Unheralded

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Bridges, Oil Wells And Open Meetings

I’ve written about the proposed bridge across the Little Missouri State Scenic River north of Medora, N.D., enough times that I don’t need to go into a lot of background to bring you up to date on the project. I decided this past week that I needed a little Bad Lands time, and the Billings County Commission was going to …


Unheralded

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — One More ‘Last Dance’ For The Sage Grouse?

“I’ve shot probably half-dozen, or maybe as many as 10, sage grouse in my life. I’m likely among a small group of North Dakotans alive today who can say that. And that group is not going to get any bigger. Ever. Because there’s an awfully good chance we’ll never have another sage grouse season in North Dakota. In fact, I’ve …


JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — 50 Years … And Counting

At about 2 p.m. Saturday (Dec. 18, 2021), my friend, Rick Maixner, and I poured a couple ofshots from the bottle of cognac he keeps stashed at the Sunset Nursing Home in Mandan, N.D., and toasted the fact we are still here, 50 years after we walked off the gangplank of the USS Oriskany, CVA-34, at the Alameda (Calif.) Naval …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Damn, It Hurts To Bury A Friend

I wrote here a few weeks ago that you can’t really understand COVID-19 until you’ve sat at the bedside of a good friend on a ventilator. I can say now that even then I did not understand it completely until I buried that good friend this past week. Until I watched that coffin being slowly lowered into the ground, as we all …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Remembering Ardell Tharaldson

I’m thinking today of an old friend, Ardell Tharaldson, who left us 10 years ago, Dec. 6, 2011. Our friendship dated back to Democratic-NPL politics in 1972, when he ran George McGovern’s campaign for president in North Dakot MS, which confined him to a wheelchair, and cancer, which killed him. He wrote a good book, “Patronage: Histories and Biographies of …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — ‘Scumbags’

Some random thoughts, most of which appeared in an article in the December issue of Dakota Country magazine. How do you go about summarizing a year like 2021? Try this: It’s December, the year is almost over, and we’re still here. I’m still writing. You’re still reading. Y’know, considering everything, not much else seems very important. Like me, I’m sure you’ve lost …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Is A Refinery Really A Good Investment?

I have a friend who is an investment banker. I don’t know much about his business because I don’t have much to invest. But he’s been keeping track of the articles I’ve written about Meridian Energy Group, the company that wants to build a refinery next to Theodore Roosevelt National Park. From time to time, he sends me a letter …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Highland Acres Historic District Is Becoming A Reality!

About 3½ years ago, a few residents of the Highland Acres neighborhood in west Bismarck sat down with some staff at the State Historical Society of North Dakota and began discussing the possibility of creating the Highland Acres Historic District and to nominate it for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. Today (Nov. 17), the Bismarck Historic Preservation …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Refinery Update: Another Day, Another Lawsuit; Ho Hum

If you happen to be in Texas, in the Houston area, the first week of January, and you’ve got a little time to kill, you could probably stop by the 215th Judicial District Courthouse for a little entertainment. There’s going to be a trial going on that might interest you. Lawyers for this company called Meridian Energy Group that I’ve been writing about …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Sadness And Anger

You can read all the newspaper stories with lists of vaccination and testing sites, and death counts, and you can watch the incessant pokes-in-the-arm on the 6 o’clock news, but you can’t really understand COVID-19 until you’ve sat at the bedside of a good friend in the intensive care unit of a hospital and watched a machine pump oxygen in …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — The PPP Has Been Very Good To North Dakota

Well, my e-mails have sure been interesting since I wrote about the Paycheck Protection Program gifts earlier this week. The first was just after I wrote about Rick Becker’s plastic surgery clinic getting a couple of loans: “Hey, what about his bars and restaurants?!?!” Oops. I checked. Yes, he is the registered owner of a couple of places in downtown …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Augmenting Your Business With A PPP Loan

This might be the shortest story I ever post here. While doing some research for an earlier story I wrote, I came across the website that apparently tracks every single “loan” made under the pandemic-inspired Paycheck Protection Program. That’s the program that was passed by Congress in 2020 to help keep small businesses afloat during the pandemic. Businesses went to their …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — The PPP Has Been Really Good To Meridian Energy

Just when you’ve got a sore neck from shaking your head over the stuff you read and learn about Meridian Energy Group, the company that wants to put a refinery beside our national park … there’s this. In spite of the fact that there is no oil refinery, and the only business the company seems to be doing is selling …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — New Office Digs For Refinery Company

I try to write an update on the Meridian Energy Group, the company that wants to put an oil refinery next to Theodore Roosevelt National Park, when there’s some news to report about them. Today’s news comes from the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. Meridian filed an amended report on its offering of securities with the SEC on Oct. 13. There …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — A Few Of My Favorite Things

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens Brown paper packages tied up with strings These are a few of my favorite things When the dog bites When the bee stings When I’m feeling sad I simply remember my favorite things And then I don’t feel so bad There’s so much bad news these …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — An Offer From The State To Billings County: We Could Build Your Bridge

In yet another bizarre twist to the long-running story of the controversial proposed bridge over the Little Missouri State Scenic River north of Medora to serve the oil industry, the state of North Dakota is now considering stepping in and taking over the whole project, including paying for the bridge and using eminent domain to condemn the land for the …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — The Best Bacon Ever

This is going to be a story about bacon. It’s an article which appears in the October issue of Dakota Country magazine, which is on the newsstands and in the mail this week. Hang in there with me for a little bit while I provide some background. I’ll get to the bacon part in a minute. This bacon is worth …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Refinery Threat To Theodore Roosevelt National Park Just Won’t Go Away

More than three years after it was first given an Air Quality Permit To Construct an oil refinery on the doorstep of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Meridian Energy Group has received another 18-month permit extension to begin building the refinery. The company said when the permit was first granted in June 2018 that it would be in operation by now, …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Yes, It’s Sept. 11 — Again

Sept.11 has mostly come and gone. The 20th anniversary of what has become simply “9-11.” I did nothing to observe that anniversary. I did not watch television, or read the newspaper stories about the events of 20 years ago. Instead, I did things I would always do on a Saturday in September. I swam at the Y. I went for …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Keeping Track Of Bridges And Refineries

A short update on a couple of things that I have written about recently. MERIDIAN ENERGY As I reported here earlier this summer, Meridian Energy Group’s Permit to Construct the Davis Refinery just three miles from Theodore Roosevelt National Park expired in June, three years after it was first issued by the North Dakota Department of Health (now the North …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Sometimes You Have To Go Camping To Get Good News

I haven’t written here lately because we went camping. For about three weeks. We went to the Pacific Northwest, seeking national parks and seafood. We found both. And we learned some things about camper trailers and “glamping.” Most importantly, camper trailers should be towed to a destination and parked for a few days. We spent too much time moving from …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Camping 101, With Diversions

This article appears in the July edition of Dakola Country magazine, which will be on the stands this week. I’m a camper. I started camping as a Boy Scout. My dad was scoutmaster for Troop 34 in Hettinger, N.D., and loved to take his Scouts to his favorite campsite, beside the Grand River just across the state line in South …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — DEQ To Meridian: You’ve Got 90 Days

At midnight Saturday, Meridian Energy Group’s Air Pollution Control Permit To Construct an oil refinery next to Theodore Roosevelt National Park, issued by the North Dakota Department of Health, will expire. Now don’t get too excited. This nightmare isn’t over. This has happened before. This is the second time the permit has expired. The Health Department (now the Department of …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — It’s Going To Be A Long, Hot Summer In The Badlands

(Reprinted from Dakota Country magazine, June 2021) Most years, the North Dakota Badlands, as I write this in early May, are changing color. As the ground warms, the winter’s snowmelt brings hints of green into the brown landscape of buffalo and crested wheat grass and little bluestem, and by the end of the month, as you’re reading this, the transition …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Like Rats On A Sinking Ship …

Meridian Energy Group, the troubled startup company that has announced plans to build an oil refinery next to Theodore Roosevelt National Park, has closed all of its offices and three of its top executives have left the company, leading energy industry watchdogs to question the future of the company. The company lists three offices on its website, one each in …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Donald Trump And I Got Censored By Facebook

Looks like it’s going to be a rainy, windy day. A day to stay inside and write, something I haven’t done for a while. I need to share with you something that happened a little more than a week ago at this same keyboard I am writing at today. I got censored by Facebook. Now I know how Donald Trump …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — The Curious Case Of The Drunk-Driving Legislator

I know, I haven’t written much about the North Dakota Legislature this year. Too many other things on my mind. But I followed it, read about it daily and shook my head in amazement over the stupid things the Republican majority did. I won’t tick them off here — you know what I am talking about. But something caught my …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — An Update On The ‘Bridge To Nowhere’

Somebody asked in a comment on my blog last week for an update on the proposed Little Missouri Crossing north of Medora, N.D. Here’s some information stolen from an article I wrote for Dakota Country magazine’s May issue, which should be on the newsstands later this week, or in your mailbox if you subscribe, which you should do. Out in …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Snaps® Are Back!

A little more than eight years ago, in December 2012, I wrote one of the hardest obituaries I’ve ever had to write, and believe me, I’ve written a lot of them, as a former newspaper reporter and editor. The obituary was for Snaps®. Anyone who knows me well or remembers that blog post on December 8, 2012, knows that I …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — A Short, Sweet, Norwegian Celebration

Three groups have been cheering the appointment of Debra Haaland as President Biden’s Secretary of Interior. WOMEN. Although 21st century presidents have done better, over the years, probably only about 10 percent of all Cabinet secretaries have been women — I think I read somewhere the total is about 30 since we became a country — so when a woman gets …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — April Is A Key Month For The ‘Bridge To Nowhere’

There are a couple of new developments in the ongoing saga of the proposed Little Missouri River Crossing north of Medora, N.D. I’ve written about this extensively, most recently in December. Here’s what’s going on right now: There’s a new look to the Billings County Commission. Longtime Commission Chairman Jim Arthaud, the driving force behind the bridge proposal, was defeated …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Pollert vs. Becker; Pollert Wins; Luke Who?

In the end, the vote this past week to kick Luke Simons out of the North Dakota Legislature wasn’t about Luke Simons at all. It was about Chet Pollert showing Ricky Becker who’s in charge. Pollert’s the Majority Leader in the North Dakota House of Representatives. He introduced the resolution to kick one of his own caucus members out of …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — A REALLY GOOD FRIEND and a REALLY GOOD WIFE

This is a story about a REALLY GOOD FRIEND and a REALLY GOOD WIFE. It started about a year ago when my friend, Mike Jacobs, offered to place a bet on the 2020 June North Dakota primary election. It seems he had made a bet on a candidate in a contested primary race but was having second thoughts, so he …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — The Winter Of Our Discontent

I’ve been away. It’s been nearly two months since I took a punch to the gut, the likes of which I have never experienced. I lost a brother in the COVID pandemic. He was younger, just 66. Unknown to his family or friends, he suffered from severe depression, which engulfed him during the isolation of the last year, taking him …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Democratic Attorneys General Respond

There are a lot of great things about writing on a blog. There are no deadlines. You can write when you feel like it. Late Saturday night. Early Sunday morning. It doesn’t cost anything. You don’t have staff to supervise. You don’t have editors looking over your shoulder. And you can pretty much say anything you like, which I often …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Yes, Yes And Yes, When Attorneys General Break The Law

My inbox has been full of messages saying, “Did you see this?” with links to stories about the Republican Attorneys General Association participating in Wednesday’s U.S. Capitol riots, and asking, “Is Wayne Stenehjem a member of this club?” My answers are “Yes” and “Yes.” The links they sent say that an arm of the Republican Attorneys General Association sent out …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Stenehjem Investigation Under Way; Does Our Attorney General Have Blood On His Hands?

I think that as you are reading this, an investigation is under way by the North Dakota Office of Disciplinary Counsel into whether our Attorney General, Wayne Stenehjem, acted unethically, and possibly illegally, using state resources for political purposes, when he joined one of the many frivolous lawsuits to try to overturn Joe Biden’s election as President of the United …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — When Life Gives You 2020, Make Lemonade

Jan. 1, 2021. 2020 is finally over. It was a helluva year. It wasn’t ALL bad, but it was different. Very different. Here’s an example. At about 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving, just as hints of daylight were appearing in the southeast sky, four (relatively) old men huffed and puffed their way for about half …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Did Stenehjem Misuse State Funds? Investigation Sought

Earlier this week, North Dakota’s attorney general, Wayne Stenehjem, joined 17 other Republican attorneys general from across the country, all members of the Republican Attorneys General Association, an organization that in its various incarnations, has provided Stenehjem with at least $160,000 in campaign funds, in supporting a lawsuit filed by his counterpart in Texas, Republican Ken Paxton. Paxton, who it …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Two More Bad Guys Going After Our Public Lands: Stenehjem And Hoeven

On Thursday, I wrote about the jerk who runs the Bureau of Land Management and his attack on the public land he “manages,” land he would like to turn over to the energy industry before he leaves office in January. Today, I want to talk about the other federal agency so important to North Dakota, the U.S. Forest Service, which …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Public Lands Under Attack In Trump’s Final Days

In their agony, deep in the death throes of the Trump administration, America’s public lands managers are scrambling to put their final stamp on the worst conservation, environmental and public lands record in our country’s history. At risk are millions of acres of wildlife habitat and pristine recreational areas across America’s West, including the last remaining undeveloped roadless areas in …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — A Tale Of Two Bridges (Continued)

I wrote in a recent edition of Dakota Country magazine about the continuing saga of a pair of bridges — one built, the other proposed — over the Little Missouri State Scenic River, part of the ongoing effort of politicians and captains of industry to industrialize the state’s only officially designated scenic river. It seems like there’s no end to …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — ‘Responsibility Is Not Applicable’

Only the most cynical among us could have come up with a scenario for the game that played out in the election of legislators from legislative District 8, a scenario that came to an end Tuesday when the North Dakota Supreme Court settled it. Final score: Jeff Delzer 5 Doug Burgum 0. It started in the spring of 2016, when …