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5 things to know today: Herberger's, MATBUS, DAPL, Political maps, Medicaid expansion

A select rundown of stories found on InForum.

Dave Zibolski
Fargo Chief of Police Dave Zibolski. Chris Flynn / The Forum

1. West Acres mall owners purchase vacant Fargo Herberger's building at auction, plan to redevelop property

The ownership group of the West Acres Shopping Center has purchased the former Herberger’s department store building and plans to redevelop the spot where the former retail favorite now stands.

West Acres Adjacent Properties, whose members mirror the ownership of West Acres Development, was the only bidder for the property in a mid-November auction by a consortium of banks that owned the property.

The winning bid of $725,000 was also the minimum bid for the auction, though other costs related to the sale brought the total cost to about $760,000, Brad Schlossman, CEO of West Acres Development said Tuesday, Jan. 4.

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Read more from The Forum's Helmut Schmidt

2. Driver shortage prompts temporary reduction in MATBUS services

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A shortage of drivers has prompted a temporary reduction in MATBUS services in the Fargo-Moorhead area.
File photo.


An ongoing shortage of drivers is prompting a temporary change to MATBUS service, according to Cole Swingen, assistant transit director for the city of Fargo.

As a result of the driver shortage, all MATBUS fixed routes and MATBUS Paratransit services will end daily at 9:45 p.m. starting Monday, Jan. 10.

The change represents a temporary reduction in hours from the current service end time of 11:15 p.m.

The change will be in effect until further notice, though it is expected to last through May at the earliest.

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Swingen said the reason for the driver shortage is the same as it is elsewhere around the country — companies and agencies that need drivers are competing for a relatively small pool of workers, and those able to pay the most tend to attract the most drivers.

Read more from The Forum's Dave Olson

3. Judge rules trove of DAPL security documents are public record

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Protesters march along the pipeline route during a protest against the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in St. Anthony, N.D., Nov. 11, 2016. Stephanie Keith / Reuters

Documents pertaining to a partnership between operators of the Dakota Access Pipeline and a private security company during the protests at Standing Rock five years ago are public record, a North Dakota judge ruled last week.

The decision, issued Friday, Dec. 31, by District Court Judge Cynthia Feland, denied an effort by the Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, the parent company of Dakota Access, to reclaim roughly 16,000 documents pertaining to its partnership with the private security contractor TigerSwan on the grounds that they contain confidential and proprietary information.

Until last week’s ruling, the state-held records were shielded under a temporary restraining order issued during the court proceedings.

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The TigerSwan documents have been at the heart of two parallel lawsuits in North Dakota, which were merged by Feland. In the first case, Energy Transfer Partners attempted to recover the records from the North Dakota Private Investigation and Security Board by suing the state board and TigerSwan. In the second, First Look Institute, publisher of the nonprofit news outlet The Intercept, sued the state board in an effort to access the records. 

Read more from The Forum's Adam Willis

4. After hearing final arguments, Minnesota judges start work of redrawing state's political maps

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T10.19.2021 -- Steve Kuchera -- 102121.N.DNT.RedistrictingPanelC2 -- Judge Jodi L. Williamson, left, listens as presiding Judge Louise D. Bjorkman talks to the audience near the end of the hearing Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune

A Minnesota court panel on Tuesday, Jan. 4, heard oral arguments from political parties, voting rights groups and advocates for boosting the voices of people of color ahead of a deadline next month to redraw the state's voting districts.

The changes could impact Minnesotans' political representation at the state Capitol and in Congress and impact voting districts for a decade. It was the last chance for the groups to weigh in on what Minnesota's voting districts should look like before the group of judges goes to the drawing board.

And their requests to the panel varied significantly, with some urging the judges to stay close to the status quo, while others said they should shift congressional and state legislative boundaries to match the changes tracked in "human geography."

Read more from Forum News Service's Dana Ferguson

5. South Dakotans to decide Medicaid expansion in November election

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Monument Health in Rapid City, S.D.
File photo

South Dakota voters will play a decisive role in a longstanding health care debate, whether to expand Medicaid at the ballot box later this year.

The Rushmore State, a deeply red political bastion, has long been one of the remaining holdouts from the federal low-income health care program. But on Monday, Secretary of State Steve Barnett announced that he'd validated the petitions for the Medicaid expansion measure, which will appear on the November ballot as Amendment D.

Leaders of the petition push, backed by a coalition of health care organizations , including the state's largest hospital systems Sanford and Avera, cheered the Monday, Jan. 3, announcement.

"It will boost our economy, save rural hospitals, create jobs, help ensure hard working South Dakotans don't drown in medical debt, and bring our hard earned tax dollars home," said Zach Marcus, campaign manager. for South Dakotans Decide Healthcare.

Read more from Forum News Service's Christopher Vondracek

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A select rundown of stories found on InForum.