges and universities.

Peterson said all the presidents of the state’s colleges and universities have been invited to attend, as have major employer groups, including manufacturing, insurance and health care companies.

Peterson said the goal is to create strong, ongoing communication between higher education and the business community.

“We’re going to come back to the table and start the process of getting highly involved in the higher education system,” Peterson said.

He added that many campus presidents have already indicated they will be at the meeting in August.



Diesel fuel from truck accident reaches Lake Superior

LITTLE MARAIS, Minn. -- The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is monitoring the site of a small diesel fuel spill that reached Lake Superior near Little Marais after a truck accident Tuesday afternoon.

The driver of a semi lost control on Highway 61 and the truck rolled into the ditch. An estimated 80 gallons of diesel fuel leaked from the truck’s fuel tanks into the ditch. Some of the fuel moved down the ditch nearly 1,000 feet and into the lake through a stormwater channel.

Crews blocked the flow of oil within an hour. There were no large pools of oil in the lake that could be recovered, but there were fuel odors and a petroleum sheen on rocks and in the water along about a quarter-mile of the North Shore, the PCA reported Wednesday.

Crews will continue to monitor the site and mop up any small accumulations they find for the next few days.

Residents in the area were notified of the spill Tuesday evening by cleanup crews and advised to avoid areas where there is an odor or sheen on the water or shore.


New evidence examined in 1994 killing

MOORHEAD, Minn. -- Almost 20 years after the body of a Moorhead woman was found washed up along the Red River, the Clay County Sheriff’s Office may have new evidence that could help identify her killer.

Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension discovered foreign hairs while re-examining the 1994 murder of Renee Nelson. That potential evidence has been sent off for further DNA analysis.

Nelson, 22, went missing in Moorhead in October 1994. Her body was found the following April on the banks of the Red River near Comstock, about 30 minutes south of Moorhead. Nelson’s death was ruled a homicide.

Lt. Bryan Green with the Clay County Sheriff’s Office said they’ve had a suspect in Nelson’s murder for almost 10 years, but not enough evidence for a prosecutor to charge. That suspect is in a Montana prison for another crime, he said.

Advances in technology helped unearth the new possible evidence, but it may not directly identify a suspect as normal DNA would. Because the hair had decayed so much, BCA specialists will analyze it for Mitochondrial DNA, which can be compared for a match with an individual’s mother or siblings.

Green said it may be another six to seven months before that analysis comes back.


Victims identified in head-on collision

DULUTH -- The Minnesota State Patrol on Wednesday identified the two people killed Tuesday afternoon when a truck hauling well-drilling equipment veered into an oncoming pickup on Minnesota Highway 194 west of Duluth.

The pickup’s occupants were both killed. The patrol identified the driver as Lon-Lee C. Lindquist, 29, of Cloquet. The passenger was Troy R. Berens, 46, of Floodwood.

The truck, which was heading west on Highway 194, apparently had a tire malfunction, according to the state patrol. The tire problem caused the truck to veer into the eastbound lane, where it struck the pickup head-on.

The driver of the truck, Craig Sunnarborg, 61, of Esko, was transported to Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Medical Center in Duluth, where he was listed in good condition Wednesday. Lettering on the side of the truck identified it as belonging to Sunnarborg Well Drilling Inc. of Esko, which is owned by Sunnarborg.

A fire followed the crash, said Minnesota State Patrol Capt. Steve Strombeck, and the Minnesota Department of Transportation has been notified of damage to the roadway resulting from the collision and fire.


South Dakota

Rhoden enters fray for U.S. Senate seat

MITCHELL, S.D. -- State Sen. Larry Rhoden will challenge former South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson, who isn’t seeking re-election.

Rhoden’s candidacy was widely reported Tuesday, but the 54-year-old rancher and state legislator from Union Center, east of Sturgis, made it official Wednesday at events in Sioux Falls and Rapid City.

“I don’t shy away from it, I am the underdog in this race,” he said Wednesday in an interview.

Rhoden has been a state legislator since 2001, starting in the House, where he was majority leader for four years. He was elected to the Senate in 2008, where his is now majority whip.

Rhoden said the national debt, which is currently about $16.7 trillion, is a key issue that Congress needs to deal with as soon as possible.

Rounds’ campaign manager, Rob Skjonsberg, said Wednesday in an email that the Rounds campaign has always expected a primary. Skjonsberg said Rounds considers Rhoden a friend based on the time the two spent working together in state government.

“They worked together on many important issues and we often counted on his support,” Skjonsberg said. “Larry is a good man and we expect to still be friends once the primary is over.”


Jeff Holmquist
Jeff Holmquist has been managing editor of the New Richmond News since 2004. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and business administration from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. He has previously worked as editor in Wadena, Minn.; Detroit Lakes, Minn.; Hutchinson, Minn.; and Bloomington, Minn. He also was previously owner of the Osceola Sun, Stillwater Courier and Scandia Messenger along with his wife. Together they previously founded and published The Old Times newspaper for antiques and collectibles collectors; and Up!, a Christian magazine of hope and encouragement.
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