Sanford hosts event to highlight UAS network
Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford visited Grand Forks on Monday to host an event highlighting the state's $33 million investment in UAS technology and infrastructure.
This includes $28 million in funding for a statewide network that will support UAS flights beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS). An additional $2 million of this funding will provide continued support for operations at the Northern Plains UAS Test Site. The remaining $3 million will be used to upgrade infrastructure at Grand Sky UAS research and development park.
“Major investments like this scream to the rest of the nation and the entire world that cutting-edge UAS research, testing and commercialization is cleared for takeoff in North Dakota,” Sanford said.
The statewide BVLOS network will build on previous UAS advancements in the state and will support the safe integration of unmanned aircraft into the National Airspace System. This will include providing for command and control of UAS.
The statewide network will facilitate economic growth opportunities across the state in diverse industries, including agriculture, utilities and public safety, by enabling UAS efficiencies for state and local agencies and commercial interests, both existing and future.
2019 Governor's Band and Chorus perform in Capitol's Memorial Hall
The 2019 Governor's Band and Chorus programs performed Monday at the Capitol to celebrate the start of Music Week in North Dakota, filling Memorial Hall with music for parents, state team members and the public.
The Leeds Banner Girls, directed by MiChelle Nybo, led off the program, followed by the Jim Hill Middle School Band from Minot under the direction of Leslie Barney. The Governor’s Band and Chorus were selected from applications submitted by school and civic groups from across the state based on musical talent, achievement and community involvement.
“Music and the arts are important elements of our schools and communities, and these two accomplished groups embody the tremendous musical talent within our state," Burgum said.
The Leeds Banner Girls chorus was formed in 1994 as a girl’s ensemble to perform the national anthem at local school sporting events and other functions. Over time the ensemble has received recognition nationally and has been the featured performer in Washington, D.C., for the white-tie gala honoring George Washington’s birthday at George Washington Masonic National Memorial as well as the wreath-laying ceremony at Washington’s Tomb at Mount Vernon.
The Jim Hill Middle School Band is comprised of 90 students in grades 7 and 8. Jim Hill offers five ensembles, which range from sixth grade band to jazz band. The members perform in the Minot State University homecoming parade, Williston Band Day festivities and the Chuck Full of Music festival, a fundraiser organized by the Minot Music Boosters.
The Governor's Band and Chorus may be invited to perform again at official state functions throughout the year.
Burgum kicks off Census 2020 efforts with executive order creating Complete Count Task Force
Gov. Doug Burgum signed an executive order Tuesday creating the Complete Count Task Force to recommend strategies that safeguard and promote the 2020 census to ensure a fair and accurate count for the state.
Lt. Gov. Sanford, state and federal leaders, advocates and community members also met on Wednesday afternoon to begin North Dakota’s efforts to ensure a complete and accurate census count.
“The data that will be collected by the 2020 census is critical for North Dakota counties and communities,” Burgum said. “Working together, we will arrive at a complete and accurate count to ensure we receive proper funding to plan roads, schools, hospitals, senior centers and emergency services to best serve changing populations in North Dakota.”
In North Dakota alone, more than 3,000 employees will be needed during the peak effort months of May and June 2020. Every household will be contacted by mail. Many of these will be visited in person by an employee of the U.S. Census Bureau. The North Dakota Legislature has appropriated $1 million to improve awareness on the importance of the census.
The estimated cost to the state of a person not counted in the 2020 census will be $19,100 in federal funds through the year 2030, North Dakota Census Office Manager Kevin Iverson said. “It is vitally important that every resident is counted in the decennial census,” he said.
The census is conducted every 10 years to ensure equal representation in an elected government at both federal and state levels.
“We are pleased to join Governor Burgum and the North Dakota Complete Count Task Force in this historic effort,” U.S. Census Deputy Regional Director Dennis Ray Johnson said. “The 2020 Census will impact the residents of North Dakota not only in 2020, but for the next 10 years and beyond. We will work together to ensure the most complete and accurate count possible.”
Burgum also announced the co-chairs of the Complete Count Task Force: Linda Svihovec, a research analyst with the North Dakota Association of Counties and former auditor/treasurer for McKenzie County, and Louise Dardis, a retired West Fargo School District administrator who also spent five years as manager of Succeed 2020, a program dedicated to making students college and career ready.
First Lady visits YES Challenge winners
First Lady Kathryn Burgum met with seven Youth Ending Stigma (YES) Challenge winners across the state during the past two weeks, starting with the Grand Forks Youth Commission. The Commission shared their #WeAreYES initiative, which features a student-produced video and t-shirts that encourage conversation around addiction and mental illness.
This week, the first lady sat down with two groups from Liberty Middle School in West Fargo, a student at Richland High in Colfax, two grant winners at Central Cass in Casselton and concluded the week by participating in a kickoff celebration for the YES Challenge initiative at Century High in Bismarck.
“These students are incredible examples of youth ingenuity and leadership in our state,” First Lady Burgum said. “They are leading projects that are focused on creating awareness, empowering communities with knowledge and resources, and creating a safe space to connect with peers and normalize these conversations around mental illness and addiction.”
A full list of students and youth groups who received a YES Challenge grant can be found at the link below.
Burgum appoints Erica Thunder to lead Department of Labor and Human Rights
Gov. Burgum on Thursday appointed Erica Thunder to lead the North Dakota Department of Labor and Human Rights as the state’s Labor Commissioner, citing her legal experience, broad skillset and proven commitment to fairness and justice.
As judicial systems administrator for the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission since December 2016, Thunder has worked to improve relationships with state, tribal and federal agencies in a wide range of areas including child welfare, education, law enforcement, emergency response, energy development, taxes, infrastructure and behavioral health.
Her appointment as labor commissioner is effective June 3.
“Erica’s ability to approach issues with impartiality and compassion and her commitment to fairness and justice for all North Dakotans will serve our citizens well,” Burgum said. “We are grateful for her service on the Indian Affairs Commission and look forward to her continuing the excellent service provided by the Department of Labor and Human Rights.”
Thunder earned a bachelor’s degree in political science in 2011 from the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. She received her law degree and Indian law certificate in 2014 from the UND School of Law.
Prior to joining the Indian Affairs Commission, Thunder was a staff attorney for the Ho-Chunk Nation in Wisconsin. She also served as a staff attorney in 2014 for the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation in western North Dakota, where she is an enrolled member.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve as labor commissioner and look forward to working with the Department’s outstanding team to enforce and raise awareness of the state’s labor and human rights laws for the benefit of all North Dakotans,” Thunder said.
Thunder succeeds Michelle Kommer, who was appointed labor commissioner by Burgum in December 2016 and has been serving in the role on an interim basis since being appointed to lead the Department of Commerce last December. Burgum expressed his gratitude for Kommer’s outstanding service and willingness to serve dual roles and said he looks forward to her continued leadership and passion for promoting economic development, building healthy, vibrant communities and solving the state’s workforce shortage.
Sanford meets with trade delegation from Indonesia
Lt. Gov. Sanford and North Dakota Trade Office Executive Director Simon Wilson met with a delegation from Indonesia on Wednesday at the Capitol, discussing a wide range of topics including trade opportunities for soybeans.
The United States exported an average of $950 million in soybeans annually to the island nation from 2012-17, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Among the other topics discussed with Rosmalawati Chalid, Consul General of the Republic of Indonesia, Eni Hartati, Consul for Economic Affairs, and the rest of the trade delegation were unmanned aerial systems, renewable diesel, financial services and oil and gas production.
With an estimated 265 million people, Indonesia is the world's fourth-most populous country. It covers an area slightly less than three times the size of Texas and is the world's largest country comprised solely of islands, with 13,466 islands, of which 922 are permanently inhabited.