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David Goodin, middle, president and CEO of MDU Resourses Group, accepts the award for Outstanding Employee Campaign Award from Shelley and Craig Larson, co-chairs of the fundraising effort for the Missouri Slope Areawide United Way, during the nonprofit's annual meeting on Thursday in Bismarck. 

This is Up and Down, where we give a brief thumbs up and thumbs down on the issues from the past week.

Up

The Missouri Slope Areawide United Way has been providing vital programs for the community for years. So it was gratifying to hear that United Way raised $2.74 million for its 2018 programs. That means efforts to improve childhood education, help with parenting, a Parkinson’s health program and more can continue. Since October, United Way has been at the forefront of providing shelter for homeless men in the Bismarck area. The only men’s shelter closed, creating a crisis, and United Way jumped in to help. The United Way serves the young to the old and without the agency many would suffer. It’s great to see community support for United Way.

Down

Providing help for the homeless can be difficult. The Bismarck-Mandan area has discovered how hard it is to establish a homeless shelter for men. It was an added disappointment when the North Dakota Coalition for Homeless People eliminated its two paid staff members and closed its Bismarck office. The 2017 Legislature cut funding for the North Dakota Homeless Grant by 80 percent. This contributed to budget problems that forced the coalition to drop the staffers and close the office. The coalition will continue operating by relying on volunteers. Hopefully, new sources of financial support can be found. We need the coalition’s work.

Up

Plans are moving forward for the Heritage River Landing, a riverside restaurant and event center to be located at the former Captain Meriwether’s site. The 4,400-square-foot community event space will house a seasonal bar and restaurant and a gift shop with ticket sales for the Lewis and Clark Riverboat, as well as interactive kiosks about the area's history. The event space will be available for rent for public and private events and a 4,200-square-foot patio will allow for outdoor dining in the summer. Fundraising for the project continues and groundbreaking is planned for this spring. The goal is to complete the structure this year and hold a grand opening in 2019. It’s a beautiful location along the Missouri River and should be a great addition for Bismarck.

Down

A court ruling has voided animal agriculture exemptions under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, which means some livestock operations could be required to report emissions that meet or exceed 100 pounds of ammonia or hydrogen sulfide within a 24-hour period. This could be a problem because many operators are unsure how to determine whether the law applies to their operations. The Environmental Protection Agency admits it will be difficult for farmers to report releases since “there is no generally accepted methodology for estimating emission quantities at this time." The North Dakota Stockmen's Association has been seeking legislative relief from the requirement and action is needed soon.

Up

Microsoft will be giving North Dakota education a boost. It is partnering with the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction to expand computer science offerings in schools. The Technology Education and Literacy in Schools program, or TEALS, pairs professionals in computer science fields with classroom instructors to offer computer science education. There are few computer science courses in the state, and the number of high school students taking Advanced Placement computer science exams is low. Last year, only 40 students took AP computer science tests. However, there are a lot of computing jobs available in the country and demand is expected to increase. TEALS bodes well for the future of many students.

Down

State regulators have known it will be a challenge to continue to meet flaring targets this year. The goals get tougher as the year goes along. That challenge started a little earlier than expected. Revised natural gas numbers show the state’s oil industry failed to meet the state gas capture target in October. The numbers from the Department of Mineral Resources show the industry flared slightly more than 16 percent of Bakken natural gas produced in October, not 15 percent as the agency reported from preliminary figures. That means the industry did not meet the targets set by the North Dakota Industrial Commission, which requires companies to capture 85 percent of Bakken gas, or flare no more than 15 percent. Hopefully, the industry can get back on track.

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