Gas leak shuts down Dickinson restaurant, street for 2½ hours

Montana-Dakota Utilities workers dig a hole in an attempt to shut off a natural gas line Wednesday in the El Sombrero Mexican Restaurant parking lot in north Dickinson.
Montana-Dakota Utilities workers dig a hole in an attempt to shut off a natural gas line Wednesday in the El Sombrero Mexican Restaurant parking lot in north Dickinson.

A popular Dickinson lunchtime restaurant was evacuated shortly after noon Wednesday and part of a busy street was blocked off as a precaution for about 2½ hours after a contractor struck a gas line near the corner of 15th Street West and Elks Drive.

El Sombrero Mexican Restaurant was evacuated and part of 15th Street West south of Prairie Hills Mall was blocked off by law enforcement after the line was inadvertently struck by a contractor with Denny’s Electric who was attempting to service an electric line.

Montana-Dakota Utilities spokesperson Mark Hanson said at 2:45 p.m. that the blowing gas had been shut off and the two-inch plastic line has been looped and repairs were underway in the El Sombrero parking lot. The gas had been blowing since about noon. No customers lost service because of the line break, however.
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Home prices fall in Dickinson, but not much

Buying a home in Dickinson is cheaper and less stressful than it was only a year ago, two of the city’s top Realtors said Friday.

Though the oil industry slowdown around Dickinson has led to lower average sale prices and more homes in the city being listed for sale, the overall residential housing market has remained strong and may be beginning to stabilize.

“They (prices) have definitely softened and buyers are now more cautious, so there’s more on the market,” said Ninetta Wandler, a longtime Dickinson Realtor. “But they’re not forced to buy yesterday. Before, if you had three houses to look at, you were lucky — and you didn’t have time to think about it.”

Compared to last year, there’s much more time for prospective homebuyers to think about a home purchase and to negotiate the price.

The average year-to-date sale price for residential property has fallen nearly 10 percent — from about $294,000 to $266,000 — according to the Badlands Board of Realtors’ market summary report for June.

Still, more than 84 percent of active listings last month were for homes priced above $200,000 — a decrease of only about 3 percent from last year — while more than half of the homes on the market at the end of June were listed between $250,000 to $400,000.

Don Paulson is trying to sell one of those homes in north Dickinson.

“I just want to downsize,” he said.

He may not have to wait long to do so.
Continue reading “Home prices fall in Dickinson, but not much”

Looking into their future: Kids help break ground for new Dickinson middle school

Connor Brandvik, 10, stands with his shovel and hard hat after helping with the groundbreaking of the new Dickinson middle school on Tuesday afternoon. Above, Josh Gustafson with Mortenson Construction laughs as battles the wind while hanging a sign for the new middle school.
Connor Brandvik, 10, stands with his shovel and hard hat after helping with the groundbreaking of the new Dickinson middle school on Tuesday afternoon. Above, Josh Gustafson with Mortenson Construction laughs as battles the wind while hanging a sign for the new middle school.

Connor Brandvik stood with head rested on the handle of his shovel Tuesday afternoon as he looked out onto a grassy fi eld where, two years from now, he’ll spend his eighth-grade school year.

The Dickinson 10-year-old was one of three children of Hagen Junior High staff selected to participate in the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Dickinson Middle School. Brandvik will be a sixth-grader at Berg Elementary School this year, but in the fall of 2017 will be among the fi rst group of students to enter the middle school.

“I personally feel really honored,” Brandvik said, still wearing his hard hat. “It just feels so good to be a part of something that’s really important.”

Staff members, Dickinson Public Schools offi cials and representatives of companies involved with the school’s construction met for the groundbreaking in what — for now — is a rural area in northwest Dickinson along under-construction 21st Street West between State Avenue and 30th Avenue West.

Within two weeks, construction will start on the school.

“It really is like field of dreams,” said Vince Reep, Dickinson Public Schools assistant superintendent. “If you build it, they will come.”
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A presidential race without any winners

Like me, you’re probably getting sick of hearing about a presidential election still 17 months away.

Maybe that’s because, so far, the options have been pretty bad. None of the candidates throwing their hat in the ring are in any way captivating or world-changing, and no one has put forward a true vision for our country’s future.

Longtime readers know I’ve never been Obama’s biggest fan. But I’ll always acknowledge his ability to be presidential when he absolutely needs to be, and I respect how he stands up for his ideals and vision — whether or not I agree with him.

Not one candidate — Republican or Democrat — has displayed a truly presidential quality the American people want and need as we gear up for what’s sure to be the most talked-about election in history. Some look good on paper, others on TV. A few speak really well and know how to fi re up their base.

But are any of them actually presidential material?

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Young plans unique additions to Players

James Young, the new general manager of Players Sports Bar and Grill in Dickinson, stands in Players’ bar area Friday night. He hopes to bring more consistency to the business, as well as new flair.
James Young, the new general manager of Players Sports Bar and Grill in Dickinson, stands in Players’ bar area Friday night. He hopes to bring more consistency to the business, as well as new flair.

James Young’s earliest memories are cracking eggs in a large mixing bowl at his family’s restaurant in suburban Chicago.

Forty years and a lifetime of food service and hospitality industry jobs later, Young has brought his experiences to Dickinson as he takes over as the general manager of Players Sports Bar and Grill.

His biggest challenge, he said, is establishing a consistency throughout the food and customer service aspects of the business.

“In my opinion, there are three things that are going to make a restaurant successful … good food, reasonable prices, excellent customer service,” Young said.

That, he said, and reasons for people to keep coming back.

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Hike with Mike: Actor Michael J. Fox joins Parkinson’s fundraiser trip up White Butte

Submitted Photo by Roxee Jones Actor Michael J. Fox, middle, walks with Denise Lutz of New England, left, and Sam Fox, who is bicycling throughout the country raising money for the Michael J. Fox Foundation while also climbing the highest peak in every state, walk toward White Butte near Amidon on Sunday afternoon.
Submitted Photo by Roxee Jones
Actor Michael J. Fox, middle, walks with Denise Lutz of New England, left, and Sam Fox, who is bicycling throughout the country raising money for the Michael J. Fox Foundation while also climbing the highest peak in every state, walk toward White Butte near Amidon on Sunday afternoon.

 
AMIDON — Roxee Jones drove from Dickinson to White Butte in rural Slope County on Sunday morning expecting a quick hike up North Dakota’s highest point.

The Grand Forks woman never thought she’d spend time with a famous actor who is the face of a cause near to her heart.

Actor Michael J. Fox fl ew into southwest North Dakota on Sunday to join Sam Fox, the Michael J. Fox Foundation’s outreach and engagement offi cer who is making a threemonth journey across the United States to raise money for Parkinson’s disease research.

Jones said the actor actually led the hike up the butte, which is 3,507 feet above sea level.

“It was just an awesome experience — overwhelming that he showed up there,” said Jones, who teaches Parkinson’s wellness classes at the Grand Forks YMCA and whose father, Donald Lutz of Dickinson, lives with the disease.

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Storm knocks down tree, power lines in Dickinson

A strong thunderstorm that moved through Dickinson in about 15 minutes on Tuesday evening left downed power lines Tuesday night near the 600 block of First Street East.

A nearly 100-year-old tree took down lines near one residence. Less than a block away, lines were down across a car and in the middle of the street.

Linda Schroeder said when she walked out of her home after 9 p.m., she didn’t even notice the tree that had taken down the power line in her yard. She had called the Dickinson Police Department about the street being blocked by her small fl at-bed trailer that had been pushed into the middle of the street by high winds.

“He (the officer) helped me push the trailer up the street and he goes, ‘Hey, you’ve got a big branch laying over the tree,” Schroeder said.

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