Excerpts from recent North Dakota editorials


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BISMARCK, North Dakota — Daily News, Wahpeton, Nov. 24, 2014

Commit to shopping locally for Christmas

The Thanksgiving holiday signals families gathered around the table and for some, another "holiday" that has its own interpretation, Black Friday.

The day after Thanksgiving is the first critical day of shopping for the Christmas holidays. Retailers offer deep discounts hoping to entice shoppers into their stores during those early-morning hours. For many area retailers, the Christmas shopping season can make or break their year. It is so important to their bottom line, that many stores have had their Christmas gift ideas on display since before Halloween.

The choice of where to shop is up to the consumer, but area retailers try to entice local shoppers into visiting their stores and remind customers of their importance in the community through Small Business Saturday. When America's small businesses do well, the country does well. These same business owners are the ones people turn to throughout the year for fundraisers, benefits, sponsorships and more. The men and women who make up our main street business climate are committed to their community through leadership positions and tax dollars.

According to the Small Business Administration, on the heels of Black Friday, shopping small is a concrete way to support small businesses - the same businesses that generate two of every three net new jobs and deliver essential goods and services to America's communities 365 days a year. Last year, Small Business Saturday had a major impact. Consumers who were aware of it spent an estimated $5.7 billion with independent merchants.

Richland and Wilkin business owners remind shoppers to save gas by shopping locally. Visit the stores that provide exceptional customer service, lower prices and great gift ideas without the commute and long lines. It is your choice, yes, but choose local.

The Williston Herald, Williston, Nov. 24, 2014

Informed citizenry at its best

As construction season heads toward an end, the sight of a cement mixer near downtown Williston was a welcome sight this week.

After about a month of angst and anxiety about the thought of the city condemning the building, and the reality of tenants falling on wooden ramps, Lutheran Social Service Legacy Living at Central Place is finally getting sidewalks installed.

The process will likely take a few weeks, due to conditioning needed for the cold weather, but we say better late than never, and hope a lesson was learned.

In our pages we have written too many times about the struggles seniors have had finding affordable housing. The stories of Williston's longtime residents being forced to move, because of nothing more than market values and greed, is one told too often.

Legacy Living at Central Place has been called the "crown jewel" of affordable senior housing in Williston, and indeed it is. It stands as a living metaphor for the city — resurrected and reinvented for the benefit of the people.

That's why it was difficult for tenants, residents and all of Williston to drive by the old junior high and see an eyesore in front of a structure that meant so much to the community and its efforts.

We want to applaud the tenants of Legacy Living at Central Place for speaking out and creating a positive change in their community and city. Tenants used the system the way it was meant to be used: Through the newspaper, through speaking at city meetings and through asking for change from LSS.

Their actions are the real reason sidewalks are currently being poured outside their building, just in time for the onset of winter.

The city, LSS and other agencies can have their share of the credit, as deserved, for negotiating and finding contractors and funds to finish the job, but it took informed citizenry and courage from the tenants to speak out against what they felt wasn't right.

And the result was a public-private partnership that corrected a major wrong.

Legacy Living at Central Place is an essential piece to the housing puzzle. One that will house seniors who don't have many other options in Williston.

We await the completion of the sidewalks and parking lots, and any other small issues along the way.

Because when it's done, it will sure be nice to see the city's crown jewel shining once again.

The Bismarck Tribune, Bismarck, Nov. 21, 2014

Flaring percentages going right direction

The oil industry often finds itself under fire, scrutinized for a variety of reasons. At times criticism leveled at it can be fair, but in other instances it can be an industry unfairly judged. It's a long-standing cultural phenomenon, generated in part from concern over fossil fuel use and related carbon emissions, as well the perception that exists that oil companies in effect, are basically too profitable in the eyes of the public.

Essentially, oil exploration and production is a high-risk, high-reward scenario. It's not often that you read about operators that fail to make the grade from a profitability standpoint; they quietly exit the picture with little fanfare, but they do exist. The reality is that oil production takes considerable financial resources to accomplish, with no assurance of success.

When things go wrong — a major oil spill or saltwater breach — it makes headlines. When things go right, comparable news coverage doesn't always exist.

In September, preliminary numbers indicate that North Dakota oil production rose by 52,000 barrels over August levels, up from 1,132,241 to 1,184,635 barrels per day. Despite an impressive increase in oil production, flaring levels dropped from 27 percent to 24 percent over the same time period.

The decline in natural gas flaring, a byproduct of oil production, was well below the benchmark of 26 percent required by state regulation by Oct. 1. Flaring levels regulation from a percentage standpoint and now in place were essentially recommended by the industry itself, before being presented to the North Dakota Industrial Commission.

In the fall of 2013, led by the North Dakota Petroleum Council, the Flaring Task Force was developed. Composed of oil industry leaders and officials, it goal has been to decrease flaring levels in North Dakota through the capture of natural gas at the wellhead, before moving it to processing facilities.

There have been numerous challenges to overcome along the way in order to meet benchmarks set by the Industrial Commission for flaring, including time needed to build necessary gas-capture pipeline infrastructure, obtaining easements and dealing with weather constraints. It hasn't been an easy equation to deal with.

The oil industry should be commended for its efforts to date, and urged to continue to meet future objectives that further reduce flaring levels on both a percentage and volume basis in the Bakken. It's good from an environmental standpoint, and adds additional value to oil-related production activity taking place in the Williston Basin.

Minot Daily News, Minot, Nov. 26, 2014

Minot rides to the rescue

Minoters have just provided two excellent examples of what makes this the Magic City.

Two worthy causes, one close to the hearts of older residents and one straight from the hearts of our high school students, witnessed their goals being met and then topped through the generosity of many.

The first project, not your typical canned food drive, was put into motion by some Central Campus students after one of their own, Alex Lutes, died this fall in a hunting accident. Lutes was president of the Key Club, which puts on an annual food drive. To honor Lutes, the Key Club members went ahead with the drive, in his honor, and on Monday they packed up more than 8,500 canned goods and other food items gathered by Alex's Army.

And an army it was: Students and parents at Central Campus and at other schools in the district all brought in food for the drive. People who attended Lutes funeral had been encouraged to participate in the food drive, and other schools and businesses in the community also helped.

These kids made us proud.

Also benefiting from the kindness of area residents was Wreaths Across America, which is being held for the first time in Minot this year.

The inaugural program not only has reached its goal of sponsored wreaths but surpassed it, said Richard Reuer, Minot American Legion Wreaths Across America event coordinator.

Only last Friday the program was still short 59 sponsorships to meet the programs goal of 254 wreath sponsors. That would make it possible to place wreaths on each of the 235 headstones of graves in Section 12, the Old Veterans section, in Rosehill Memorial Park, and 19 wreaths at the Medal of Honor memorial in Roosevelt Park.

But by Monday the need had been met and then some.

We did it. We now have 276 sponsored wreaths and 56 personal wreaths, totaling 332 wreaths, Reuer reported Monday.

The wreaths ceremonial program will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 13, at Section 12 in Rosehill Memorial Park. After the program, the wreaths will be placed by their sponsors or anyone wishing to assist. It will be a sight to behold and a day we will not soon forget.

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