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042718-nws-tiny-house

Dakota Adventist Academy students Faith Peterson, left, and Leticia Venegas stand in front of a "tiny house" they constructed with other classmates and with instructor Ryan Peterson, right, on Thursday as part of the annual Bismarck-Mandan Home Builders Association's Parade of Homes. 

MIKE MCCLEARY, TRIBUNE

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

Up

We can all learn from an Afghan family living in Bismarck. The Amiri family came to the United States on Sept. 23, 2016, from Pakistan. They had fled the war in Afghanistan and were later forced to flee Pakistan because their Hazara ethnic group had been persecuted. When they arrived in Bismarck they knew no one, but were surprised by the help they received and the friendly community. Now the family, a mother with a son and three daughters, want to say thanks. They will be hosting a community meal at 6 p.m. Friday at United Church of Christ. Proceeds from the meal go to Ruth Meiers Hospitality House and Charles Hall Youth Services. The Tribune believes the community should thank the Amiri family for their courage and willingness to give back to Bismarck-Mandan. North Dakota should be proud to have them living here.

Down

A group ranks North Dakota’s spending transparency website as 34th in the nation. The U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund, a political advocacy organization, and researchers at the Frontier Group, gave North Dakota a C-minus grade. That landed the state in a group of 17 "middling" states. North Dakota's site has "above-average functionality and searchability" but it has "deficiencies in its economic development subsidy reporting," said the report. Minnesota tied for third with Wisconsin, with both states receiving an A grade. South Dakota received a C, good enough for 31st. North Dakota's "transparency portal" cost $231,000, plus staff time, and it costs about $42,500 to maintain annually. Reports like this should be taken with some skepticism since advocacy groups have agendas. However, it probably does indicate the state could make some improvements.

Up

Three workers in the Bismarck-Mandan community will receive “Best of the Best” awards this week in Fargo. The awards are being presented by the Association of People for Supportive Employment to recognize employees with disabilities who are working in integrated community-based employment and have made significant contributions in their community to increase the awareness of disability issues, advocacy issues and employment opportunities. Jennifer Adams, Ross Hagel and Ann Schuh are being honored along with Thomas Dennis, general manager of JC Penney in Bismarck. Dennis is being honored for being an advocate for people with disabilities. They all deserve the recognition and our congratulations.

Down

North Dakotans apparently like to drive fast. An analysis for GasBuddy.com ranks state drivers as fifth on a list of states with the highest average speed at 51 mph. Wyoming took first for highest average speed with 55 mph, followed by Nebraska, South Dakota and New Mexico. All the states have some wide-open spaces that tempt drivers to push down the pedal. The study also found that states with densely populated cities and high levels of congestion have more aggressive drivers. The Tribune’s not sure if that means North Dakotans are passive fast drivers. We do think it indicates we might need to slow down at times.

Up

Students at the Dakota Adventist Academy have demonstrated their workmanship. The school’s vocational class built a tiny house -- 221 square feet -- that was featured as part of the Bismarck-Mandan Home Builders Association’s Spring Parade of Homes. It wasn’t feasible for the students to build a full-size home, so they went small. The one-bedroom house features a full bathroom, fully functioning kitchen, sleeping loft, sitting area and a 32-foot drawbridge cedar deck. By all accounts they did a great job. The school is located north of Bismarck and is sponsored by the Dakota Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

Down

The North Dakota Industrial Commission is eight months behind in publishing meeting minutes. The commission staff has been short-handed with one staffer on medical leave. The responsibility doesn’t fall on the staff since the commissioners should have found a way to provide help. Gov. Doug Burgum, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring make up the commission. These top state leaders need to set an example and make sure the minutes are handled in a timely manner. Everyone is promising the minutes will be published soon. The commission should take steps to make sure the problem doesn’t occur again.

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