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Enchanted Highway

"Geese in Flight" at the head of the Enchanted Highway has been closed since July 2017 due to a liability and lease dispute involving the site's new landowners. 

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

Up

The Bismarck School Board plans to hire about 28 teachers for the next school year. The board made the decision after an assessment showed the school district needs to add 50.5 teachers over the next two years. Additional teachers offer a number of benefits. Along with reducing class sizes it will help address mental health concerns, bullying and classroom safety, which are exacerbated by large class sizes. The smaller class sizes mean students will get more attention. It’s a win for everyone.

Down

After the recent arrest of Chad Isaak, accused in four murders in Mandan, there were unfortunate actions taken. Isaak was practicing as a chiropractor in Washburn. Websites got careless and posted photos of two Mandan chiropractors and identified them as Isaak. TheCount.com, a gossip website, admitted its mistake and apologized. In serious cases like the Mandan murders, journalists and social media need to be extra careful when reporting and using photos.

Up

The South Central Judicial District has had a shortage of three judges for some time. So it’s important that the Senate added a judgeship for the district in the 2019-21 judicial budget bill. The Senate and House will have to resolve the differences in the bill during a conference committee. The shortage adds to the workload of the other judges in the district. One judge won’t solve all the issues, but it will ease the workload. North Dakota has 51 district judgeships serving eight judicial districts with the last new judges added in 2015.

Down

Gov. Doug Burgum and the Legislature are still sparring over the governor’s desire not to accept a salary. While it’s commendable that Burgum doesn’t want to take a salary, it’s also understandable why legislators don’t want to take it out of the budget. Legislators don’t want to set a precedent for future gubernatorial candidates and worry about the problems if something should happen to Burgum while in office. Burgum should accept the salary and donate it to the charity or charities of his choice. It may not be as easy for the governor, but the money will still go to a good cause or causes.

Up

The Enchanted Highway will be regaining some of its magic. A dispute involving liability and the lease related to the statuary road's flagship sculpture, "Geese in Flight," has been resolved. The dispute closed the site off Exit 72 on Interstate 94. The parties involved have settled the court case and the site should open in May. That’s good news for those who enjoy visiting the Enchanted Highway with sculptures all the way to Regent.

Up

This item teeters between an up or down. We’ll make it an up because we think Tom Sorel has done a good job as director of the North Dakota Department of Transportation. Sorel has decided to retire on April 26 and cited family reasons for his decision. He’s held the position since August 2017. He played a key role in launching the Vision Zero initiative for zero traffic fatalities. The only reason this would be a down is that we are sorry to see him go. We wish him a great retirement.

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