1. Fargo-Moorhead flood diversion takes 'final step' toward construction

Jodi Smith will assume the position of land and compliance director for the Metro Flood Diversion Authority as the $3.2 billion project prepares for major construction beginning next year.

Smith, who is now land commissioner for the state of North Dakota, will start with the Diversion Authority in November after stepping down from her state position Oct. 28.

Her new role was announced on Wednesday, Oct. 13, the same day that the diversion project’s private partner announced the parties have signed off on important documents — the final paperwork to allow construction of the diversion channel to begin next year.

Read more from The Forum's Patrick Springer

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2. Northern Minnesota among nation's hot spots for new COVID-19 cases

Photo: Unsplash/Fusion Medical Animation
Photo: Unsplash/Fusion Medical Animation

Northern Minnesota is among the nation's hotspots for new cases, sometimes double the rest of the state according to a New York Times analysis, with a band of high spread running from the northern metro moving northwest.

"New daily cases have risen by 29 percent in the last two weeks and hospitalizations by 17 percent," according to an article highlighting the spread in Minnesota and published on Wednesday, Oct. 13.

Read more from Forum News Service's Paul John Scott

3. Minnesota employers aren't on the hook to cover medical marijuana under worker's comp law, court rules

A farmer plants marijuana. Shutterstock photo
A farmer plants marijuana. Shutterstock photo

Minnesota employers don't have to cover the cost of medical marijuana for workers injured on the job, the state's highest court concluded in a pair of rulings released Wednesday, Oct. 13.

The Minnesota Supreme Court reversed two lower court rulings, saying that the federal Controlled Substances Act preempts employers from having to pay for medical marijuana treatments for injuries sustained while workers were on the job. The Controlled Substances Act prohibits the possession or use of marijuana, along with other Schedule 1 drugs.

And the high court determined that the employers could be subject to criminal liability if they helped furnish the medical cannabis, which is allowed for eligible patients under Minnesota law but illegal under federal law.

Read more from Forum News Service's Dana Ferguson

4. South Dakota's redistricting committee tour ends in Sioux Falls, to debate over gerrymandering

The South Dakota legislative redistricting committee meets for the final time over a whirlwind, three-day tour at USD Community College in Sioux Falls on Wednesday, October 13, 2021 (Vondracek / Forum News Service).
The South Dakota legislative redistricting committee meets for the final time over a whirlwind, three-day tour at USD Community College in Sioux Falls on Wednesday, October 13, 2021 (Vondracek / Forum News Service).

There was little agreement between the two.

One thought South Dakota suffered from a brain drain. The other said all her children had moved back to raise families.

One called the 2011 state Legislature maps "a textbook case" of gerrymandering. The other said Republicans just get elected more in the state.

But both Galyeen Ridemann and Tamera Weis, voters in the Sioux Falls region, told a legislative redistricting committee on Wednesday, Oct. 13, at the USD Community College in northwestern Sioux Falls essentially the same thing: That the current maps stretch too much non-Sioux Falls into Sioux Falls to be fair to voters.

Read more from Forum News Service's Christopher Vondracek

5. McVille's water tapped as top in North Dakota

Kevin Wallevand, WDAY-TV reporter, Tammy Swift, columnist and business reporter at The Forum, and Tom Kunetz, past president of the Water Environment Federation (WEF), judged the annual North Dakota drinking water taste test at the 93rd North Dakota Water & Pollution Control Conference Wednesday at the Holiday Inn in Fargo. Attendees "blind-tasted" eight different water samples from eight different North Dakota municipalities and voted on the best three. Once the top three were tallied, Wallevand, Swift and Kunetz voted for their favorite out of the three, but a fourth judge was needed to cast a tie-breaking vote. Fargo, Grand Forks, Garrison, Valley City, Bismarck, Mandan, McVille and Mayville are the eight municipalities participating in the competition. 
Chris Flynn / The Forum
Kevin Wallevand, WDAY-TV reporter, Tammy Swift, columnist and business reporter at The Forum, and Tom Kunetz, past president of the Water Environment Federation (WEF), judged the annual North Dakota drinking water taste test at the 93rd North Dakota Water & Pollution Control Conference Wednesday at the Holiday Inn in Fargo. Attendees "blind-tasted" eight different water samples from eight different North Dakota municipalities and voted on the best three. Once the top three were tallied, Wallevand, Swift and Kunetz voted for their favorite out of the three, but a fourth judge was needed to cast a tie-breaking vote. Fargo, Grand Forks, Garrison, Valley City, Bismarck, Mandan, McVille and Mayville are the eight municipalities participating in the competition. Chris Flynn / The Forum

One starts to feel like a traitor drinking coffee at a water-treatment conference.

All these booths lined up inside the Fargo Holiday Inn to promote the production of safer, purer, better-tasting H2O. Water experts — from treatment-plant operators to water chemists — as far as the eye can see.

Yet here I am, at the yearly North Dakota Water and Pollution Control Conference, brazenly asking for a cup of coffee.

There is a method to my madness. You see, I'm trying to get good and dehydrated for my stint as a judge for the conference's annual water-tasting competition.

Read more from The Forum's Tammy Swift