A simple “Thank you for your service” can stir up conflicting memories for some military veterans, especially those who served in Vietnam. Many North Dakota Vietnam vets got the cold shoulder when they returned. No fanfare, no flags, no clapping crowds. For the 99 veterans who joined the Western North Dakota Honor Flight -- particularly the 86 with Vietnam experience -- the claps, flags and thank you wishes they received on their expenses-paid Sunday trip to Washington, D.C., were a welcome, if long coming, change.
China’s stranglehold on supply chains for rare earth and critical mineral elements presents North Dakota with the opportunity to capitalize on a new resource boom. With some of the highest concentrations of rare earth and critical mineral elements in the U.S., the state is in prime position to supply tech minerals crucial to building everything from electric vehicles to semiconductors to jets and nuclear submarines. Lynn Helms, director of the state’s Department of Mineral Resources, estimated the potential value of rare earth deposits to be “in the billions of dollars” when addressing the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee in early January.
College or bust is far from the only option for North Dakota’s high school students. Across the state, students are finding career pathways in trades and technical fields, opportunities that pay surprisingly well and aren’t bogged down with school loan debt. The idea is that enhancing vocational and technical programs in high schools will fill the local workforce, provide paths forward for students, and retain younger people in their local communities.
About half of all foster parents in the nation quit after a year, and only about a quarter make it past a second. The Lily Initiative, working within Evangel Assembly of God in Bismarck, aims to address burnout by supporting foster families and encouraging others to become foster parents. The program started with 15 foster families in 2021 and has now grown to 32 families. Meanwhile, new legislation aims to make it easier to keep children with extended family, providing assistance that helps children stay in a more familiar environment and, hopefully, prevent some of the trauma that otherwise might occur.
Hopes are, by the end of 2023, the paper could reach most schools in the state, according to Cecile Wehrman, owner of Journal Publishing in Crosby, which publishes the Journal of Crosby and Tioga Tribune. Wehrman has spearheaded the effort since last May. The main aim is boosting declining student literacy, Wehrman said, through something fun and accessible to elementary school kids. Kid Scoop News includes a range of reading, science, animal knowledge, math, crossword puzzles and games, activities and colorful graphics in each issue.
Directors of CATCH, Communities Acting Together for Change and Hope, would like to position their towns to fill some of the 40,000 open jobs in North Dakota. That number – nearing the entire population of Minot – is both an opportunity and an obstacle for businesses that hope to expand and flourish. They want families, particularly families of legal immigrants who can fill those jobs, buy homes and make their towns vibrant again.
Investigating allegations of child abuse or neglect is hardly ever a simple job. Parents suspected of real cases of abuse often dodge child protective services workers when they knock on the door, state social workers say. Parents change residences, skip town, jump borders, and try to become invisible. Tracking them down and protecting the welfare of children in the state takes time and boots on the ground.
An average of three long-term care facilities in North Dakota have closed or downsized annually since 2020 and that trend appears set to continue unless the state can quickly address the lack of nurses, nursing assistants and the expense of contracting travel nurses, those in the field say. Currently, 90 percent of long-term care facilities in the state must rely on contract nursing staff to meet their needs, according to data provided by the North Dakota Long Term Care Association (NDLTCA). Expensive travel nurses eat up budgets that could be spent on facility upgrades, pay and bonuses for permanent staff, and other policies to attract full-time workers.
Travis High, now a technician at ProIT in Minot, was the first of nine individuals or families to emerge through the pipeline of the state’s Find the Good Life campaign since the program relaunched with state funding in mid-2022. Gov. Doug Burgum proposed $25 million to further build out the program in the coming two years as one way to address the state’s workforce shortage. Job Service North Dakota estimates 40,000 openings in the state with at least 4,300 of those being unfilled health care positions.