5 things to know today: Looser rules, No evidence, Early voting, Zoo wolf, Supply chain
A select rundown of stories found on InForum.
1. North Dakota's in-state investment program needs looser rules, legislative leaders say
North Dakota lawmakers approved a popular proposal last year to invest a chunk of the state's massive oil tax savings account in local companies and ventures, but a major piece of the program still hasn't gotten off the ground.
Legislative leaders now say the rules governing in-state investment must be loosened to allow the program to take flight.
About 3% of the fund is earmarked for emerging local companies, and managers of that money began making investments last year.
But state officials charged with investing the remaining 7% of the fund in North Dakota companies say part of the bill requiring a minimum return on investment has become an obstruction.
The law says in-state investments must yield at least the same return as the five-year average return of all other Legacy Fund investments.
Confining the market to only North Dakota makes it difficult to find investments that are just as sound and profitable as the rest of the Legacy Fund's investments, said Scott Anderson, the chief investment officer at the Retirement and Investment Office.
2. Trooper: No evidence North Dakota teen killed in crash was Republican extremist
Evidence gathered against a 41-year-old man accused of killing an 18-year-old man in northeast North Dakota does not support the defendant’s claims that the teenager was a Republican extremist who called people to come after the suspect before the vehicle-pedestrian crash, a state trooper said.
Investigators continue to gather information and statements from witnesses connected to the Sunday, Sept. 18, death of Cayler Ellingson, who was fatally hit by a vehicle after a street dance in McHenry, a town of roughly 60 people about 50 miles north of Jamestown.
Shannon Joseph Brandt, 41, of Glenfield, North Dakota, was charged Monday in Foster County District Court with criminal vehicular homicide and failure to report the crash immediately to law enforcement.
Brandt acknowledged to law enforcement that he drank alcohol before the crash, according to a criminal complaint. Brandt also allegedly left the scene but returned to call 911, the complaint said. He then returned to his home before officers arrived at the crime scene, according to the complaint.
He told investigators he hit Ellingson because of a political argument, the complaint alleged. The complaint did not give details about the argument, but Brandt allegedly claimed in a 911 call that Ellingson was part of a “Republican extremist group.”
The facts of the case so far do not support Brandt’s claims that he and Ellingson argued about politics or that the teenager was calling for people to come after Brandt, North Dakota Highway Patrol Capt. Bryan Niewind told The Forum on Thursday.
“The North Dakota Highway Patrol has not uncovered any evidence to support that claim that was made by Mr. Brandt,” Niewind said. “There is nothing to corroborate that.”
3. Early voting starts Friday in Clay County
Early voting will kick off across Minnesota on Friday, Sept. 23, and Clay County residents will be able to cast their votes at the Clay County Auditor's Office, 3510 12th Ave. S. in Moorhead.
The Auditor's Office will be open to voters during regular hours, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, with extended hours available Saturday, Nov. 5, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Monday, Nov. 7, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
In Cass County, North Dakota, early voting will begin Oct. 31, with voting centers open on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Voters who choose to wait until Election Day to cast their ballots can vote at their local polling places Tuesday, Nov. 8.
4. Oldest male wolf at Red River Zoo dies
Moose, the oldest male wolf at the Red River Zoo, passed away peacefully on Sunday, Sept. 18, according to a Facebook post by the zoo.
His health had declined suddenly on Sunday morning and, after a vet determined that his heart was failing, he was put to sleep that afternoon surrounded by the staff who cared for him every day.
He first arrived at the zoo in 2008 with his seven litter mates. He was the largest of his siblings, and so he was named Moose.
Zoo staff described Moose as a highly inquisitive animal who loved to chew on just about anything, noting, “After all, he was a wolf!”
As the reluctant pack leader, Moose did well until a new group of pups arrived at the zoo in 2015. Moose was tolerant of the newcomers, the zoo said, but wasn’t completely accepting of their presence.
The Zoo moved him into an adjacent habitat soon after for Moose’s safety and well-being, according to the zoo.
5. Supply chain problems leave brewers feeling tapped out
Breweries are feeling a pinch in cost and availability of supplies.
Due to drought and other bad weather, last year’s crop of barley was smaller than normal nationally. A major supplier of carbon dioxide having to shut off its supply isn’t helping either.
While these are putting pressure on the local craft beer industry, brewers expect to keep things flowing.
Rochester's Kinney Creek Brewing, which has found a niche with off-site sales of seltzers, has also found the price of cans has tripled, said Donovan Seitz, Kinney Creek owner and founder.
In the last year, four of Kinney Creek flavor compounds key to some of their most popular Seltzer drinks went on national back order, Seitz said.
“Currently, I’m still waiting on one to come back and it is one of our No. 1selling seltzer brands,” Seitz said.
Steve Finnie, co-owner of Little Thistle Brewing Co., said supplies he needs are still available but prices are up across the board.