KHRT ND News – 12/15/21

KHRT NEWS – WEDNESDAY – 121521 – 1200
 
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – A U.S. Air Force Reserve officer has announced her intention to seek the North Dakota state senate seat held by Republican Nicole Poolman, who doesn’t plan to seek reelection next year. Michelle Axtman is running as a Republican for the Bismarck-area District 7 seat held by Poolman since 2012. Axtman is a Bismarck native and the District 7 Republican treasurer. She is a 2009 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and spent 12 years as an active duty Air Force pilot. She serves as a major in the Air Force Reserve.
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BISMARCK, ND – This week marks the first anniversary of the first COVID-19 vaccine being administered in North Dakota. ND State Health Officer Dr. Nizar Wehbi says the COVID-19 virus has changed our lives. It has impacted how business is conducted, how education is delivered, as well as how people interact with one another.
 
When the vaccine was authorized for use and arrived in our state, North Dakota had one of the fastest rollouts of the COVID-19 vaccine in the nation and was consistently in the top three states for the number of doses administered the first couple of months. North Dakota long-term care resident vaccination rates are in the top 10 in the country. More than 400 providers in North Dakota enrolled to administer the COVID-19 vaccine, ensuring access across the state. According to the CDC’s data tracker, North Dakota reached a milestone this week with more than 974,790 doses of vaccine administered in North Dakota.
 
Wehbi says that the 70% of North Dakotans over age 18 who have chosen to receive the vaccine have taken an important step to protect themselves from the risks of COVID-19 disease. He notes that the novel virus continues to impact the world, and vaccination continues to be our best defense against the virus. The virus has claimed the lives of 1,968 North Dakotans and left many others grappling with loss and long-term impacts of the disease.
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BISMARCK, N.D. – Gov. Doug Burgum and Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford today marked the fifth anniversary of being sworn into office, reflecting on a year filled with historic progress on infrastructure, workforce, economic development and other priorities, as well as major challenges including extreme drought conditions and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “As always, North Dakotans have responded to this year’s unprecedented challenges with incredible strength and resiliency,” Burgum said. “Our administration continues to draw inspiration from the hardworking citizens of our great state as we strive to empower people, improve lives and inspire success.”
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BISMARCK, ND – A rapidly strengthening storm system will shift from the four-corners region to the upper Great Lakes through today with widespread high winds, exceeding 70 mph in some locations, and severe weather including a few tornadoes for parts of the Mississippi River. In North Dakota areas of snow, blowing snow, and strong winds are expected today. Overall 1 to 3 inches of snow are possible, with locally higher amounts across the south-central. Wind gusts of 50 mph or more are possible across the south and east this afternoon and evening, hence a Winter Weather Advisory for snow and blowing snow. Those traveling should use caution today through tonight.
 
(Copyright 2021 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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KHRT NEWS – WEDNESDAY – 121521 – 0700
 
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – The company responsible for the largest oil field spill in North Dakota history has reported a leak from a pipeline within two miles of the record discharge in 2015, state officials said Tuesday. The latest spill from a Summit Midstream Partners pipeline leaked saltwater onto agricultural land “very close to the creek” contaminated by the record spill reported north of Williston, said Bill Suess, spill investigation program manager with the North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality. The pipeline company and the state are monitoring the waterway known as Blacktail Creek and said there were no signs that the saltwater had reached it as of Tuesday morning, Suess said.
 
Summit notified the state on Dec. 5 of the spill that was originally estimated at 10 barrels and has since been revised to 176 barrels based on calculations from its pipeline leak detection system. Summit told the state that an equipment failure caused the latest spill, but no additional details were immediately available, The Bismarck Tribune reported.
 
The 2014 spill discharged more than 690,000 barrels of drilling wastewater and contaminated more than 30 miles of Missouri River tributaries as well as land and groundwater. Summit has been ordered to pay $35 million in civil and criminal penalties.
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WEST FARGO, N.D. (AP) – A police report on a West Fargo crash that led to a misdemeanor charge against a fire chief reveals the accident seriously injured the driver of the other vehicle involved. Mapleton Fire Chief Kayla Cross, who is also a battalion chief in Moorhead, Minnesota, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of refusing to take a blood alcohol test.
 
According to authorities, the chief was driving across a street onto an Interstate 94 entrance ramp when she collided with the other vehicle on Nov. 13. Police said it’s not known which driver had the right of way. The report, which was not initially available, says the woman in the second vehicle was taken by ambulance to Sanford Medical Center with “serious injuries,” KFGO reported. Cross was not injured. Cross was cited and released from the scene. She was not taken to jail.
 
Mapleton Mayor Andrew Draeger said the city hasn’t decided what kind of action might be taken against Cross, if any. Moorhead City Manager Dan Mahli says Cross has been placed on leave.
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HORACE, N.D. (PNS) – Some North Dakota cities are adding more residents and new homes, but there’s a side effect: higher property taxes. Low-income homeowners are being reminded of a key tool that could soften the blow. Horace, just south of Fargo, has seen its population jump by more than 30% over the past decade. Along the way, Mayor Kory Peterson said, they’ve added hundreds of homes, prompting more infrastructure needs. On top of that, a community-wide valuation has pushed property taxes higher by an average of 29%.
“We still have people in town here that are on fixed income; that’s an awful lot of a tax increase to swallow in one year,” he said. “So, we have to be cognizant of that when have all this infrastructure that’s going on in town here, too, because you don’t want to tax residents out of their homes.”
 
North Dakota does have the homestead property tax credit, which is available to people 65 and older with an annual income of less than $42,000. They can apply for the credit through the local assessor’s office, with a deadline of Feb. 1. In his city, Peterson said, a number of homeowners have incomes just above the cutoff. He thinks policymakers should expand eligibility.
 
Janelle Moos, AARP North Dakota’s advocacy director, said any other homeowner around the state struggling with higher property taxes also should look into applying. For older residents, she said, a bigger tax bill shouldn’t be the thing that pushes them out of a home with which they have a long history. “Not only do they want to be there,” she said, “but smaller communities want to keep residents there, and keep their towns alive and thriving.”
 
The recent AARP Home and Community Preferences Survey found that nearly 75% of respondents age 50 and older would like to stay in their current home for as long as possible. Beyond the tax credit, Moos urged concerned homeowners to reach out to their elected officials to create other solutions.
 
(Copyright 2021 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
 

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