1. North Dakota to receive 49 Afghan refugees

North Dakota will become home to 49 refugees from Afghanistan in the wake of a Taliban takeover that compelled thousands to flee the Asian country.

Though state officials had said last month North Dakota was unlikely to receive any Afghan refugees, the U.S. State Department recently approved a proposal made by Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, North Dakota's refugee resettlement agency, to take in the 49 evacuees. Minnesota is slated to take in 275 refugees.

Read more from Forum News Service's Jeremy Turley

2. North Dakota judge upholds law limiting collection of old oil and gas royalties

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A pumpjack is pictured at an oil well in western North Dakota. Dickinson Press file photo
A pumpjack is pictured at an oil well in western North Dakota. Dickinson Press file photo

A Watford City judge has upheld a recently passed law that sets limits on how far back oil companies must pay old royalties to North Dakota.

Companies agree to pay oil and natural gas royalties and any late fees to the state for the right to extract publicly owned minerals, but industry-backed legislation approved earlier this year by the Republican-led Legislature and Gov. Doug Burgum retroactively established a statute of limitations for state collections of royalty payments, meaning the Department of Trust Lands can't require firms to pony up on outstanding royalty bills from before August 2013.

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3. Fargo, Moorhead, West Fargo schools see relatively few COVID-19 cases regardless of mask policies

South Elementary Principal Jody Sjolin-Nelson escorts students Zoe and Isaac Morrow to the building on a rainy first day of school in West Fargo on Aug. 26, 2021. 
David Samson / The Forum
South Elementary Principal Jody Sjolin-Nelson escorts students Zoe and Isaac Morrow to the building on a rainy first day of school in West Fargo on Aug. 26, 2021. David Samson / The Forum

Public schools in Fargo, West Fargo and Moorhead are reporting relatively few active COVID-19 cases and no major apparent difference in incidence regardless of whether the district requires mask use.

As of Thursday, Sept. 16, the public school systems for the three metro districts were reporting COVID-19 case counts that represented less than 1% of various student populations.

Fargo and Moorhead public schools require students and staff to wear masks in school, while West Fargo recommends mask wearing but has no requirement.

Read more from The Forum's Patrick Springer

4. Future satellite mission added to Grand Forks Air Force Base's responsibilities

A view of the visitors gate at the Grand Forks Air Force Base is shown as it stood in 2019. Eric Hylden / Grand Forks Herald
A view of the visitors gate at the Grand Forks Air Force Base is shown as it stood in 2019. Eric Hylden / Grand Forks Herald

Grand Forks Air Force Base has been assigned a future satellite mission, it was announced Friday, Sept. 17.

According to the office of U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., the Defense Department's Space Development Agency was approved by the Air Force to operate the satellite mission out of Grand Forks Air Force base. The Space Development Agency will use GFAFB as a center to monitor and maneuver low-earth-orbit satellites.

Read more from The Forum's J.J. Perry

5. North Dakota National Guard to resume COVID-19 response support

North Dakota National Guard soldiers collect data during a COVID-19 testing event held at a transitional facility in downtown Fargo on May 19, 2020. Courtesy: N.D. National Guard
North Dakota National Guard soldiers collect data during a COVID-19 testing event held at a transitional facility in downtown Fargo on May 19, 2020. Courtesy: N.D. National Guard

The North Dakota National Guard has placed a number of troops on COVID-19 duty, to support efforts by the North Dakota Department of Health, according to a release by the national guard.

According to the release, 65 guard members will be on state active duty with orders under the authority of FEMA, and are scheduled through the end of the year. Fifty of those members will support NDDOH's COVID-19 contact identification efforts, while 15 others will support the state laboratory in Bismarck.

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