1. Planned mural of Greta Thunberg may be moved to Fargo
Less than two days after an online uproar forced a Bismarck photographer to cancel a 7-foot-tall mural of climate activist Greta Thunberg, a former Fargo city commissioner stepped in to bring the artwork east.
“This is Fargo stepping up to the plate. This is like a phoenix coming out of the ashes, showing the counterbalance to the ugliness. That’s what is important to me,” said photographer Shane Balkowitsch, who uses a bygone process known as wet plate photography.
“I’m glad we’re going to be able to display his art here,” former Fargo city commissioner Mike Williams said.
Williams saw the news about Balkowitsch’s mural, which is to be based on a photograph he took of Thunberg when she visited the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in October, and thought bringing it to Fargo was an opportunity he could not pass up.
2. Fargo's bond rating dips due to elevated debt burden
Moody’s Investors Service downgraded the city of Fargo’s rating for its general obligation debt but also nudged up the bond rating outlook from negative to stable.
The assessment, made last month, came as the city was preparing to go to the bond market as it does regularly to borrow for ongoing infrastructure and other capital projects.
Moody’s downgrade from Aa1 to Aa2 for Fargo’s general obligation debt “primarily reflects an elevated debt burden, which is expected to further increase following upcoming borrowings,” the bond rating service said. “The rating also incorporates high fixed costs relative to operating revenue,” the Moody’s analysts wrote.
3. Defense for Fargo man blinded in one eye: attempted suicide is not a crime
A man who was blinded in one eye after a Fargo police officer shot a pepperball at him during an October confrontation wants one of two charges against him dismissed, arguing that being suicidal is not a crime.
Defense attorney Richard Edinger filed a motion on Tuesday, Feb. 11, in Cass County District Court for a felony charge of terrorizing against 28-year-old Tyler Alexander Patel of Fargo, to be dismissed, asserting that probable cause doesn’t exist. Patel also was charged with preventing arrest for the Oct. 2 incident at the Dacotah Foundation Alternative Care Services building at 1322 Gateway Drive.
There are several components of the terrorizing charge, including that a suspect needs to threaten to commit an act of violence, Edinger said Thursday, Feb. 13, in court.
4. Forecasted Red River flood crest dips, but risks remain
The highest potential crest level for a spring flood on the Red River dipped in the latest flood outlook, but forecasters caution that the risk for significant snow-melt runoff remains "substantial" with a wet late winter and spring expected.
In a good news, bad news presentation, the National Weather Service said Thursday, Feb. 13, there's a 5% chance the Red River at Fargo-Moorhead could crest at 39.9 feet. That's down from a 5% risk of a crest of 40.6 feet predicted in the initial spring flood outlook issued on Jan. 23.
The dip in possible flood level means Fargo-Moorhead now faces a 5% chance of fighting a flood similar to the 1997 flood, 39.72 feet, instead of one comparable to the record 2009 flood, 40.84 feet.
5. Giving Hearts Day shatters record again for fundraising
Giving Hearts Day 2020 had tallied over $19 million in fundraising by early Friday, Feb. 14, shattering its record of $16.3 million last year.
A total of 34,565 people had given as of Friday morning, also well surpassing last year's number of donors.
Known as the "Super Bowl of nonprofits," the event is dedicated to raising funds for local charities. It's hosted each year by Dakota Medical Foundation, Impact Institute and the Alex Stern Family Foundation.
The event took place over most of Thursday and extended into the first hour of Friday morning.