1. Red River Valley travel conditions not ideal heading toward holiday weekend
More snow and high winds are anticipated this week in Grand Forks and the region, possibly creating difficulties for holiday travelers, according to meteorologists.
After a week of snow last week and new flurries early this week, “we’ve got very messy roads,” said Lydia Blume, a meteorologist at WDAY.
WDAY is predicting another round of light snow Wednesday, followed by two days of blowing snow. Temperatures for the remainder of the week will be well below zero. Saturday likely will be sunny but cold – with a high below zero – and Sunday, Christmas Day, could feature more light snow.
Travel conditions likely will be most difficult on Thursday and Friday, according to WDAY.
Blume expects high winds Thursday and Friday, up to 40 mph. This can create blizzard conditions — even without snowfall.
“Not ideal travel conditions for the holiday,” Blume said.
Blume said weather and road conditions will be a little bit better on Saturday and Sunday, “but still tough. Not perfect.”
2. North Dakota Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford to step down; Tammy Miller to fill post
North Dakota Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford announced on Tuesday, Dec. 20, that he will resign from his position on Jan. 2 after serving six years as Gov. Doug Burgum’s right-hand man. Tammy Miller, the governor’s chief operating officer, will take over the role.
Sanford’s resignation will go into effect just a day before he would have resumed his duties as president of the North Dakota Senate. The state Legislature’s biennial session is slated to begin Jan. 3. The former Watford City mayor and certified accountant said in a statement he would like to return to the private sector and focus on his career and his family.
“Serving the citizens of North Dakota as lieutenant governor has been the honor of a lifetime, and this was not an easy decision,” Sanford said in a news release.
Burgum commended Sanford for his leadership as Senate president and as an advocate for the energy sector.
“From his leadership on key issues including energy, child care and economic development, to his influential work with the legislative branch as president of the Senate, to his leadership as the governor’s designee on multiple state boards, Brent has made a positive impact on North Dakota’s citizens, economy and communities far and wide,” Burgum said in a statement.
Burgum introduced Miller as the lieutenant governor-in-waiting to a crowd of reporters and officials at the Capitol on Tuesday. Sanford, who had two years left on his term, was not present at a press conference announcing his replacement.
Read more from Forum News Service’s Jeremy Turley
3. Panel names 3 finalists to fill North Dakota Supreme Court vacancy
A panel has named three finalists to fill a seat on the North Dakota Supreme Court that will become vacant at the end of January when a longtime justice retires.
The finalists announced by the Judicial Nominating Committee on Tuesday, Dec. 20, are South Central Judicial District Judge Doug Bahr, of Bismarck; North Central Judicial District Judge Stacy Louser, of Minot; and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jake Rodenbiker, of Fargo.
Within the next 30 days, Gov. Doug Burgum must either make a selection from the committee’s list of nominees, ask for another list or call a special election. A spokesman for Burgum said he didn’t know how the Republican governor will proceed in filling the vacancy.
Justice Gerald VandeWalle announced last month that
he plans to retire on Jan. 31
after more than four decades on the high court, including 27 as its chief justice. Hailed as a legend by state leaders, the 89-year-old justice told Forum News Service that recent health challenges, including Parkinson’s disease, have necessitated his retirement.
Bahr served as North Dakota’s solicitor general and as an assistant attorney general before Burgum appointed him to the district court judgeship in 2018,
Louser was appointed to the district court position by Gov. Jack Dalrymple in 2014 after seven years in private practice,
Read more from Forum News Service’s Jeremy Turley
4. Theodore Roosevelt National Park mulls removing wild horses, kept as a remnant of the open range
The wild horses that have roamed the Badlands of Theodore Roosevelt National Park since before its creation could be captured and removed in a gradual elimination of the herd.
The National Park Service has announced that its proposal for handling the herd, which has grown to almost 200 horses, is to reduce the size to zero over time.
If adopted, that course of action would reverse decades of policy at the park, which has kept horses inside the fenced boundaries to commemorate the open range era, when Theodore Roosevelt ranched in the Little Missouri Badlands in the 1880s.
The park is weighing two alternatives, including sticking with the current management plan, which calls for a much smaller herd, or expedited removal of the horses. Public comments will be accepted on the options until Jan. 31.
Supporters of the horses — Facebook fan pages have attracted hundreds of thousands of followers — said they were “blindsided” and “shocked” by the proposal, which came as the park is revising its policy for managing the horses and a dozen longhorn cattle.
Read more from Forum News Service’s Patrick Springer
5. Local US Air Force veteran faces coldest night in campout to benefit Ukraine
U.S. Air Force veteran Mark Lindquist has a burning passion for charitable causes, but he might not have realized just how chilled he would get in pursuit of his latest.
His “Operation: Sleep Out” encounters its most frigid weather yet on Tuesday, Dec. 20, when the overnight low in Fargo is expected to plummet to 20 below zero.
The predicted “high” temperature the following day is minus 8.
Lindquist may be best known for his motivational speaking and singing of the national anthem at NFL games and other big events, but this challenge is much different.
For 17 days, ending on New Year’s Day, he’s camping in a nylon tent at various outdoor locations in the Fargo-Moorhead area to amplify the plight of the people of Ukraine and the ways people here can help.
He’s collecting warm coats, boots, hats and other winter weather gear from all over the region, as Ukrainians deal with power outages caused by the most devastating Russian air strikes of the conflict, entering its 10th month.
Read more from The Forum’s Robin Huebner
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