Around the Capitol

Here are some odds and ends from state government today:

The North Dakota Ag Department is starting a weekly Internet radio show called “North Dakota Now.”

It will air at 11 a.m. CT Wednesdays at http://northdakotanow.podbean.com./.

Ag Commissioner Doug Goehring said the program can also be heard through a link at  http://www.agdepartment.com/.

The weekly program will include a newscast, feature stories on Pride of Dakota companies, updates on department activities and other information, Goehring said.

“It’s not just for farmers and ranchers. There’s something of interest for almost everyone,” he said in a statement.

The upcoming program includes an interview with Goehring about a recent trade mission to Cuba, a feature on Pride of Dakota member Golden Valley Flax, the news and an interview with Judy Carlson about a new noxious weed poster.

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Insurance Commissioner Adam Hamm announced his support today for graduated drivers licensing in North Dakota.

Supporters say the bill is aimed at reducing teen traffic accidents and deaths. The North Dakota Legislature will consider the bill, which recommends three phases of licensing for new drivers.

North Dakota now has two phases—a learner’s permit and a driver’s license—and is the only state in the nation without a graduated drivers license system, according to a news release from the state Insurance Department.

The additional phase, intermediate, includes conditions on the number of passengers, cell phone use and nighttime recreational driving during the first few months of unsupervised driving.
 
“Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of teen deaths in North Dakota,” Hamm said in a statement. “This bill aims to reduce the three greatest risks for young drivers—inexperience, distractions and late night driving.”
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North Dakota’s Register of Champion Trees has a new addition.

The register is the official list of the first and second largest trees of each native and non-native species in the state.

The European (horse) chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) owned by Peter Feist, 1418 Porter Ave., Bismarck, was added to the register.  The new state champion has 104 points for having a circumference of 5-feet 2-inches, a height of 35 feet and an average crown spread of 26 feet.

Champion trees on public land can usually be visited without a problem, the North Dakota Forest Service said in a news release.  However, if a champion tree is on private property, the Forest Service recommends asking for permission before making a visit.

All state champion tree records are on file at the headquarters of the NDSU-North Dakota Forest Service and can be viewed at http://www.ndsu.edu/ndfs/under Information and Education.

Pride of Dakota holiday showcases set records

BISMARCK – More shoppers than ever participated in the four 2010 Pride of Dakota Holiday Showcases in November and December, the state Ag Department said today.

A new record of 28,661 people took part in this year’s events, Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring said in a news release. The new total passed the previous mark by 3,028. In addition to the overall record total, each showcase set a new attendance record.

Attendance at the Grand Forks showcase was 5,630, up 315 from the previous record. The Minot showcase was up 569 customers for a total of 6,115. In Fargo, 7,542 people passed the previous record by 1,194.

The Bismarck showcase was up by 951 shoppers, Goehring said. The new total of 9,374 is the most for any holiday showcase, he said.

Goehring said about 10,000 people brought reusable shopping bags and received $1 off the cost of admission.

More than 460 North Dakota companies are Pride of Dakota members.

Pride of Dakota Harvest Showcase set for Dickinson

From a news release:

BISMARCK – The second Pride of Dakota Harvest Showcase will draw nearly 100 Pride of Dakota companies and hundreds of visitors Sept. 18-19 to the Dickinson Recreation Center.

North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring said Pride of Dakota member companies will sell foods and condiments, decorative items, jewelry, art, apparel and much more.

“All of these products are made right here in North Dakota by North Dakotans,” he said in a statement. “Many vendors will also be offering samples.”

Showcase hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday (Mountain Time). Admission is $1 per person, with children under 12 free.

The Dickinson Recreation Center is at 1865 Empire Road. From Interstate 94, turn south at Exit 59, turn left on Empire Road and drive east. The recreation center is at the intersection of Empire Road and State Avenue.

The Pride of Dakota Holiday Showcases are scheduled for Nov. 6-7 in Grand Forks, Nov. 13-14 in Minot, Nov. 19-21 in Fargo, and Dec. 3-5 in Bismarck.

Pride of Dakota Food and Wine Experience

The first Pride of Dakota Food and Wine Experience is set for 6 to 9 p.m. July 28 during the State Fair in Minot.

Fifteen Pride of Dakota wineries and food vendors will share their "fine, gourmet products” at Pioneer Village on the west side of the fairgrounds, Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring said in a statement.

“It should be a very pleasant evening, sampling wines and fine foods made in North Dakota,” he said.

The $5 admission fee includes a souvenir wineglass, five tickets for wine samples and a Pride of Dakota reusable bag. The drink tickets can be exchanged with wine vendors for one?ounce samples of wine.

Participants must be 21 or older.

Pride of Dakota Day at the State Fair

About 35 Pride of Dakota companies will display, sample and sell products Monday at the State Fair in Minot.

The 22nd annual Pride of Dakota Day will include vendors selling food, notecards, recordings, books, clothing, jewelry and more, said Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring.

Booths will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. under the large tent near the southwest corner of the State Fairgrounds. The annual Pride of Dakota Lunch for a Dollar will be served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The lunch includes a grilled hot dog, potato chips and milk. Proceeds go to the North Dakota FFA Foundation.

The second annual Pride of Dakota Kuchen Contest will be at 3 p.m., giving fairgoers the opportunity to sample kuchen from several Pride of Dakota companies and then vote for their favorite.