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Excerpts from recent North Dakota editorials

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Minot Daily News, Minot, April 16, 2014

Hoffner's difficult choice

Minot State University is looking for a head football coach again.

Todd Hoffner announced his decision Tuesday to return to the head coaching job at Minnesota State-Mankato, leaving the Minot job that he accepted on Jan. 30.

Hoffner's situation was unique, to say the least. He was fired by Mankato State in May 2013 after being charged with possessing and producing child pornography. The charges were later dismissed. Hoffner filed a labor grievance with the Bureau of Mediation Services, and last week an arbitrator ruled in Hoffner's favor, giving him the option of having his contract at Mankato reinstated.

We're had hoped Hoffner would choose to stay at Minot State, but we know it had to have been an incredibly difficult decision for the coach and his family. There were reasons to return to Mankato. Hoffner no doubt recruited some of the players at Mankato, and the team is probably further along in its development than Minot State, which is relatively new to the NCAA Division II level. But returning to Mankato to work with an administration that had put him on administrative leave and eventually fired him less than a year ago will no doubt have its awkward moments.

There certainly were reasons to stay in Minot, too. Minot State offered Hoffner the opportunity to restart his coaching career, and the chance to take the university's football program to the next level of success. The coach's parents still live in Esmond, not far away from Minot.

In the end, though, Hoffner opted to return to Mankato to finish what he started at that school. We wish him good luck. Minot State now must work quickly to find another head football coach.


The Bismarck Tribune, Bismarck, April 16, 2014

Control of filter socks tightened

Filter socks, presumed to exceed the state's limit on radioactivity, cannot be disposed of in North Dakota. Unfortunately, in recent months there have been several high-profile examples of illegal dumping of filter socks.

As a result, the state Department of Mineral Resources has instituted new rules requiring on-site filter sock containers, covered, leak-proof and collected by licensed haulers. They will be placed at saltwater disposal sites and be required during drilling and hydraulic fracking of new wells. Failure to follow those rules carries a penalty of up to $12,500 a day.

The department inspects saltwater disposal wells monthly and drilling operations twice a week. Monitoring the filter sock disposal will be part of those inspections.

For the public, illegal dumping of filter socks could lead to serious health and environmental hazards as well as expensive cleanup. For oil companies, the illegal dumping could add up to costly fines and bad public relations for both good and bad operators. The illegal dumping is a practice all key players, public and private, would like to see eliminated.

The new rules aim to make it convenient for drivers to dispose of the filter socks. In addition, they make the consequences of failure to properly dispose of filter socks clear and expensive. It appears to be a practical response.

North Dakota has a 5 picocuries limit for disposal of waste. Anything above that number must be taken out of state. There's a new disposal site for radioactive waste up to 30 picocuries near Glendive, Montana North Dakota has also commissioned a study of radioactive waste in the western part of the state, with the intention of determining whether the 5 picocurie limit could be safely raised.

The initial results from the study, being undertaken by Argonne National Laboratory, are expected in June, with the final report to follow by the end of the summer.

The illegal dumping of filter socks at Noonan, discovered at an abandoned gas station in March, is being cleaned up by a private firm contracted by the state at a cost of $12,000. The cleanup is being financed by the state's Abandoned Well and Plugging and Site Restoration Fund, which relies on taxes and fees from oil companies.

The new rules for the disposal of filter socks, which go into effect June 1, will create a better situation in western North Dakota.


Daily News, Wahpeton, April 14, 2014

Council limits where sex offender can be

When registered sex offenders move into a community, the first response is fear, the second is uncharitable feelings and the third is, how do we protect our children?

Worried parents and other like-minded individuals wish they could cordon off their town and roll out the "unwelcome sign." It isn't that easy. After an offender has served their time, they have rights on where they want to live. Most of us hope it is somewhere else, but what can you do when their residence is your city?

The Hankinson City Council was notified of a high-risk sex offender living near town and they created an ordinance to limit where the offender can be in Hankinson. The council created their ordinance from one the city of Abercrombie adopted. It is a legal way residents can restrict offender's activities.

Hankinson established a safety net for children by creating areas around locations where children regularly congregate in concentrated numbers and will prohibit registered sex offenders and sexual predators from loitering or prohibit establishing temporary or permanent residency near these locations. Mayor Joseph O'Meara said the council had their first reading of the new ordinance last Monday. "We can't make it so they can't come to town. Period," he said. "But, there are critical areas we don't want to see him loitering around."

There are a number of registered sex offenders living in Richland County, with three high-risk offenders living in Wahpeton, one near Hankinson and the fifth one residing in Lidgerwood, North Dakota Registered offenders have served their time and have rights. City councils represent the rights of their citizens and are obligated to protect our children, especially from the ones considered high risk to re-offend.

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