5 things to know today: Voters decide, Pembina Gorge, Minimum wage, Downtown crane, Nostalgic tunes

A select rundown of stories found on InForum.

Students eat lunch in the commons of Horace High School on Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021, in Horace, North Dakota. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Forum Communications Co.

1. Voters to decide on $133 million bond referendum for West Fargo Public Schools this fall

In four months West Fargo voters will decide whether to approve a $133.4 million bond referendum for building expansions and upgrades the district says is needed to keep up with explosive growth.

The West Fargo School Board on Monday, May 22, unanimously approved sending the recommended bond referendum to voters on Sept. 26.

Projects included in the referendum were recommended by a "long-range facilities task force" comprised of community and district members who met once a month starting in late 2022 to decide on what needs the district should consider in a future bond. Proposed projects would be added to the referendum if it received 80% approval.


Superintendent Beth Slette on Monday said the task force was the "largest we've had in our history," comprising of parents, community members and leaders from West Fargo, Fargo and Moorhead.

"We only ask taxpayers for the money when we know that we need it in the next five years," Business Manager Levi Bachmeier said.

Read more from The Forum's Wendy Reuer

2. Pembina Gorge to become North Dakota's 14th state park

Riders decend into the Pembina Gorge
Riders decend into the Pembina Gorge in northeastern North Dakota during the annual Wallhalla Ridge Riders Trail Ride. John Stennes / Forum Communications
Tom Stromme / The Bismarck Tribune

For the first time in more than 30 years, North Dakota will soon have a new state park.

The Pembina Gorge State Recreation Area will become North Dakota’s 14th state park, Gov. Doug Burgum's office announced on Monday, May 22. The most recent state park developed in North Dakota was Cross Ranch State Park near Center, which opened in 1989.


"The Pembina Gorge is one of North Dakota’s most beautiful areas, offering an incredible array of recreational activities including canoeing, hiking, biking, horseback riding, skiing, snowmobiling, hunting and birdwatching. Establishing our 14th state park in the Pembina Gorge will elevate its status as a must-see destination and provide additional opportunities for visitors from North Dakota and beyond to experience all that this special area has to offer,” Burgum said in the announcement.

The announcement comes after the North Dakota Legislature approved $6 million for the northeast North Dakota recreation area during the 2023 legislative session.

The $6 million approved by the Legislature, matched by $2 million from a federal Land and Water Conservation Fund grant, will be used to develop a 35-site campground, six all-season cabins, a comfort station, shop, seasonal staff accommodations, roads and underground utilities. In the future, a visitor center, indoor and outdoor learning areas, retail and office spaces could be constructed.

Read more from Forum News Service's Ingrid Harbo

3. Minimum wage for Uber, Lyft drivers awaits action from Walz

Tim Walz.jpg
Gov. Tim Walz

A bill guaranteeing a minimum wage and setting rules on firing for ride-share drivers has passed in both the Minnesota Senate and House, but will it become law?


After a final Senate vote Sunday night, May 21, base pay rates for miles and time for Uber and Lyft drivers are now on their way to the governor’s desk for final approval. So far, Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat, has not said what he plans to do.

Ride-share companies oppose the bill and are urging the governor to veto it. Backers say it's crucial to provide a living wage and basic employee protections for drivers, who are “gig workers” paid by companies under contract and lack similar protections to full-time employees.

“The purpose of this bill is to correct a serious problem, an injustice and an abusive situation that exists toward drivers,” said Sen. Omar Fateh, DFL-Minneapolis, who introduced the legislation. 

As he introduced the bill for final passage in the Senate on Sunday night, Fateh said the cost of fuel and vehicles combined with lower compensation rates than in the past mean drivers are struggling.

Read more from Forum News Service's Alex Derosier

4. 550-ton crane wraps up work at Bell Bank complex downtown

This 550-ton crane is coming down after a 5-week stay at the new Bell Bank complex on Main Avenue in Fargo. The crane used 551,000 pounds of counterweights during the moving of pre-cast slabs for the new level of a parking ramp.
Kevin Wallevand / WDAY News

People have returned to the site, daily, watching and listening to a gigantic crane at work at the future headquarters of Bell Bank on Main Avenue in Fargo.


Construction workers said they've never seen a machine this big on a project in the FM area.

But on Monday, May 22, crews began to dismantle the huge crane. Its job is done.

Some of the crane's biggest fans were also some of the littlest. Toddlers from the Fercho YMCA.

Vic's Crane and Heavy Haul brought the crane in for the last four weeks to help hoist and put in place pre-cast concrete sections for the extra level on the parking ramp near the new Bell Bank building under construction off Main Avenue.

"It is a big presence on the skyline, so people are curious and they want to come down and see it. When you get up close, it is a massive machine," said Al Gilbertson of Vic's Crane.


Read more from WDAY's Kevin Wallevand

5. Chicago's nostalgic tunes from 'Old Days' prove a 'Hard Habit to Break' at band's return to Bluestem Sunday

Chicago live 2022 - credit Allison Morgan.jpg
Finn Harrison / WDAY News.

James Pankow put down the trombone a couple of times Sunday night to address fans at the packed Chicago show at Moorhead's Bluestem Amphitheater.

“Hopefully we’ll play the songs you came to hear, at least the ones we can remember,” Pankow quipped early in the show.

The packed crowd approved of the night’s song selection, which was was largely the same as when the group first played Bluestem in 2019 and played the Fargodome in 2013. Fans would have only been let down if they really wanted to hear 1988’s “Look Away,” but nobody seemed upset that the song had been cut.

Not surprisingly, the group drew heavily from its early years in the late 1960s and early ’70s. While Chicago has released 26 studio albums, of the 24 songs Sunday night’s setlist, 10 came from the first two albums and only three came after the group’s 10th album.


Read more from The Forum's John Lamb

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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