This is Up and Down, where we give a brief thumbs up and thumbs down on the issues from the past week.
It’s always nice to see someone be successful in their profession. There were three examples last week when the Mandan Police Department promoted three officers. Sgt. April Bowman and Lt. Rick Widicker were honored by colleagues and family members when they got their promotions. And Lori Flaten continued her rise in the department. She was named Mandan’s first female deputy chief of police. That’s just another first in her career. She had been the first female sergeant and the first to be selected lieutenant. Flaten has seen a lot of changes in her 40-year career. In the beginning, she said, many didn’t take her seriously. That was in the 1970s and attitudes have changed. The three officers earned their promotions and should be congratulated.
North Dakota apparently hit a bump in the road in September. Oil companies reported flaring 17 percent of the natural gas produced, exceeding the state’s flaring targets. Companies aren’t supposed to flare more than 15 percent during a month. In August, the companies flared 14 percent. The increase in flaring was blamed on maintenance problems with pipelines, natural gas processing plants and compressor stations. Companies need to get back on track with flaring because it’s wasteful and not the best for the environment. The good news is that state officials don’t expect flaring to exceed the limits in October and November.
While the recent warmer weather has eliminated most of the snow we can’t get complacent about winter. There’s plenty of time for bad weather and lots of snow. The state Department of Transportation has been preparing for months for lousy weather conditions. They have ordered salt, fine-tuned trucks and gotten snowplows ready. Dealing with snow and ice can be costly. In 2016-17 it cost the department about $24.2 million to deal with the weather. So when you see plows on the road remember all the hours put into preparation and the long hours spent keeping the roads clear.
There are many things we take for granted in life and one of them appears to be IV bags. Many of the bags are produced in Puerto Rico and when Hurricane Maria battered the island production was disrupted. Medical facilities in North Dakota are feeling the pinch. Fortunately, the North Dakota Department of Health has a medical cache. Medical facilities can request help from the state through the cache, though it will need to be replenished. The situation reminds us that Puerto Rico plays an important role in the United States. It’s part of our economy and just like the states hammered by hurricanes deserves our support.
Everyone likes the chance to be home for the holidays. For about 60 National Guard members with the 136th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion this Thanksgiving will be especially sweet. They are back in the states after a 10-month deployment to a combat zone in Afghanistan. Everyone came through the mission safely and last week they flew back to their hometowns across North Dakota, Minnesota and Kentucky. Being deployed to a combat zone can be a tense time for Guard members and their family and friends. We are glad they are home safe for Thanksgiving and Christmas.