5 things to know today: Vaccine expansion, Marijuana legalization, Power plant, Medal of Honor, Cleanup week


1. Minnesota to expand into next wave of COVID-19 vaccinations, shots for all could start in April

Another 1.8 million Minnesotans are set to become eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination, the state announced Tuesday, March 9, with front-line workers and those with preexisting conditions set to be next in line for a shot.

Gov. Tim Walz on Tuesday morning said the state had reached a goal of vaccinating 70% of adults 65 and older and that milestone kickstarted the next two rounds of vaccinations. With more doses expected to come into the state in coming weeks, the governor said Minnesota would expand eligibility to additional age groups and people working in certain professions, as well as to those with more significant health risks.

Read more from Forum News Service’s Dana Ferguson

2. North Dakota Senate vaporizes bill to legalize marijuana

A farmer plants marijuana. Shutterstock photo

A farmer plants marijuana. Shutterstock photo

A plan among North Dakota lawmakers to legalize recreational marijuana use in the state has been nipped in the bud.

The House of Representatives approved House Bill 1420 last month, but the legalization legislation failed to win over the Senate, which has fewer libertarian-leaning Republicans.

In an overwhelming rejection, the upper chamber voted 37-10 on Thursday, March 25, to shoot down the 50-page proposal, which would have created a legal pot program and allowed adults over 21 to possess and use marijuana products after July 1, 2022.

Read more from Forum News Service’s Jeremy Turley

3. Potential new owner in talks to save North Dakota’s largest coal-fired plant

The Coal Creek Station power plant is seen Wednesday, May 13, 2020, near Underwood, N.D. Great River Energy has announced the plant is slated to close in 2022. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

The Coal Creek Station power plant is seen Wednesday, May 13, 2020, near Underwood, N.D. Great River Energy has announced the plant is slated to close in 2022. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

North Dakota’s largest coal-fired power station, which is due to close next year, appears to be on the brink of landing a new owner in a bid that would rescue the plant from shutting down.

Coal Creek Station, the 1,100-megawatt power plant near Underwood, was slated for closure by its current owner Great River Energy last year, as the economics of the coal industry have faced mounting pressure from natural gas and ascendant renewable energy sources like wind power. But North Dakota leaders have made saving Coal Creek a top priority, and state officials announced Thursday, March 25, that Great River Energy has moved into exclusive negotiations with a prospective new owner for the plant.

“They’re so close, they’re like inside of the 5 yard line,” said Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford, who has taken the helm in state efforts to find new ownership for Coal Creek.

Read more

4. Minnesota teen Raina Neeland earns posthumous Congressional Medal of Honor for saving drowning kids

Raina Neeland, 18, was one of six people from around the United States chosen this year to receive a Congressional Medal of Honor Citizens Award. Neeland died in August 2020 saving her younger cousins from drowning. Submitted photo.

Raina Neeland, 18, was one of six people from around the United States chosen this year to receive a Congressional Medal of Honor Citizens Award. Neeland died in August 2020 saving her younger cousins from drowning. Submitted photo.

A Bagley, Minn., teen who died saving her cousins from drowning was recently awarded a posthumous Congressional Medal of Citizen Honors Award.

Raina Neeland, 18, was one of six people from around the United States chosen this year as a citizen who performed a monumental act of heroism or service. She received the Single Act of Heroism Award which recognizes someone, “who (accomplished) extraordinary feats of heroism by risking their lives for the benefit of others in a dire situation.”

Neeland died on Aug. 17, 2020, near the dam on Clearwater Lake in Sinclair Township in northern Clearwater County, by drowning after pulling three of her younger cousins out of the choppy water.

Read more from Forum News Service’s Hannah Olson

5. Fargo, Moorhead, West Fargo detail plans for curbside cleanup weeks

Sally Jacobson of Fargo normally has some fun with Cleanup Week, posing on discarded items, like she's doing in this photo from 2019.  She won't get the chance to do that in Moorhead this year with the cancellation of curbside pickup. Sally Jacobson / Special to The Forum

Sally Jacobson of Fargo normally has some fun with Cleanup Week, posing on discarded items, like she’s doing in this photo from 2019. She won’t get the chance to do that in Moorhead this year with the cancellation of curbside pickup. Sally Jacobson / Special to The Forum

The annual ritual of Spring Cleanup Week may need a slight name change in Fargo and Moorhead this year.

Both cities have decided to hold two weeks of curbside pickup rather than one. The change aims to limit risk of spreading the coronavirus and cut down on hiring additional staff. It was also noted it was difficult to find day laborers to assist in the massive operations.

The curbside pickup of residents’ unwanted items is an annual community ritual for those looking to cut down on clutter and others hunting for treasure in their neighbors’ discarded goods.

Read more from The Forum’s Barry Amundson



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