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5 things to know today: NODAK LLC, Commissioner-elect, Cannabis industry, Property dispute, GAR Hall

A select rundown of stories found on InForum.

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1. Armacost says UND hockey coach had no conflict of interest concerning daughter’s ownership of NODAK LLC

UND President Andrew Armacost said UND hockey coach Brad Berry was under no conflict of interest connected to his daughter’s previous status as registered agent of NODAK LLC.

As previously reported by the Herald on Thursday, UND conducted negotiations with NODAK LLC, which transferred sole ownership of the trademark to the university. According to a press release from UND, the university has never been required to pay royalties to NODAK for use of the mark on its jerseys, and no financial transaction was involved during the transfer of the trademark back to UND.

UND's press release came after questions were raised Thursday about the relationship between NODAK, Berry and the university concerning the trademark.

Armacost appeared on Forum Communications columnist Rob Port’s “Plain Talk” podcast on Friday, and said all of UND and the North Dakota State University System’s protocols were followed concerning NODAK LLC’s relationship with UND.

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“When we have a potential conflict of interest with a UND employee, that employee meets with their supervisor, and handles the matter internally, which is exactly how this situation was handled,” Armacost said.

Read more from Forum News Service's Joe Banish

2. Walsh County commissioner-elect resigns following crash that killed sugar beet executive

 Christopher Thompson.jpeg
Christopher Thompson<br/>
Walsh County Jail

A Grafton man who was elected last month to the Walsh County Commission has decided he won't take the seat after police said he was drunk when he crashed his vehicle and killed a sugar beet executive just days after the election.

Christopher Ryan Thompson, 46, submitted his resignation Nov. 22, Walsh County Auditor Kris Molde confirmed Friday, Dec. 2, to The Forum. He was slated to be sworn in on Tuesday, Dec. 6, when the commission met.

The resignation comes less than a month after Thompson was charged in Walsh County District Court with driving under the influence vehicular homicide and causing an injury while driving under the influence. Thompson hit a tree when he was driving a 2022 GMC Yukon on Nov. 12 about 4 miles east of Edinburg, North Dakota, according to the North Dakota Highway Patrol.

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The crash killed Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association Treasurer Jason Schatzke, who was one of six passengers in the vehicle. The Wheatland, North Dakota, man was 48 years old.

The Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association represents roughly 2,700 sugar beet growers in North Dakota and Minnesota who cooperatively own American Crystal Sugar Co.

Thompson’s passenger, Rodney Olson, 57, of Halstad, Minnesota, suffered minor injuries. Thompson and three other people in the vehicle were not injured, the Highway Patrol said.

Officers said they detected a strong odor of alcohol coming from Thompson, according to a criminal complaint. Thompson acknowledged having five or six beers throughout the night, according to the complaint.

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Court documents said Thompson consented to doing a blood draw to determine his blood alcohol content, but his BAC level was not stated in the documents.

Thompson faces a maximum of 25 years in prison if convicted of both charges. His first appearance in court is scheduled for Dec. 13.

Read more from The Forum's April Baumgarten

3. Electoral failure could mean hard times for South Dakota's cannabis industry

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When the regulatory structure for medicinal marijuana in South Dakota became ready for patients, businesses and doctors over a year ago, many entrepreneurs entered the burgeoning space, many of them likely banking on voters approving the adult-use cannabis measure on the Nov. 8, 2022 ballot.

However, with that initiative rejected by voters, and a more than two-year minimum wait before adult-use cannabis can be passed in 2024 and regulated in the following legislative session, the plans for those behind the 96 registered dispensaries and dozens of cultivation centers in the state have changed.

“A lot of them are going to go belly up,” said Rep. Ernie Otten, vice chair of the summer study committee that looked at ways to improve the rollout of the state’s medical program.

The reason for that is a simple math problem. As of Nov. 28, 5,300 South Dakotans have been approved for patient cards. Between Oct. 17 and Nov. 28, the number of patient cards grew by 30%. Suppose patient cards continue to climb and reach 10,000 by the middle of next year, which would be more than the 6,000 patients that Rep. Otten said the legislature expected when setting up the program.

While the actual annual average spend varies by state, in Arkansas, which has a medical program but no adult use, the average medical patient is projected to have spent just over $3,000 on cannabis this year.

In that case, a rough estimate of the statewide medical market could be $30 million annually, not nearly enough for 96 dispensaries to both keep up with costs and return profits to their investors.

“Our business has the resources to sustain itself for a while, and we're going to be OK, but there's going to be a lot of those dispensaries probably not making it across the finish line,” Emmett Reistroffer, the manager of the Genesis Farms brand, which has licenses for 10 dispensaries, a manufacturing center and a cultivation center in South Dakota. “I would suspect some of them were probably folks that got into the industry hoping for recreational. They didn’t get it, and now they have to go back to the drawing board.”

Read more from Forum News Service's Jason Harward

4. Fargo man refuses to leave century-old home slated for demolition

A man in a jacket and glasses looks dejected as he stands outside a gray house.
Dan Curtis stands Nov. 28, 2022, outside his home at 924 5th St. S., which Fargo officials have ordered to be demolished.
Michael Vosburg / The Forum

One man stands against Fargo's efforts to demolish a home, still residing inside the house he's owned for 35 years despite orders to vacate.

Neighbors are begging the city to have the home demolished, saying the property, owned by Danial Curtis, and its occupants have repeatedly put the Hawthorne neighborhood through distress.

A notice of the dangerous building was posted in July, and the city ordered the occupants to vacate the premises, giving Curtis 30 days to either demolish the property or obtain a permit to repair it.

The Fargo City Commission declared the home a dangerous building on Sept. 19 and ordered the building be removed by Nov. 18.

Curtis refused.

He still lives in the house despite the large fence the city has erected around it; the repair and demolition deadline has passed.

An ongoing civil court case over the property's fate is further complicated by criminal trespassing charges Curtis now faces for remaining in the house.

Read more from The Forum's Melissa Van Der Stad

5. Before there were American Legions or VFWs, Civil War veterans built this place in Minnesota

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GAR Hall, which houses the Meeker County Museum, was initially constructed in 1885. Today, the Meeker County Historical Society is the caretaker of the building on Marshall Avenue in Litchfield. The Meeker County Museum is attached to the back of the building, and was built in 1961.
Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

Since its construction in 1885 by the Grand Army of the Republic veterans, GAR Hall in Litchfield, Minnesota, remains the same as it was when being used by the Civil War veterans who built it as a place to gather, connect and socialize.

“The building itself is the first GAR hall built in the state,” said GAR Hall and Meeker County Museum Executive Director Danelle Erickson. While there were other posts and groups throughout the state, they would use pre-existing buildings or gather in homes. “It’s kind of almost a precursor to the VFW, American Legion, that kind of thing. It was kind of a way for the soldiers to stay connected.”

Currently, Erickson and the Meeker County Historical Society are waiting to hear if GAR Hall will be granted National Landmark status; it is already on the National Register of Historic Places. There are only 25 National Landmarks in Minnesota.

Today, there is only one other GAR Hall still in existence in the state, Erickson said. “So, it’s kind of the first and the last in a way,” she said of GAR Hall in Litchfield. The other remaining hall is located in Mower County.

Read more from Forum News Service's Jennifer Kotila

Our newsroom occasionally reports stories under a byline of "staff." Often, the "staff" byline is used when rewriting basic news briefs that originate from official sources, such as a city press release about a road closure, and which require little or no reporting. At times, this byline is used when a news story includes numerous authors or when the story is formed by aggregating previously reported news from various sources. If outside sources are used, it is noted within the story.
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