KHRT ND News – 07/22/21

KHRT NEWS – THURSDAY – 072221 – 1200
MINOT, ND – The City of Minot is hosting an open house today to present information about the project to renovate the former Wells Fargo building in downtown Minot into a new City Hall. The open house will be from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the current City Hall, located at 512 2nd Ave. SW. Officials from the City of Minot and JLG Architects will be in attendance to present information about the renovation project and to answer questions from the public.
“We want to provide an opportunity for the public to gather more information about this project, and to see where we are in the design process,” City Engineer Lance Meyer said. “City Hall is the centerpiece of our organization, and we want to keep the public up to date on what’s happen-ing with this important facility.” Renovation work on the former Wells Fargo building is expected to begin later this year.
BISMARCK, N.D. – Gov. Doug Burgum today welcomed positive news regarding the state’s two-year budget cycle that ended June 30. Preliminarily figures indicate a positive balance of more than $1 billion in the general fund for only the second time in state history. The 2021 Legislature expected general fund revenues to total $5.4 billion for the 2019-21 biennium, but preliminary revenues show the state will likely collect $5.7 billion. As a result, the estimated ending balance of over $1 billion in the state general fund will be nearly $320 million more than projected in the legislative budget.
“Despite revenue disruptions caused by historic challenges including the COVID-19 pandemic, extreme drought and low oil and farm commodity prices, North Dakota made it through this last budget cycle with responsible fiscal management and is well-positioned for growth,” Burgum said. “These robust state revenues – including what’s expected to be a record-setting June with over $1 billion in general fund revenues – speak to the strength of North Dakota’s economy and our state’s conservative approach to forecasting and budgeting.”
Strong revenues have increased the state’s rainy-day fund, the Budget Stabilization Fund, to its new maximum balance of $749 million. The fund, which is capped at 15% of general fund appropriations, had already been replenished to its prior cap of $726 million in March 2020.
The Legacy Fund’s two-year earnings totaled $872 million for the biennium, exceeding the legislative forecast by $136 million and bringing the Legacy Fund’s net position to nearly $9 billion. Other revenues exceeded the 2021 session’s legislative forecast by nearly $160 million, including sales tax, which topped the legislative estimate by $39 million, or 2%; individual income tax, which exceeded the forecast by $60 million, or 8%; and corporate income tax, which exceeded the forecast by $42 million, or 22%.
“Federal stimulus payments in 2020 helped maintain strong consumer spending, which was reflected in state sales tax collections,” Office of Management and Budget Director Joe Morrissette said. “Final revenue figures for the 2019-21 biennium are expected in August.”
BISMARCK, N.D. – Gov. Doug Burgum is not happy with the Biden administration who extended restrictions on nonessential travel at the U.S.-Canada border for at least a month, until Aug. 21. The decision came two days after Canada announced it would reopen its border to vaccinated U.S. citizens for nonessential travel on August 9.
“After months of harmful and unnecessary delays, these border restrictions have now crossed the line from precautionary to preposterous,” Burgum said. “Canada’s COVID-19 vaccination rate has surpassed our own, yet the Biden administration continues to stand in the way of a long-overdue reopening of the border with our closest ally and trading partner. Even the co-chair of the Congressional Northern Border Caucus – a member of the president’s own party – called this decision ‘illogical’ and noted that the administration has failed to deliver on its promise in January to provide a border reopening plan within 14 days.
“Our best defense against the Delta variant is safe, effective vaccines, which remain free and available to U.S. and Canadian citizens alike,” Burgum added. “Keeping the border closed to travelers won’t substantially drive vaccination rates up, but it will continue to hold the economy down and hurt communities that depend on cross-border activity, including North Dakota’s retail and tourism industries as well as friends and family members separated by border restrictions for more than 16 months. It’s our hope the current administration pays as much attention to the actual security of the southern border as it does to the unnecessary restrictions at the northern border.”
The North Dakota Department of Health this week reminded the public of the importance of prevention measures and vaccinations to reduce the risk of transmitting SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, as the Delta variant of COVID-19 has recently emerged as the dominant strain in the United States.
BISMARCK, N.D. – The North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality has been notified of a brine release from the Alfred Brown Saltwater Disposal owned by Bullrock, LLC. The spill occurred Tuesday evening resulting from a lightning strike approximately five miles south of Keene. Initial estimates indicate 820 barrels of brine were released. The spill occurred on private agricultural property. At this time, no surface water has been impacted. Personnel from the NDDEQ will be on site monitoring the investigation and remediation.
FARGO, ND – Traveler confidence is soaring, according to a new AAA Travel survey, fielded in late June. According to the data, two-thirds of North Dakotans (68%) feel more comfortable traveling now than they did three months ago. Over the course of the past three quarterly AAA Travel surveys, residents’ comfort level has significantly increased as their concern about COVID-19 waned.
The top reasons North Dakotans feel more confident traveling include – received their COVID-19 vaccination (45%); less afraid of the dangers of the virus (34%); and more confident in safety measures being implemented (25%). Of those who are already or plan to be vaccinated, about half (48%) say travel was a motivating factor in doing so.
Two of every three North Dakotans (68%) have already traveled or plan to take a trip in 2021. Two-thirds of those (65%) will take their next trip sometime between July and September. Travel volumes have greatly increased from the 48 percent of North Dakotans who traveled in 2020.
(Copyright 2021 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
KHRT NEWS – THURSDAY – 072221 – 0700
WASHINGTON, DC (AP) – The United States government is extending the closure of the land borders with Canada and Mexico until at least Aug. 21. The move announced Wednesday by the Department of Homeland Security came two days after the Canadian government announced it would begin letting fully vaccinated U.S. citizens into Canada on Aug. 9, and those from the rest of the world on Sept. 7. At the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020 both the U.S. and Canadian governments restricted non-essential travel by land between the two countries, although Canadians have been able to fly into the United States. Until the Canadian decision on Monday, the two governments had extended the closure every month.
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – The former president of a Beulah bank has been barred from working at any financial institution in North Dakota because of bad business practices. The state Bank Board says the alleged transgressions occurred while Brady Torgerson worked at First Security Bank-West in 2020. Torgerson is accused of issuing loans above the lending limits, making loans at a reduced interest rate, and distorting the bank’s financial position on quarterly reports. The board says he made 91 loans totaling $12.7 million without securing liens or gathering financial information. Torgerson tells The Bismarck Tribune that he was caught off guard by the announcement. He says he had not decided if he will contest the order.
FARGO, N.D. (AP) – Three doctors who specialize in reproductive health appeared in a virtual town hall across North Dakota in an attempt to clear up misinformation about effects of COVID-19 vaccines on fertility and pregnancy. The online forum hosted Wednesday by state Health Officer Dr. Nizar Wehbi came down to a pair of common themes. The doctors vouched √°for the safety of vaccinations for couples who want to have a baby and urged people to seek out their doctors or nurse practitioners with any questions. Dr. Stephanie Broadwell of Sanford Health Fargo, Dr. Stephanie Foughty of Altru Health Devils Lake and Dr. Ana Tobiaz of Sanford Health Bismarck closed the 45-minute session with the same message: Go get the vaccine.
WAHPETON, N.D. (AP) – The president of the North Dakota State College of Science says he’s retiring in December. John Richman was appointed president of the Wahpeton college 15 years ago. He has been at the two-year school since 1986, when he was named head football coach. He has been a physical education instructor, athletic director and vice president for academic and student affairs. Richman served as interim president for one year and was named the college’s ninth president in February 2007. North Dakota University System Chancellor Mark Hagerott says Richman showed “unparalleled energy and dedication” in his numerous roles at the college.
(Copyright 2021 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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