1. Fargo executives advance downtown plan for taxis and rideshare pickup areas
A tentative plan to create five designated pickup areas for taxis and rideshares in downtown Fargo near Broadway was squashed by the city commission on Monday evening, May 16.
In the works since last December, the plan would allow taxis to park in designated areas and provide easier access for Uber and Lyft drivers to pick up customers from downtown bars and restaurants from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. Thursday nights. until Sunday morning.
On-street parking would be restricted in areas during these times.
The vote for city police to finish planning and crafting the new law, which would require ordinance changes, was 3-2.
Mayor Tim Mahoney and Commissioners Arlette Preston and John Strand voted to approve.
Commissioners Dave Piepkorn and Tony Gehrig opposed it.
Read more from Barry Amundson from the Forum
2. Minnesota Senate approves $159 million plan for clean water, parks and heritage projects
The Minnesota Senate on Tuesday, May 17, voted to spend $159 million from the state’s Legacy Amendment funds to pay for clean water, parks, trails and outdoor heritage projects throughout the state.
In a 55-9 vote, the chamber approved the list of projects based on the recommendations of the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council. The panel makes annual recommendations to lawmakers on how to spend the state’s outdoor heritage, clean water, parks and trails, and arts and heritage funds, and this year members received more of 314 million requests.
Minnesota voters in 2008 approved a constitutional amendment protecting the state’s drinking water, wildlife, and natural resources, and supporting and preserving the arts and cultural heritage. In 2009, the state passed a three-eighths of one percent sales tax to raise money for each of these efforts.
Read more from Forum News Service’s Dana Ferguson
3. NDSU welcomes David Cook, the university’s 15th president
David Cook spent his first full day as North Dakota State University’s 15th president meeting and talking with administrative staff and answering questions from the media.
Cook met with reporters outside the Old Main administration building on campus on Tuesday, May 17, and said he was pleased to receive text messages from Gov. Doug Burgum and the president of the University of North Dakota, Andrew Armacost, day one.
“It’s kind of cool that the governor cares about higher education, cares about NDSU. I’m pretty sure he said ‘Go Bison’ in there,” Cook said.
Cook said he has already spoken with Armacost several times about collaboration ideas.
“Whether it’s academic programs, research…how we work together across the state, how we work with the Legislative Assembly, there will be great opportunities there,” he said. .
Earlier in the day, Cook met with his cabinet, including Provost Margaret Fitzgerald and the vice presidents.
“It was a fun and overwhelming first day,” he said.
The State Board of Higher Education voted unanimously to hire Cook in February from a shortlist of three finalists for the job.
Read more from Robin Huebner from the Forum
4. Looking for baby formula: Empty store shelves leave parents scrambling
For Anders and Allison Nygren, feeding their son, Leighton, shouldn’t be that hard.
But a formula shortage that has hit the country has the couple worried.
“The shortage only really hit Rochester about three or four weeks ago,” Anders Nygren said. “You walk in and there’s absolutely nothing on the shelves. You then start looking online and everything says sold out, I mean, it’s not a pleasant experience.
The struggles are not limited to Rochester or even Minnesota. The shortage began after the Food and Drug Administration cited unsafe practices by Abbott Nutrition Laboratories, where infant formula led to the deaths of two infants from a rare bacterial disease. Since the FDA halted production at the Abbott plant where the disease was traced, formula shortages have become all too common on store shelves.
As stores selling formula continue to be empty across the country, families with infants have turned to community pages on social media platforms to help each other find and stock up on formula when they can.
The Nygrens of Rochester are one such couple.
Read more about Theodore Tollefson from Forum News Service
5. West Fargo School Board Candidates Answer Candidate Panel Questions
Six of the seven West Fargo school board candidates who will be vying for four open seats in the June 14 election were open to answer questions on Tuesday, May 17.
The League of Women Voters Red River Valley sponsored a panel of candidates on Tuesday evening. Incumbents Jon Erickson, Jessica Jackson and Jim Jonas, along with named member Mark Staples, were joined by newcomers Cole Davidson and Jessica Jones. Candidate Scott Daniel Kasprick was not present.
Each contestant was given approximately 1 minute to respond to questions submitted by members of the public. The questions ranged from candidates’ specific ideals to those that touched on national issues such as policies regarding transgender students, student behaviors and teacher retention policies.
Davidson grew up on a ranch in western North Dakota and worked in higher education at North Dakota State University. He now works in sales for a large company. Davidson said he was running for his family, including his children who are students in the district. He said he saw controversial social ideologies being promoted in schools and was concerned that remote learning could harm learning. Davidson said he doesn’t like what he sees in schools across the country.
Read more from Wendy Reuer from the Forum