This is Up and Down, where we give a brief thumbs up or thumbs down on the issues from the past week.
Work to rehabilitate the ranch house, bunkhouse and barn of the Peaceful Valley Ranch in the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park was completed this summer. The $5.5 million project was funded by park and National Park Service recreation fees. The renovated ranch house dates to the 1880s and is the only original ranch house that remains in the South Unit. Now park officials are working on developing the ranch into an educational facility. Preserving the ranch will allow it to be a resource for visitors as well as area students.
The Bismarck police officers who stopped a man for illegally riding a longboard in the street in the middle of the night did not behave professionally. The officers were captured on home security video using foul language and stating “Bro, do you wanna fight.” The man should have followed police orders to stop walking, but the language used by officers was unnecessary and potentially could have escalated the situation. The video, which was posted to social media, does not reflect well on the department and reinforces the need for body cameras. The department is doing the right thing by conducting an internal investigation.
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The growth in oil patch communities was captured by the 2020 census, despite challenges prompted by the coronavirus pandemic when the count was being conducted. North Dakota oil workers began to get laid off in March 2020, just ahead of the census count, as the demand for oil dropped. But that downturn did not seem to have a negative impact on the census figures. The count shows significant growth over the past 10 years, including 131% growth in McKenzie County and 83% growth in Williams County. Those communities will now be better positioned to secure more federal funding.
An audit of the Parshall Public School District found “extensive” deficiencies after 81 people from the school district petitioned the state auditor to conduct a review. The 17 deficiencies included more than $3.7 million that was unreconciled from 2018 and 2019; missing documentation for more than $500,000 in purchases; health benefits that were paid for two people who aren’t employees; and inaccurate reporting of federally connected children on a grant aid application. The district says it’s taken steps to correct the issues, including forming a finance committee and hiring an accountant.