KHRT ND News – 01/10/22

KHRT NEWS – MONDAY – 011022 – 1200
 
BISMARCK, ND – Drought conditions continue to improve for North Dakota. Today’s Drought Briefing from the National Weather Service lists a small area of extreme drought over northwest North Dakota. Much of the eastern half of the state has no drought or is listed as abnormally dry. Most of central ND is listed as moderate drought. Drought is expected to hang on in some form across most of western North Dakota, even as improvement is the current trend.
 
Since the start of the water year (October 1st), North Dakota has been almost entirely warmer than average. Precipitation amounts have been more consistent across the state, as much of the central and east have seen 150% to 200% of normal precipitation, but the far northwest corner is still below average. Drought conditions have improved across much of the state, with a large part of the east completely removed from drought designation.
 
La Niña conditions are ongoing, which is a major factor in what we are expecting during this winter. We have finally begun to see a pattern switch, with near-normal temperatures in December and a much more active pattern leading to above normal precipitation across most of the state. Below normal temperatures are expected for the month of January, and near to below normal temperatures are favored for the rest of winter and into the early spring. This is the second La Niña winter in a row, and there is some indication that the second of back-to-back La Niñas favors North Dakota for above average snowfall during the winter.
 
The latter part of December provided a lengthy shot of snowy and cold weather across most of North Dakota. While not everyone may appreciate shoveling snow in sub-zero temperatures, we now find ourselves with a normal to well above normal snowpack across most of the state. So even though we are just approaching the halfway point of our snow accumulation season, the trend (no matter how tenuous it may be) is of continued improvement in hydrologic conditions. If we receive the normal half of an inch of water equivalent in each of January and February, we will enter March with over 2 inches of snow water equivalent (SWE) on the ground. This, along with near normal moisture in March would be a great help in starting off the 2022 growing season with a fair amount of runoff and soil moisture replenishment.
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BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – The recent surge in COVID-19 cases is forcing North Dakota health officials to cut back on investigations and they are encouraging people who test positive to isolate on their own. The state Department of Health says it will continue to monitor virus cases for K-12 students, higher education students, people over age 55 and people in health care facilities, long term care and congregate settings. Others may not be contacted by case workers but should still follow isolation protocols. Johns Hopkins University researchers say the rolling average of daily new cases in North Dakota has increased by 291% over the past two weeks. One in every 97 people in the state tested positive in the past week.
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GRENORA, N.D. (AP) – Sheriff’s officials say an oil well exploded and caught fire today in northwestern North Dakota. There are no reports of any injuries. The Divide County Sheriff’s Department says the oil storage tank that exploded held about 1,300 barrels of oil northeast of Grenora. KXNet News reports the fire has been contained at the site and officials are letting it burn out. The cause of the explosion is unknown at this time.
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BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – Passenger traffic at North Dakota’s eight commercial airports in November nearly doubled from last year, despite the surging coronavirus. Year-to-date boardings in November were ahead of 2020 at all eight airports in Bismarck, Minot, Williston, Dickinson, Grand Forks, Fargo, Devils Lake and Jamestown. Statewide, they were up about 53%, but down 26% from 2019. According to the state Aeronautics Commission, 83,429 people boarded planes at the eight airports during November. Aeronautics Commissioner Kyle Wanner says additional travel demand during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend was reminiscent of pre-pandemic levels, and mild weather limited flight disruptions.
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BISMARCK, ND – Maj. Gen. Al Dohrmann, North Dakota Department of Emergency Services (DES) director, today announced Darin Hanson will serve as the state’s director of Homeland Security. In that role, he will provide vision, leadership and direction to a Homeland Security team of about 60 employees. The agency’s mission is to provide North Dakota with a central coordinating agency for public safety communications, prevention, protection, mitigation, response and recovery, including during emergencies and natural disasters.
 
“Darin brings a strong background to his new role as North Dakota Homeland Security director. In his previous position, Darin lead and coordinated the state’s programs and policies on critical infrastructure security. He has shown that he is able to work with a broad spectrum of partners across all levels of government, as well as nonprofit organizations and the private sector,” said Maj. Gen. Al Dohrmann, North Dakota adjutant general and DES director. “Even more importantly, Darin embraces a culture of collaboration and teamwork, the cornerstone of everything we do in emergency management.”
 
Hanson, of Mandan, North Dakota, has been employed with North Dakota Homeland Security and has worked within the State and Local Intelligence Center for more than eight years. As the Critical Infrastructure Program and security manager, he helped initiate a cyber security task force in North Dakota. He also was instrumental in founding the statewide CyberCon event, which is a cybersecurity and critical information conference held in partnership with Bismarck State College. Hanson has also forged relationships with school safety security partners in North Dakota, including with the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction. His duties also included routinely conducting site visits throughout the state to advise on critical infrastructure security measures.
 
Hanson succeeds former director Cody Schulz who accepted an appointment by Gov. Doug Burgum as the Parks and Recreation director on Oct. 11, 2021. Homeland Security has been guided by interim Debbie LaCombe since then.
 
“Darin has been a true asset to the agency over the years. I and the staff here at DES are thrilled that Darin has been named as our director of Homeland Security,” LaCombe said. “Darin has the energy and curiosity needed to successfully lead us in fulfilling our mission and vision and upholding the values of not only our agency, but the State of North Dakota, as well.”
 
A graduate of the University of Mary in Bismarck, Hanson holds a bachelor’s degree and a Master of Business Administration. He served in the Montana Army National Guard for more than 20 years, achieving the rank of sergeant first class. He deployed to Afghanistan from 2012-2013, working at a tactical operations center while also leading an intel section within a military police unit. He also spent more than a year in Alaska working in law enforcement.
 
In January 2021, Hanson earned his master’s degree in Security Studies at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS), Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS). While there, he joined Homeland Security officials from across the nation for an 18-month curriculum and authored a thesis titled, “Normalizing Cybersecurity: Improving Cyber Incident Response with the Incident Command System.”
 
“I am both excited and honored for the opportunity to continue my service to the State alongside a team of emergency management professionals that continue proving they are among the best in the nation,” Hanson said. “I am grateful for the opportunity and the confidence that has been placed in me. The Homeland Security team will continue our whole-of-community focus to ensure a safe and secure homeland for all North Dakotans.”
 
The Division of Homeland Security is part of DES, along with the Division of State Radio, which coordinates 9-1-1 services, as well as emergency medical, fire and law enforcement response. It is the primary dispatch service for the N.D. Highway Patrol and services 25 counties across the state. For more information, visit des.nd.gov.
 
 
(Copyright 2022 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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KHRT NEWS – MONDAY – 011022 – 0700
 
MINOT, N.D. (AP) – The North Dakota Supreme Court has ruled that a Minot man should not have been convicted of child abuse for allegedly assaulting a woman in front of a young girl. Brent Castleman was found guilty last year of a Class B felony after the jury watched a recording of the assault and the girl crying after witnessing the attack. Castleman was sentenced in January 2021 to five years in prison. The Supreme Court said in an opinion released last week that the incident does not qualify as child abuse under state law because prosecutors did not prove that there was any lasting effect to the girl’s psychological, emotional, or mental health. Castleman will be released from the James River Correctional Facility in Jamestown.
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FARGO, N.D. (AP) – A federal judge says defense attorneys cannot use intellectual disability as a factor in the second death penalty debate for a man convicted in the 2003 kidnapping and killing of University of North Dakota student Dru Sjodin. Judge Ralph Erickson last year ordered a new sentencing phase for Alfonso Rodriguez Jr., after ruling that misleading testimony from the coroner and other factors had violated Rodriguez’s constitutional rights. Defense attorneys then asked Erickson to reconsider intellectual disability as a defense. The judge said in an order last week that it cannot be used to consider Rodriguez’s eligibility for capital punishment. Rodriguez, a convicted sex offender from Crookston, Minnesota, is being held in a federal jail.
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BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – North Dakota environmental regulators are working to clean up a firefighting foam spill in Williston. The state Department of Environmental Quality issued a news release Friday saying 6,000 gallons of a foam and water mixture were released from a Polar Creek Industries US facility on Thursday. The spill was confined to a ditch but investigators are collecting samples to determine if the foam contains PFAS, synthetic chemicals that linger in the environment for years and can be harmful to human health.
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WASHINGTON, DC (AP) – The White House’s top official on environmental justice is stepping down a year after President Joe Biden took office with an ambitious plan to help disadvantaged communities and overhaul policies that have historically hurt them. The departure of Cecilia Martinez, senior director for environmental justice at the Council for Environmental Quality, puts a spotlight on both the administration’s successes and promises yet to be fulfilled.
 
 
 
(Copyright 2022 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
 
 

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