1. Fargo city commission to lower special assessment rates

In discussing what Fargo City Commissioner Tony Gehrig has called one of the most hated "taxes," the city commission on Monday night, Nov. 18, lowered special assessment rates across the city.

The "specials," as many call them, are used for a variety of infrastructure improvements in city neighborhoods such as repaving streets, replacing water and sewer lines, street reconstruction and streetlights. Residents pay specials either in full upon completion of a project or in annual installments on their property tax bill.

Commissioner Tony Grindberg, who chaired a task force that worked on reducing the specials during an 18-month period, called the reductions "dramatic in favor of the taxpayer."

He gave a lot of credit to the North Dakota State Legislature who passed a "Prairie Dog" bill in the past session that spread oil tax revenue farther across the state to help "modernize infrastructure."

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Read more from The Forum's Barry Amundson

2. Propane shortages added to list of problems plaguing farmers

WDAY photo
WDAY photo

This fall's harvest could become even more difficult as the supply of propane in the upper Red River Valley becomes tighter, meaning delays for farmers at a critical time.

Many farmers in the region are currently using propane to dry wet grain, but the normally common fuel is increasingly difficult to find, making a frustrating harvest even tougher as the days go on.

Farmers who need propane may not be getting their deliveries on time. Without the propane, their dryers can't run, causing delays up and down the Valley.

"My main supplier sent out a message that they would not be able to fill any dryers over the weekend and the first part of this week," said Jon Bertsch, a farmer in east-central North Dakota.

Watch the story from WDAY's Ken Chase

3. City of Fargo doubles fines for some traffic violations

Running a stop sign in Fargo, and across North Dakota, used to only carry a fine of $20.

For going 15 mph over the speed limit, the fine was $10.

That's going to change, at least in Fargo, after city commissioners approved doubling the fines for numerous traffic violations on Monday, Nov. 18, on a unanimous vote.

"Traffic is one of the biggest complaints I get," said Police Chief David Todd in presenting the new fine schedule with Assistant City Attorney Nancy Morris at the Fargo City Commission meeting.

The North Dakota State Legislature voted to allow cities to raise fines this past winter.

Todd added that he thought the increased fines could serve as a "deterrent" to some of the traffic issues.

Read more from The Forum's Barry Amundson

4. Moorhead Hornbacher's remembers longtime face at store

Joyce Wright was a longtime fixture at the Moorhead Hornbacher's, where she provided samples to customers. Special to The Forum
Joyce Wright was a longtime fixture at the Moorhead Hornbacher's, where she provided samples to customers. Special to The Forum

At the Main Avenue Hornbacher's in Moorhead, workers set out one of her favorites: cranberry orange bread. They say she could brag up the product like nobody else, and there was never any left to sell at the end of her shift.

For 20 years, Joyce Wright was known as "the sample lady" at the grocery chain's location on Main Avenue. She died Nov. 10 at the age of 95 and was still working part-time.

Now, the longtime face at the store is being remembered and celebrated by her coworkers, who say she had an outgoing personality.

"She was a friend to everyone — she knew everybody," said Jeff Bosak, who manages the Hornbacher's bakery in Moorhead. He and others at the store say there will never be another Joyce and that she has strong ties to the store.

Watch the story from WDAY's Kevin Wallevand

5. LGBTQ people more likely to attempt suicide, but one friend can make the difference

Katrina Koesterman, 33, sits in the Pride Collective and Community Center in Fargo where she works on weekends. Koesterman, who's also president of the group Tri-State Transgender, attempted suicide in 2016. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Katrina Koesterman, 33, sits in the Pride Collective and Community Center in Fargo where she works on weekends. Koesterman, who's also president of the group Tri-State Transgender, attempted suicide in 2016. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

Katrina Koesterman is a leader in the local LGBTQ community, regularly giving others the kind of support she craved as an adolescent. But to get where she is now, it was a journey.

During the summer of 2016, she tried to take her own life as a patient at Prairie St. John's, a psychiatric hospital in Fargo.

Koesterman, a 33-year-old transgender woman, admitted herself due to thoughts of self-harm stemming from the trauma of a past abusive relationship. But she says that's not what spurred her suicide attempt.

When a nurse at the hospital did not use Koesterman's preferred pronouns and used her "dead name," a term describing a birth name that's been changed, this triggered Koesterman, already in crisis.

More from Forum News Service's Kim Hyatt