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WILDCATS: NDSCS keeps it rolling with road sweep

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YOUR PHOTOS: Kim Krause submitted this and one other farm life photo

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4 Things To Know Today

1. This Day in History: In 1997, funeral services were held in London for Diana, Princess of Wales.

2. Fall Bazaar: St. Thomas Church in Kent, Minnesota, will hold its fall bazaar Sunday, Sept. 8. Mass is at 10 a.m., turkey and ham dinner with all the trimmings starts at 11 a.m. Activities include bingo, cake walk, crafts and more. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 5-10, children younger than 5 admitted free.

3. Headwaters Day: The 20th annual Headwaters Day event in Breckenridge, Minnesota, is Saturday, Sept. 14. Breakfast in Welles Memorial Park starts at 8 a.m., parade at 10 a.m. See the Chamber website for full schedule.

4. Today’s Birthdays include Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters (1943-); inaugural “Saturday Night Live” star Jane Curtin (1947-); comedian Jeff Foxworthy (1958-) and actor Idris Elba (1972-).

Red River Valley
Start Up Course, Entrepreneur Meet Up coming
SVEDA hoping to secure financing for hydroponics industry

It’s interesting, Justin Neppl said Thursday, Sept. 5. The more conversations one has, the more they’re aware of the activity happening in their backyards.

Neppl was speaking at a meeting of the Southern Valley Economic Development Authority (SVEDA) board. The board members were updated on activities and next steps with potential new businesses.

Entrepreneurs in the Red River Valley are invited to the Start Up Course and Entrepreneur Meet Up, scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 11. The Start Up Course begins at 5 p.m. and the Entrepreneur Meet Up begins at 6:30 p.m. Both will be held at The Boiler Room, 404 Dakota Ave. in Wahpeton.

“We’re inviting any entrepreneurs in the community to come in and talk about ideas they have,” Neppl said. “The idea is to have and facilitate an organic conversation with entrepreneurs about possibilities in the area.”

The Start Up Course and Entrepreneur Meet Up are activities which support SVEDA’s objective of growing local jobs. Collaboration is a key component of this objective.

“We will work with local employers to identify opportunities for growth, help increase the number of jobs in Richland and Wilkin counties and foster a diverse and sustainable economy,” SVEDA stated.

In March, Daily News reported about efforts to bring the hydroponics industry to Wahpeton. Round Table Hops, based out of Forest Lake, Minnesota, showed in interest in up to 10 acres in a 32-acre city-owned parcel north of the 210 Bypass.

“The company would place a greenhouse, drying area and small office on its land,” Daily News reported. “Hops, used for making beer, would be grown hydroponically, or without soil.”

SVEDA is still working to secure financing for the hydroponics project, Neppl said.

“The offer will always be open that they can come here,” he continued. “They have a deal in place — a verbal deal — with Wahpeton. Until they can secure the financing and get it done, we’re going to be handcuffed on that one.”

Launched in January 2018, SVEDA includes directors from the cities of Wahpeton and Breckenridge, Minnesota, as well as Richland County, North Dakota, and Wilkin County, Minnesota. It is headquartered in the Wahpeton Breckenridge Area Chamber of Commerce building, 1505 11th St. N. in Wahpeton.

SVEDA’s next board meeting is scheduled for 6:30 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 3 at Fryn’ Pan in Wahpeton.

Fill the Bus returns to assist food pantry

The Fill the Bus Challenge has been benefiting the Richland Wilkin Food Pantry since 2011. Sponsored by the Wahpeton Breckenridge Rotary Club, the event’s goal is to assist the food pantry in meeting needs of the community.

Non-perishable items, garden produce and personal hygiene items are accepted as well as cash donations. Over the past eight years, the double-decker bus has brought in 35,000 pounds of food and $17,000 from the community.

This year’s most needed items include tomato products (diced, sauces, etc.) macaroni and cheese, canned peas/corn, peanut butter and jelly and canned meals like chili, ravioli or SpaghettiOs.

The first stop for the bus is Breckenridge EconoFoods on Monday, Sept. 9. Wahpeton EconoFoods will be accepting donations on Wednesday, Sept. 11 and Wahpeton Walmart will host on Friday, Sept. 20. All three of the days will run from 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

Red River Valley
Valley states could see largest drops in food stamp beneficiaries
Study shows impact higher than national average

BISMARCK — North Dakota and Minnesota would see some of the largest percentage decreases in households receiving food stamp benefits under a proposed federal rule tightening eligibility requirements, according to a study released Thursday, Sept. 5.

The study performed by Mathematica, a policy research firm, said 9 percent of households receiving benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program across the country would lose eligibility under the U.S. Department of Agriculture proposal. That number would be higher in North Dakota and Minnesota, where the drop would be 17 percent and 15 percent, respectively, amounting to roughly 38,000 households between the two states.

The USDA said in July it was seeking to limit “categorical eligibility,” which allows people to be eligible for SNAP when they qualify for other government benefits. Many states have expanded that policy in ways that make “most, if not all” of their low-income households eligible for SNAP, including North Dakota and Minnesota, according to the Congressional Research Service.

The USDA said its rule would close what it called a “loophole” that has allowed people to receive SNAP benefits “when they clearly don’t need it,” highlighting the case of Minnesota millionaire who said he enrolled in the program to prove a point. The agency said the change would save $2.5 billion a year by “ensuring nutrition assistance programs are delivered with consistency and integrity to those most in need.”

“For too long, this loophole has been used to effectively bypass important eligibility guidelines. Too often, states have misused this flexibility without restraint,” U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a statement when the rule was first proposed.

But Melissa Sobolik, president of the Great Plains Food Bank, which supplies food pantries throughout North Dakota and Minnesota’s Clay County, doubted people here are receiving nutrition assistance when they don’t need it. She said her organization may struggle to keep up with demand if fewer people are receiving SNAP benefits.

“We are pretty strapped and at capacity right now,” Sobolik said.

A spokeswoman for the North Dakota Department of Human Services didn’t immediately have data showing the impact of the USDA’s proposal and said it would be “premature to speculate” about how SNAP beneficiaries could be affected.

The Minnesota Department of Human Services said “categorically eligible” households still must meet the program’s income guidelines and document their financial circumstances. That state has used the flexibility to raise income limits for SNAP and target households that “often struggle to afford basic food needs in addition to housing, medical and/or child care costs,” the agency said in a memo.

The report released Thursday said the change would have little effect in South Dakota, which doesn’t have so-called “broad-based categorical eligibility” for SNAP. The study was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which urged the USDA to withdraw the rule.

Minnesota Democratic Sen. Tina Smith said policymakers should do more to weed out the small group of “bad actors who abuse the system,” but she warned the USDA’s proposal “means that thousands of Minnesota kids are at risk of going hungry.”

Republican lawmakers from North Dakota, meanwhile, signaled support for the USDA’s efforts.

Sen. Kevin Cramer said he supports closing loopholes while ensuring SNAP is available to “those who need it most,” which he hopes the final rule reflects. Sen. John Hoeven said the USDA “needs to make sure that the proposal will both prevent program abuse and continue to provide assistance to those in need.”

“Food stamps going to ineligible people takes resources away from those who need it most and undermines public perception of the program, furthering negative stereotypes about receiving benefits,” Rep. Kelly Armstrong said in a statement.

A USDA spokesperson declined to comment Thursday during the public comment period, which ends Sept. 23.

Daily News file photo  

Fill the Bus

Rotary Club of Wahpeton Breckenridge will have the double-decker bus parked outside Breckenridge Econofoods Monday, Sept. 9 for the first of three ‘Fill the Bus’ food drives. On Wednesday, Sept. 11, it will be at Wahpeton Econofoods, and Friday, Sept. 20 it will be at Walmart. All donations go to the Richland Wilkin Food Pantry.

America 2020
Wahpeton looking for census partners
Volunteers sought for Complete Count Committee

The city of Wahpeton is getting the Complete Count Committee off the ground.

Committee members will educate people on the importance of 2020 United State Census numbers. Starting March 23, 2020, residents will have the option to respond online, by phone or by mail.

“The committee does not make phone calls or knock on doors,” Wahpeton Community Development Director Chris DeVries said. “It’s created to serve as an educational arm of the state’s census bureau.”

Residents who are interested in joining the Complete County Committee should contact DeVries at 701-642-8559.

An initial committee meeting is planned for Wednesday, Sept. 25 at a location to be determined. Future meeting dates and times will be determined at that point.

“No matter how much time a person is able to devote to the cause, committee members are important. They will be helping to educate on the importance of responding to the census,” DeVries said.

Committee organizers are hoping to create and maintain public awareness about the census.

“The committee will plan activities such as social media postings, public informational meetings and more,” DeVries said.

Everyone counts, committee organizers say.

“Research shows that in North Dakota, every person not counted in the census costs the state nearly $1.5 million a year in aid,” DeVries said. “The city of Wahpeton alone loses nearly $2,000.”

Earlier this summer, the Wahpeton City Council and Richland County Board of Commissioners passed resolutions permitting a joint complete count committee for Wahpeton and Richland County, North Dakota.

Census responses are used to determine funding for numerous assistance programs. They include Medicaid, highway planning and construction, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), special education grants, the supplemental nutrition program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and more.

“Data determines how more than $675 billion are spent, supporting your state, county and community’s vital programs,” the United State Census Bureau stated.

Approximately $1,910 in federal funds per present was spent in North Dakota during the 2015 fiscal year.

“For just one resident missed or counted in another state, it will cost us in North Dakota about $19,100,” the North Dakota Census Office stated.

Census results are also used in the organization of national and state legislatures.

“Every 10 years, the results of the census are used to reapportion the House of Representatives, determining how many seats each state gets,” the U.S. bureau continued.

North Dakota presently has one U.S. representative. Minnesota presently has eight.

“After each census, state officials use the results to redraw the boundaries of their congressional and state legislative districts, adapting to population shifts,” the U.S. bureau stated.

North Dakota District 25 includes Wahpeton and much of Richland County. A portion of the district is included in Cass County, North Dakota.

The census asks participants to give information about their household as of April 1, 2020, Daily News previously reported. This includes identifying the members, such as spouses or partners, dependents and roommates, and facts about the home itself, such as if it’s owned with or without a mortgage, rented or occupied without rent.

In other news, the U.S. Census Bureau is hiring staff to work between April-July 2020.

“North Dakotans can apply online or over the phone for ‘enumerator’ positions, which are both line work and supervisory,” said Josh Manning of the U.S. bureau’s Dallas office. “These are the positions commonly referred to as ‘door to door’ jobs, where people go to homes to verify or ask for their census information.”

The jobs pay around $13-$15 an hour for entry-level positions depending on location, Manning said.

“They are mostly part-time and people have to work at least 20 hours a week. They can work more,” Manning said.

Census workers can pick their own hours and days, but they must apply now to be in the hiring queue. Training would not start until early 2020, Manning said.

To learn more, visit 2020census.gov/jobs or call 1-855-562-2020.

Most census information will be collected in spring 2020. After a followup period, census collection operations will begin closing down with all operations closing by September 2020.

For decades, Wahpeton’s census participation has been recorded at approximately 74-76 percent. Between 1950-1990, the city would challenge census results and demand a recount. That changed following the 2000 census, when the responsibility of paying for a recount changed from the government to a municipality.

“Having telephone and internet responses is new and we’re hopeful it will be huge,” DeVries said previously. “This is a new avenue for responses.”

More census information is available at 2020census.gov.