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Wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying asleep.
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Drought in western North Dakota has eased significantly over the past week....

     BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - Drought in western North Dakota has eased significantly over the past week. The latest U.S. Drought Monitor shows a reduction in extreme and exceptional drought from 19 percent to less than 4 percent, due to heavy rains. The northwestern corner of the state is the only area that remains in those categories of drought, which are the two worst. Overall, 87 percent of North Dakota is in some stage of drought, down from 93 percent last week.
     Seventy-two-percent of South Dakota is in some stage of drought, unchanged over the week. Areas in severe or extreme drought declined slightly, from 44 percent to 40 percent. The federal Agriculture Department reports that South Dakota leads major-producing states in very poor to poor ratings for sorghum, corn and soybean crops.


     BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - The president and chief executive of North Dakota's largest business organization has resigned. The North Dakota Chamber of Commerce announced today that Andy Peterson's resignation was effective immediately.
     Peterson headed the group for seven years. He would not comment on the reason for his resignation but says he "wishes" the organization "all the best." Chamber spokesman Jason Matthews says he did not know the reason for Peterson's resignation.
     The group has more than 1,000 members and offers programs and services to help businesses in the state.
     Prior to heading the North Dakota group, Peterson was a longtime policy and education director for the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce in Minnesota.
     Matthews says a search for Peterson's replacement has not begun.

     OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - A new report says low commodity prices and weak farm incomes are continuing to hamper the rural economy in parts of 10 Plains and Midwestern states. The Rural Mainstreet Index for the region fell to from 42.2 in August to 39.6 in September, its lowest level in 2017. The index released Thursday ranges between 0 and 100, with any number under 50 indicating a shrinking economy.
     Creighton University economist Ernie Goss, who oversees the survey of bankers, says more than half of the bankers reported that they have restructured farm loans. Nearly 20 percent have increased their collateral requirements. Bankers reported a 2.1 percent increase in farm loan defaults over the past year.
     Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.


     BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - North Dakota's newest state Supreme Court justice is officially on the job. An investiture ceremony was held Wednesday to install Justice Jon Jensen, who has been hearing cases since Aug. 15.

    Gov. Doug Burgum in July appointed Jensen to replace Justice Carol Kapsner, who announced her resignation in April after nearly 18 years on the state's highest court.

    Jensen had been the presiding judge of the Northeast Central District. He's a graduate of the University of North Dakota law school and previously was in private practice in Grand Forks. Jensen will serve at least two years before the general election in November 2020, when he must run for a new 10-year term.


     DEVILS LAKE, N.D. (AP) - A new domestic violence shelter in Devils Lake is trying to raise money to keep its doors open. The Safe Alternatives for Abused Families shelter opened in April, and Director Molly McDonald says that there have been only two days in which no one has used it.

    The shelter serves a seven-county area, including the Spirit Lake Reservation. McDonald says the need has far exceeded projections, and it costs more than $500 per day to run the shelter.

    Each county and the reservation contributed $5,000 to get the shelter operating. The Devils Lake Journal reports that the Ramsey County Commission on Tuesday agreed to provide an additional $5,000 to keep it running. Fundraisers also are planned Friday and Oct. 19 to help address the budget shortfall.


     WEST FARGO, N.D. (AP) - Two West Fargo police officers have made a special delivery. The officers responded to a medical call Wednesday about 8:30 p.m. and found an expectant mother was close to giving birth. Officers Austin Bagley and Jacob Danielson say they would hear paramedics were on their way to the home, but the baby didn't wait. KFGO reports the two helped deliver a baby girl. Mother and child were taken to Sanford Hospital. Officials say they're doing fine.


   (Copyright 2017 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)


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