5 things to know today: BLM protest, Care facilities, Sanford merger, Water pipeline, New Salem
A rundown of some of the best stories found on Inforum.
1. Protesters demand change to NDSU policy on hate speech
More than 1,000 mask-wearing students and staff marched through the North Dakota State University campus on Friday, Dec. 4, chanting "Black Students Matter" to pressure the university to revisit its discipline policy for racist and hateful speech.
The protest, the first of two organized by Black Lives Matter with another scheduled for Saturday at 2 p.m. on campus, followed at least three racist social media posts from students that surfaced in recent weeks, including a mockery of the death of George Floyd in the hands of Minneapolis police.
The students didn't hold back in sharing the experiences with racism they have endured over the years in speeches made after the march. Administrators who were just outside their offices, including University President Dean Bresciani, stood and listened.
Read more from The Forum's Barry Amundson
2. Health officials: The 'flood wall is being breached' as COVID-19 reaches long-term care facilities
State health and safety officials on Friday, Dec. 4, called on Minnesotans to heed guidelines aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus to help limit mounting cases and deaths in long-term care facilities.
Across the state, dozens of assisted living and nursing home facilities had faced staffing shortages as workers became infected in the community and, in some cases, carried the illness into long-term care settings. And to fill the gaps, volunteers and Minnesota National Guard members were tapped to fill hundreds of nursing shifts.
While the state has worked with facilities to build up testing and personal protective equipment as well as staffing resources, the demand could become too great if community spread continues and COVID-19 cases climb in the communities around the long-term care centers.
Read more from Forum News Service's Dana Ferguson
3. Sanford Health halts merger plans after sudden departure of CEO Kelby Krabbenhoft
Sanford Health is shelving plans to merge with Intermountain Healthcare of Utah, in the wake of the abrupt departure of Sanford's longtime CEO Kelby Krabbenhoft last week.
The two health systems made a joint announcement late Friday, Dec. 4.
Sioux Falls-based Sanford Health said it had "indefinitely suspended" the merger talks with Intermountain due to the leadership change. Bill Gassen, formerly chief administrative officer, was appointed as Krabbenhoft's successor as president and CEO last week.
Read more from Forum News Service's Jeremy Fugleberg
4. Plan to pipe Missouri River water to Red River Valley moves a step closer
A proposal to pipe water from the Missouri River to central North Dakota and the Red River Valley took a big regulatory step forward with completion of a federal environmental impact study.
Completion of the review by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, announced by the North Dakota congressional delegation on Friday, Dec. 4, is good news for a proposed $1.2 billion project to transfer Missouri River water to the Red River Valley to augment water supplies during extreme, prolonged droughts.
With the final environmental impact statement completed, the next step would be final approval from the federal government in a finding called a record of decision.
Read more from The Forum's Patrick Springer
5. One way to grasp 1,000 COVID-19 deaths: This entire North Dakota town would be gone
Most North Dakotans know New Salem by its cow. On a butte at the edge of town, the towering Holstein statue — the country’s biggest — overlooks I-94 so that anyone crossing the state will take notice from the highway.
New Salem is in many ways exemplary of North Dakota’s small town ideals. It has three bars, a grocery store, premium farmland, a 1986 9-man football championship and a communal spirit passed down for generations.
“It’s like Pleasantville,” said Bill Kramer, who owns The Field bar with his wife Jacey, describing a community just large enough to have amenities, but still small enough that everyone has to pitch in — sometimes working several jobs — to keep the place running.