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5 things to know today: Abortion debate, Trademark trees, Omicron variant, Pickup zones, Weathering together

A select rundown of stories found on InForum.

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Volunteers escort a patient to her car Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021, outside the Red River Women's Clinic in downtown Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Forum Communications Co.

1. What a landmark Supreme Court case could mean for North Dakota's only abortion clinic

The head of North Dakota’s only abortion clinic calls the newest legal challenge before the U.S. Supreme Court the “gravest threat” to abortion rights in 50 years.

On Wednesday, Dec. 1, the justices began hearing arguments in a Mississippi case that directly challenges the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision and a woman’s right to an abortion.

Tammi Kromenaker, director of the Red River Women’s Clinic in downtown Fargo, spoke with The Forum by phone from Washington, D.C., where she and colleagues were showing support for the attorneys arguing for reproductive rights.

Read more from The Forum's Robin Huebner

2. NDSU is a key competitor in the long race to develop and trademark hardy, healthy trees

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Todd West is the assistant dean and professor in NDSU’s Department of Plant Sciences. Chris Flynn / The Forum

Todd West is one of the few who wishes for a minus-40-degree day every winter.

The assistant dean and professor of North Dakota State University’s Department of Plant Sciences said that kind of cold is a big help to his work.

“It just weeds out anything that won't survive,” he said.

The school’s Woody Plant Improvement Program, led by West, plays a key role in developing winter hardy trees for the region.

Read more

3. North Dakota again urges COVID-19 vaccination as US identifies first omicron variant case

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A coronavirus graphic. Courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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The North Dakota Department of Health on Wednesday, Dec. 1, once again urged unvaccinated residents to receive the shot and for those eligible to seek a booster dose as scientists continue to discover cases of the omicron variant in other countries.

Last week, the World Health Organization classified the omicron coronavirus variant, a strain of the virus that has dozens of mutations, as a "variant of concern." Since then, more than 20 countries, now including the United States, have found cases of the omicron variant.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the first U.S. case of the omicron variant was found in California. The person was a fully vaccinated traveler who returned from South Africa on Nov. 22. The CDC said the person has mild symptoms, is self-quarantining and all close contacts have tested negative.

Read more from Forum News Service's Michelle Griffith

4. Does downtown Fargo need late night pickup zones for ride-sharing and taxis? Police say yes

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Craig Thompson drives his first Uber fair Thursday, May 14, 2015, through downtown Fargo on the company's first day of operation there. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

Fargo police hosted a "Downtown Download" meeting Wednesday, Dec. 1, at Fargo City Hall to share information and encourage public feedback about issues facing the downtown area.

One thing on the minds of police officers is the congestion and confusion that often reigns on certain nights of the week when bar patrons spill out of drinking establishments and attempt to find a taxi or ride-sharing service to get them home.

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People trying to buy from food vendors parked outside of downtown bars can add to the general chaos, said Sgt. Brent Halverson, who led Wednesday's meeting.

Read more from The Forum's Dave Olson

5. Olsons 'huge assets' to National Weather Service for observing, reporting data for 50 years

Don Olson stands Monday next to a weather station at his farm on the edge of Montpelier, N.D. Olson has been reporting weather from there for 50 years. John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

A North Dakota couple who have been recording daily precipitation totals and reporting weather data at their rural home for 50 years are “huge assets” for the National Weather Service, according to Rick Krolak, NWS observing program leader.

“When you have observers like that it is rare that you have someone who has been doing it for this long and this consistently,” Krolak said. “It’s been every day for 50 years. They only take 15 to 20 minutes a day but that is a lot. He definitely fits the model co-op observer and volunteer for us.”

Don Olson and his wife, Marie, who live on a farm just outside the east edge of Montpelier, North Dakota, recently received the Family Heritage Award and the Edward H. Stoll Award for 50 years of service to the National Weather Service. The Olsons, who are retired farmers, volunteer their time to measure daily precipitation totals and report weather data.

Read more from Forum News Service's Masaki Ova

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