Mathern joins fight to protect health care

Sen. Tim Mathern, D-Fargo, sent out a news release last night, saying he is helping to fight an effort by state attorney generals to overturn health care reforms.  
Mathern said he and other state legislators from across the country have filed a friend of the court brief that opposes a federal lawsuit by several states that challenges federal health care reform based on constitutional grounds. 
“The attorney generals who filed this lawsuit want to stop health care reform at the expense of working families in North Dakota and across America,” Mathern said in a statement. “They are threatening the gains we have made — no pre-existing conditions for children, no lifetime caps on treatment, covering our young people until age 26 on family policies — while also putting future benefits at risk.”
The state legislators’ motion for leave to file brief of amici curiae in Florida v. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services can be read here:

N.D. tourism sites receive funding

BISMARCK—Ten North Dakota tourism attractions received grants to support expansions.

The Tourism Infrastructure and Expansion Grants are matching grants requiring the sponsor to provide $1 for every $2 of grant money requested. The total amount of grant dollars awarded for this program is $99,312, a Tourism Division news release said.

The 2011 recipients are:

– Bagg Bonanza Farm, Mooreton, to construct a new basement for the Main House. This is to ensure the safety and integrity of the building as well as increase exhibit space.

– Bottineau County Agricultural Society, Bottineau, to place bleachers from the former State Fair grandstand in Minot on a new foundation at the Bottineau County Fair site.

– Save Coghlan Castle Inc., St. John, for continued restoration of the Coghlan Castle Turtle Mountain Scenic Byway site.

– Enchanted Highway Inc. Regent, to construct the “Enchanted Castle,” a 20-room lodging facility in the former Regent school building.

– Grant County JDA, Carson, to add restroom and shower facilities to a 20-site campground at Lake Tschida.

– McKenzie County Tourism, Watford City, to expand the existing oil display at the Pioneer Museum with scale models of drilling and work-over rigs, showing below-ground activity.

– Wimbledon Community Museum, Wimbledon, to restore the 1913 Midland Continental Depot. Included will be information and artifacts from Peggy Lee, who lived in the depot’s upstairs living quarters as a teenager when her father was the depot agent.

– Dickens Village, Garrison, to restore the “Queen Elizabus,” an authentic double-decker English bus. The project includes construction of a shelter with a clear wall to display the bus all year.

– North Dakota Coon Hunters Association, Fort Ransom, to complete the Sheyenne River Lodge facility to host bench shows, hunter education programs and events chartered by three national kennel clubs.

– Plains Art Museum, Fargo, for construction related to the installation of “The North Dakota Mural” by North Dakota native James Rosenquist. The project also includes the construction of the Center for Lifelong Learning within the museum for arts education.

North Dakota Department of Commerce Commissioner Shane Goettle said the program provides an opportunity to combine economic development and Tourism Division dollars to enhance the state’s tourism attractions, thus drawing more visitor dollars to North Dakota.

School board members discuss bullying

BISMARCK – School bullying today is not like it was in the past, and school districts need to take action.

That was the message Friday at a school cyberbullying talk for North Dakota school board members.

The topic was popular, with more than 100 people attending that session and a school bullying panel earlier in the day.

The panel was led by Fargo school officials, who discussed creating positive school climates and policies that address bullying and harassment.

Fargo School Board President Jim Johnson said school bullying is in the limelight now and the conference is a good time to discuss it.

“We’re really going to be focusing in on trying to create a safe school climate and address policies and practices that hopefully can do that throughout our district as well as throughout the state,” he said.

Rick Heidt, a consultant for F.R.I.E.N.D. in Bismarck, led the cyberbullying session and stressed the need to be proactive.

Adults who think kids will get over bullying and say, “I did. They can do it, too,” don’t understand today’s bullying, he said.

School bullying is hardly physical anymore. Now, technology like camera phones, texting, sexting, Facebook and other websites are being used, he said.

Heidt gave examples of how students can use their cell phones to take pictures of others in the bathroom or locker room and share them with others.

“Entire websites can be created that will make life torture for the person that’s being bullied,” Heidt said. “Therefore, we need to do some things differently than we have been when it comes to bullying because it’s a different animal.”

Districts need to take action against bullying because it impacts student learning, he said. Emotional scars can last a lifetime, and repeat victims can become suicidal.

Most bullying occurs in schools, and victims often will not report bullying, Heidt said.

Students need to understand their actions could affect future employment and may be crimes, he said.

Having an anti-bullying policy isn’t just about having a policy but what schools can do about the climate, said Nancy Jordheim, a Fargo assistant superintendent.

Fargo School Board member John Strand said schools need to have policies that are specific and ensure all students feel safe.

“My dream is this: That these folks leaving this seminar today and this weekend will go home and implement profound change,” he said. “If you have policies in place, it makes a difference.”

Happy Hooligans to be honored at Hometown Heroes Salute

News release from the North Dakota Air National Guard:

Since Sept. 11, 2001, more than 1,800 airmen have deployed in support of the Global War on Terrorism. This year, on the weekend of the anniversary of Sept. 11, the Happy Hooligans will honor many of these brave men and women during their first-ever “Hometown Heroes Salute” that will take place on Sept. 11 in Fargo and Sept. 12 in Minot.   

“Every day, we have airmen serving abroad, away from their loved ones, protecting our country, and because they often deploy in small numbers, we want to ensure they receive the recognition they deserve for their service,” Gov. John Hoeven said in a statement.  “The Hometown Heroes Salute is a great opportunity to honor these men and women and their families, and thank them for serving our state and nation.”   

In addition to Hoeven, Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota adjutant general, and Col. Rick Gibney, 119th Wing commander, will speak at the Fargo ceremony on Sept. 11, which will be dedicated to honoring more than 300 North Dakota airmen and their families. 

 The following day, the Happy Hooligans will honor their Guardsmen from the Minot-based 219th Security Forces Squadron at Bud Ebert Park, Minot Air Force Base.  Thirteen airmen will be recognized during the event.  

“These Hometown Heroes Salute ceremonies are happening in conjunction with ‘Family Day’ events in Fargo and in Minot. This is fitting because not only are we honoring our airmen who have deployed, but we are also taking the time to thank the families who support these airmen. Without that strong support of the families, the airmen could not effectively do their mission. Every airman who is courageous enough to deploy and serve their country deserves to be recognized for their sacrifices,” Sprynczynatyk said.  

The airmen being recognized will receive an award for serving more than 30 consecutive days away from home station between Sept. 11, 2001, and Dec. 31, 2008.

Hawken seeks speaker of the House post

Rep. Kathy Hawken, R-Fargo, has notified fellow legislators that she’s interested in serving as speaker of the House this coming legislative session. Here is the letter she sent out:

"The 2011 Legislative Session promises to be one of the most crucial in our State’s history. As usual the budget and other important issues will be on our legislative plate. It will be important that our daily sessions run smoothly and provide a welcoming atmosphere for all who visit our chamber.

I have been encouraged by several colleagues to seek the office of Speaker of the House of Representatives. I have enjoyed the work of the Appropriations Committee, but I believe I could serve the House and our members as Speaker. I know the routine and the rules and will work closely with our Majority Leader and our caucus members.

My elected service to District 46 and the State of North Dakota began in 1997. The 2011 session will be my last and it would truly be a privilege to end my career as Speaker.

I look forward to consulting with each member of our caucus as we move closer to organizing the 62nd Legislative Session. Your thoughts and concerns will be very important to me and I will take each one seriously.

I have been humbled by the support I have received thus far and would truly appreciate your consideration for this special role in our Legislature.

Thank you for your service to North Dakota."

State parks host artist in residency program

News release:

The North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department is teaming up with the North Dakota Council on the Arts to bring the “Artist In Residency” program to the state parks.

Three area artists are being given the chance to showcase their crafts and talents, each at a difference state park for one week between July 15 and Aug. 30. This is an effort to incorporate the arts into the interpretive and educational activities at Lewis & Clark, Icelandic and Cross Ranch state parks.

Fargo’s Robb Siverson will be featured at Icelandic State Park from Aug. 8-15. Siverson is a passionate photographer drawn to the vastness and grandeur of the Northern Plains landscape. Siverson’s goal is to create a body of work showing North Dakota’s beauty through vivid images of Icelandic’s historical site and landscape.

Heidi Goldberg of Walcott will create a series of graphite and watercolor sketches translated to copper plates from which intaglio prints are made. Goldberg will display her talents at Cross Ranch State Park from Aug. 1-8.

Wahpeton’s Lise Erdrich will focus on writing environmental essays and introducing pictography derived from the traditional Anishinaabe art form of birch bark scribing during her stay at Lewis & Clark State Park from July 25-Aug. 1.

The Artist in Residency program recruits writers, composers, visual and performing artists, allowing them to express their experience through their art. Each artist is conducting a presentation and hands-on workshop for the public during their stay at the parks.

For more information about the visiting artists, contact the parks in which they are staying. More information about the parks can be found at

Nonsmoking update

The Smoke-Free Air for Everyone (SAFE) Coalition and Fargo Cass Public Health will have a news conference to discuss the economic impact, public opinion and business compliance study results at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the NDSU Alumni Center, 1241 N. University Dr., Fargo.