News Healines Right NowMarilyn Mitzel | 9/29/2009
A man accused of embezzling millions of dollars from a Bismarck company will have to pay back taxes and serve more than four years in prison. Donald Glasser was accused of taking the money while working as business manager and controller for Bismarck-based Westcon Industries. It`s a construction and project management company.
Union leaders are meeting with Bobcat workers in Bismarck today to discuss details of a tentativeseverance agreement. It covers the 475 workers slated to lose their jobs when the company closes its Bismarck plant by year`s end. The agreement must be ratified by a vote of the workers.
The Army Corps of Engineers is taking public comments on proposed improvements to the West Ashtabula Crossing Recreation Area near Valley City. The agency wants to add a playground and restrooms, upgrade utilities and roads and make other improvements.
Federal officials have set aside more than 8.3 million dollars in health and safety training grants this year. North Dakota is slated to get about $55,000 to train mine workers.
Union officials say they`ve reached a tentative agreement with Bobcat Co., on the terms of severance for 475 workers who will lose their jobs when the company closes its Bismarck plant by year`s end. United Steelworkers Local 566 President Jeremy Bauer says the agreement covers pay and benefits. It will be put to a vote of union members. Neither the company nor the union has released details, saying the agreement is not yet final. Bobcat announced earlier this month that it will close its Bismarck manufacturing plant by the end of the year, cutting 475 jobs, and will open 390 positions at its Gwinner plant in southeastern North Dakota. Bobcat says it will keep 150 non-manufacturing positions in Bismarck, including engineering and accounting. The West Fargo-based company makes skid steer loaders and other light construction equipment.
Kevin Cramer says he won`t seek the Republican endorsement to run for the U.S. House next year. Cramer is now president of the state Public Service Commission. He ran unsuccessfully for Congress twice during the 1990s, and he`s been considering whether to make another run against Democratic incumbent Earl Pomeroy. Cramer says he`d have to stop his involvement in a number of charitable and ministry organizations to be able to make a run for the House. He disclosed his intentions in a statement late Monday. Cramer`s term on the Public Service Commission is up next year. In an interview, Cramer said he is likely to seek another six-year term on the regulatory board. Cramer says he won`t accept a draft to run for Congress. In 1998, Republican convention delegates drafted Cramer to make his second race against Pomeroy. Cramer lost.
After nearly two years of talks, officials with Fargo-based MeritCare have announced plans to merge with Union Hospital of Mayville. Union CEO Roger Baier says it`s a good fit. Baier says the merger is a reflection of the reality facing small rural hospitals in North Dakota. He says Union Hospital has been struggling to fill vacancies, and the merger should make it stronger. Baier says Union Hospital has 59 employees and all their jobs are secure as the merger moves forward. It will take effect January First.
State Parole and Probation Officer Brian Weigel says strong registration laws help the state track sex offenders. But they still struggle to find homes after prison. Weigel said laws in other states that restrict where sex offenders can live have been counterproductive in many cases. In Georgia, a small group of homeless sex offenders have been ordered to move from a makeshift camp behind a suburban office park. Probation officers had told them to move there, as a home of last resort. In North Dakota, a mobile home has been set up on state prison property for homeless sex offenders. It has two occupants, according to the state sex offender registry. The home can hold up to seven men until they find permanent housing. It opened in June. The men pay $7 a day. They have to wear a GPS locator at all times and follow a curfew. Christopher Voisine has been living in the trailer since it became available. He says he was the first to move in when it opened and he`s trying to be the first out.
North Dakota farmers say warm weather over the past week brought them closer to finishing the small grain harvest and helped late-season crops mature. This week`s state crop report from the Agriculture Department says rain caused some delays but overall, farmers reported progress. They are trying to catch up after cool, wet weather left them about three weeks behind. The latest report says North Dakota`s spring wheat harvest is 91 percent complete while the durum harvest is 84 percent complete. The report says 6 percent of the corn crop has reached maturity compared with a 55 percent average. Corn chopped for silage is about 25 percent complete compared with a 71 percent average.
Federal officials have set aside more than $8.3 million in health and safety training grants this year and Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota are each getting a cut. Nebraska will get more than $65,000 from the U.S. Department of Labor`s Mine Safety and Health Administration. South Dakota will get more than $58,000 and North Dakota`s share will fall just under that. States receiving grants will use the money to provide federally mandated training to miners. The grants cover training of miners working at surface and underground coal, metal and nonmetal mines. That includes miners engaged in shell dredging or employed at surface stone, sand and gravel mining operations.
Bernadette Monroe was one of the first to receive North Dakota`s new Gold Star family license plate. It reads "Honor," in honor of her 20-year-old son, Anthony, who was killed in 2004 while serving with the Army Reserves in Iraq. The new plates, unveiled Monday at the state Capitol, are available to the immediate families of members of the military killed in active duty. Paul and Harriet Goodiron of Mandaree also received a set. Their son, Nathan, was killed in November 2006, in Iraq. The Goodirons` plate reads, "My Son." Paul Goodiron said the license plates will help people know the soldiers are remembered. Like the Goodirons, Monroe said she still grieves for her son. She says the plates are "something I can say I did for him." Adeline Reis accepted a plate reading "Kenny," in honor of her son, Staff Sgt. Ken Hendrickson, killed in Iraq in 2004. She says it is a reminder of the sacrifices made every day by soldiers and their loved ones. The plates cost $15, of which $5 is for maintenance of the state Veterans` Cemetery south of Mandan.