This is Up and Down, where we give a brief thumbs up or thumbs down on the issues from the past week.
Rep. Keith Kempenich deserves credit for sharing his experience with COVID-19 after previously being a vaccine skeptic. Kempenich, R-Bowman, contracted the virus in the final days of the session after skipping the vaccine and not taking masking seriously. Now he says he’s kicking himself for not getting vaccinated and recommending people get the vaccine to protect themselves, The Associated Press reported. The North Dakota Department of Health plans to use stories like Kempenich’s in a public education campaign to increase the state’s vaccination rate. Hearing real examples, such as Kempenich needing to be emergency airlifted to a Bismarck hospital, should be an effective way to communicate the importance of vaccines.
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department said last week it has confirmed the presence of invasive zebra mussels in Twin Lakes in LaMoure County after a cabin owner reported adult mussels attached to a floating log. The lake is a popular fishing destination north of LaMoure and about 6 miles from Lake LaMoure, which had confirmation of zebra mussels in 2020. In addition, a Game and Fish inspector stopped a zebra mussel-encrusted pontoon from launching on Lake Audubon over Memorial Day weekend. Advocates for Lake Sakakawea say the state is relying too much on the honor system to prevent the spread of aquatic nuisance species. The Game and Fish Department says enforcement is a priority.
Sleepy Hollow Theatre and Arts Park welcomed back fans last week for opening night of Disney’s “Frozen Jr.” The popular outdoor theater had to cancel its 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic. “Frozen Jr.,” directed by Dan Walstad, runs through July 16. Sleepy Hollow is celebrating its 32nd year, thanks to the support of audiences, families and the community. “Footloose” will be presented July 22-31.
Richardson’s ground squirrels, or flickertails, are causing frustration for residents of a condo building on Gateway Avenue. One resident says the problems have increased the past two years and seem to be worse due to the drought. When there’s less vegetation in the empty lot where they live, the squirrels are more likely to invade the patios of the condo building to eat the plants. The city does not have a policy related to “urban rodents,” so the residents don’t have much recourse other than adding netting or other makeshift gates to keep them out.