This is Up and Down, where we give a brief thumbs up and thumbs down on the issues from the past week.
It’s not often there's a program that’s fun, family-friendly, educational and benefits the state. That’s what North Dakota has with its fossil dig program. The North Dakota Geological Survey plans to expand the program that gives people a chance to discover fossils that are millions of years old. State paleontologists will take to the field for 46 days next year with participants who hope for an important discovery. As the program expanded it has resulted in some major finds for the state fossil collection. Legacy High School student Simone IronBoulder found a crocodile tooth during a field trip near Medora in 2017. It is the largest crocodile tooth found at that site. It’s truly a program that benefits everyone involved.
We believe voters’ choices should be respected, but on occasion the results can be baffling. Such is the case in the Twin Buttes School Board election. Melissa Starr, who pleaded guilty in 2007 to embezzlement and theft while on the board, received 35 write-in votes in a special election to win a school board seat. She promises not to take compensation or go on trips. She’s so far paid $20,470 of the more than $309,000 in restitution she’s been ordered to make. She also served time in prison. We realize people can change and learn from their mistakes, but we’re not sure the appropriate place for Starr is on the school board. However, that’s what the voters decided.
The Hess Corp. has started donating more than 8,000 toy trucks to North Dakota elementary schools to help incorporate science, technology, engineering and mathematics into classrooms. Liberty Elementary School in Bismarck is the first school in the state to get the trucks. How do toy trucks help with STEM? Hess worked with Baylor College of Medicine to develop STEM curriculum geared toward grades 4-6 that involves the trucks. The curriculum has lessons that explore practical transportation issues, including fuel efficiency, kinetic energy for producing motion and motorsports. It sounds like a program that will keep the attention of students.
For many years North Dakota, especially the Grand Forks area, has enjoyed Canadian tourism. The exchange rate made visiting and shopping a bargain. The number of noncommercial automobiles entering the U.S. has fallen by 25 percent since 2014 and the value of the Canadian dollar has remained around 76 U.S. cents since 2013. It’s not just the exchange rate keeping Canadians away. There are more shopping opportunities in Winnipeg, with the same products they came to buy in North Dakota now available at home. Plus, the relations between Canada and the U.S. aren’t as warm as in the past. Our friends from the north are missed and not just for monetary reasons. They are enjoyable visitors and it’s fun to meet people from another country.
Arnegard Police Officer Travis Bateman had to deal with an unexpected situation on Nov. 19. Samantha Hoover was trying to reach the hospital to deliver her baby, but realized she wasn’t going to make it in time. So Bateman delivered the baby in a car along McKenzie County Road 30. Arnegard Police Chief Troy White Owl said Bateman's delivery is a first for the two-member police department in the town of 150 residents. Bateman downplayed his role, saying "I basically should have had a catcher's mitt. Here she was, and she started crying." It’s good that you can count on police for just about everything.