Published January 09 2012
Local headlines to bank on in the coming yearFARGO - Some news is hard to predict. Some isn’t. As the new year begins, reporters at The Forum are peering ahead to identify events, issues and deadlines bound to create headlines in the next 12 months.
Here are some news items of note to look for in 2012.
January and February
- Federal, state and local law enforcement officials are expected to continue their crackdown on heroin use and distribution in the Fargo-Moorhead metro area before it becomes too widespread as an alternative to prescription pills.
- The Fargodome kicks off for the year on Friday with “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” followed Saturday night by a concert featuring country star Miranda Lambert. The dome will host the Blue Man Group, Monster Truck Jam, a WWE event, two outdoors shows, a home and garden show and the El Zagal Shrine Circus over the next three months.
- The West Fargo School Board plans to select names for the district’s next elementary school and middle school in January.
- On Jan. 24, voters in Valley City, N.D., will go to the polls in a city election in which embattled former police chief Dean Ross is running for mayor.
- The Minnesota Legislature convenes on Jan. 24.
- Sanford Health will name a president for its Edith Sanford Breast Cancer initiative in January.
- Minnesota’s 2012 presidential caucus is Feb. 7.
- United Way of Cass-Clay’s 2011 fundraising results will be announced Feb. 7. The 2011 campaign goal was $5 million.
- By Feb. 7, petitions are due for statewide referendums in North Dakota to be included on the primary election ballot in June, including a possible referral of a state law repealing a state mandate that the University of North Dakota use the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo.
- In February, Woodrow Wilson High School and several other Fargo School District programs and related groups move into their new home, the revamped Agassiz Middle School building in south Fargo.
- The Greater Fargo-Moorhead Economic Develop Corp. hopes to have a new executive director in place by late February.
- By February or March, Minnesota State University Moorhead will near a critical point in its drive to start a Division I ice hockey program. MSUM needs to reach its goal of $37 million in commitments to field men’s and women’s teams by the 2013-14 season.
- A new budget forecast will be released for the state of Minnesota on Feb. 29.
- No Child Left Behind, the federal education bill unpopular for its rigid mandates and harsh penalties for struggling schools, will go before Congress for reform in early 2012.
- The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in March on the constitutionality of the individual mandate – a cornerstone of the contentious federal health reform law. North Dakota is among 26 states – Minnesota is not – that are challenging the law’s constitutionality. The decision, expected in the summer, will be critical to the future of the reforms.
- North Dakota’s presidential caucus falls on Super Tuesday on March 6.
- Starting March 9, busloads of students from MSUM, North Dakota State University and UND will go on spring break Pay It Forward community service tours across the country through Students Today Leaders Forever.
- By the end of March, the Fargo School Board hopes to have a new superintendent hired to replace Superintendent Rick Buresh, who retires in June.
- Essentia Health and Sanford Health of Fargo will roll out patient access to electronic medical records. This will allow patients to access test results and other records as well as schedule appointments. Essentia’s will become available in the Fargo area in March. Sanford’s will be staggered over the year.
- With the approval of the Army Corps of Engineers’ top chief, the fate of the Red River diversion study is in the hands of Congress. Federal lawmakers must both authorize and fund the project in order for it to go forward. The project also needs a signed record of decision for its environmental impacts.
- The state Board of Higher Education anticipates extending a job offer in March to a new chancellor for the North Dakota University System. The new hire would succeed Bill Goetz, who is retiring in August.
- Construction is slated to begin in the spring on the Southeast Main Avenue ramp for Interstate 94 in Moorhead, with the project set to be done in the fall.
- In March, North Dakota Republicans and Democrats will endorse their official candidates in the state and federal races.
- Sanford Health will break ground on a new $360 million medical center in south Fargo in the spring. Sanford also will complete the renovation and expansion of its emergency center at its downtown campus in the spring and add two new helicopter ambulances for the Fargo region.
- Construction begins in March or April on the new West Fargo Middle School as well as academic addition to Sheyenne Ninth Grade Center to turn that building into the district’s next high school.
- Daniel Wacht of Cooperstown, N.D., is slated to stand trial April 16 in the killing of North Dakota State University researcher Kurt Johnson, whose head authorities say they found in Wacht’s basement.
- In May, a $14.7 million addition to the Cass County Courthouse is slated to be complete.
- A first-degree murder trial is scheduled to begin May 15 for James Francis Howard of Dalton, Minn., who’s accused of killing his mother with a machete.
- Minnesota legislators must end their session by May 21. Current plans call for ending April 30.
- The western stretch of Main Avenue in West Fargo will undergo a major reconstruction starting in June that will likely bog down traffic for most of the summer.
- The June 12 election features a slew of local races and primary contests for the U.S. House and Senate races in North Dakota. With a packed field of candidates for the federal seats, party-backed candidates may face challenges. Locally, school board members in Fargo and West Fargo will also be on the ballot. City elections in Fargo and West Fargo are also scheduled June 12.
- Measure 2 will also be on the June 12 ballot. The measure would eliminate the use of property taxes for all governments in North Dakota and provide for replacement of the revenues.
- Gene Boyle, Moorhead High School’s longtime principal, will retire at the end of the school year.
- Vendors licensed by the University of North Dakota to produce merchandise with the retired Fighting Sioux logo must have all their items sold by the end of June.
- A new president of Minnesota State Community and Technical College is expected to take over in July. The college has campuses in Moorhead, Detroit Lakes, Fergus Falls and Wadena.
- Fuji’s Japanese Steakhouse and Seafood is expected to open by this summer in downtown Fargo.
- Summer brings the annual fairs: The Red River Valley Fair opens July 10 with fewer days – just six – but at least one big name. The Band Perry plays July 11. Fargo’s Downtown Street Fair, the state’s largest free outdoor event, will take place July 19-21.
- Trollwood Performing Arts School produces its main-stage musical, “Legally Blonde: The Musical” July 12-28. It could be another return visit for Trollwood alum Becky Gulsvig, who played the lead role in a touring production.
- WE Fest celebrates its 30th anniversary Aug. 2-4 with a reunion by pop-country giant Alabama and return visits by Toby Keith, Jason Aldean, Eric Church and more.
- By Aug. 8, petitions to put referendums on the statewide ballot in North Dakota for the general election are due, including a possible constitutional amendment to require UND to use the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo.
- Kilbourne Group holds an option to develop the U.S. Bank Plaza in downtown Fargo. No plans have been announced, and the company has until mid-2012 to make use of its option.
- In August, West Fargo school officials will be preparing for the district’s next elementary school to open with the start of fall classes.
Fall and winter
- The Fargo School District starts a new alternative middle school program in the fall.
- Construction will begin this summer on a Costco store in West Fargo. It’s expected to open in the fall.
- Moorhead city officials will decide exactly who will pay for its flood mitigation projects, as the City Council in the fall considers the actual district and amounts of assessment.
- The United Way of Cass-Clay’s 2012 fundraising campaign is tentatively scheduled to kick off Sept. 12. During the kickoff, the 2012 campaign goal will be announced.
- The general election is Nov. 6. In addition to the presidential race, all House seats and one Senate post in each state will be on the line in North Dakota and Minnesota. North Dakotans will also select a governor.
- The renovation and expansion of NDSU’s Minard Hall is expected to be done. The northwest wall of Minard Hall collapsed in December 2009.