Cutbacks in the Bakken: Baker Hughes layoff of 117 employees biggest signal yet of slowdown

Baker Hughes' Dickinson facility.
Baker Hughes’ Dickinson facility.

Falling oil prices and the resulting oil drilling slowdown in the Bakken Oil Patch has led one of the world’s largest oilfield services companies to make major cutbacks at its Dickinson office.

Baker Hughes sent a letter of notice to Dickinson Mayor Dennis Johnson on Wednesday, stating it was permanently terminating 117 employees here — most of them field operators and specialists.

In the letter, Baker Hughes stated that falling oil prices “have negatively impacted the market and reduced the overall need for the services provided by Baker Hughes.”

The Work Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act requires companies that plan to terminate more than 100 employees alert area and state workforce services, as well as the mayor of the city where the layoffs occur. Baker Hughes did not release how many workers it still employs at its Dickinson office.

Johnson said, in his 15 years as the city commission’s president, he cannot remember receiving a similar letter.

“Historically, at least for quite a while, there haven’t been any layoffs of that magnitude,” he said.

Continue reading “Cutbacks in the Bakken: Baker Hughes layoff of 117 employees biggest signal yet of slowdown”

Cigarettes caused downtown building fire

The Dickinson Fire Department works at a fire in downtown Dickinson on Tuesday night
The Dickinson Fire Department works at a fire in downtown Dickinson on Tuesday night

Cigarettes started the fire that displaced the tenants of four apartments Tuesday night in a downtown Dickinson building.

The fire originated from a plastic cigarette disposal container, Dickinson Fire Chief Bob Sivak said. The container, sitting a second-floor deck area on the north side of the Jessen Building on the corner of Villard Street and First Avenue West, somehow ignited and started a fire because of multiple combustible materials nearby.

“We’re listing the cause of the fire as unintentional and related to smoking materials,” Sivak said.

Sivak said two apartments and the building’s roof were badly damaged by the fire, as was electrical wiring to the building.

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Life is better with good football

It doesn’t matter how how few pro athletes we produce, North Dakota sports have always been great. From Class B basketball to 9-man football and American Legion baseball, we take pride in our schools and their teams because — for many of us — it’s an outstanding source of community pride.

When it comes to fall, the world feels so much better when the football you care about is good too. And life is good lately for southwest North Dakotans who pay attention the local guys on the gridiron.

Dickinson High is the No. 2-ranked team in North Dakota Class 3A football. Dickinson State and Dickinson Trinity both have winning records, and North Dakota State and the University of North Dakota once again played on the same fi eld.
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Ready for life with a little Monke

I’d never in my life cried tears of joy until Thursday afternoon. It happened the moment I met my son, Grant Bennett Monke.

As I write this from our recovery room in CHI St. Joseph’s Health’s babykind wing, my wife and 1-day-old son are sleeping comfortably. Sarah is snoring in a recliner and Grant is in his bassinet, trying to kick his way out of a swaddle blanket — something he’s already pretty good at.

At a little more than 9 pounds and 22 inches long, he has been described by numerous nurses, family members and visitors as “a big boy.” He’s very alert, has a nice head of dark hair with a great complexion, his mom’s pretty blue-green eyes and one hell of a grip.

No one is lying when they say you fall in love with your children the moment they’re born. Something just clicks inside of you. He’s ours. We made him. We created this life and now we’re responsible for it. And as scary as that seems, it’s really not.

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The $3.8 million question: As the DSU Foundation heads toward dissolution, how will the remainder of the Biesiot Activities Center’s loan be paid?

Fans sit in the stands during Dickinson Trinity’s football game against Kindred on Friday afternoon at the Henry Biesiot Activities Center in Dickinson. The DSU Foundation, which had been paying the loans on the stadium, is headed toward dissolution after being in fi nancial receivership for nine months. Soon, Southwest District Judge William Herauf will likley be the one to decide how the remaining loan of $3.8 million on the stadium will be paid if the foundation cannot.
Fans sit in the stands during Dickinson Trinity’s football game against Kindred on Friday afternoon at the Henry Biesiot Activities Center in Dickinson. The DSU Foundation, which had been paying the loans on the stadium, is headed toward dissolution after being in fi nancial receivership for nine months. Soon, Southwest District Judge William Herauf will likley be the one to decide how the remaining loan of $3.8 million on the stadium will be paid if the foundation cannot.

A Dickinson judge will decide who takes control of the Henry Biesiot Activities Center’s outstanding loan payments when the Dickinson State University Foundation enters dissolution proceedings in Southwest District Court.

The foundation has more than $3.8 million left to pay on the stadium and events center on DSU’s campus and recently defaulted on its most recent semi-annual loan obligation by paying just 38 percent of the required amount.

Sean Smith, the attorney appointed last December as the foundation’s financial receiver, said he can’t say how or if the foundation has the funds to pay off the BAC’s outstanding loans.

That’ll all be up to the judge to decide,” Smith said. “There are statutory priorities, and I don’t know what’s going to happen so I can’t comment on those. But ultimately it’ll be up to the judge, the facts and circumstances that are in front of him.”

Continue reading “The $3.8 million question: As the DSU Foundation heads toward dissolution, how will the remainder of the Biesiot Activities Center’s loan be paid?”

Editorial: DSU Foundation paying for mess it created

When rumors began to circulate about financial problems at the Dickinson State University Foundation, our reporting on the subject was unpopular with many university and foundation supporters.

We were asked by readers why we didn’t support the university and were told to stop picking on the foundation.

But, the more we reported, the more the foundation’s issues began to peel away and the quieter our critics became.

Now, we’re at the point where there seems to be little left to save.

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Receiver recommends dissolving DSU Foundation: Organization unable to pay loans, financial settlements as it loses donor support

The attorney appointed as financial receiver for the Dickinson State University Foundation says the foundation’s money issues are so bad, it will have to be dissolved.

Court-appointed receiver Sean Smith, in his latest report filed Aug. 31 in Southwest District Court, stated “the continued operation of DSUF is not a viable option” based on its inability to negotiate a financial settlement with developer Granville Brinkman, overall donor reluctance, and because receiver-retained accounting firm Brady, Martz & Associates was unable to determine the foundation’s net assets.

The DSU Foundation was forced into financial receivership by North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem last November. During a meeting on Nov. 12, Stenehjem used the word “chaos” to describe the foundation’s financial records. In December, Smith — a partner at Tschider & Smith law firm in Bismarck and a certified public accountant — was appointed as receiver.

 Over the past nine months, Smith has released seven reports detailing his work in trying to determine the cause behind the DSU Foundation’s financial issues, which the attorney general alleged stemmed from numerous financial and ethical issues, including that the university used scholarship funds to cover its operating costs.

Continue reading “Receiver recommends dissolving DSU Foundation: Organization unable to pay loans, financial settlements as it loses donor support”