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North Dakota

Hit-and-run driver kills 7-year-old Dunseith girl

N.D. Highway Patrol reports a 7-year-old girl from Dunseith died after being struck by a vehicle on U.S. Highway 281 at Dunseith Saturday.
The driver of a 2001 Oldsmobile Alero was going north on the highway when encountering a group of juvenile pedestrians crossing the road. One of the pedestrians was struck, the vehicle went into the ditch and then fled the area.
The pedestrian was taken to the health care facility in Belcourt and later flown to Trinity Hospital in Minot. The pedestrian died at Trinity Hospital, the patrol reported. The incident happened around 4:45 p.m.

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North Dakota

ND airports see surge in demand in March

During a month that marked one year since the COVID-19 pandemic started to severely impact air travel, North Dakota’s eight commercial service airports posted the highest level of passenger traffic since the pandemic began, according to the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission.
There were 72,504 airline passenger boardings in North Dakota in March, an increase of almost 22,000 passengers from February 2021. However, these passenger counts are still about 32% below the normal pre-pandemic levels seen in March of 2019.
The Minot airport recorded 9,822 passenger boardings in March, up from 8,218 boardings in March 2020 but down from 15,107 in March 2019. For the first quarter of 2021, there have been 22,342 passengers boardings in Minot, down from 34,057 in first quarter 2020 and 39,624 in first quarter 2019.
The commission reported the growth in passenger demand and optimism surrounding a recovery in the travel industry has prompted the airline industry to revive hiring plans as they continue to slowly add back flights and seat capacity to certain communities. The only non-stop destination route in North Dakota that was lost during the pandemic is expected to return as Delta Airlines announced its plan to add back the Williston-Minneapolis route in June.
“Optimism is building for the travel industry’s recovery as airport parking lots are noticeably filling with vehicles and activity levels and passenger counts continue to trend in a positive direction,” said Kyle Wanner, executive director of the aeronautics commission.

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North Dakota Sports

NDSU, Iowa State softball canceled

Sunday’s college softball game between North Dakota State and Iowa State was canceled due to snow in the middle of the second inning with a 3-3 score. The game and statistics will not count toward either team’s record.
Game time temperature was 48 degrees with winds gusting from 30-40 mph out to right field at Tharaldson Park. The Bison were coming up to bat in the bottom of the second inning when the game was delayed for 35-minutes for snow and ultimately called off.
Iowa State jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Milaysia Ochoa hit a one-out RBI single to score Sami Williams, and Logan Schaben hit a two-out, two-run double off the wall in left-center field to score Ochoa and Mikayla Ramos.
NDSU responded in the bottom of the first when Stephanie Soriano beat out an infield single and Montana DeCamp homered over the wall to make it 3-2. The Bison put two more runners on with infield errors before Nicole Licea’s sacrifice fly scored Skylar Padgett to make it 3-3.
North Dakota State (12-21, 7-5 Summit) returns home to host Omaha in a four-game Summit League series next weekend. Doubleheaders are scheduled for noon Saturday, April 24, and 11 a.m. Sunday, April 25, at Tharaldson Park.

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North Dakota Sports

North Dakota to host Missouri State in FCS first round

Fighting Hawks to host playoff game for second time in Division I era
For the third time over the last five seasons, the University of North Dakota football program is postseason bound. The Fighting Hawks will host Missouri State on Saturday, April 24 at 3 p.m. in the opening round of the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) playoffs, with the winner heading to No. 3 seed James Madison the following weekend.
This will be the third all-time meeting between North Dakota and Missouri State, with the teams splitting the previous contests. UND rolled past the Bears, 34-0, in the only meeting at the Alerus in 2017.
UND enters this postseason with a 20-14 overall record in its playoff history, including a 13-3 mark in Grand Forks. The Fighting Hawks last hosted a playoff game in 2016 against Richmond, which saw the program’s 10-game home winning streak in the postseason come to an end in a 27-24 defeat.
North Dakota also captured its 27th conference title in program history, third since the program moved to Division I in 2008, joining the 2011 Great West and 2016 Big Sky seasons. The 27 conference titles are the second most among Division I schools in the Dakotas.

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North Dakota

North Dakota 21st in rate of virus cases in last 2 weeks

BISMARCK (AP) — North Dakota health officials confirmed 58 new cases of the coronavirus out of 1,686 tests that were processed since Saturday.
Nearly 106,000 people in the state have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. That includes nearly 24,000 in Cass County, the state’s most populous region.
There were about 279 new cases per 100,000 people in North Dakota over the past two weeks, which ranks 21st in the country for new cases per capita, according to The COVID Tracking Project. One in every 764 people in North Dakota tested positive in the past week.
Of North Dakota’s neighboring states, Minnesota ranks 4th in the rate of new cases in the last two weeks, South Dakota ranks 19th and Montana ranks 34th, Johns Hopkins University researchers reported.
A total of 1,479 people in North Dakota have died due to complications from the virus. The death count is 12th highest per capita nationwide, researchers said.

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North Dakota Sports

NDSU-Oral Roberts Baseball Series Finale Canceled

The series finale between North Dakota State and Oral Roberts, scheduled for Sunday, April 18, was canceled.
Rain and snow flurries started less than an hour before first pitch. With temperatures dropping, the decision was made to cancel the finale. The game will not be made up.
The Bison, 23-10 overall and 12-7 in the Summit League, return to action on Friday, April 23, with a doubleheader at South Dakota State. First pitch is scheduled for 12 p.m. in Brookings.

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North Dakota

Gov. Burgum signs Ten Commandments school bill

BISMARCK(AP) — North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum signed a measure Friday aimed at shielding schools and teachers from lawsuits arising from posting the Ten Commandments in classrooms.
The Republican’s endorsement of the bill comes after attorneys and school officials warned the legislation is unconstitutional and would spur costly and unwinnable legal fights.
The bill received broad support in both Republican-led legislative chambers, with a 76-16 vote in the House and a 34-13 vote in the Senate. Hoping to fend off legal challenges, the House amended the bill with a requirement that the Ten Commandments be included in a display with other historical documents.
In a statement, Burgum said the bill “clarifies the existing authority in state law that allows a school to display a religious object or document of cultural, legal, or historical significance together with similar documents.”
“This law supports local control and gives school districts full control over whether to display any religious objects or documents,” his statement said.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which has been tracking the North Dakota legislation, has said that passage of the legislation would invite litigation. The organization said that not a single court has upheld the posting of the Ten Commandments in public schools, even if they are displayed with other material.
Proponents of the legislation said it is intended to promote moral behavior in schools, and that that the United States was founded on Ten Commandments’ principals.
Attorneys and education testified earlier that the bill likely violates the clause in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that prohibits the establishment of religion by the government.

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North Dakota

Luick chosen North Dakota Senate’s president pro tempore

BISMARCK (AP) — Fairmount Republican Larry Luick was chosen Wednesday as the North Dakota Senate’s new president pro tempore.
The job involves presiding over Senate sessions when the lieutenant governor is absent.
Luick replaces Minot Sen. Randy Burckhard. Luick will have the job until the next regular session of the Legislature begins in January 2023.
The GOP has the majority in the North Dakota Senate, and Luick defeated Fargo Democrat Tim Mathern to win the job.
Democrats hold only seven of the 47 seats in the Senate.
Luick is a 62-year-old farmer and excavation contractor. He was first elected to the Senate in 2010 and represents District 25, which includes Wahpeton and part of Richland County in the state’s southeastern corner.
Luick is chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and also serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Luick was re-elected to his most recent four-year term in 2018.

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North Dakota

Man sentenced to 5 years in prison for crash that killed 2

BISMARCK (AP) — A Cannon Ball man has been sentenced to five years in federal prison for driving drunk and causing a crash that killed two people on the Standing Rock Reservation.
Matthew Wood, 37, pleaded guilty last December to two counts of involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of 83-year-old Arlene Hodgkiss and 57-year-old William Left Hand in 2019.
A third person, Jody Black Moon, suffered serious injuries, the Bismarck Tribune reported.
U.S. District Judge Daniel Traynor also ordered Wood Monday to pay more than $640,000 in restitution and spend three years on supervised release.

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North Dakota

Group wants changes to North Dakota’s initiative process

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A group submitted a proposed ballot measure Tuesday that aims to raise the approval threshold for changing the North Dakota Constitution through the state’s citizen-initiative process.
The citizen-led Protect North Dakota’s Constitution wants to change voter approval of constitutional amendments from a simple majority to 60%. The petition, submitted to Secretary of State Al Jaeger following a press conference at the state Capitol, also seeks to limit ballot measures to a single issue.
Retired Maj. Gen. Michael Haugen, a previous adjutant general of the North Dakota National Guard and former member of the state Board of Higher Education, is co-chairman of the group.
Haugen, who lives in Fargo, said constitutional amendments have been put before voters in every election cycle for more than a decade, Often, he said, they have contained “confusing language that addresses multiple issues” and are routinely backed by out-of-state interests.
Citizen initiatives allow residents to bypass lawmakers and get proposed state laws and constitutional amendments on ballots if they gather enough signatures from voters. North Dakota is among about two dozen states with some form of an initiative proc
Co-chair Jeffrey Zarling of Williston said group believes the effort will “improve transparency of future measures and will ensure initiatives added to the constitution will be well-conceived and overwhelmingly supported by North Dakotans.”
Supporters will need to get signatures from about 31,000 North Dakota voters over the next year to put the measure on the November 2022 ballot.
Backers said they expect to spend up to $1 million on the effort, which includes paying people to gather the signatures.
North Dakota lawmakers have long been critical of the citizen-initiative process. The Legislature began studying it in 2017, a move spurred largely by voters’ surprise approval of medicinal marijuana and another successful ballot measure funded almost solely by California billionaire that amended the ultra-conservative state’s constitution.
North Dakota’s Republican-led Legislature in 2019 referred its own constitutional amendment to the ballot that asked whether the Legislature should have the power to review and approve citizen-initiated constitutional amendments.
Voters in November soundly defeated the measure that critics said amounted to giving legislators veto power over citizen initiatives.