1. ND officials lay groundwork for response to spring flooding
State officials from nearly a dozen agencies, including the Governor’s Office, Department of Emergency Services and North Dakota National Guard, began planning efforts Tuesday, Dec. 3, in anticipation of spring flooding after a record wet fall that has produced high river flows and left soils saturated heading into freeze-up.
“We’re starting flood preparations earlier than normal because these unprecedented wet conditions pose a serious threat to people and property next spring, in addition to the tremendous hardship they’re causing our farmers and ranchers right now,” Gov. Doug Burgum said. “While we can’t predict the weather between now and spring, we’re committed to taking a whole-of-government approach to ensure that our local communities, state agencies and federal partners are best prepared to respond and recover if major flooding occurs.”
The initial coordination meeting at DES headquarters in Bismarck was designed to lay the foundation for a unified approach to flood preparedness, response and recovery efforts. Other participating agencies included the Department of Agriculture, Department of Health, Department of Human Services, Department of Environmental Quality, Highway Patrol, Office of the State Engineer, State Water Commission and the National Weather Service.
2. Fargo Marathon bought by national events company
The Sanford Fargo Marathon has been sold to a national company called Rugged Races with hopes of boosting participation numbers.
The transaction from Fargo Marathon Inc. to Rugged Races was completed last week, said race founder Mark Knutson — who noted runners competing in the 16th annual event next May are not expected to see a difference.
Knutson and cohort Mike Almquist will still run the Sanford Fargo Marathon events, only they are now employees of Rugged Races, which is a division of Gatehouse Live based in Chattanooga, Tenn.
“If there was one thing to describe this transaction, at this point it’s the best thing that could have happened to the Fargo Marathon,” Knutson said. “It will take the Fargo Marathon to the next level at a point when marathons are leveling off. It’s a struggle.”
3. Andrew Armacost selected as next UND president
Andrew Armacost has been chosen as UND's next president.
The State Board of Higher Education chose Armacost on Tuesday, Dec. 3, after spending an hour interviewing each finalist. He takes over for former UND President Mark Kennedy, who was selected to be the president of the University of Colorado system this spring. Joshua Wynne has been serving as UND's interim president since June.
“This is a distinct honor for me,” Armacost told reporters after the meeting. “I’m so proud to be able to be called president of the University of North Dakota. I’ve had the chance over the last two weeks to participate in many meetings with constituencies here at the university, students, faculty, staff, members of the Grand Forks community and what I’ve seen in them is love of the university and a love of the state of North Dakota. I’m honored to be able to take the helm of the university and to really continue to propel it in a direction that will take the university far.”
Armacost, former dean of the faculty at the U.S. Air Force Academy, will be the 13th leader of the university. He will start on or before June 1. His annual salary is $369,800.
4. NDSU settles with contractor over $29.4M project
North Dakota State University plans to pay a construction company to end a lawsuit claiming the school forced the contractor to rush a $29.4 million project, but the amount to be paid out and the terms of the agreement will remain a secret for now.
The State Board of Higher Education voted 6-1 on Tuesday, Dec. 3, to approve a settlement regarding the A. Glenn Hill Center at 1306 Centennial Boulevard, a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) building that opened in January 2016. Once filed, the settlement will close the books on a lawsuit brought almost two years ago by Fargo-based Roers Construction.
Roers, the general contractor for the center, sued NDSU in an attempt to recover $1.3 million, arguing the school forced Roers to incur extra costs to rush the completion of the project by a December 2015 dedication ceremony. Roers also claimed it experienced significant delays due to poor designs, according to court documents.
5. Controversial ND cottage food rules to go into effect Jan. 1
From The Bismarck Tribune via Forum News Service
Disputed rules outlining how and what cottage foods can be sold in North Dakota are to soon become effective, while debate is expected to continue in the 2021 Legislature.
The Legislature’s Administrative Rules Committee met Tuesday and reviewed the rules, which have been criticized as onerous on cottage food sellers. The rules, which take effect Jan. 1, essentially mirror a bill the 2019 Legislature defeated. That bill would have prohibited low-acid home-canned items such as green beans, specified label requirements and required frozen transport for some foods.
The bill sought to clarify a 2017 law that expanded direct-to-consumer sales of uninspected home-baked and canned items. Cottage food producers have said the rules are onerous, and they also have disputed the Health Department’s rule-making authority. State health officials say the law needs clarification on what foods can be sold, to safeguard public health.
Rep. Rick Becker, R-Bismarck, called the rules “quasi-legislation” by the state Department of Health, which he sees as overstepping its authority as an executive agency.