With 2013 soon ending, it's time for our annual review of the major news stories of the year.
We begin with the top events from the first two months of the year.
The 63rd assembly of the North Dakota legislature got going the second week of January with Governor Jack Dalrymple telling lawmakers of the major issues they faced...chief among them the impacts of the oil boom on western towns and counties. By the end of the first half of the session in late February, the House had passed an oil impact bill with some three-quarters of a billion dollars included.
2013 began with the city of Minot focusing on just what kind of flood protection should be pursued. The city council voted to support the full-sized Mouse River Enhanced Flood Protection Plan, with a price tag of well over a half-billion dollars for the Minot portion alone. The council also voted to use half of a one-cent sales tax beginning in mid-2014 to pay the city's share of the costs.
Meanwhile, many people were still dealing with the 2011 flood's devastation. As of the start of 2013 566 families were still living in temporary housing units - FEMA trailers - while figuring out what to do about their long term living arrangements. City officials were also busy lobbying state legislators for state help in recovering from the flood and the city was asking the federal government for a second round of Community Development Block Grant funding to help in the recovery. People living in areas downstream of Minot were being asked to review potential projects for controlling the Mouse River in their parts of the state as well. About the time those meetings were being held, the International Souris River Board - the group in charge of managing the Mouse - declared that the snowpack was average to below-average and normal, non-flood operations would be in place for the spring. That assessment changed quickly in the following weeks as the river basin received huge snow storms in March.
The murder trial of Omar Kalmio ended in early February with guilty verdicts from the jury. Kalmio, a Somali national, was found guilty of killing the mother of his child - Sabrina Zephier, her brother Dillon and mother Jolene, and Jolene's boyfriend Jeremy Longie. Kalmio was sentenced to life in prison. The state supreme court is currently deliberating arguments made in an appeal to the convictions.
Murder hit the small town of Westhope in February when the body of Jessie Kirk was discovered two days after he had been reported missing. Timothy Mundt was charged with the death and pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of Class A Murder, saying he was carrying out Kirk's wishes to die. Mundt was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
The Bakken Boom continued to bloom as 2013 began and its impacts were visible in places like Ray, where a new addition to the school was officially opened in January. In Williston plans were moving ahead for a new airport to handle to more-than tripling of passenger traffic. And the city of Williston took steps to grow physically - annexing more than seven square miles on the north side of town to take in major areas of expansion.
A man who had moved to Minot for a job in the oil industry became an international celebrity in February when President Barack Obama presented him with the Medal of Honor. Clint Romesha received the award at the White House and was a special guest at events all over the state and on national media. Romesha had retired from the Army a couple of years earlier. He received the Medal of Honor for his bravery and selfless actions in October of 2009 when eight US soldiers died in an attack on their outpost in the mountains of Afghanistan.
January, 2013 was a sad month for friends, family, and co-workers of Chester Reiten. The former Minot mayor and state legislator and founder of Norsk Hostfest had built this television network covering western North Dakota with his children. He died January 22nd. He was remembered as an innovator, hard worker, and advocate for Minot and all of North Dakota.
With the year in review for January and February, Jim Olson, KX News.