Patrick Springer first joined the reporting staff of The Forum in 1985. He can be reached by calling 701-241-5522. Have a comment to share about a story? Letters to the editor should include author’s name, address and phone number. Generally, letters should be no longer than 250 words. All letters are subject to editing. Send to firstname.lastname@example.org
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FARGO — North Dakota’s teen birth rate has decreased significantly over the past dozen years, falling by almost a third, but has not kept pace with the rate of decline in neighboring states and the national average. North Dakota’s teen birth rate dropped from 29.7 births per 1,000 in 2005 to 20.3 in 2016, as measured by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or a reduction of 31.6 percent. During the same period, the rate of teen births in Minnesota, to mothers ages 15 to 19, decreased 51.7 percent and the national average dropped almost by half, 49.9 percent.
FARGO — Prescription opioid use in North Dakota has a distinctive geography. Use intensity of the narcotic painkillers varies considerably by county. The rate of use in Sioux County, where usage is highest, is 8.8 times greater than in Billings County, the lowest-usage county, according to state figures. The North Dakota Board of Pharmacy tracks opioids and other reportable drugs through its prescription drug monitoring program, and breaks down figures by county for each quarter to enable trend analysis.
FARGO — The battles over the Fargo-Moorhead flood protection diversion will grind on. Upstream opponents of the project will file an administrative appeal seeking to overturn a major permit granted by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “We will be contesting that,” Nathan Berseth, a board member of the Richland-Wilkin Joint Powers Authority, said Friday, Jan. 4. Berseth's group is waging a legal fight to stop the $2.75 billion flood protection project.
FARGO — The Metro Diversion Authority Board authorized its lawyers to work to resolve the lawsuit that halted construction of the massive flood protection project — a setback that forced officials to come back with a significantly revised project that now has the approval of Minnesota regulators. The unanimous action to seek an end to the lawsuit came on Thursday, Jan. 3, after the board met in executive session with its lawyers to discuss a path to end the litigation.
CASSELTON, N.D. — Minutes after it rumbled through town on a frigid December afternoon, a westbound train laden with grain broke an axle, tossing grain cars into a jumble. A short time later an eastbound train, loaded with crude oil from western North Dakota’s Oil Patch, was rolling toward the scene at 43 miles per hour. Unfortunately, the oil train’s crew was using a different radio frequency than the grain train crew. So the oil train had no advance warning before it slammed into the derailed grain cars, derailing two locomotives and 21 other cars, including 20 tankers.
FARGO — The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources granted a permit for the Fargo-Moorhead flood diversion in a move that gave the $2.75 billion project its final regulatory clearance. The decision, announced on Thursday, Dec. 27, was the culmination of years of planning and preparation. The diversion plan that won approval reflects significant revisions to the original plan in order to satisfy Minnesota officials, whose approval for a dam to regulate flows into the diversion channel was needed.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is a two-part story. Find the companion piece here. BISMARCK — Richard Landsberger’s job at a dairy required him to repeatedly lift and stack milk crates. Decades of hefting 40-pound milk cases in a refrigerated storeroom took a toll on his body. He has suffered debilitating injuries to both shoulders, both arms, both knees and his back. After more than a decade of struggling to meet the physical demands of his job, Landsberger, was let go by his Bismarck employer in August because he no longer met the requirements for a job he’d held for 38 years.
BISMARCK — Burleigh County health providers are by far the heaviest prescribers of narcotic painkillers for injured workers covered by the North Dakota workers’ compensation program. Prescribers in the county, which includes Bismarck, have accounted for half or more of all opioid prescriptions paid for by Workforce Safety and Insurance (WSI) for more than a decade, far surpassing the amounts for other counties, according to reviews of the agency that examined narcotic use.
FARGO — North Dakota’s estimated population climbed to a record 760,077 residents in 2018 — a gain of 4,901 that reversed a dip in population last year. Gov. Doug Burgum ballyhooed the latest estimate from the Census Bureau, issued Wednesday, Dec. 19, as a sign the state’s economy is on the upswing. “We’re excited to see more people moving into North Dakota, and for good reason,” the governor said in a statement. “Our economy is strong, our jobs are abundant and our quality of life is second to none.”
FARGO — Eagle Pointe is one of the housing developments sprouting from the prairie on the city’s southern periphery. Lots selling for $50,000 to $90,000 are arrayed around a pond, and developers tout its proximity to schools and access to 25 miles of recreation trails. The brochures don’t mention it, but builders, real estate agents and developers are keenly aware that neighborhoods in far south Fargo like Eagle Pointe have a lot at stake in the completion of the $2.75 billion Fargo-Moorhead flood diversion.