This is Up and Down, where we give a brief thumbs up and thumbs down on the issues from the past week.
The U.S. Geological Survey has started the process of evaluating the oil and gas that can be recovered in the Williston Basin. The last assessment was done in 2013 and had an impact on the oil patch. Last week, the state’s oil industry leaders urged the geologists to consider new technology’s role in production when doing the assessment. There’s no doubt the industry continues to find new ways to recover oil and gas. The assessment should be helpful for future development.
State Board of Higher Education members shouldn’t be limited on what they say to the public. They should always be clear if they are stating a personal opinion and not speaking for the board. Board member Dan Traynor questioned a board policy that limits members' ability to speak publicly. The board discussed the policy last week, but didn’t make any changes. Board members shouldn’t have to worry about what they say in public.
Heidi Heitkamp has been pitched as a possible successor to University of North Dakota President Mark Kennedy. He’s hasn’t resigned yet, but whether he gets the job in Colorado or not, it’s apparent he won’t stay long. Heitkamp hasn’t ruled out taking the job if it were offered. Former Gov. Ed Schafer got good reviews when he served as interim UND president. Heitkamp could bring some of the same strengths to the position: a North Dakota native with a strong understanding of the state’s issues and people. She shouldn’t be ruled out.
Bis-Man Transit continues to struggle with its finances. An updated transit development plan recommends that more funds be pursued from the cities that transit serves. The plan also says potential reductions in service should be considered. The Tribune Editorial Board feels the focus should be on getting more money. Cutting service defeats the purpose of transit, which is needed by people who for various reasons don’t have another form of transportation. Finding a solution will require a community effort.
The University of Mary is taking another step in the development of its engineering program. The school will break ground today on a new multimillion-dollar School of Engineering in the old university dining hall. Over the weekend, U-Mary had its first engineering graduate, Michael Gorder. Engineering graduates are in demand and the university is filling a void. Gorder has a job with Moore Engineering in Bismarck.