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Excerpts from recent North Dakota editorials


BISMARCK, North Dakota — The Williston Herald, Williston, Aug. 30, 2014

Time to support public safety

Billions of dollars are expected to flow into North Dakota for another biennium. On Friday, the state released updated projections showing $5.17 billion in general fund revenues in the 2015-17 biennium, and $9.7 billion from the oil extraction and gross production tax in the same revenue.

What is sent to western North Dakota and the Bakken is up in the air.

But this week an idea and proposal for Williston to help itself and other Bakken entities came to the forefront —a one-cent county sales tax to fund police, fire and emergency operations. Just as the legislature has always heckled western legislators to do, Williston and Williams County are going to try and do it on their own.

It's an effort, when it hits the ballot in November, we urge voters to support. We also support the city of Williston in its attempt to acquire a half-cent tax through either the county-wide measure, or one of its own.

The county would be wise to join Williston and support its needs. The city brings in more than $3 billion of Williams County's $4 billion taxable sales and purchases. Only asking for half, while giving almost 70 percent, sends a message of cooperation that would help everyone in the long run.

There are no services more critical to a growing city than public safety, and consumption taxes are the fairest way to ask the general public being served and benefiting from these services to help fund them.

In the fire department alone, a half-cent sales tax would boost funding for a north substation and any future substations. The money, estimated at around $15 million annually, would allow the city to push toward a full-time fire department, a Hazmat unit and newer equipment that will be needed as Williston's buildings begin to grow upward.

Police in Williston, and from the county side the sheriff's office, would be able to hire officers and deputies, equipment, vehicles and possibly combine forces to build a new or expanded jail in Williams County.

Whatever the need, the tax will be a boon to funding provided by the state and start to reverse the trend of Williston and Williams County being behind on the greatest needs.

Police, fire and EMS services are stretched thin to protect the lives of the citizens of Williston and Williams County. And overall, they do a good job protecting us.

We feel November is a time for the citizens to give back, and make the basic function of their jobs a little easier.

The Bismarck Tribune, Bismarck, Aug. 28, 2014

Farmers' food hub deserves support

Some North Dakota farmers are working on a new way to market their products. If they are successful, they will be delivering goods to hospitals, schools or grocery stores.

About 10 family farmers along U.S. Highway 83 are forming a growers cooperative with the intention of creating a farmer-owned food hub. If successful, they will provide a steady supply of produce on a large scale.

Common Enterprises Development Corp. and the Foundation for Agricultural and Rural Resources Management and Sustainability began work in January on the feasibility of a food hub. Now CEDC is coordinating organization efforts to create the hub.

A $60,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development grant helped fund the research to establish the hub.

It's not going to be easy.

To supply the Bismarck Public School District, farmers would have to produce enough food for 8,000 meals a day. It will require farmers to work together so they have selling power.

At the moment, direct marketing is often limited to farmers markets.

There's also an effort to develop the Bisman Community Food Cooperative. It's another chance for cooperative farmers to sell their products.

Getting organized and operating will take time — maybe two or three years.

But it's an opportunity for farmers to control their future.

"The idea here is rather than continuing to talk about same critical challenges, let's get together a co-op that can solve them," Tyler Demars of the CEDC told the Tribune.

The farmers will have to agree on what to grow. They might need to pool their resources for equipment — sharing instead of individual farmers buying what's needed.

If successful, the hub will live up to the meaning of cooperative: farmers working together to achieve a common goal.

The potential outcome would not only benefit the farmers, but everyone up the food chain to the consumers. It also could provide a blueprint for other projects.

It deserves widespread support.

Minot Daily News, Minot, Aug. 31, 2014

Heitkamp versus the railroads

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp is all over the railcar shortage issue, as well she should be.

Specifically, Heitkamp, who has taken on big tobacco in the past, has focused her considerable influence on Canadian Pacific Railway and its apparent bad-faith efforts to bring railcar deliveries to North Dakota elevators up to date.

According to a news release from the senator's office last week, Heitkamp "called out Canadian Pacific Railway CEO E. Hunter Harrison for his company's new, yet seriously flawed, system to handle the delays of agriculture shipments in North Dakota."

"Specifically, the company's new rail car order and shuttle train system ignores the current number of unfulfilled requests from grain elevators, and forces North Dakota's farmers and grain operators to start from scratch in the middle of the state's harvest season. It's making grain elevators essentially leave massive quantities of crops on the side of the road while the railroad will only transport new grain orders."

The company, in short, is accused of starting at zero in its own count of ordered cars yet to be delivered.

That's not the kind of response we would hope for from Canadian Pacific and does farmers no good.

Is that any way to run a railroad?

Good job, Heidi. Keep turning up the heat — on CP and any other railroad or rail transportation authority that might be able to help our farmers who are already hurting this year because of crop quality issues.

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