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Prairie Packing to begin international exports under new ownership from Yellowstone River Beef

Williston is diving into the international beef export market, but will still provide services to the local community and surrounding areas.

As reported by the Williston Herald on Thursday, Aug. 15, Oregon-based Yellowstone River Beef is working towards purchasing Prairie Packing and upgrading it into a facility for the international export of beef to Asian markets. At The Tuesday, Aug. 13, meeting of the Williston City Commission, the commissioners voted to approve up to $72,000 for a Flex PACE buydown grant from the city’s STAR Fund.

The buydown program helps lower the interest on the company’s commercial loan, and includes a 2-to-1 matching grant from the Bank of North Dakota.

The company is owned and operated by Trevor Abell, Jamie Aqidius and Brandon Forseth, who are purchasing the plant to convert it into an export-focused operation, while still providing local custom processing, as well as a retail store front on site. The plant will be one of the only USDA-inspected processing plants in the region.

“We have established a network of local cattle ranchers who are excited to have their cattle processed locally and distributed to worldwide markets,” Abell said in a release. “This allows Yellowstone River Beef to have a traceable product and control the process from calf to final cut. This ensures the highest quality standards in each phase of processing.”

City and business development leaders said they are excited about what the processing plant means for the area, and believe it will provide many benefits to the region.

“I think it’s a really good project because it’s the first big ag project we have had in a while,” said Keith Olson, regional director of the Small Business Development Center.

“This project not only adds a layer to our local economy,” Williston Mayor Howard Klug said, “It exposes our local products to a world-wide market.”

The company’s owners are working with the city, the STAR Fund and the Small Business Development Center to continue moving the project forward, and Abell said he and the rest of the company are excited to be in Williston and look forward to working and growing within the community.

Dancing in the streets for Summer Nights on Main

Summer Nights on Main was the hot spot for summer fun Friday night, with dancing in the street, and food and fun for all.

The event is held every Thursday night in downtown Williston. The next event of the season will feature Judd Hoos on Thursday, Aug. 22, and the final show of the season will be the Kid and Nic Show on Thursday, Aug. 29.

CBD-related charges against McKenzie County vape shop owner dismissed

The charges against a McKenzie County vape shop owner charged in 2017 with several claims related to possessing and selling CBD oil products from his stores have been dismissed, according to documents filed with the Northwest Judicial District.

Falesteni Ali Abuhamda had entered an Alford plea last year to several charges related to the sale of cannabidiol, or CBD oil, products from his two Tobacco Depot stores. Police had seized a number of items containing CBD oil from the stores in Alexander and Watford City, as well as vape pens.

Among the charges filed against him in May 2017 were possession of hashish, manufacturing drug paraphernalia, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a school, and unlawful advertisement of drug paraphernalia.

In the court document, which is dated in July, both parties agree to the dismissal of all seven charges “with prejudice,” which means that a subsequent case cannot be brought on the same claim.

Falesteni, who goes by the name Phil Hamda, said he is in the middle of opening a hemp shop in Alexander.

“I’m so happy it’s done with,” he said. “It’s in the wind, or whatever they call that. We are done with that.”

Hamda had appealed his case to the North Dakota Supreme Court, which heard the case earlier this year. Even though the right to appeal had been stipulated to in the plea agreement, the court ruled that it did not have jurisdiction to hear a case where pretrial diversion was the outcome, and that Hamda hadn’t properly preserved his right to appeal.

At a preliminary hearing in Oct. 2017, Deanna Longtin, who was Hamda’s attorney at the time, had argued that the CBD Hamda was selling came from industrial hemp, which does not have appreciable amounts of THC. That is the active ingredient in marijuana. Without that, it shouldn’t be considered a controlled substance.

Kevin Chapman, who took over the case not long after Hamda lost his appeal at the North Dakota Supreme Court, said that was the biggest point he wanted to make as well.

“The prosecution never proved anything in his store was actually illegal,” Chapman said. “There was never any testing done to determine whether any of the products being sold contained more than three-tenths of a percent of THC.”

Yet Hamda was arrested anyway, Chapman said.

“His name was splattered across the newspapers and radio that he was some kind of drug-dealing criminal, when he was merely selling CBD products out of his store,” he said.

Chapman said there has been widespread confusion when it comes to CBD oil.

“The bottom line is, that stuff does not create any high,” Chapman said. “You’d get a bigger high from buying extra strength Excedrin. It’s just so silly.”

Two North Dakotans die at Sturgis rally

STURGIS, S.D. — A man and woman from North Dakota died of carbon monoxide poisoning in their makeshift camper at the Sturgis motorcycle rally, bringing the 2019 rally-related death toll from asphyxiation to three, the Rapid City Journal reported.

Meade County Sheriff Ron Merwin identified the couple as Daniel Baker, 55, of Arnegard, N.D., and Donna Cuccia, 58, of Turtle Lake, N.D.

Merwin said authorities discovered the bodies inside an enclosed trailer at the Lamphere Ranch campground east of Sturgis on Monday, Aug. 12.

Merwin said the couple had used the trailer to haul a motorcycle to the rally, then placed a mattress on the floor along with a gas-powered generator to power a cooling fan.

The generator had run out of gas by the time the bodies were discovered, Merwin said.

The two deaths mark the fifth and sixth overall fatalities, including three traffic deaths, attributed to the 2019 rally recorded thus far.

Williston Basin International Airport to feature new restaurant, bar and gift shop

On Oct. 10, if those first passengers arriving at the new Williston Basin International Airport are feeling a little peckish from their flight, they’ll be able to enjoy a quick snack, a full meal or even a nice, frosty cold one at the terminal’s restaurant, bar or concession area, an option current traveler’s at Sloulin Field don’t have.

“A lot of these amenities we don’t have at Sloulin Field,” Economic Development Executive Director Shawn Wenko said in a release. “So they will make XWA a much more attractive facility for both airlines and passengers.”

A news release from Economic Development stated that Florida-based company Oakwells is the airport’s concessionaire. The new airport will be the company’s third site in North Dakota, as they also own and operate the Trestle Tap House at the Minot International Airport and the Red River Valley Tap House at the Grand Forks International Airport. Oakwells has six other sites outside of the state.

At the Williston Basin International Airport, the company will operate the Refinery Kitchen and Bar, named for the region’s many oil and gas processing plants. In a statement given to the Williston Herald, Oakwells’ owner, Michael Reilly, said that his company is looking forward to serving the Williston region as part of the new airport.

“It’s exciting to be a part of a truly beautiful facility,” Reilly said. “It is truly the welcome mat of the community and we are grateful to be a part of that because many times we are either the first impression or the last impression a traveler has of a community.”

The new pub-style restaurant will feature breakfast, lunch and dinner options, including burgers, salads and pizza; as well as a full-service bar. The Refinery will be able to seat a little over 50 people, and will offer a view of the airfield from the bar. Travelers need not worry about missing out due to their flight schedule, as Reilly said the restaurant will be available anytime the airport is open.

“We will be open seven days a week, 365 days a year, as long as the airport is open,” he said. “We will open one hour before the first scheduled departure and close at the last scheduled departure. Typically, we are open from 4:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., but we will accommodate the local schedule.”

Along with the Refinery, the airport’s new terminal will feature grab-and-go snacks, vending machines and a gift shop. The Williston Basin International Airport is scheduled to open on Oct. 10.