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Friday, May 22, 2015
North Dakota lawmakers still no closer to session decision    view comments tweat me share on facebook
With less than six weeks left in the biennium, state lawmakers and the North Dakota Public Employees Retirement System are still waiting to hear whether NDPERS can operate through 2015-17 with existing budget authority or if lawmakers must return to session to finish the agency’s budget. The attorney general’s office was asked to issue an opinion on the matter after the Legislature adjourned April 29 without passing the NDPERS budget bill because of differences between the House and Senate. Attorney general’s spokeswoman Liz Brocker said she couldn’t estimate a timeline for the opinion. “We are working on this as a high priority, but because of the complexity of the issue and of the opinion process, I can’t predict exactly when the opinion will be issued,” she said Thursday. Legislative Management, the panel of 17 lawmakers that serves out the various functions of the Legislative Assembly between its regular sessions every other year, will meet Wednesday for the first time since the session ended. But the topic of possibly calling lawmakers back into session to finish House Bill 1476 isn’t on the agenda. Lawmakers adjourned on the 78th day of the session, leaving two legislative days to spare. The panel’s chairman, Sen. Ray Holmberg, R-Grand Forks, said they will have to decide their next step after NDPERS receives the opinion. “There’s little purpose in going back (into session) until we have a pretty good idea of what we’re going to do,” he said. The House and Senate disagreed on amendments to HB1476 that House Republican leaders said will protect NDPERS members and ensure they have the same network coverage and benefits when the group’s carrier switches July 1 from Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota to Sanford Health Plan. The NDPERS health plan covers more than 29,000 public employees and retirees and their family members at the state and local levels – nearly 66,500 insured lives in all, including state lawmakers.
Grand Forks Herald

Follow Up: Lawnmower sparks Wahpeton garage fire; residents grateful for limited damage    view comments tweat me share on facebook
VIDEO: Firefighters are blaming a lawnmower for sparking a huge garage fire in Wahpeton Wednesday evening. The Wahpeton fire chief says a riding lawnmower parked in a stall overheated and set fire to the garage. Several propane tanks fueled the flames and embers almost ignited nearby apartment buildings. Crews fully contained the fire after almost three hours. Chief Derek Miller- Wahpeton Fire Dept.: "We had crews attacking it from both sides, communicating with the officers back and forth on exactly what they're doing on the opposite side." Chief Miller says the lawnmower was likely faulty and the fire wasn't started by human error. Four different apartment buildings sat dangerously close to the garage fire Wednesday evening, and today, those residents are thanking firefighters for quickly containing the flames. Many of these garages were being used at storage units, and although the items inside are lost, residents here are counting their blessings today. Right around the time when many people were getting out of work Wednesday evening, fire began shooting out of this row of garages. Word of the fire spread almost as quickly as the flames, and David Gizinski rushed home when he heard the fire engines were right outside his front door. David Gizinski- Garage Destroyed In Fire: "I was glad when I came around, I saw my family -- my wife and kid -- so I was really happy to see nobody was hurt. Then it was kind of, you know, how much did everybody lose?" Smoke cleared and revealed at least 10 garages reduced to a pile of rubble. Intense heat melted the side of this nearby apartment building. Another neighbor's car was shattered and charred. Gizinski lost his entire garage full of spare clothes, inherited items from his late mother and his autistic son's therapy equipment, but those are things he says he can replace. Gizinski: "Everyone's looking at the positives and the upsides, and it's all things." Insurance adjusters are still estimating the cost of the total damages.

Wahpeton Dominos Manger: "I honestly don’t think what I did was out of the normal."    view comments tweat me share on facebook
VIDEO: A remarkable story out of Wahpeton unfolded as Wednesday’s devastating apartment garage fire was happening. One man who lost thousands of dollars’ worth of belongings in the blaze thought only of those helping contain it. The Dominos in Wahpeton is known for giving back to the community but Wednesday evening the pizza place took it a step further. "By the time units arrived we had five fully involved garages,” explained Wahpeton Fire Chief Derek Miller. When Wahpeton’s first responders arrived, the fire was spreading quickly. "Right now we're determining it was a riding lawnmower as the cause of the fire,” said Miller. But things went from normal to extraordinary in a hurry. The General Manager of Dominos, his garage was fully engulfed. But he rushed to the restaurant to start making pizzas. "Yesterday you know I went down to the fire station I brought them a lot of pizza. I showed up there and went back and they were they were very grateful,” explained Dan Wold, the GM. "He donated approximately 60 pizzas to the Fire Department. Actually that's really awesome. As well as the water that he brought over us to. That was really what we needed was the water,” said Chief Miller. Ash and charcoal: what’s left of Wold’s garage, everything gone including the Harley still parked in side. He estimates close to $10,000 in losses. His immediate thought as the fire burned: take care of the people keeping him safe.
KVLY-TV Fargo - Valley News Live

Grass Fire Puzzling Following Heavy Rain In The Valley City Region    view comments tweat me share on facebook
The cause of a grass fire northwest of Valley City on Wednesday, May 20 appears to be a mystery, for now. Rural Fire Chief Gary Retterath says there were three separate areas of grass on fire. Retterath says it was strange to see a grass fire after the region received so much moisture and everything appears to be so green once again in the area. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Thursday, May 21, 2015
Possible cause in massive Wahpeton fire   view comments tweat me share on facebook
PHOTO: We are learning what may have caused a massive fire in Wahpeton that destroyed 10 garages and damaged 3 others. A lawnmower may have sparked this blaze late Wednesday afternoon. The fire happened at the Asbury Apartment complex along Loy Avenue. That's across from the middle school. Embers jumped to adjacent apartment buildings, but firefighters quickly put them out. The siding is melted and damaged on one complex. Two others have roof damage. At least one vehicle parked behind the garages was burned, as well lawnmowers and oxygen tanks.

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