Unheralded

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — I’m Pretty Ashamed Of North Dakota Today

Meridian Energy Group, the fly-by-night California startup company that proposes to put an oil refinery next to Theodore Roosevelt National Park in western North Dakota, came one step closer to being able to start construction this week when the North Dakota Supreme Court upheld the Permit to Construct the refinery, issued by the state’s Department of Environmental Quality, formerly the …


Unheralded

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Ribs And Tacos: It’s The Little Things That Matter, After A Long Trip Through The Darkness

And so we’re a week into Summer, emerging from what I think is the darkest Spring of my life (my personal style book says capitalize the seasons, but I am almost reluctant to do so this year — this Spring doesn’t really deserve any recognition). The only Springs darker that I can recall are 1968, the year I got drafted, …


JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Congratulations, Jocelyne And Monique

The Lamoureux twins, Jocelyne and Monique, who led the U.S. Women’s hockey team to a gold medal in the 2018 Winter Olympics, have been named recipients of the North Dakota Theodore Roosevelt  Rough Rider Award, the state’s highest honor. Finally. They are the first and only North Dakotans ever to win Winter Olympic Gold. And they did it in a …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Nobody Ever Got Rich Betting Against Doug Burgum

Four years ago, on the morning after the 2016 North Dakota Primary Election, I wrote a column with the headline “What The Hell Just Happened?” Doug Burgum pulled off one of the biggest upsets in North Dakota political history, giving Wayne Stenehjem a sound beating in their race for the Republican nomination for governor. Burgum did it by spending a …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Fishing On D-Day With An American Hero

This was written two years ago, on D-Day. It is reposted today in rememberance of my father-in-law, Garland Crook, who left us on Memorial Day this year. D-Day. June 6, 1944. Seventy-four years ago today, my father-in-law, Garland Crook, got his feet wet — literally and figuratively — entering combat in World War II by going ashore on Normandy Beach. …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Remembering A War Hero

I’ll pause on this Memorial Day to remember my namesake, U.S. Navy Aviation Machinists Mate First Class Carlyle James Fuglie. He was my dad’s “big brother,” although only about 15 months separated them. They joined the Navy together in the spring of 1942, just a few months after the U.S. entered World War II in response to the Japanese attack …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — No Shit, This Really Happened!

Old joke: What’s the difference between a bedtime story and a fishing story? A bedtime story starts, “Once upon a time …” A fishing story starts, “No shit, this really happened!” OK, so here we go. No shit, this really happened! It was a Pandemic Friday morning. Much like this morning, gray and dreary, and nothing on my calendar (imagine …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Those Whistles Just Keep On Blowing

I’m having a hard time concentrating these days with all these whistles being blown in my ears. My phone keeps ringing. People who work for Meridian Energy, or used to work for Meridian Energy, want to talk to me. So I listen. And I ask a few questions, about the status of that oil refinery Meridian says it is going …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — ‘Bridge To Nowhere’Takes A Couple Of Tentative Steps Forward

Billings County Commissioners have raised the stakes in their quest to build their “Bridge to Nowhere” across the Little Missouri State Scenic River north of Medora, N.D., but the family on whose land the bridge is proposed to be built is not taking it lying down. At a County Commission meeting this past month, the commissioners, without notifying the family …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — A ‘Good New Boys’ Network?

Four years ago today, Doug Burgum was criss-crossing North Dakota in a motor home with “Burgum for Governor” in big letters on the side, running against Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem in the Republican primary election just a few weeks hence. His campaign theme: Get rid of the “Good Old Boys” network in Bismarck. In what was generally viewed as a …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Whither The Refinery?

I can’t quite figure out what is going on with the proposed refinery that Meridian Energy Group says it is going to build next door to Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Just about exactly two years ago this week, a company called Martin Construction from Dickinson, N.D., just down the road from the park, went into the field behind Belfield, N.D., …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Body and Soul: A Mother’s Day Story

A rerun from a few years ago. Because I can’t think of a better story to tell on Mother’s Day.   I’m thinking of my mom on this Mother’s Day, as we all are. She’s been gone 3½ years now, but it seems like only yesterday I was making those semiweekly trips to Hettinger, N.D., to see her in the nursing …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Heavyweights, Lightweights and Republican Squabbles In 2020

Geez, Doug Burgum must be really pissed off at Jeff Delzer. Burgum is North Dakota’s governor. Delzer is a state representative from District 8, and a powerful one — chairman of the important North Dakota House of Representatives Appropriations Committee. Some say Delzer is the most powerful of all state legislators. Also one of the biggest. Kind of pumpkin-shaped. A BIG pumpkin. …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — This Is Just F**king Stupid

The newspaper stories this morning said “North Dakota Gov.Doug Burgum said he intends to allow closed businesses to reopen Friday, May 1.” Well, isn’t that special. A great big May basket for North Dakota. Happy May Day. The rest of the story: “The State Health Department on Monday also announced 75 new cases of COVID-19, marking the second-highest single-day total …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Bad News, Worse News And A Ray Of Hope

I haven’t written here about the coronavirus and all its associated chaos because: 1. I really dislike bad news and don’t like to read it, much less write it; and 2. Other than not being able to see, talk to and hug our friends and family, we just haven’t been that much affected by it at our house, at least …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Full Moons, Good Friday And Easter

There was a big old full moon this week, April’s “Pink Moon,” and we went looking for a spot for watching the moonrise. But as luck would have it, it was cloudy and the moon was mostly obscured for a couple of hours after it rose. As we were driving home, though, we saw it mostly emerge as we drove …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — ‘Every Penny Out Of My 401(k)’

As construction season approaches, albeit a little bit delayed by Mother Nature this week, we’ll be watching closely to see if any work begins at the Meridian Energy Group’s Davis Refinery site next door to Theodore Roosevelt National Park. I’ve been doing a little digging myself, not of the physical nature, but I encountered a couple of stories to share …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Elections And Things

Some politics today. Caucuses, conventions, initiated measures and great PR work. Caucuses and Conventions A letter writer in The Forum on Friday morning expressed his displeasure with Tuesday’s North Dakota caucuses saying, “I can remember when we voted in a primary election by using one side or the other of the ballot to vote our party preference. Republicans and Democrats …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — C.V.M.

Every once in a while, something pops up on your computer screen that just punches you in the gut, leaving you breathless for a few moments. That happened to me Saturday morning. One of my early morning routines is to scan the state’s newspapers online to see what’s going on around the state. If you send $9.99 a month to …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Birthdays And Tomatoes

In honor of my friend Clay Jenkinson’s 65th birthday today, I’m going to share a story I wrote five years ago with a little bit of an update. First, let me say that it is hard to believe that my young friend Clay is 65 years old. I remember his 18th birthday, Feb. 4, 1973. We were both working at …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — ‘We Will Get That Project Stopped’

Summarizing,  once more, where we are with the proposed bridge across the Little Missouri State Scenic River, reprinted from the January 2020 issue of Dakota Country Magazine.    I’m going to keep writing about this stupid, harebrained, boneheaded, senseless, vacuous, selfish, destructive, egomaniacal, (insert your own adjective here), idea of the Billings County commissioners to put a bridge over the …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — He Is Already An American

Amid all the talk of refugees and immigrants, and the mean-spirited people who want to stand in their way as they seek to become Americans, I thought I might just repeat here part of an article I posted about five years ago. I wish these people had known my mother. And two friends of hers, Adolf Schmidt and his wife, …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Thumbs, Knives And Recliners

Some things you just take for granted. Like opposable thumbs. When you lose the use of one (temporarily, I hope), you realize what a great invention they are. Here’s the rest of the story. I got a new recliner a couple of weeks ago, replacing a 10-year-old one that had served its duty. It was host to many naps, football …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Birds Of A Feather …

In a surprising twist of fortune — or misfortune, I suppose, depending on your point of view — the company hired by Meridian Energy Group to design and build its oil refinery beside Theodore Roosevelt National Park is likely to file bankruptcy this week. Bloomberg reported over the weekend “McDermott International Inc. is preparing to file for bankruptcy as soon …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Bring On The Whistleblowers

Last month, I began reporting on the apparent financial troubles besetting Meridian Energy Group, the company planning to build an oil refinery near the boundary of Theodore Roosevelt National Park in the North Dakota Bad Lands. Since then, I’ve received more information on the company, which I feel holds much merit and credit. I’m going to share some of that …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Some Thoughts On Election Reform In 2020

In his regular Tuesday morning column in the Grand Forks Herald this week, Mike Jacobs wrote, “This is the last day of a year that’s made just about everybody uneasy about the state of our politics. To use a flood analogy, it seems as if the waters have divided and are rushing down parallel ditches. And there’s nobody on the …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — A Couple More Notes On The ‘Bridge To Nowhere’

I want to add a couple or things to the Little Missouri River Crossing story I posted here earlier today. First Note: A little history, which you can read more fully by clicking on the link at the end of this note. I really didn’t become aware of the serious problems with this project until I attended a public meeting …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Short Family To Government: We’ll See You In Court

Well, here’s some good news. Six months ago, Billings County and the Federal Highway Administration signed a record of decision to proceed with a new bridge over the Little Missouri State Scenic River north of Medora, N.D. a bridge famously referred to as a “Bridge to Nowhere” because it has no apparent purpose other than to connect one isolated part …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — ‘I Rise With The Sun’ — OK, Never Mind

Sunday morning addendum No. 1: Lillian and I went to a Christmas party last night. I drank some wine. We came home and I drank some more wine and stayed up late and watched “Saturday Night Live.” I woke up this morning at 5:59 a.m. I rolled over and went back to sleep and got up at 8:44 a.m., 19 …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — I See America

As we approach this most joyous time of year, a time of giving, of good will, of caring for our fellow humans, especially those among us with the least of resources, I want to share the words of Dan Rather, which I put in this space a couple of years ago. I’ll do that in a minute. But first a …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — ‘Reports Of My Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated’

From this: To this, in just one week: I’m pretty sure that is the biggest headline ever in the Adams County Record. And well it should be. Just a week after the paper announced Nov. 29,  “This is the final issue of the Adams County Record” because its corporate owner was shutting it down, a local neighboring publisher picked it …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Goodbye, Lizzie

A note from Lillian and Jim on this sad day. Our hearts are broken today (Monday) as we have had to say goodbye to our beloved Lizzie, our adorable Springer Spaniel, on this sad, dark day. We pause to write this homage to her and to give thanks for all the joy she brought to our lives. There are a …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — An Angel Named Jill

“It’s been a nice warm week with a high of 57 degrees on Sunday, Looks like more cold winter weather is headed this way, so we better enjoy the balmy days. “There were more replacement surgeries this week. Ron Jenson and Kelly Britton got new hips on Monday and Ron Floyd got a new knee. Thankfully, it sounds like everything …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Refinery Company Slapped With $2 Million Lien For Nonpayment Of Bills

On Monday. I posted a story here about the financial woes of Meridian Energy Group, triggered by the filing last week of a huge construction lien against the company by one of its contractors. There were some things in it I just couldn’t figure out, and I probably should have held off for a day or two until I got …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — ‘The Lawyer Who Wasn’t Crazy’ – Jackie Stebbins’ Thanksgiving Story

It’s a typical November morning at the Bismarck home of Jackie Stebbins, her husband, Sean Arithson, and their kids, Kennedy, 7, and Kirby, 5.  Dad gets up, gets dressed, eats breakfast and heads off to work. Mom gets the kids ready for the day, feeds them breakfast, gets one off to school, the other to preschool, and settles into the …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Pipelines Leak

The three North Dakota Public Service Commissioners went to Emmons County last week to hold a public hearing. Emmons County is where the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL, in the vernacular) Co. plans to build a big station to boost the capacity of their still-controversial pipeline hauling oil from North Dakota to out-of-state refineries. The PSC is involved because North Dakota’s …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Tenth Anniversary

November is our 10th anniversary at Red Oak House and the longest I’ve lived in one place in my lifetime. The explanation for my peripatetic life is, in part, that I was an Army brat. Looking back, I think that my heart was seeking the perfect match for my home and didn’t find it until we bought Red Oak House. I …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — A $30,000 Check And A $100,000 Bond

It looks like Wylie Bice is going to have to write a check for $30,000 to the U.S. government and tuck away $100,000 in a bond bank somewhere as his penalty for building an illegal bridge on public land in the Bad Lands. (If you’re not familiar with this story, here’s the background.) Those are the numbers being floated around …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — ‘Do What You Want, But Stay Off Of My Little Mo’

Here’s part of an article that appears in the November issue of Dakota Country magazine, on the newsstands now. “If we find the moral courage to save the Little Missouri River Valley today, we will congratulate ourselves 100 years from now, just as we congratulate Theodore Roosevelt for bucking the industrial zeitgeist a hundred years ago to set aside 230 …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Taking Care Of My Eyes, One Canadian Drop At A Time

I wasn’t going to write about drug prices again because I like my pharmacist and don’t want to create any ill will toward him or Bismarck-Mandan pharmacists in general. Our pharmacists are not to blame for the outrageous behavior in the prescription drug business. They’re simply retailers, pawns in the big game of chess being played by the pharmaceutical and …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — A ‘Health Time Bomb’ In North Dakota’s Oil Patch

“It’s like working on a health time bomb, we are the guinea pigs for the largest condensate spill in U.S. history. I am glad I got out but feel sorry for workers still there.” Those are the words of Paul Lehto, the man who blew the whistle a couple of months ago on what is proving to be one of the largest industry …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — It’s OK To Skip This Meeting — That’s What They Want

NDCC CHAPTER 61-29 LITTLE MISSOURI STATE SCENIC RIVER ACT The purpose of this chapter shall be to preserve the Little Missouri River as nearly as possible in its present state, which shall mean that the river will be maintained in a free-flowing natural condition, and to establish a Little Missouri River Commission. NDCC 61-29 Little Missouri Scenic River Commission Meeting Tuesday, …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Why The Bad Lands Are Important To Me

When I was a boy growing up in southwest North Dakota, I used to tag along with my dad on his pheasant, grouse and deer hunting trips, mostly along the Cedar River in Adams and Grant counties. Dad was an optometrist in the small town of Hettinger, the county seat of Adams County, and many, if not most, of the …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — The Bridge Stays

Well, Wylie Bice gets to keep his bridge. And he won’t be going to the pokey. If you’ve got enough money out there in the oil patch, you can get away with pretty much anything. If you’ve been following this story, you know that Bice is the guy who put a big concrete bridge over the Little Missouri State Scenic …