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5 things to know today: Going 'green', Early retirement, Mayors speak, Election bills, 'Monarch massacre'

A rundown of some of the best stories found on Inforum.

City Hall going from yellow to green
Starting Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021, some pandemic precautions will ease at Fargo city facilities, including city hall. One change will be an increase in the number of people who can attend meetings in the city commission chambers, eliminating the need for seating in the atrium outside the chambers. This photo reflects the atrium seating in April 2020. Forum file photo.

1. Fargo going to 'Green Operations' as COVID-19 risk drops

Starting Tuesday morning, Feb. 2, the city of Fargo will move to "Green Operations" for city facilities, acknowledging the "Low Risk" level designation for COVID-19 in Cass County.

The change, which is authorized by order of Mayor Tim Mahoney, is being done with the approval of Fargo Cass Public Health, according to a statement the city released on Friday.

Fargo has been working under Yellow Operations to correspond with Cass County’s previous "Moderate Risk" level since January 11.

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2. Pandemic forcing more mature workers to retire earlier than planned


Illustration by Troy Becker / Forum News Service

It was no secret that Leslie Serrin Enerson's employer, Buhler Industries , was struggling. The tractor and farm-equipment manufacturer had laid off most of the Fargo plant months earlier and Buhler’s Russian majority owner, Rostselmash, had reported a net loss of $5.5 million in its first quarter of 2020.

Even so, the news hit hard. “It’s kind of like when you have a loved one with a terminal illness,” says Serrin Enerson, who lives in Wyndmere, N.D., with husband David. “It wasn’t completely unexpected, but it’s still a shock.”

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3. North Dakota mayors speak out against effort to kill pandemic state of emergency

012921.N.FF.MAYORSLETTER file of Mahoney
Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney speaks during a COVID-19 briefing Nov. 18, 2020, in City Hall. Forum file photo

The mayors of North Dakota's 13 largest cities have spoken out in opposition to a legislative proposal brought by conservatives that would end the state's COVID-19 emergency declaration.

Republican Bismarck state Rep. Rick Becker has brought forth a resolution that would kill North Dakota's state of emergency and halt Gov. Doug Burgum's ability to issue wide-reaching executive orders. Burgum originally issued the crisis designation in mid-March after the coronavirus first penetrated the state.


Becker, the leader of the far-right Bastiat Caucus and a frequent critic of the governor, said operating under "a perpetual state of emergency is not a proper way to run government." The lawmaker added that the emergency designation tilts the balance of power too much toward the executive branch, and the Legislature should be more involved in making pandemic-related decisions.

Read more from Forum News Service's Jeremy Turley

4. After 2020's rash of conspiracies, North Dakota lawmakers consider slew of election bills

Bismarck Event Center.jpg 2020 photo
North Dakota voters cast ballots at the Bismarck Event Center on Nov. 3. Kyle Martin / The Forum

In the wake of rampant conspiracy theories and entrenched doubt about the result of last year's presidential contest, North Dakota lawmakers are considering an unusual flood of election bills, some of which top state officials said would damage the state's well-functioning election system if they pass.

There are at least 44 election-related bills in front of North Dakota legislators this year, more than double the number that have come up even in busy sessions of the past. It's a surge that Deputy Secretary of State Jim Silrum said is partially a reaction to allegations of widespread voter fraud that put the offices of his counterparts in other states on the defensive after President Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump in November.

Read more from Forum News Service's Adam Willis

5. Mosquito spraying caused a 'monarch massacre.' Can we avoid a repeat?


Dead Monarch Butterflies
Dead monarch butterflies were found across the Fargo area after aerial spraying in August 2020 to control mosquitoes. WDAY photo

Lawns and streets were littered with dead and dying monarch butterflies following aerial spraying to control mosquitos late last summer — mass deaths that occurred even though investigators found the sprayer acted properly.

Inspectors for the North Dakota Department of Agriculture and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, which regulate pesticide applications, have since determined in separate investigations that the aerial sprayer hired by Cass County Vector Control committed no violations.

The dead monarchs were discovered around Fargo-Moorhead following aerial spraying for mosquitoes on the evening of Aug. 26.

Read more from The Forum's Patrick Springer

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