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KHRT ND NEWS - THURSDAY - 02/20/14 - NOON EDITION

Residents of the Nedrose School District just east of Minot are deciding the fate of a proposed high school....

     MINOT, N.D. (AP) - Residents of the Nedrose School District just east of Minot are deciding the fate of a proposed high school.  An $18 million bond measure is before voters today. The measure requires 60 percent approval to pass.  If it does, the district will move from K-8 to a full K-12 district. It will mirror a move approved late last year by voters in the South Prairie School District just south of Minot.

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     BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - The National Weather Service says the risk of spring flooding along major rivers in western North Dakota appears low.  The agency issued long-range outlooks today for the Missouri, Souris and James River valleys. The outlooks will be periodically updated as spring arrives.
 
     Officials say the risk of flooding in the James and Missouri river basins is normal to below normal for most locations. Exceptions are Apple Creek and the Cannonball River near Breien.
 
     Officials say the risk of minor flooding along the Souris and Des Lacs rivers above Minot is near normal. The risk increases downstream of Minot.  Officials say the snowpack above Souris River dams in Canada is normal for this time of year.

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    BISMARCK, N.D. - Gov. Jack Dalrymple and U.S. Sen. John Hoeven today urged members of the International Joint Commission to continue pursuing improvements in the management and operations of the Souris River.

    In a letter to the International Joint Commission, Dalrymple and Hoeven requested an update on the commission's work to secure funding for a plan of study to identify potential improvements in Souris River Basin management policies and operating plans.

    "It's important that we move forward on a full study of the Souris River's management and operations," Dalrymple said. "A plan of study offers us a great opportunity to learn more from the devastating flood of 2011 and is key to developing effective, long-term flood protection throughout the Souris River Basin."

    "A new study of the Souris River in light of the 2011 flood is well past due," Hoeven said. "To better manage the river, we need to improve flow management to provide better flood protection, which is why we're encouraging the commission to undertake this study and advance a plan as soon as possible to enhance flood protection for Minot and the region."

    The Souris River is jointly managed by the United States and Canada through the International Joint Commission's International Souris River Board (ISRB). Following the historic Souris River flood of 2011, the ISRB established the Souris River Basin Task Force to identify potential improvements to the Souris River's operating plans. In June 2013, the International Joint Commission contacted federal agencies in the United States and Canada, requesting funding to develop the plan of study.

    Dalrymple also has informed the International Joint Commission that the state of North Dakota is prepared to help fund a plan of study and is prepared to provide other assistance to improve the river basin's management and operations.

    The ISRB today will discuss efforts to develop a Souris River Basin plan of study during its winter meeting in Bismarck.

    The 2011 Souris River flood created major hardships for residents in Minot and the surrounding area. Floodwaters damaged about 4,100 homes, businesses and other structures and forced the evacuation of more than 11,000 people.

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     FARGO, N.D. (AP) - National Weather Service officials say winter conditions have been favorable for Red River Valley residents looking to get a spring break from flooding.  But forecasters say that could change depending largely on the melting cycle.
 
     The weather service is scheduled this afternoon to release its second flood outlook of the season. Meteorologist Greg Gust says he doesn't expect any drastic changes from the January report that showed a low risk of severe flooding along the Red River and its tributaries.
 
     Last year the weather service predicted a record flood, but it came up several feet short because the weather turned cold and led to a gradual melt.  Gust says models appear to show that this spring will be milder than a year ago, which could be a wild card.

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     BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - Tesoro Corp. says an excavator struck an oil pipeline in western North Dakota, spilling about 75 barrels of crude, or about 3,150 gallons.  The company says it happened Wednesday afternoon near Cartwright, which is west of Watford City near the Montana border.   Tesoro says the release of oil has been stopped and about 70 barrels' worth of oil has been recovered. The company says there were no injuries, and no impacts to wildlife were reported.
 
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     BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - A 47-year-old North Dakota man has been sentenced to 14 years in prison for his role in distributing large amounts of pure methamphetamine in northeastern Montana.  Samuel David Everson III of Fairview, N.D. was sentenced Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy in Billings for possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute.
 
     The U.S. Attorney's Office says Everson was arrested and prosecuted as part of Project Safe Bakken, a cooperative effort among federal and state prosecutors and federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies in Montana and North Dakota.  Prosecutors alleged Everson and others distributed meth in Sidney and Fairview, Mont., between April 2012 and September 2013.

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     FARGO, N.D. (AP) - A Seattle doctor accused of turning in phony Medicare claims that included nursing home visits to patients who were dead says he will plead guilty.  John C. Chen is charged in federal court with six counts, including health care fraud and false statements related to health care.
 
     The case is being heard in North Dakota because Fargo-based Noridian Healthcare Solutions LLC processes and pays Medicare Part B claims in Washington state.
 
     Authorities say Chen submitted 673 claims for medical services in the Seattle and Tacoma, Wash., area from 2007 through 2010, when he allegedly was out of the country.
 
     Chen's lawyer, Robert Flennaugh II, filed a change of plea notice Wednesday night. Flennaugh was not immediately available for comment.  A change of plea and sentencing hearing has not been scheduled.

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     GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) - Officials with the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa and the city of Grand Forks are talking again about a casino near the city.  Tribal leaders say an off-reservation casino could employ as many as 1,000 people and generate annual gambling revenues between $60 million and $100 million.
 
     KNOX radio reports that City Council members are discussing a partnership with the tribe, but Councilman Doug Christensen says there would first need to be state and federal approval of an off-reservation casino.
 
     Tribal leaders acknowledge there are hoops to jump through but say city partnership is key. The council has agreed to form a committee and meet with the governor to gauge the state's stance.
 
     Attempts at a tribal casino in Grand Forks fizzled in the mid-2000s.

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     BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - Leaders of communities in the western North Dakota oil patch say they need more state help to deal with the effects of the oil boom.  Williston City Commissioner Brad Bekkedahl says the needs aren't going away - they're in fact getting bigger.
 
     Bekkedahl says Williston is to get $60 million from the state during the current two-year budget cycle that ends in June 2015, but the city has more than $200 million in infrastructure projects underway. He says the oil patch hub has reached its bonding limit for projects.
 
     The Bismarck Tribune reports that oil patch leaders agree they'll need to approach the Legislature next year with one voice. Sen. Bill Bowman says oil communities will need to give lawmakers exact numbers on financial needs - not guesses.

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     BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - A coalition says it is kicking off a campaign against a proposed North Dakota conservation fund ballot measure.  The Greater North Dakota Chamber, energy groups and others plan to launch the so-called North Dakotans for Common Sense Conservation effort on Thursday in Bismarck and Fargo.
 
     Conservation advocates want a bigger slice of North Dakota oil tax revenues for an outdoor heritage fund. Backers want 5 percent of the state's oil extraction taxes for a fund to benefit water, wildlife and parks projects. That would raise about $150 million during the 2015-17 budget period. The current fund is capped at $30 million.
 
     Opponents say the state already provides money for conservation efforts, and they worry that a bigger fund would take away from other critical needs.
 


   (Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

 

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