School in August has never felt right

Tomorrow morning, kids in the New England Public School District will attend their eighth day of classes. By the time Labor Day rolls around, they’ll have been in school for 13 days.
In my mind, and apparently several thousand others, that’s ridiculous.

In fact, a group of parents from Bismarck and Mandan have come together in a grassroots effort to get North Dakota schools to start after Labor Day.

Within a month, the group will begin seeking signatures to get the issue placed on the November 2014 ballot in an effort to leave the choice of when school starts solely in the people’s hands instead of a group of school administrators.

I have long felt that North Dakota schools starting in August was absurd.

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Despite being away from Bakken, New England is experiencing a resurgence

Hundreds gather at New England’s Lions Park on July 30 for Burgers in the Park. New England, which was down to an estimated 460 residents not long ago but now believes it is closer to 700, has received many positive effects of North Dakota’s Bakken oil boom. Though it does not having a producing well within 15 miles of its city limits, as oil development continues its slow march south, New England officials are preparing for the possibilities that come with increased activity.

NEW ENGLAND — There isn’t a producing oil well within 15 miles of New England.
But just like many other western North Dakota communities, the small town in northwestern Hettinger County is seeing a revitalization thanks in large part to the economic impact of the Bakken oil boom.

Several new homes are being built, and the city’s population has increased from 460 a few years ago to an estimated 700.

Business isn’t exactly booming, but it has seen a noticeable uptick with more sales tax dollars being generated, longtime community businesses building new facilities and new businesses opening along a once-decaying Main Street.

All are great signs for a small town that only a few years ago seemed relegated to watching businesses close as its population grew older and dwindled.

“Main Street in New England hasn’t probably looked this good in 30 years,” New England Mayor Marty Opdahl said.

Continue reading “Despite being away from Bakken, New England is experiencing a resurgence”

Could Hyperloop be this century’s airplane? We can dream.

Last week, billionaire innovator Elon Musk revealed details about a secretive project he has been working on, which he claims could give humanity a “fifth mode of transport.”

The Hyperloop, as Musk calls it, is basically the same idea as pneumatic tubes used by banks to pass documents or money from customers to tellers at drive-through stations.

But instead of being 12 inches long and designed for inanimate objects, the Hyperloop would be solar powered and use forced air to move six human passengers in a capsule 4½ feet wide and a little over 6 feet tall at about 800 mph wherever its tubes run.

This may seem like something straight out of science fiction but it is a legitimate idea that, if it works and if it can be built, would change travel across the country and eventually the world.

Continue reading “Could Hyperloop be this century’s airplane? We can dream.”

liFeeling safer with medical helicopter around

During my flight, I got to see sights like this, such as the under-construction Sanford Health Clinic, front, and St. Joseph’s Hospital, back.

Toward the end of August and into early September, I will take a few days off and spend what I can only presume will be some long days at my family’s farm helping my dad and brother harvest what we hope is an above-average spring wheat and durum crop.

As safe as farmers try to be at any time of year, harvest can get hectic and mishaps have been known to happen.

I remember one year where an accidental touch of a combine’s throttle nearly caused the machine to run over my brother, who was working underneath it. Yes, safety says we should have turned the combine off before working on it. As most farmers will attest, that is a safety rule that typically doesn’t get followed — especially when the crop is ready in the field and storm clouds loom on the horizon somewhere in Montana.

If an accident were to happen on the farm this harvest, I am confident the affected person will be just fine. That’s because I now know just how fast medical help can reach us.

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In retrospect, pogs were a bad decision

You know all that old stuff you have and still can’t believe you ever bought in the first place?Try to remember it was once new and you loved it.

Perhaps you have seen the lists floating around the Internet lately, recapping many of the ill-advised fashion or technology decisions many of us made in the ’80s and ’90s.

I’m not ashamed to say I once rocked a ’90s bowl cut parted down the middle, covered by a bucket hat while wearing a brightly colored Starter jacket over a No Fear T-shirt and an unbuttoned flannel.

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Holding on until harvest: Crop outlook in southwest ND good despite late harvest projections

A field of durum south of New England, still almost completely green, is shown in early August.

The same fields that were being harvested on this day last year are lusher today in most parts of southwest North Dakota, and most are just barely showing signs of ripening.

Despite late planting and below-average July temperatures — including one overnight when southwest North Dakota neared frost-like conditions — grain crops in the area look good and have producers anxiously hoping the weather cooperates for another three to four weeks until it’s ready to harvest.

“It’s the old, ‘You never know until it’s in the bin,’” Scranton Equity grain manager Mike Wedwick said. “But things look good.”

Continue reading “Holding on until harvest: Crop outlook in southwest ND good despite late harvest projections”