Advocates say state’s new oilfield safety training redundant

BISMARCK (AP) — A new program designed to streamline required oilfield safety training in North Dakota has drawn thousands of people, but some say the training is redundant and time-consuming.
More than 16,000 people have participated in the One Basin-One Way program, which began last June as an attempt to combine several oilfield safety topics into a single program. The four-hour course is geared toward workers employed by the 13 companies that produce more than half of the oil extracted in North Dakota.
Some worker advocates say because other required training programs are already in place, the One Basin-One Way program can be repetitive and hurts revenues when crews can’t work because they’re participating in the program.
“Many of these contractors were coming into these orientations and hearing all the same things,” said Steve Braden, who works for Hess and serves as chairman of the North Dakota Petroleum Council’s One Basin-One Way Committee.
Alma Cook, owner of Williston-based Cook Compliance Solutions, raised that problem Monday at the North Dakota Safety Council conference in Bismarck. She underscored that some producers not only require contractors to go through the One Basin-One Way program but still mandate them to attend their own separate orientations.
That’s true at Hess because there are some rules specific to the company that he wants contractors to know, Braden told The Bismarck Tribune.
But missing work to complete duplicative training is problematic because it consumes contractors’ time and money, according to Cook, who helps contractors navigate producers’ expectations on safety certifications.
“You have a whole crew of people that can’t work that day,” she said. “You can’t generate revenue for your company. It’s a problem for everybody, including the producer.”
Braden said most companies have similar rules that One Basin-One Way trying to “bring those under one umbrella” in a standardized training to reduce redundancy.
The petroleum council, safety council, TrainND Northwest at Williston State College and Diamond B have partnered to run the program.

Bismarck State College president search down to 5 finalists

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Five finalists have been selected in the search for a new president at Bismarck State College, North Dakota University System officials said Tuesday.
The candidates are scheduled to visit the campus for interviews on the week of March 2-5. The two-year school received 41 applications for the position and a search committee talked to 12 people last week.
The finalists are Clark Harris, special assistant to the president at Laramie County Community College; Douglas Jensen, president and CEO at Rock Valley College; Philip Klein, dean of health and public safety at South Piedmont Community College; Joan Poor, executive director of Slack Farms Foundation, Inc,; and Richard Sax, provost and vice president for academic affairs at the University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College.
Current president Larry Skogen is set to retire on June 30.

Fargo to begin filling sandbags in case of Red River flood

FARGO (AP) — A city building dubbed Sandbag Central will soon be open for business as Fargo leaders prepare for spring flooding along the Red River, the city administrator said Monday night.
Bruce Grubb told city commissioners of plans to fill 250,000 sandbags in order to protect the city to 41 feet, which would be 23 feet over flood stage. The latest outlook from the National Weather Service shows a 10% probability that the river will reach 39 feet in the Fargo and Moorhead, Minnesota area.
KFGO radio reported that Grubb called the chance of a severe flood “a flip of the coin” and added that the city would rather “err on the side of caution.” Volunteers filled hundreds of thousands of sandbags last year for anticipated flooding that never materialized.
Sandbag Central is located in a building that is normally a parking garage for garbage trucks. Plans are to begin sandbag operations on March 10.

Roofing company banned from doing business in North Dakota

BISMARCK (AP) — A roofing company has been banned from doing business in North Dakota, state officials said Tuesday.
Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said he has issued a cease and desist order against McKenna’s Roofing and its owner Joshua McKenna. McKenna lists addresses in Brampton, North Dakota, and Long Prairie, Minnesota.
A state investigation started in August showed that McKenna had taken an advance payment of over $5,000 for a roofing job and the homeowner spent the next year trying to get McKenna to do the work or provide a refund, without success.
Investigators determined that McKenna’s contractor’s license had already expired when he took the money and the company has not since been licensed.
Stenehjem said McKenna has stopped cooperating with investigators.

Man finds unexploded bombs on hike

HILO (AP) — An adventurer in Hawaii found two suspected unexploded military bombs while hiking on the Big Island.

Kona resident and adventure television host Kawika Singson discovered the bombs while exploring the lava fields of Mauna Loa last week, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Saturday. Singson is the host of “Everything Hawaii.”

He had “no particular agenda other than being out there and hiking,” Singson said.

Singson saw the back end of the bomb sticking out of the lava, and when he entered the tube he saw the front end protruding through the ceiling, he said.

“Oh my god, that bomb’s intact,” he recalled thinking before taking photos and video, “then I got out of there, got out of the immediate area.”

Singson worked with explosives while serving in the military and knew the history of bombing runs during the volcano’s 1935 eruption from a previous episode of his show, he said.

“These bombs were dropped on either the 1935 or 1942 lava flows in an attempt to divert the lava flow from possibly flowing into Hilo,” Singson said in a Facebook post. He believes larger bombs were used during flows in 1975 and 1976.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources confirmed Friday that the department’s Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement was aware of the situation and has been in contact with Singson.

The department is coordinating with the Division of Forestry and Wildlife to dispose of the unexploded devices, and has been in contact with the military for support, officials said.

Honolulu officials identify 2 men killed in crash

Cause of plane crash has not been determined

HONOLULU (AP) — Officials have identified two people killed when their single-engine plane crashed at an airport northwest of Honolulu over the weekend.

The Honolulu Medical Examiner’s Office said Monday Richard Rogers, 70, died along with William Enoka Jr., 78.

Rogers was from Haleiwa, a town near Dillingham Airfield where the plane crashed. Enoka was from Kapaa on the island of Kauai.

In a statement, State Senate President Ronald D. Kouchi said: “Kauai is mourning the loss of Uncle Billy, who was dedicated to keeping the people of Kauai safe through his lifelong work in the Kauai Fire Department, retiring in 1994 as a Captain with the Kauai Fire Department, and as a Lieutenant Colonel with the Civil Air Patrol.”

“I worked with Uncle Billy from 1983 until he retired as a captain in the Kauai Fire Department in 1994 and thereafter in his work with the Civil Air Patrol,” Kouchi added. “He was a consummate professional and his love of flying equaled his love of mentoring our next generation of leaders.”

It is unclear what caused the Cessna 305 plane to crash. The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board plan to investigate.

A skydiving plane crashed at the same airfield last year, killing all 11 people aboard.

Officials: State’s flu outbreak complicated by coronavirus fears

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii is bracing for 50,000 to 70,000 cases of flu this year. But a surge in influenza has been complicated by fears of the new virus that started in China.

Many patients visiting Hawaii emergency rooms for flu cases are worried about contracting the illness known as COVID-19, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Sunday.

The flu is running rampant at Hawaii health care facilities, officials said. A handful of hospitals diverted ambulances on at least one day last week because they were overwhelmed beyond capacity.

“There is an obvious psychological component to the flu this year complicated by the coronavirus. None of our Hawaii residents have had coronavirus, but it’s still a very real thing on people’s minds,” said Democratic Lt. Gov. Josh Green, an emergency room doctor.

The U.S. has already had 22 million influenza cases in the four months since flu season began. About three dozen Americans have been reported to have the virus that emerged late last year in central China.

One in 1,000 people typically die of the flu, officials said.

“That’s not an insignificant number at all. That’s thousands of people that have died from the flu. That’s 50 to 70 people who could die from complications of flu in Hawaii each year alone,” Green said.

Green added: “Of course coronavirus is killing 25 people out of 1,000. It’s much more lethal, but you still have to be super mindful of the flu because so many people get it.”

Dr. Julius Pham, interim chief quality officer at The Queen’s Health Systems, said the emergency room at The Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu treated about 44 cases of flu per week in the last month, up from an average 36 at the same time last year.

Queen’s has experienced a nearly 40 percent increase in the number of hospitalized patients with influenza. About 120 patients have been hospitalized since the season began, up from 88 patients during the same period last year, Pham said.

“They have much more to be concerned about influenza than coronavirus,” Pham said. “The good news is everything they would do to protect themselves from coronavirus would help with flu, too.”

Rep. Fred Upton says he will seek 18th term in Congress

ST. JOSEPH, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Republican congressman Fred Upton announced Monday he will seek re-election to his Sixth Congressional District seat located in the southwest corner of the state.
In announcing his bid for an 18th term, Upton said there is “unfinished”

FILE – In this May 3, 2017, file photo, Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., left, speaks to reporters outside the White House in Washington. Upton announced Monday, Feb. 24, 2020 he will seek re-election to his Sixth Congressional District seat located in the southwest corner of the state. In announcing his bid for an 18th term, Upton said there is “unfinished” business that has to be completed, including fighting the opioid epidemic and immigration reform. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

business that has to be completed, including fighting the opioid epidemic and immigration reform.
“I am raising my hand and committing to work with anyone of any party to deliver results, protect our communities and simply solve problems,” Upton said in a statement. “Despite what you hear, there are good people in both parties doing good work. We just need more of them.”
Upton has served under five presidents during his more than 30 years in Congress. His re-election campaigns have emphasized what he calls “common-sense values” and bipartisan accomplishments.
Upton, 66, was being watched closely as a potential House retiree as Republicans attempt to regain the chamber majority in the November elections.
He entered the House in 1987.
But while several departing GOP lawmakers have included the frustrations of being in the chamber’s minority among their reasons for leaving, Upton said in an interview that the rise of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., as front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination “probably” was a factor in his decision to run again. Many Republicans believe a Sanders nomination would dramatically increase their chances of capturing House control.
Upton told The Associated Press he believed Sanders would hurt the campaigns of down-ballot Democratic candidates, saying Sanders is “too much to chew on” for many Michigan voters.
Twenty-seven Republicans are not seeking reelection to the House, and four others have already resigned and left office. The GOP will need to gain 18 seats to take over the House, assuming it retains several vacant seats it formerly controlled.
Upton voted against the impeachment of President Donald Trump. Before casting his vote, Upton called the impeachment process “highly partisan and clearly motivated by what I believe is an attempt to overturn the last election.”
Trump was accused of abusing his power by asking Ukraine to investigate his 2020 rival, Joe Biden, while holding military aid as leverage. He also was accused of obstructing Congress by blocking the House’s efforts to probe his actions.
Upton served as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee from 2010 to 2016, and he is currently the vice chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus. His southwest Michigan district includes Berrien, Cass, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph and Van Buren counties and most of Allegan County.

Boyd to lead statewide court office

LANSING (AP) — A Lansing-area judge who has been outspoken about how Michigan’s local courts are financed is resigning to become administrator of the state court system.
Tom Boyd has been a District Court judge in Ingham County since 2005. The Michigan Supreme Court, in announcing the appointment, described him as “one of the state’s most active judges in working to improve the legal system and the administration of justice.”
Boyd will lead the State Court Administrative Office. Milton Mack is becoming administrator emeritus and will focus on mental health issues in the justice system.
Boyd was chairman of the Trial Court Funding Commission, which last year recommended that court revenue be sent to Lansing for distribution to local courts based on caseload and other factors.
Under the current system, courts rely on defendants — typically poor people — to pay a share of operating costs along with any fines for their wrongdoing. Judges have been unfairly pressured by local governments to raise a certain amount of money.
Changes would require a new law.

2 communities offer land for Detroit Zoo center

MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich. (AP) — Two Macomb County communities are proposing to give land to entice the Detroit Zoo to build a nature center.

The offer from the Clinton Township and Mount Clemens shows the popularity of the proposed $20 million project. The property would be used for the zoo to construct the 30,000-square-foot (2,787-square-meter) Great Lakes Center for Nature, according to a news release.

Zoo officials said Sunday that there are more than 20 potential sites and a decision will be made soon, the Detroit Free Press reported.

“We are appreciative of the proposal generated by the Clinton Township Board of Trustees and Mount Clemens City Commission as well as their enthusiasm for the project,” Ron Kagan, executive director and CEO of the Detroit Zoological Society, said in a statement. “DZS has carried out extensive due diligence analyzing critical criteria, including site lines, size, adjacent features, access, soil and other environmental conditions. We anticipate finalizing the site selection in the very near future.”

The proposed land from Clinton Township and Mount Clemens is at Shadyside Park — along the banks of the Clinton River Spillway. It touches both communities, said township Trustee Michael Keys.

In February 2018, zoo and County officials announced the zoo would start building a freshwater nature center within a year.

The nature center project, originally proposed to be 20,000 square feet (1858 square meter) and cost $10 million, did not start as intended. It increased in size and cost to accommodate “a larger building and more habitats and programming,” Detroit Zoo Communications Director Patricia Janeway previously told the newspaper.

Macomb County was chosen to be the center’s home because it has 32 miles (52 kilometers) of coastline along Lake St. Clair and 31 miles (50 kilometers) along the Clinton River.

Mount Clemens Mayor Laura Kropp said the zoo has not approached the city about establishing the nature center there but noted it would benefit the region.

“In partnership with our neighbor Clinton Township, we are confident that we have the scale to make this a true destination point that will attract residents and visitors from throughout the region and all of Michigan,” she said.