Matthew Von Pinnon
Von Pinnon is editor of The Forum.
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When the Red River Zoo opens for the season Saturday, new roads and sewers leading to it will be the farthest thing from Geoffrey Hall's mind. Still, as executive director of the Fargo zoo, Hall knows the cost of recent street improvements won't go away. "Right now we have to focus on giving everyone the best attraction we can," he said Wednesday.
A South Dakota company is disputing the process Fargo uses to accept bids for removing asbestos from the Civic Memorial Auditorium. Attorney Adam Hamm, representing Enviro Safe Air of North Sioux City, told city commissioners Monday his client was the low bidder, but was not awarded the project because of an ill-defined clause in state law. City officials rejected Enviro Safe Air's $348,000 bid because it was not contained in a separate envelope routinely used to maintain the secrecy and integrity of all bids.
Good fences make good neighbors. That line made popular by poet Robert Frost's "Mending Wall" was on the winning side of a 3-2 vote Monday by Fargo city commissioners. Three of five commissioners decided Monday to begin the process of building a privacy fence between disputing landowners in south Fargo. In a precedent-setting move, the city will for the first time consider building and maintaining a fence on private property and having the cost of doing so assessed to those who want it.
MINNEAPOLIS - Lisa Grant walks her 6-month-old border collie around the block at a feverish pace. She's stopped home from a day of teaching English as a Second Language and has just a few moments to walk Ruby before returning to teach a night class. Grant has a lot on her mind, but the housing project for chronic alcoholics a half block away is not one of them. "I'm glad the residents are here," she says, adding she is a recovering alcoholic and may be more sympathetic to their plight than others.
Fargo has a lot to learn before it is ready to build a "wet house," City Commissioner Rob Lynch said Friday after returning from a one-day visit to two such facilities in Minneapolis. Lynch met with Anishinabe Wakiagun director Kelby Grovender Thursday, then sat outside that and another wet house to watch and learn from their goings-on outside. "It's the same thing I do in Fargo when we deal with a zoning issue," Lynch said.
Minneapolis - Cigarette smoke and laughter spill from Room 310, where Frank and Gene have stopped in on Anna to pass the time and a bottle of booze. "We all share the same spirit," says Gene, lost on the irony of his statement. It's not even 4 p.m. and the three have been drinking for hours -- how many they do not know. Time is measured by empty bottles at Anishinabe Wakiagun, a Minneapolis supportive housing project for chronic public inebriates. A similar facility meant to house homeless alcoholics has been proposed for Fargo.
The future home of Fargo's "wet house'' remains hazy. The Fargo Housing Authority is searching for alternative sites for the facility while an appeal to a Planning Commission-approved site is on hold. City commissioners will, for now, not hear an appeal based upon the Housing Authority's search for a new location. "Rather than schedule a public hearing to approve a site that may be withdrawn, I'm going to delay scheduling the hearing until the Housing Authority has time to review site options," Fargo Planning Director Jim Gilmour wrote Anita Cruz, a neighbor
Minneapolis police responded to Anishinabe Wakiagun more than 1,000 times in the past five years or, on average, more than a call every other day. Most of the 1,005 calls from 1997 to 2002 were related to providing medical service, investigating suspicious behavior or ridding unwanted visitors to the 40-unit housing project for chronic alcoholics at 1600 19th St.
Fargo, like at least a dozen other Midwestern river cities, has been called the Gateway to the West. Now, after 127 years of growing mostly north and south, it is finally headed in that direction. "The more we can get people to go west, the better," Fargo Mayor Bruce Furness said. The reason: The more elongated a city becomes, the more difficult and costly it is to provide water, sewage and emergency services to those living on its fringes. It means more fire stations, perhaps a police precinct, a new water tower and another sewage treatment facility.
If there is one time and place on earth that decency and decorum should rule, it's at a funeral. So what are we to do with hatemongers who assemble near cemeteries and places of worship with signs and shouts of "Good riddance," "God hates you" and other despicable displays of free speech? The Supreme Court has agreed to wade into these murky waters, and now North Dakota is one of 13 states that have joined the Kansas attorney general in supporting the argument that the right of free speech should be curtailed at or near funerals. It's a classic case of clashing U.S. rights and ideals.