This is Up and Down, where we give a brief thumbs up or thumbs down on the issues from the past week.
It was welcome news last week when the Bismarck-Mandan Symphony Orchestra announced it will host the annual Fourth of July Symphony Spectacular on the Capitol grounds. Organizers have adopted coronavirus-related precautions in order to hold the traditional event. Precautions include physical distancing of musicians and audience members and increased hygiene resources. While many other events had to cancel during the pandemic, organizers said the annual event could still be held while protecting the safety of musicians and audience members. Attendees are encouraged to stay “a snow angel’s wingspan apart,” referring to a record set in 2007 when 8,962 people gathered at the Capitol to make simultaneous snow angels.
North Dakota reported 26 homicides in 2019, the highest number recorded in one year since Uniform Crime data collection started in the 1970s. The previous record was 22 in 2015. Ten of the homicide victims died in domestic violence incidents. Guns were used in 10 of the deaths. Mandan saw a quadruple homicide with the deaths at RJR Maintenance and Management. The state’s arrest rate on homicides is near 100%, above the national average of 60%. North Dakota’s crime report did contain some good news, including a drop in drug arrests for the first time in 10 years and another drop in DUI arrests.
Bismarck-Burleigh Public Health tested 662 people last week for COVID-19 during three drive-up testing events. Thirteen people had tested positive with one test still pending on Friday. The events were well-organized, and participants received results quickly. The turnout exceeded expectations, and the department plans to hold additional events in Bismarck this week. Organizers have added an online registration option to expedite the process.
The price of Mandan’s raw water intake project keeps rising, with the cost of the project now estimated to be $36.6 million. It was estimated to cost $30 million in April and initially projected in early 2019 to cost $20.8 million. The project involves building a new water intake facility on the Missouri River. The existing facility, which is 63 years old, is prone to sand settling in front of the intake pipes. The new facility would be in a deeper, more stable part of the river. An engineering consultant says the price has increased due to shifting market factors and the challenging nature of the project.
Both of North Dakota’s U.S. senators paid tribute last week to Sister Thomas Welder in Washington. Sens. John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer gave floor speeches that highlighted her legacy and formally entered her obituary into the Congressional Record with unanimous consent of the Senate. The recognition was well-deserved for a woman who touched so many lives. Welder, 80, died last Monday at her monastery home south of Bismarck. Tributes will continue today during a funeral that is open to family and close friends.
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