KHRT ND News – 09/28/21

KHRT NEWS – TUESDAY – 092821 – 1200
GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) – The man charged with shooting and killing a woman in Grand Forks earlier this month is facing additional felony charges. Charges of attempted robbery and theft have been filed against 26-year-old Ahmed Mohamed Abdullahi who is accused of attempting to rob a man and stealing a car. He was previously charged with murder after 28-year-old Megan Gustafson was shot and killed during an argument. Police had responded to a 911 call about a suspicious person in a Grand Forks neighborhood on Sept. 12. Authorities say Abdullahi was arguing with Gustafson inside a house before she was shot. Investigators believe they knew each other.
JOPLIN, MT – The National Transportation Safety Board continues to investigate an Amtrak train derailment in Montana. NTSB Vice Chairman Bruce Landsberg said in a Monday briefing that they are not ruling anything out and that maintenance is going to be a “big concern” in the investigation. Three people were killed and dozens of others were injured when the train derailed at about 4 p.m. local time near Joplin, nearly 200 miles north of Helena, Mont.
The NTSB has assumed the lead role in determining how eight of the 10 cars left the tracks. The Federal Railroad Administration also has a team of experts assisting in the investigation. The Empire Builder train was en route from Chicago to Seattle with 141 passengers and 17 crew members when it veered off the tracks.
Local authorities identified the victims Monday as 72-year old Marjorie Varnadoe and 74-year old Donald Varnadoe of Georgia; and 29-year old Zach Schneider of Illinois. Donald Varnadoe was a real estate agent from St. Simons Island, Ga., and his wife, Marjorie, was a well-known schoolteacher, according to a family friend. The couple called their cross-country Amtrak trip their “trip of a lifetime,” said Robert Kozlowski, who worked with Donald Varnadoe. He said they were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. Schneider of Fairview Heights, Ill., was traveling with his wife on vacation to Portland, Ore., when the train derailed, according to a GoFundMe page created to
cover funeral expenses.
Liberty County Sheriff Nick Erickson estimated that as many as 30 people were injured. By Monday, five remained hospitalized and in stable condition in Great Falls, Mont., local officials said.
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – The developer of an oil refinery near Theodore Roosevelt National Park in western North Dakota has a new contract with a company that will buy and market all diesel and gasoline produced at the facility. Developer Meridian Energy Group says its 10-year contract with Musket Corp. covers 360 million gallons of diesel and 280 million gallons of gasoline produced annually. The fuels make up 90% of the volume of refined products at the plant. Meridian first proposed the refinery just 3 miles from the park in 2016, with the goal of having it operating by next year.
BISMARCK, N.D. – FEMA has approved disaster assistance for McKenzie County. The county was added to the disaster declaration approved by President Biden on Sept. 1 making aid available to eight counties for severe storms and flooding occurring from June 7-11, 2021.
FEMA’s Public Assistance program provides aid to state, tribal and local governments as well as certain private non-profits for damaged public infrastructure and emergency actions taken to protect lives and property. Funding is provided as a cost share of no less than 75 percent, with the remainder being the responsibility of the state and the applicant. The North Dakota Department of Emergency Services manages the Public Assistance program on behalf of the state. Information will be provided to potential applicants in McKenzie County on how to request assistance.
The Public Assistance program was previously approved for Burke, Divide, Emmons, Grant, Kidder, LaMoure, Sioux and Williams counties. Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.
BISMARCK, ND – A spike in COVID-19 cases is reported today by the North Dakota Health Department. Active cases jump by 378 today to 3,694. There are 888 new positives today and 529 new recoveries. Cass County records 200 of those new positives, Burleigh added 163, Grand Forks 75, Stark 60 and Ward 56. The daily positive rate is 10.56%. Hospitalizations rise by two to 135, with 21 of those in ICU. Three more deaths are reported among those positive (1607). Breakthrough numbers (those fully vaccinated) since Friday include 499 new positives (4695), 21 hospitalizations (219) and two deaths (32).
(Copyright 2021 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
KHRT NEWS – TUESDAY – 092821 – 0700
JOPLIN, Mont. (AP) – An Amtrak train that derailed in rural Montana over the weekend was going just under the speed limit at about 75 mph when it went off the track along a gradual curve. That’s according to federal investigators. They said Monday that the accident may have ejected some passengers. Three people died. Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board are studying video from the train and another locomotive that went over the same track a little over an hour earlier. The train derailed before a switch in the line, where one set of tracks turned into two. That stretch of track had been inspected just two days before.
MINOT, N.D. (AP) – A North Dakota stuntman known as the Flying Farmer has been moved out of intensive care after a dramatic crash on his first car jumping attempt in five years. John Smith was injured Sunday when his car corkscrewed off the ramp and rolled. He was eventually taken by medical helicopter to a Minot hospital. His daughter, Amanda Smith, tells The Bismarck Tribune that her father is scheduled to undergo surgery Monday for what she called “a huge slice” in his upper left arm and shoulder. The 57-year-old Smith has gained notoriety for his jumps at fairs and other attractions across the state. He says he was inspired by motorcycle daredevil Evil Knievel.
FARGO, N.D. (AP) – The Spirit Lake Tribe has been trying for nearly two decades to get North Dakota officials to replace signs at the reservation’s major ports of entry that were moved because of ongoing flooding of Devils Lake. With help from the state Department of Transportation, the markers are back in their rightful place. Tribal Chairman Doug Yankton says it is as much about principle as it is property. He says it highlights tribal sovereignty and shows the importance of tribal members learning about their history and culture. Yankton and the tribe finally got their new signs after state transportation director Bill Panos visited the reservation and received a four-hour tour that stretched to every end of the reservation.
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – North Dakota’s only congressman is in isolation after testing positive for COVID-19. U.S. Rep. Kelly Armstrong said in a Twitter post on Sunday that he had been experiencing mild coronavirus symptoms and took a test which came back positive. The 44-year-old Republican congressman says he has been fully vaccinated since January. Armstrong says his doctor advised him to quarantine for 10 days. He says he has contacted friends in Congress and will be casting his votes this week by proxy, as Capitol Hill gears up for a busy week that includes a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure package.
UNDATED (AP) – Hospitals and nursing homes around the country are bracing for worsening staff shortages as state deadlines arrive for health care workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19. With such rules taking effect this week in states New York, California and Rhode Island, the fear is that some employees will quit or let themselves be fired or suspended rather than get the vaccine. In New York State, some hospitals have already begun suspending or otherwise removing holdouts.
BISMARCK, N.D. – Gov. Doug Burgum and State School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler announced Monday that Bret Dockter, a sixth-grade teacher at B.M. Hanson Elementary School in Harvey, has been named North Dakota’s 2022 Teacher of the Year.
Dockter was one of four finalists for the honor, which is presented each year. They were celebrated Monday at a ceremony in the state Capitol’s Memorial Hall. The other three finalists were Heather Ell, a first-grade teacher at John Hoeven Elementary School in Minot; Shari Jerde, a teacher of business education and family and consumer sciences at Grand Forks’ Community High School; and Matthew Nielson, a science teacher at Valley City Junior/Senior High School. All attended Monday’s celebration.
Dockter, 46, teaches social studies, science and mathematics at Hanson, and coaches Harvey High School’s football team. He has been an educator for 23 years, including 11 in his current position. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Minot State University and a master’s from North Dakota State University. In accepting the award, Dockter praised his colleagues, his students, his wife and family, and the community of Harvey, which he described as an ideal place to teach and raise a family.
“The reason that I think we’re all here is our students,” Dockter said. “It is such a joy to see how, each year, the class comes together. This recognition is really not as much about me, as it is the kids in my classroom. I think early on in my career, I thought I needed all the answers, and I had all the answers. It is clear now that I never did,” he said. “I learned much more from (his students) than they have learned from me … They have challenged me to not become stagnant, but rather give all that I have, because they deserve the best.”
Baesler attended celebrations for the finalists earlier this month at their respective schools, which she called “heartwarming and inspirational.” The educators, she said, “are not only outstanding teachers. They are respected and beloved by their students.” “Mr. Dockter’s goal every day when he walks through the classroom door is provide a safe environment where his students thrive academically and socially,” Baesler said. “He is willing to adapt and change his teaching methods to fit the moment, and make sure his students are learning as much as they can. “He is a firm believer in project-based learning, and of giving students the power to control their own learning,” Baesler said. “He loves seeing students find and develop strengths that they didn’t know they had.”
Gov. Burgum praised Dockter’s “commitment to service to these kids, and his caring and passion.” Dockter “understands that students learn better and are more successful when they see themselves as part of something larger, as members of a team or project team,” the governor said. “He encourages students to apply what they learn in the classroom in their lives outside of school, and he encourages relationship building in his community.”
Dockter will be North Dakota’s candidate for the national 2022 Teacher of the Year award, a program that is managed by the Council for Chief State School Officers, a Washington, D.C., organization that represents state education interests. He succeeds 2021 North Dakota Teacher of the Year Kristi Reinke, a social studies teacher at Jim Hill Middle School in Minot. Reinke was a member of the selection committee that chose Dockter for the 2022 honor.
“His love, dedication and respect for his job not only shows up in his classroom and his building, but it helps to recruit and retain teachers to the profession,” Reinke said of Dockter. “A teacher’s influence goes on and on, and Bret, the students that you’ve helped, the athletes that you’ve coached, they’ll pass those lessons along forever.”
The process of naming the 2022 Teacher of the Year began last spring, when Baesler invited nominations for County Teachers of the Year. Forty North Dakota educators were subsequently honored as Teachers of the Year from their respective counties. The four finalists for the state Teacher of the Year award were picked from among that group, including Dockter, who was Wells County’s Teacher of the Year. The state Teacher of the Year was chosen by an eight-member screening committee of education stakeholders, who reviewed their applications and interviewed the finalists. The process is outlined in North Dakota law, NDCC 15.1-02-21.
Nick Archuleta, president of North Dakota United, an organization that represents teachers and public employees, said Dockter and his fellow Teacher of the Year finalists were “incredible teachers representing incredible colleagues, all across the state.” They embraced the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, he said. “The quality of the work you have done over the course of the past few years has been nothing short of phenomenal,” Archuleta said. “You went from full-time face-to-face instruction, to full-time distance learning instruction, and back again, more competently and professionally than any state in the nation.” “That says something special about North Dakota, where teachers, school boards, administrators and state government work together in the interests of our children to develop and implement policies and protocols to keep our students safe and learning,” Archuleta said. “I cannot overstate just how important that is.”
(Copyright 2021 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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