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5 things to know today: Downtown Moorhead, Drivers needed, Overdose deaths, Walz boost, Summer interns

A select rundown of stories found on InForum.

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A rendering from JLG Architects shows plans for the future of the Moorhead Center Mall. The plan, which encompasses about nine city blocks, was made made public Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022.
Forum file photo
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1. Downtown Moorhead Development to transform Center Mall area, revitalize city center over next 5 years

Redevelopment plans for the 16-acre site mostly occupied by the Moorhead Center Mall and parking lots call for turning it into nine city blocks of apartments, townhomes and condos, shops, restaurants and parking.

The Downtown Moorhead Development was announced Thursday, Aug. 11, at the Hjemkomst center by development partners Roers, JLG Architects, Stantec, Downtown Moorhead Inc. and the city of Moorhead.

As envisioned, the development plan created by Roers would revitalize the downtown area by creating more than 1,200 living spaces, over 100 retail and dining spots and 2,000 parking spaces over the next five years.

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Demolition and construction on the east side of the property — which is mostly parking lot — and west side of the mall — the old Herberger's store and attached parking ramp — could start as soon as fall 2023, said Jim Roers, president of Fargo-based development firm Roers.

Read more from The Forum's Helmut Schmidt

2. Fargo-Moorhead metro schools short on bus drivers as school year approaches

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A school bus advertising for drivers for West Fargo Public Schools is parked at Sandy's Donuts along Main Avenue in West Fargo.
David Samson/The Forum

Half a decade ago, Valley Bus Co. had a surplus of drivers for public school routes.

“They would come in on standby, and even if they didn’t drive, they would get paid anyway. It was a fun social thing. Everyone had coffee and doughnuts, but now we’re scraping to cover the jobs,” said John McLaughlin, general manager of Valley Bus, a company that runs the routes for public schools in Fargo and some in West Fargo.

With 130 bus routes, McLaughlin said the company will be able to provide transportation to students attending Fargo Public Schools, but mechanics and managers will have to take driving shifts to cover all the routes.

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The lack of school bus drivers has been an ongoing issue because, although the job pays about $19.50 an hour, it’s part-time, split-shift work, McLaughlin said, which can’t suit everyone.

“And it’s interesting that we have gotten a lot of applications to come and work for us. But out of every six people who apply, two show up, and of those two, who will work out?” he said.

One theory McLaughlin has is that people are regularly applying for jobs anywhere “to keep their unemployment benefits,” he said.

“Hard to put my finger on it. You could also say that with the social network, we have made it so that people don’t think they need to work, that’s a theory. ... Maybe five or six years ago, the work ethic was stronger and the social network was weaker,” McLaughlin said, attributing the shortage to changes in unemployment benefits partly due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Read more from The Forum's C.S. Hagen

3. 3 overdose deaths in 3 days 'extremely uncommon' for Fargo, police say

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Powdered fentanyl. Illustration by Bobbie Duchamp / Forum News Service

Fargo authorities are warning residents about the dangers of overdoses after three people died in recent days.

The Fargo Police Department responded to two overdose calls each on Saturday, Aug. 6, and Monday, Aug. 8, Criminal Investigations Capt. George Vinson said Thursday. In separate calls on Saturday, a 20-year-old woman and 28-year-old man died after ingesting drugs, the captain said.

Another 20-year-old woman died Monday, Vinson said. In another call, emergency responders were able to save a 26-year-old woman from an overdose after giving her Narcan, a drug used to reverse the impacts of opioids, he said.

“It’s extremely uncommon in the city of Fargo to have three overdose deaths in one weekend,” Vinson said.

Police are investigating what drugs caused the overdoses, Vinson said, but officers suspect counterfeit M30 pills may be involved. Officers do not know of any information that would connect the overdoses.

Read more from The Forum's April Baumgarten

4. Walz says state will continue boosting law enforcement in Twin Cities

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Minnesota’s state public safety agency will maintain an increased presence in the Twin Cities metropolitan area as it continues to help local agencies tackle an increase in crime. But Gov. Tim Walz said the increased costs will not be sustainable without eventual action from the state Legislature.

Joined by Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington and other law officials in downtown Minneapolis, Gov. Tim Walz on Thursday, Aug. 11, told reporters the State Patrol will continue its boosted presence in the Twin Cities. State resources, he said, have led to hundreds of arrests, warrants and illegal guns off the streets.

“Our response that has now been ongoing throughout this year especially is totally unprecedented — the number of folks who are involved in this, the number of missions that we're partaking in, and the results that they're getting,” the governor said.

Last month, the public safety department announced more state patrol troopers would patrol the Twin Cities following a chaotic Fourth of July weekend in Minneapolis that left several injured. Violent crime was not the only concern —20 additional state troopers and air patrols were tasked with tackling street racing in the metro, something Walz said they have successfully curbed.

Read more from Forum News Service's Alex Derosier

5. Sen. John Hoeven announces summer interns

Sara Ziegler, Jack Mehus, Natalia Brama, Senator Hoeven, Ashley Johnson and Quinn Wrigley.
Summer interns are pictured with Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D. From left, Sara Ziegler, Jack Mehus, Natalia Brama, Hoeven, Ashley Johnson and Quinn Wrigley.

U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., announced six interns on Thursday, Aug. 11, that are serving in his offices in Washington and Bismarck.

Alexandra Kindem is interning in Hoeven's Bismarck office, while Ashley Johnson, Jack Mehus, Natalia Brama, Quinn Wrigley and Sara Ziegler are interning in the Republican senator's Washington office this summer.

The internship program "provides college students with a firsthand opportunity to track legislation and assist with research, administrative work, communications and constituent services," according to a news release.

Kindem is a Bismarck native entering her second year at Montana State University. She plans to attend law school after graduation.

Johnson is a West Fargo native entering her junior year at Drake University. She plans to pursue a career in foreign relations.

Read more from Forum News Service's Jeremy Turley

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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A select rundown of stories found on InForum.
Commissioners debated the benefit of the Downtown Engagement Center while Fargo police shared crime reports of the area.