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5 things to know today: Storm damage, Research project, Ravnsborg impeached, DFL party, Website update

A select rundown of stories found on InForum.

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Storm clouds are illuminated by the setting sun as they pass over the metro area on Monday, June 20, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum
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1. Monday's storm toppled trees, knocked out power, left 1 dead

A severe thunderstorm late Monday and early Tuesday swept across North Dakota and Minnesota, killing at least one person and leaving a trail of power outages and damage in its wake.

Most of the storm damage occurred in rural areas like Oxbow, Hickson, Kindred, Horace and in Sabin, which saw wind gusts up to 86 mph, said Nathan Rick, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Rainfall totaling 0.55 inches and wind gusts reaching 70 mph also hit near Hector International Airport in Fargo, Rick said.

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Xcel Energy crews were out Monday night working to restore power to customers in parts of Fargo, Barnesville, Dilworth and other areas.

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

2. North Dakota higher ed board committee discusses Energy and Environmental Research Center project

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Members of the North Dakota Board of Higher Education’s Budget and Finance Committee gave an early nod for a project at UND to upgrade the facilities used by the Energy and Environmental Research Center.

The proposed project, funded by $25 million in bonds, would demolish and replace six buildings operated by the EERC on UND’s campus with one new advanced materials processing facility that could better accommodate the renewable energy research conducted by the EERC. It would also upgrade the EERC’s primary electrical distribution system.

Jed Shivers, outgoing vice president of finance and operations at UND, explained that the EERC is reaching limitations to research due to the age of its current facility.

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“This will enable them to continue in their growth, so from an economic perspective, we feel very confident about their ability to service this bond,” Shivers said.

Charles Gorecki, CEO of the EERC, said that by demolishing the six buildings, which range from 44 to 72 years in age, the EERC would reduce deferred maintenance costs by $360,000 per year for the next 10 years. The new facility would be designed to accommodate current research needs and future developments in clean energy research.

Read more from Forum News Service's Ingrid Harbo

3. SD Senate votes to remove Attorney General

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Jason Ravnsborg

Jason Ravnsborg is no longer South Dakota's Attorney General.

The decision came Tuesday evening after the South Dakota Senate voted 24-9 (with two excused) to convict Ravnsborg on articles of impeachment for crimes committed in office.

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A second vote on a separate article, alleging malfeasance committed in office, passed the Senate by a much larger majority with a 31-2 vote.

Beyond being stripped of his job, lawmakers made their thoughts known, voting unanimously twice to disqualify Ravnsborg from ever holding an office of trust in the state again.

Read more from Forum News Service's Hunter Dunteman

4. Democratic National Committee to weigh early Minnesota presidential primary this week

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Sam Eberhart, right, signs the voter roll as his daughter, Bridey, 3, leans against him at during the 2018 Minnesota primary election at Nativity of Our Lord Catholic Church in St. Paul on Tuesday, Aug.14, 2018. Helping Eberhart is election volunteer Simon Carvalho. (John Autey / Pioneer Press)

The Democratic Party has chosen Minnesota as a finalist to host an early presidential primary as party leadership reassesses which states hold the early electoral contests that can end up shaping the major parties’ nominees for the nation’s highest office.

Seventeen state Democratic parties are advocating for the change with the Democratic National Committee as many begin to question whether primarily white, rural states such as Iowa and New Hampshire should continue to kick off the primary season as the country becomes more demographically diverse.

Minnesota’s next presidential primary is scheduled to take place on March 5, 2024, but that could change after a key body of the DNC is set to meet in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday and Thursday, June 22 and 23, to take up the issue. A decision could come as soon as this August, according to Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party Chair Ken Martin, who sits on the DNC committee tasked with assessing which states should have primaries first.

Minnesota’s 2020 presidential primary was on March 3, a date shared with 14 other states. Iowa historically begins the process with its caucuses in late January or early February, and is followed by primaries in New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina. Martin said Minnesota is a strong candidate to kick off the primaries, in part due to its high rate of civic engagement and volunteerism.

Read more from Forum News Service's Alex Derosier

5. North Dakota updates sex offender website

Drew Wrigley
North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley

North Dakota has updated its sex offender website to make finding information easier, the state’s lead law enforcement official said Tueday, June 21.

Attorney General Drew Wrigley announced the rollout of the new features in a news release. The improvements include displaying a map that shows the location of an offender’s address. It also includes photos, search functions and offense descriptions for all offenders, the release said.

Before the update, photos, search functions and offense description only existed for high-risk or lifetime offenders. People previously complained the site was difficult to search for some offenders, particularly those who didn’t have a risk level, Wrigley said in a statement.

Read more from The Forum's April Baumgarten

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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