ND auditor finds fault with new logo procurement
BISMARCK (FNS) — State Auditor Joshua Gallion released, on Monday, Oct. 14, an audit of the North Dakota Department of Commerce which shows the department had violated state law by circumventing procurement requirements related to the “Be Legendary” logo and overall brand refresh.
The audit found two temporary employment contracts were used to stay under the purchasing thresholds that required contractor competition and continue the work from the original contract. These contracts should have been treated as one contract for services and bid appropriately following OMB procurement requirements, according to the audit. The total cost of both contracts was $87,162.50, which would require the Department to follow Level 3 procurement requirements.
The redesigned logo was unveiled October 2018. The Legislature did not approve efforts to launch a statewide contest to redesign the redesigned logo, which had garnered much criticism statewide.
In response to the audit, the state Department of Commerce disagreed that it had violated any laws, but conceded that it could work to ensure a clearer separation in a project’s phases.
“The Department will ensure there is a clear separation between contract deliverables and temporary employment arrangements in the future and that all procurement requirements are followed,” reads the response filed by the state Department of Commerce.
In 2018, a group of more than 700 North Dakotans pushed back on the logo change, which has engendered much controversy. Those who signed a letter expressed wanting the old logo restored and a better process implemented for the brand refresh.
North Dakota developed the “Legendary” brand in 2001 and used it through September 2018. This brand was primarily used for the needs of the Division of Tourism was not a unified brand across all of state government. To create a unified brand, the department entered into a contract with a Minnesota-based business on July 25, 2018, to update the official North Dakota logo into the new “Be Legendary” logo. The contract also called for the development of digital and other mediums, including a new ND.gov website structure. This contract was set at $9,500, which only required one fair and reasonable quote, allowing the Department of Commerce to select the contractor.
Once the original contract work was underway, the department claims it underestimated the amount of work that was necessary and decided to offer temporary employment contracts to the two individuals who had been working under the original contract. The state auditor’s office maintains that executing these employment contracts circumvented procurement requirements and did not allow for contractor competition.
In addition, the state auditor’s office revealed that the two temporary employees were treated as contractors.
New roof in store for 1884 former governors’ mansion
BISMARCK (FNS) — North Dakota’s former governors’ mansion is raising the roof.
Work is underway throughout October, weather permitting, to replace and waterproof the roof of the stick-style Victorian house at 320 E. Ave. B in Bismarck.
The Society for the Preservation of the Former Governors’ Mansion raised about $40,000 for the $70,000 project. The balance was met with state funds. Twenty governors and their families lived in the home from 1893 to 1960.
Site Supervisor Johnathan Campbell said the new roof will be rows of fancy-cut cedar shingles like what was on the original 1884 house, over a waterproof barrier. A reproduction lightning rod will be installed later.
The old roof, installed in the early 1990s, was losing shingles and risked leaking, Campbell said.
Keeping up the house is a balance of maintenance with historic integrity.
“In the case like this with a roof, cedar shingles haven’t changed from what they were 130-some years ago,” Campbell said.
The project isn’t the most comprehensive work done on the mansion. An interior and exterior restoration about 40 years ago was more major, Campbell said.
But a roof is vital.
“Even your average house, it has to get a new roof every few decades,” Campbell said. “This is something that without a roof, you don’t have a building.”
The State Historical Society of North Dakota maintains a variety of buildings as state historic sites. Some sites include numerous buildings, such as the Fort Buford and Fort Totten military posts near Williston and Devils Lake, respectively.
Bandleader Lawrence Welk’s family homestead near Strasburg, which dates to 1899, is one site that includes original buildings, among them the sod-insulated family home.
The State Historical Society maintains 57 state historic sites throughout North Dakota.
ND insurance commissioner will seek reelection
BISMARCK (FNS) — North Dakota’s insurance commissioner says he will run for a second term in 2020.
Jon Godfread announced in a news release that he will formally launch his reelection bid next week at the Republican state headquarters in Bismarck. The Republican was first elected to the position in 2016, defeating Democrat Ruth Buffalo by a heavy margin.
The insurance commissioner educates consumers about the industry, handles complaints and oversees licensing for insurance professionals in the state. North Dakota is one of 11 states where the insurance commissioner is elected rather than appointed.
Godfread served as vice president of governmental affairs for the Greater North Dakota Chamber in Bismarck and played professional basketball in Germany before running for public office.
The Grand Forks native graduated from the University of Northern Iowa in 2005 and earned a Master of Business Administration and law degrees at the University of North Dakota in 2011.
Man dies, two others injured in crash in northern Minnesota crash
FEDERAL DAM, Minn. (FNS) — A 58-year-old man was killed in a two-car crash Sunday, Oct. 13, south of Federal Dam in Minnesota’s Cass County.
According to the Cass County Sheriff’s Department, the crash was reported just before 11 a.m. at the intersection of County Road 8 and County Road 63.
According to the report, a Chevrolet Trailblazer driven by a 62-year-old man from Squaw Lake was towing a passenger car on a car dolly when it failed to stop at a stop sign at the intersection of County Road 63 and collided with a 2002 Oldsmobile Silhouette SUV that was southbound on County Road 8.
The driver of the Trailblazer was treated on scene and then taken to the hospital in Deer River with injuries that were not life-threatening. The driver of the Silhouette, a 58-year-old male from Federal Dam, was ejected from the vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene, the sheriff’s office said.
A 4-year-old girl from Federal Dam, a passenger in the Silhouette, was transported by North Memorial Air Care to a Twin Cities area hospital with serious injuries.
Federal Dam is about 43 miles southeast of Bemidji.
Woman charged after allegedly smashing beer bottle on man’s head
STEWARTVILLE, Minn. (FNS) — A 20-year-old woman was arrested early Saturday, Oct. 12, after she allegedly broke a beer bottle on a man’s head during an argument.
Olmsted County Sheriff’s deputies were called around 12:30 a.m. Saturday to Riverview Greens Golf Club in Stewartville, about 12 miles south of Rochester, for a report of an assault.
A 22-year-old Stewartville man and the woman, identified as Kayla Peterson, had some sort of verbal argument and during the argument, the man reportedly asked Peterson something along the lines of “why don’t you just hit me over the head with a beer bottle,” Capt. Scott Behrns said. Peterson allegedly did just that.
The man suffered lacerations to his head and neck and was taken by ambulance to Mayo Clinic Hospital-Saint Marys. Behrns said the man was not very cooperative at the hospital said he didn’t want to press charges.
Peterson, of Stewartville, was charged in Olmsted County District Court with felony second-degree assault and a misdemeanor charge of domestic assault. Following her first appearance Monday morning, Judge Lisa Hayne did not assign a monetary amount to conditional bail.
Her next court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 23.
Mankato man dies in wrong-way crash
LE SUEUR, Minn. (FNS) — A 65-year-old Mankato man was killed after he went the wrong way on an exit ramp and collided with a semi truck Friday night, Oct. 11, near Le Sueur in southern Minnesota.
Howard Paul Sweiger was driving a 1991 Ford Explorer when he entered Highway 169 from the County Road 8 exit ramp going the wrong direction, the Minnesota State Patrol said.
Sweiger was not wearing a seat belt and died in the crash, which was reported at 8:32 p.m..
The Kenworth truck driver, Luis Eriberto Tamay Lema, 40, was treated for injuries that were not life-threatening at Ridgeview Le Sueur Medical Center.
No alcohol was involved.
Minn. lawmaker wants phone companies to block robocalls
ST. PAUL (FNS) — A state lawmaker said he wants to block predatory robocalls from getting through to Minnesotans’ phones.
Rep. Zach Stephenson, D-Coon Rapids, on Monday, Oct. 14, said he’d drafted legislation aimed at requiring phone companies to block robocalls at no price to customers and offer legal remedies for Minnesotans scammed as a result of robocalls.
Minnesotans have received more than 387 million robocalls so far this year, according to the Minnesota Department of Commerce. That breaks down to about 58 calls per person in 2019.
Stephenson said he wrote the legislation, which is believed to be the toughest in the country, ahead of the 2020 legislative session after hearing concerns about the automated calls from several constituents.
“These calls aren’t just obnoxious, for senior citizens and other vulnerable populations they are a significant source of fraud,” Stephenson said. “Minnesotans are ready for this robocall madness to stop. We have the tools to make that happen. It’s time to put them to work.”
There is technology out there to block calls originating from other countries that appear as a local phone number, Stephenson said. And while some phone companies are using it now, all telecommunications companies should be blocking the fake calls and eating the cost for the technology rather than passing it to the consumer, he said.