School meal debt resurfaces as families struggle with inflation
National driver shortages impacting ND schools, businesses
Canceled, suspended and disrupted school bus routes have become the norm in some corners of the state, and with costs of training a new driver now ranging from $5,000 to $8,000, only larger bus, truck and logistics companies can pay the price.
For some, mail does not come through
Recent worker shortages and the increased workload of processing large packages have complicated the work of mail carriers who have long deftly overcome the obstacles of snow, rain, heat and the gloom of night to get mail to its destination on time. Until now. Gone are the days when you could almost set your watch by the arrival of the mail carrier and that’s unlikely to change anytime soon. Here in North Dakota, the outer edges of cities like Minot, Bismarck, Williston and other areas have experienced severe delays in mail deliveries recently, with citizens not seeing anything arriving in their mailboxes for days, and even weeks, at a time.
Labor shortages give ex-cons opportunities for second chance
With the unemployment rate at 2.3 percent in the state and labor shortages nearly everywhere, employers are increasingly contemplating hiring those with criminal records that may not have gotten a second look in previous years, and that appears likely to continue for some time.
Rural communities desperately seeking workers
Rural communities across the state are desperate to attract and retain workers at small businesses like shops, restaurants, health centers, gas stations and other essential services to keep their communities alive and vibrant. From Bowman to Bottineau, Crosby to Harvey, they’re also in competition with each other for those workers, not by choice or desire, but out of necessity. Besides attracting labor, communities are becoming more concerned about losing crucial businesses as Baby Boomers retire without adequately establishing a succession plan that keeps business viable. Current workarounds often mean workers pulling double-shifts, restaurants going variable and cutting operating hours, bosses pushing the boundaries of burnout, or for others, shuttering completely.
Coal Country bets on carbon capture moonshot
For communities like Hazen to remain viable, future energy mixes must include coal, many in Coal Country say. If no other energy sources can provide reliable baseload power, it’s likely coal will have a role for some time to come. However, a future for coal will require innovation to capture carbon dioxide before it leaves the power plants’ exhaust stacks. The current technology for carbon capture and storage [CCS) is developed but it is also extremely expensive. North Dakota’s potential solution is Project Tundra, an estimated $1.4 billion project that aims to capture and store up to 90 percent of the carbon emissions at the Milton R. Young Station, a 700-megawatt powerhouse near Center.
Election officials inundated with records requests
Election officials across North Dakota have been inundated with hundreds of requests for records over the past several months from activists alleging unproven vote count manipulation related to the 2020 presidential election. The trouble is, most requests ask for information that does not exist, and the flood of requests is tying up and frustrating state and county officials as they prepare for upcoming midterm elections on Nov. 8, 2022.
Grid bending, not breaking during energy transition
ND businesses, communities slow to embrace EV charging
For most current electric vehicle owners in North Dakota, daily driving isn’t a major issue. Wake up, unplug the car, hop in and head to work, maybe later hit the grocery or take the kids to practice after school and recharge at home in the garage again at night.
Child care provider shortage
Like in most child care providers in North Dakota, day care providers face challenges recruiting, retaining and paying employees a competitive wage. Without the day care, there would be many sad families in this small community of about 800 people, one day care provider said.