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Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota has fired its president and chief executive officer.....

     BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota has fired its president and chief executive officer after the state's dominate insurer recently reported nearly $80 million in financial losses.
     Paul von Ebers has been the Blues' top executive since 2009. Von Ebers succeeded former CEO Mike Unhjem, who was fired amid criticism over a Caribbean retreat.
     The insurer says its 13-member board unanimously voted to fire von Ebers today. The company says Chief Operating Officer Tim Huckle will serve as interim president and CEO.  Board chair Ann McConn says in a statement that the board fired von Ebers "in order to ensure confidence in the future financial direction of our organization."


     MINOT, N.D. (AP) - The city attorney in Minot who was fired after only a month on the job says she intends to go after the city. Colleen Auer says she is filing wrongful termination complaints with both state and federal agencies. Auer was fired last week for what City Council President Jim Hatelid called insubordination. Auer claims she was fired in retaliation for a complaint she filed alleging harassment and a hostile work environment.

     GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) - University of North Dakota officials say the director of the school's Energy and Environmental Research Center has been placed on paid administrative leave.
     Gerald Groenewold has been director of the center since 1987. UND spokesman Peter Johnson told The Associated Press Monday that the day-to-day operations of the EERC will be handled by Tom Erickson, an associate director for the center.  Johnson would give no further details. Phone calls to Groenewold went unanswered today.
     The EERC is UND's primary research facility and employs about 300 people, including scientists and engineers.
     Groenewold pleaded guilty in 2008 to a misdemeanor assault charge for an incident involving his wife, state Sen. Connie Triplett. He was sentenced to one year of probation and ordered to complete 30 hours of community service.


     BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - American Airlines says it will launch daily, direct flights from Bismarck to Chicago and Dallas.  The flights are to begin Oct. 1. The two-year deal includes a $1 million minimum revenue guarantee, backed by a $500,000 federal Transportation Department grant and a $500,000 local match by Bismarck-Mandan Chamber of Commerce members.
     North Dakota's capital city currently is served with commercial service from Delta, United, Frontier and Allegiant.  Bismarck was one of five airports in North Dakota that set a record for passengers last year.


    BISMARCK, N.D. (PNS) - As the time that kids spend with television, video games, apps and computers continues to grow, they are being encouraged to take the next seven days to unplug. This is "Screen-Free Week," an annual initiative encouraging children to turn off screens in favor of activities like reading, hands-on playing or exploring nature.

    Sara Adelmann, screen time project manager, Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood, says they hope that it leads to family connections that continue beyond.

    "For instance, some families find that they have more, richer conversations at dinner if there's no devices around, so they might do that more frequently during the year. Or they might find that they and their children have a better night's sleep if they don't use devices a few hours before bed," Adelmann says.

    Screen-Free Week began in 1996 as "TV Turnoff," and since then millions of children and their families have taken part.

    Adelmann says excessive screen time can be linked to poor school performance, childhood obesity and attention problems.
It is becoming more and more of an issue as tablets and smart phones become more common, she adds.

    "Certainly, we're seeing an increase in the use of mobile devices. A recent survey came out saying that just in the past two years, the time children spend on media devices has tripled," she says.

    It's now estimated that school-age children spend more time with screen media than in any other activity except sleeping.


   (Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press and Prairie News Service.  All Rights Reserved.)


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