DC school faces budget cuts
The loss of oil tax revenue has tensions running high as the Divide County School Board struggles with how to make ends meet.
More than a dozen students, parents and teachers attended the board’s April 8 meeting to express their opposition to proposed cuts to the high school music program.
Board Member Jessica Busch said a steering committee has considered reducing the band program in order to avoid hiring one replacement teacher.
But students, parents and other school district patrons voiced their opposition. Board members expressed dislike for the move, too, but said they must make difficult choices in the face of lost revenue.
Board President Pete Fagerbakke suggested patrons talk to legislators about restoring the funding.
The loss of oil money began this school year as revisions to the state’s school-funding formula took away 75 percent of the state oil aid that Divide County had been receiving. In addition, the district’s claim to 35 percent of local oil and gas tax revenue went down to 5 percent.
At the same time, expenses have increased due to added enrollment. All of this led to a budget shortfall of more than $700,000 this year.
The Journal, Crosby
Ray starting police
Ray City Commissioners took another step toward establishing a police department when they voted to extend a job offer to a prospective officer.
Law Enforcement Commissioner Travis Rettig said the candidate, Richard Allen Anderson, is very interested in doing small-town community police work.
“He is interested in being in the community,” Rettig said.
The salary offer will be in the range of $45,000 a year, plus housing and city utilities.
Rettig warned the commission it would be important to extend an offer before the candidate pursues other opportunities.
“If we don’t hire him, Tioga will,” Rettig said.
In addition to approving the offer, the commission voted to approve $15,000 from the general fund for the officer’s initial equipment.
The commission also agreed to consult with the officer, if he accepts the job, on a suitable vehicle, which is expected to cost around $36,000.
A half-percent sales tax that went into effect April 1, will be used to pay for the police department.
Previously, Ray relied on the Williams county Sheriff’s Department for services.
Before Garrison Dam created Lake Sakakawea, Elbowoods was a major point for crossing the Missouri River.
Today, Elbowoods sleeps under the waters of the lake. But a group is studying whether this historic crossing can be reborn, not as a bridge but as a ferry service.
VisionWestND is a consortium of local, county and state agencies and organizations that is working on a comprehensive plan of action for the 2015 North Dakota Legislature to address the needs of the oil and gas producing counties.
After 18 months, the group is wrapping up its work.
Before it does, though, the consortium plans to answer one more question: can a ferry operate successfully on Lake Sakakawea?
--Mountrail County Record, Parshall
Alexander bypass started
Gov. Jack Dalrymple and Department of Transportation Director Grant Levi joined other state and local leaders this month at ground-breaking ceremonies for a bypass around Alexander.
“We are committed to continuing to address the impacts of rapid growth in western North Dakota, and a key part of those efforts is to ensure that the region’s roadways are safe and the truck traffic on its Main Street is reduced,” Dalrymple said.
Traffic reports show that nearly 12,000 vehicles pass through Alexander on U.S. 85 each day.
The two-lane highway through Alexander slows to 25 miles per hour at the heart of the town, though vehicles have been reported to be cruising through at speeds approaching 60 miles per hour.
From 2010 to 2012, there was a 53 percent increase in traffic through Alexander, Levi said, and it’s only increased since then.
The new 3.7 mile long bypass will re-route U.S. 85 traffic to the west of Alexander.
McKenzie County Farmer, Watford City
Kenmare project fails again
A second bond issue in five months that would have allowed for Kenmare School District expansion, has failed.
On Tuesday voters turned down a request for a $7.5 million bond issue that was earmarked for a new gymnasium, five classrooms and a new vo-ag building.
Fifty-seven percent of voters said yes to the bond issue but it needed 60 percent to pass. A total of 243 patrons voted in favor and 186, or 43 percent voted no.
In November 2013, the Kenmare School Board asked voters to consider a $14 million bond issue that eventually failed by an 11 percent margin.
At that time the board went back to the table, made numerous changes to create a better scale of economy, but came up with a plan that would have satisfied the need of a growing student population.
Kenmare School Board President Jan Kostad called the vote discouraging, not only because similar bond issues passed in Minot and Lewis & Clark, but because there are legitimate needs, especially in the elementary
$15 million bond issue OK’d
Patrons in the Lewis & Clark School District say it’s time to make some changes to modernize the school system.
Voters passed a $15 million bond issue that will allow the district to construct a high school addition to the Plaza Elementary School. When construction is complete in a couple of years, the high school in Makoti will close and students will attend classes in Plaza.
Berthold will see major changes as well. New classroom space will be added, kitchen and cafeteria areas will be expanded and locker rooms and multi-purpose space will be expanded to accommodate a growing student population.
A weight room for athletes and a greenhouse for vo-ag students will be relocated.
Sixty-eight percent of voters approved borrowing up to $15 million with a secondary vote that will increase the school’s debt limit by 5 percent for the life of the loan.
The Kenmare News
Taking control of their future
Many residents of Ray believe their quality of life has suffered since the oil boom has swelled the city’s population far beyond the 600 counted in the 2010 Census.
But residents got a chance to voice their visions for the future during three days of meetings held as CTA Planning Group puts the finishing touches on a comprehensive plan for the community.
The plan will include suggestions for retail, office, zoning and community improvements to improve the quality of life in Ray. The hope is, as private developers take interest in Ray, the plan will help guide the city towards smart growth.
The concept was developed with the input from city officials and provides guidance to address traffic and housing problems, economic development issues, zoning questions, as well as the need for beautification.
The final plan will be presented to the Ray City Commission in late June.
Lots more boom before bust
According to four analysts who recently re-evaluated the future of the Bakken and Three Forks shale play, the Williston area – which includes Divide, McKenzie and Williams counties – will see a lot more oil boom before a bust.
The experts are calling for the boom to continue through about 2039, a decade longer than predicted just last year.
Since last year’s predictions, they are also calling for 14,000 more jobs, 14,000 more permanent housing units, and 30,000 more people to come into the area through 2039. This will jump the population of the region by about 73,000 -- above the current 51,000 population -- these experts claim.
And despite what appears to be a slow-down this winter, the oil boom, they claim, isn’t likely to start showing signs of its first bust until about 2022 at the earliest.
The report is the result of a collaboration by four parties: Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms; N.D. Pipeline Authority Director Justin Kringstad; and NDSU researchers Nancy Hodur and Dean Bangsund.
The Journal, Crosby