This is Up and Down, where we give a brief thumbs up or thumbs down on the issues from the past week.
Bismarck unveiled two fast charging stations for electric vehicles last week, one at the Bismarck-Mandan Convention and Visitors Bureau and another at the Bismarck Airport. The stations -- the first of their kind in Bismarck -- can provide a vehicle a nearly full charge in about 30 minutes. Other charging stations in Bismarck are not as powerful or are compatible only with Tesla cars. Bismarck Mayor Steve Bakken said the stations help the city be a connecting point across the region. A lack of charging infrastructure has caused electric vehicle owners to avoid driving through North Dakota and the region. The Bismarck charging stations were funded with money from a 2016 settlement between Volkswagen and the federal government.
North Dakotans have been missing blue skies due to smoke from wildfires in the western U.S. and Canada. The air quality worsened last week, prompting state environmental health officials to issue warnings to the public to limit exposure outdoors. Officials said Friday the air quality index has ranged from moderate to unhealthy. The elderly, children and people with heart or lung disease were urged to take extra precautions. The National Weather Service said shifts in weather may offer temporary relief, but smoky conditions are likely to continue into August. The public can check air quality conditions at AirNow.gov.
North Dakota announced more aid last week to help farmers and ranchers coping with drought. The State Water Commission on Friday approved two more water supply assistance programs and allocated more money to the existing Drought Disaster Livestock Water Supply Project Assistance Program. The actions provide $5 million in additional state aid. In addition, the North Dakota Industrial Commission approved two Bank of North Dakota loan programs that aim to make $150 million available to help livestock producers. The Livestock Drought Loan Program will cover ag-related costs incurred as a result of this year’s drought. The Livestock Rebuilder Loan Program aims to help producers who had to reduce the size of their herd due to a lack of feed supply.
Road construction in Mandan has shifted traffic to typically quiet residential areas due to detours and motorists taking alternate routes. Residents are reporting an increase in traffic speeds in areas including Lakewood and Terra Vallee. Mandan police asked motorists last week to be considerate of homeowners and follow the speed limit. Police plan to patrol those areas more often during peak traffic times.