1. Former Fargo deputy chief likely won't face criminal charges connected to riot

A former Fargo police officer likely won’t face criminal charges connected to his unauthorized undercover work during a protest last month.

In a statement provided to media, Chief David Todd said ex-Deputy Chief Todd Osmundson’s actions during the May 30 protests in downtown Fargo “do not warrant further criminal investigation, because of the fact others engaging in similar conduct in plain view on May 30 were also not investigated.”

Todd was referring to questions about whether the Fargo Police Department had forwarded any investigatory material to city prosecutors or the Cass County State’s Attorney’s Office after Osmundson admitted to drinking a beer downtown during the protest and shouting obscenities at police, according to an internal investigation.

Read more from The Forum's April Baumgarten

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2. Replacement Lady Liberty erected near Veterans Memorial Bridge

Donn Diedrich reaches to help install a new bronze miniature replica of "The Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World" with Andrew Caprio Monday, June 29, west of the Main Avenue Bridge, Fargo. The previous statue was stolen last year. The new statue has security features to prevent theft. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Donn Diedrich reaches to help install a new bronze miniature replica of "The Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World" with Andrew Caprio Monday, June 29, west of the Main Avenue Bridge, Fargo. The previous statue was stolen last year. The new statue has security features to prevent theft. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

The Veterans Memorial Bridge between Fargo and Moorhead has a new Lady Liberty.

The new statute, put in place Monday morning, June 29, replaces a statue stolen in July 2019.

The original statue was donated to the city more than 70 years ago by the Boy Scouts of America and the Fargo Lions Club.

Numerous searches failed to find the missing statue or whoever stole it and the city commissioned a replacement paid for with a single private donation. Officials said the donor wished to remain anonymous.

Read more from The Forum's Dave Olson

3. What will school look like this fall in North Dakota? Some clues emerge

Davies High School teacher David Schultz and his son Grayden, a fifth-grader, on April 1 — the first day of distance learning. Forum file photo
Davies High School teacher David Schultz and his son Grayden, a fifth-grader, on April 1 — the first day of distance learning. Forum file photo

With about a month and a half until many North Dakota public schools start, officials are planning to give school districts more control over the decision to pursue in-person or remote instruction based on the prevalence of COVID-19 in their area.

These updated recommendations have not yet been made public, and the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction and the governor's office plan to release official statewide guidelines for fall reopening in mid-July.

"We expect these changes will incorporate a significant element of local control," NDDPI spokesman Dale Wetzel said in an email. "This means whether a school may reopen will depend on the presence and spread of COVID-19 in the community, or the lack of it."

Gov. Doug Burgum said at a June 23 news conference that coronavirus testing needs to be a factor in the reopening of schools, especially because many have vulnerable populations. The governor will have final approval of the fall reopening guidelines, Wetzel said.

Read more from Forum News Service's Michelle Griffith

4. NDSU didn't keep sufficient tabs on logo revenue, audit finds

North Dakota State University has not properly tracked the trademark revenues it receives through an outside firm that manages royalty income from the school's logo, according to a state audit released Monday, June 29.

The North Dakota Auditor’s Office found NDSU “did not collect the contractually obligated amount of royalties” from a firm called Learfield IMG College for at least two of four quarters reviewed in the biennium ending July 30, 2019, according to the audit. The university also doesn’t have a written policy on distributing royalty revenues and earned income from licensed merchandise, the audit said.

"The university should ensure revenues received from trademarks are being used responsibly and effectively,” State Auditor Josh Gallion said in a statement. “That means monitoring revenues and having a proper policy in place.”

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5. MSUM alumni fight to keep theater program as possible cut looms

Straw Hat Players cast members perform a scene from 2010's "Plaza Suite." Dave Arntson / MSUM / Special to The Forum
Straw Hat Players cast members perform a scene from 2010's "Plaza Suite." Dave Arntson / MSUM / Special to The Forum

Going into what would normally be the last week of Straw Hat Players, Craig Ellingson couldn’t help but feel a little lost without Minnesota State University Moorhead’s summer theater program.

“It feels strange,” says the director of theater arts at MSUM. “To have a summer when Straw Hat isn’t part of your life feels like something is missing.”

The program was canceled for the summer due to the coronavirus pandemic — but the future of Straw Hat, as well as that of MSUM's Theatre Arts program, is cloudy.

In mid-April, MSUM President Anne Blackhurst announced it was one of 10 programs that could be cut as the school tries to compensate for an expected $6 million budget shortfall in fiscal year 2022. A final plan will be announced by the 15th day of fall classes.

Read more from The Forum's John Lamb