Proposed ND wind farm to move to new location

BISMARCK (AP) — A proposed North Dakota wind farm is being moved to another part of the state after a new developer bought out the project.
NextEra Energy Resources is planning to move the 70-turbine project to Emmons and/or Logan counties, the Bismarck Tribune reported.
The specific location hasn’t been determined, but the Florida-based energy company wants to relocate near its Emmons-Logan Wind Energy Center. The center, which is under construction, will bring up to 123 wind turbines northeast of Linton.
PNE Wind USA sold its interest in the project to NextEra. The project was originally proposed for Burleigh County, where commissioners had denied special use permits for the project.
PNE dropped its appeal after selling off the project.
NextEra said the company decided to move the project after speaking to community leaders.
“We look forward to developing this project and providing affordable, home-grown energy in North Dakota for years to come,” the company said in a statement.
Dave Nehring, who owns land near Bismarck, had opposed the wind farm.
Nehring said he welcomes the move because the former location would’ve been disruptive to wildlife and natural resources.

Reprieve granted for Mandan bar mural

BISMARCK (AP) — A federal judge has granted a reprieve to the owners of a Mandan bar fighting to preserve a mural at their business.
U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Hovland granted a temporary restraining order Wednesday two days after the owners of Lonesome Dove filed a lawsuit against the city of Mandan over the mural city officials ordered removed.
Bar owners Brian Berube and August “Augie” Kersten were cited for have an unpermitted, Western-themed mural on the outside of the bar. The Bismarck Tribune says Berube and Kersten were unaware of the permit, later applied and were denied because city ordinance states “no mural may be placed on the front of the building.”
The judge says “such a content-based restriction on speech as Mandan has enacted is unlikely to survive constitutional muster.” He scheduled a settlement conference for June 4.

US to reduce hours at 3 Montana border crossings

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Federal officials say they’re reducing the hours that three U.S.-Canada border crossings in Montana are open each day.
However, U.S. Customs and Border Protection temporarily backed off a plan to close the 24-hour crossing near Plentywood daily at midnight after backlash by residents and politicians.
The border patrol agency said in a statement Thursday the ports of Scobey, Morgan and Opheim will operate from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. year round starting June 1.
Those ports are currently open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. during the summer.
The Port of Raymond north of Plentywood will remain a 24-hour port this summer while the agency “continues discussions with the Canadian government and local stakeholders.”
Farmers and residents protest that re-routing 24-hour border traffic 100 miles (160 kilometers) away to North Dakota would be inconvenient and hurt economic activity.

Parents of slain drug informant to appeal lawsuit dismissal

WAHPETON (AP) — The attorney for the parents of a North Dakota college student found dead after becoming an informant to drug investigators plan to appeal a judge’s dismissal of their wrongful death lawsuit.
Tim O’Keeffe said Thursday that Tammy and John Sadek are disappointed with the ruling and a bit surprised by it. The Sadeks sued the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, one of its deputies and the county, alleging their son, Andrew Sadek, was killed because he was coerced into becoming a drug informant.
The 20-year-old North Dakota State College of Science student agreed to become an informant in exchange for lenience after he was caught selling marijuana. His body, with a gunshot wound to the head and rocks in his backpack, was found in the Red River in June 2014.

Bismarck high schooler creates website for mental health

BISMARCK (AP) — Rachel Roehrich created a website to help students navigate life in high school and connect them to mental health and addiction resources.
The website was an idea generated by Roehrich, a sophomore at Century High School, and a small group of classmates in a leadership class as a one-stop, user-friendly site for students.
“It’s focused mainly around mental health,” Roehrich told the Bismarck Tribune.
The site, called CHS Corner, recently launched. It includes tips for students on topics such as effectively managing stress, an information section with articles for students and a school and community resources page.
Roehrich and her classmates were one of 17 student groups in North Dakota that received funding through North Dakota first lady Kathryn Burgum’s Youth Ending Stigma Challenge — a program that awarded up to $1,000 to student-led projects aimed at getting rid of the stigma surrounding mental health and addiction.
Burgum visited Century recently for the website launch and talked with Roehrich and other students about her goal to include youth in her platform on addiction and mental health.
“Youth want to be the advocates,” Burgum said. “They have so much passion around advocacy, and I was hoping they could direct some of that advocacy to eliminate stigma and take a leadership role in that.”
Roehrich and other students hung up signs in the school with QR codes students can scan to take them directly to the CHS Corner website. Only students and teachers with a school email can access the site.
Students also may submit questions for the website, which other students post their answers online.
“In a world of information, where there’s information everywhere, ciphering through it is very difficult, so now they have a one-stop access for all kinds of information,” said Laurie Foerderer, who teaches the leadership class.
Foerderer said she hopes future students in her leadership class will sustain the website.
“We’re going to keep this going as long as it stays relevant,” she said.
Burgum also has visited other schools that received grants through the YES Challenge, and she said she’s also taking the opportunity to ask schools about what mental health and addiction resources they have available.
Burgum was told about the four counselors and full-time social worker at Century. Assistant principal Sharon Espeland also told Burgum about a new “transition center,” or an alternative room in the school where students with anxiety can go and do school work.
Espeland also said they started contracting with a licensed psychologist this year, who comes into the school one day a week to work with students.
Burgum said she’s supportive of additional funding for behavioral health services in schools.
“I would be a huge proponent of having more behavioral health (resources), and how do we get the funding to make that happen in schools, or redirect funding?” she said.
Burgum also said she plans to continue youth engagement, though funding for the YES Challenge was only for this school year. She said this summer she’ll discuss whether to continue the program or similar initiatives next year.

Mayday in May: Snow leads to travel alert in North Dakota

BISMARCK (AP) — Snow in May in North Dakota is not all that unusual — and not all that much fun for some.
The North Dakota Department of Transportation on Saturday issued a travel alert for southwestern North Dakota for blowing snow. The DOT is reporting slippery road conditions and reduced visibility in Dickinson, Beach, Richardton and surrounding areas.
DOT spokeswoman Peggy Anderson says there were two travel alerts issued because of wintry weather in May of 2015, one for the south central part of the state and one for the north central region.
Melrene Carlson, cashier at the County Line Truck Stop north of Dickinson, said the snow “is really coming down” and her customers have reported numerous accidents.
Carlson was taking the weather in stride because “after all, it’s spring in North Dakota.”

ND’s 2nd medical marijuana dispensary set to open doors

BISMARCK (AP) — The North Dakota Department of Health says the state’s second medical marijuana dispensary is set to open next week.
The facility will be located in Grand Forks. Jason Wahl, director of the department’s Medical Marijuana Division, says the dispensary operated by We-Mend LLC is set to open Wednesday.
The first dispensary opened in Fargo on March 1. Voters approved medical marijuana in 2016, but it took time for the state to build up a regulatory structure.
Construction is continuing on dispensaries in Bismarck and Williston. It’s not clear when they will open.
Wahl says more than 450 registry identification cards have been issued so far to qualifying patients.

Mother, toddler killed in Grand Forks County crash

MANVEL (AP) — Authorities have identified a woman and her young son who died when the vehicle she was driving veered off a Grand Forks County road and landed upside down in a river.
The Highway Patrol says the crash happened about 3 p.m. Wednesday about three miles south of Manvel. Officials say their Volkswagen Jetta left the roadway and overturned, coming to rest mostly submerged in the Turtle River.
The patrol says the 40-year-old Amanda Brantl, of Mekinock, and her 3-year-old son, Atlas, who was in a car seat, died at a Grand Forks hospital.
The crash remains under investigation.

Judge: No site permit needed for refinery near national park

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A North Dakota judge has ruled that regulators properly refrained from getting involved in a dispute over the location of an $800 million oil refinery planned near Theodore Roosevelt National Park, sparing developers from a potentially lengthy delay in construction.
The Public Service Commission last year declined to review whether the planned Davis Refinery could be built just 3 miles (5 kilometers) from the park in the western North Dakota Badlands, concluding the refinery will be too small to warrant review under state law.
Environmental groups that don’t believe developer Meridian Energy Group is being forthright about the refinery’s size asked a state judge to order the commission to hold a hearing — a request that Meridian called “a fishing expedition.”
Judge Bruce Romanick on Tuesday sided with the PSC, ruling the agency followed state law that requires only those oil refineries with a capacity of 50,000 or more barrels daily to obtain a site permit from the agency. Meridian’s current capacity estimate for the Davis Refinery is 49,500 barrels daily.
“Because the PSC was without jurisdiction, it could not conduct a hearing,” Romanick ruled.
He also said regulators did not abuse their discretion in denying a chance for the plaintiffs to receive more information from Meridian about the refinery plans so they could try to prove their contention that the company is trying to skirt state law. Meridian disputes that.
Opponents said they plan to appeal to the state Supreme Court.
A PSC review can take half a year or longer to complete. Meridian said it was pleased with Romanick’s ruling.
“Trying to push Meridian into a PSC siting process for the Davis project is a transparent attempt to slow down the project,” the company said.
The national park is North Dakota’s top tourist attraction, drawing more than 700,000 visitors annually. The company says the facility will be the “cleanest refinery on the planet,” a model for future plants and a boost for the area economy. Environmental groups worry pollution will erode air quality at the park and mar its majestic scenery.
Meridian initially said the refinery would have a capacity of 55,000 barrels, but as the project evolved, the company lowered the figure to 49,500 barrels daily. CEO William Prentice signed an affidavit saying Meridian has “no current plans” for any expansion beyond that.
The Environmental Law and Policy Center and the Dakota Resource Council question the company’s veracity, and they criticized the PSC for trusting the company. The PSC didn’t comment on Romanick’s decision, saying the ruling speaks for itself.
Dakota Resource Council attorney JJ England said the group will appeal to the state Supreme Court, noting Romanick didn’t address the fact that Meridian’s state air quality permit is for a facility with a 55,000-barrel capacity.
“This decision also raises alarming questions about the jurisdiction of North Dakota state agencies,” he said.
Meridian began site work for the refinery last summer and has a goal of having it fully operating by mid-2021 , though the company still faces another court battle. The National Parks Conservation Association has appealed to the state Supreme Court the air quality permit that the state Health Department issued for the refinery, arguing it violates the federal Clean Air Act.

ND State Radio director to retire

BISMARCK – Mike Lynk, director of North Dakota State Radio, has announced plans to retire on June 30, according to a news release from N.D. Department of Emergency Services.
Mike Lynk was appointed director of State Radio on January 7, 2009. He previously served as a special agent with the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, both as an investigator and more recently as the coordinator of the North Dakota Fusion Center. Lynk has a strong background in law enforcement and security and has worked as a patrol officer for the City of Beulah, for K-9 Security in Grand Forks and since 1999 has worked security for the Minnesota Vikings Training Camp in Mankato, Minn., most recently as on-field supervisor.
During his time at State Radio, Lynk made upgrading technology a high priority in order to better serve the citizens of North Dakota in their greatest time of need.