5 things to know today: Demolition project, Driver wages, Paid leave, Heart challenge, Von Maur
A select rundown of stories found on InForum.
1. Demolition project of Fargo high-rise gets $2 million boost to tackle asbestos removal
Before the 22-story Lashkowitz High Rise near downtown Fargo is imploded later this year, building owners must first address the large amounts of asbestos within the aged structure.
Dangerous if disturbed, asbestos fills the structure’s ceiling spray, floor tile and mastic, pipe fittings, structural fireproofing spray, sinks and drywall joint compound, according to a statement from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
To combat the expensive removal process, the EPA awarded $2 million in funding to the Fargo Housing and Redevelopment Authority to help crews remove roughly 923 tons of asbestos from the building and allow the demolition project to move forward.
The announcement on Thursday, May 25, was made on top of the 204-foot structure in the company of Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney, Fargo Housing CEO Chris Brungardt and other project stakeholders.
Read more from The Forum's Melissa Van Der Stad
2. Walz vetoes ride-share driver wage bill after Uber threat to cut back Minnesota service
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has vetoed a bill guaranteeing minimum wages and setting rules for firing ride-share drivers following a warning from Uber that the company would end service in Greater Minnesota and only offer premium ride services in the Twin Cities if the bill passed.
Instead of giving final approval to the bill, Walz on Thursday, May 25, signed an executive order commissioning a study to explore options for the industry to be considered in a later legislative session.
“Rideshare drivers deserve fair wages and safe working conditions. I am committed to finding solutions that balance the interests of all parties, including drivers and riders,” Walz said in a statement. “This is not the right bill to achieve these goals.”
It's Walz’s first veto since taking office in 2019.
Pressure continued to build on the governor to take action on the bill this week, which passed in the final days of the legislative session. He repeatedly told reporters at news conferences that he needed time to fully grasp the bill’s implications before making a decision.
As a crowd of bill supporters rallied outside the governor's office Thursday, ride-share company Uber issued a statement warning it would drastically cut back service in Minnesota.
Read more from Forum News Service's Alex Derosier
3. Walz enacts Minnesota paid family and medical leave plan
Minnesota is officially on the way to creating a tax-funded, state-administered paid family and medical leave program for workers.
Gov. Tim Walz on Thursday, May 25, signed a bill creating a state program that would offer 12 weeks of family leave and 12 weeks of medical leave with a 20-week annual cap. All businesses would be required to participate or offer equivalent benefits. Benefits start in 2026.
Surrounded by lawmakers and advocates who have been working for a decade to establish paid leave in Minnesota, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan said the program is a key piece of the Walz administration’s goal of helping working families and children.
“Everyone deserves paid time away from work, to heal, to grow and to live,” she said. “It's not a 'nice-to-have' — it's a 'must-have' if we truly are going to be the best state in the country to raise a family … when you're ready to come back, your job should still be there.”
Read more from Forum News Service's Alex Derosier
4. Kids at Central Cass raise nearly $22,000 for heart challenge
The promise of an icy, cold bath brought dozens of Central Cass Elementary School students together to raise over $20,000 for the American Heart Association's Heart Challenge.
"It was fun doing that," said third-grader Blake Skunes.
Twins Blake and Abbi Skunes were in the the top tier of winners. Together they raised over $600 for kids with sick hearts, part of the $22,000 raised at Central Cass.
"Happy and sad that the kids (with heart issues) have that," said third-grader Abbi Skunes.
Read more from WDAY's Kevin Wallevand
5. Von Maur Department Store taking over long-empty Herberger's spot at Fargo's West Acres
A Von Maur Department Store is taking over the long empty Herberger’s spot at Fargo’s West Acres Shopping Center, with plans to open in spring of 2025.
The announcement was made jointly by West Acres officials and Von Maur early Thursday, May 25.
West Acres’ CEO Brad Schlossman said the addition of Iowa-based Von Maur is welcome and the result of contacts over many years.
“This is the culmination of a relationship and conversations with Von Maur that have taken place for over a decade,” Schlossman said in a news release. “With only one or two new store openings per year, their opening at West Acres is a major vote of confidence in our region, but even more specifically in West Acres. This is by far the most significant lease at West Acres since the JCPenney wing expansion in 1979.”