Tracker Pixel for Entry

​Governor Mark Dayton sparks FM diversion discussion

by Chris Hennen | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | News | September 17th, 2014

Fiery opposition leads to talks and cooling of rhetoric

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton recently created a stir by calling on the federal government to halt construction of the $1.8 billion Fargo-Moorhead diversion project. The result has been a back and forth dialogue between the Fargo-Moorhead Diversion Authority and the State of Minnesota, which could potentially lead to the Minnesota DNR rescinding its support for the lawsuit filed against the diversion. However, nothing has been finalized yet.

The Diversion Authority’s response to the Governor was to offer a concession of changing the Oxbow, Hickson and Bakke to protect for a 100 year flood instead of a 500 year flood, something the state of Minnesota requested. The DNR said Minnesota state law didn’t allow support for a 500 year flood plan and they were upset construction began on the ring dike before it completed an environmental review.

In response to a letter for Diversion Authority Chairman Darrell Vanyo offering the concessions, Governor Dayton sounded a more conciliatory tone this week while making no promises.

“I share your desire to forge a more constructive working relationship between the State of Minnesota and your Authority,” the Governor wrote. Later adding “The Authority's future actions will determine, far more than its words, whether better relations are established with the parties and people who are now estranged from it. I hope that cooperation can be achieved.”

The Governor also said he appreciated the concession on the Oxbow dike but couldn’t take a position on it as the matter is under litigation. The Diversion Authority will take up the matter at a meeting on Oct. 9. Fargo Deputy Mayor Tim Mahoney is a member of the Diversion Authority. He says the fact that the Governor is no longer calling for a halt to construction is a victory for his side.

“We also got concessions from him because if you quote stop all the work, that means also stop all design, that means stop trying to figure out what we’re going to do with landowners, stop everything. What we explained to him we don’t really want to stop everything. We have farmers coming us to now asking us to buy their land and we have people who want us to buy their homes,” Mahoney said. “So we had to explain to the Governor, we can’t just stop everything because we do have people that have made requests and in fairness, we still have to address those issues for them.”

Dr. Mahoney hopes the discussion and concessions between Minnesota and the Diversion Authority will lead to more discussions between the Authority and the filers of the lawsuit to stop the diversion, the Wilkin Richland County Joint Powers Authority, a coalition of upstream officials opposed to the diversion.

“We want to work with the opponents to try to come up with (a plan), there’s all sorts of people that are affected by this whole project. So I guess we’d like them to try to figure out what would be worthwhile as a compromise or what could they agree to,” Mahoney replied. “We’re hopeful that the people, they’ve all said before they support a project of some sort and we’re just hopeful that they would like to come forward and have a good discussion where you can try to come to solutions.”

While Governor Dayton’s comments have led to a cooling of the rhetoric between the Diversion Authority and Minnesota, it has not done so yet with the Wilkin Richard County JPA. Wilkin County Authority Timothy Fox said the offer on the Oxbow ring dike to the state of Minnesota is not a concession.

“To say that you are going to go ahead and construct something illegally but you are not going to as bad as you were before. I mean it’s illegal,” Fox said. “It’s part of the diversion project. It always has been a part of the diversion project and they don’t have a permit to do that. So suggesting we’ll only violate the law a little bit, that doesn’t seem right. They should’ve never started the project and they should never done what they did and they went ahead and did it anyway in the dark of the night.”

Fox said the Authority never got permits to start construction in the first place. Short of halting construction on the diversion project, there appears to be no concession that would satisfy him enough to stop the lawsuit.

“From the very beginning, we’ve offered and continued to offer to have conversations with them but we’ve never had any conversations with them because they basically said we’re going to do whatever we’re going to do and that’s why we’re in court,” Fox told HPR.

Mahoney said discussions are being made now about approaching upstream folks but they want them to say what they want.

“We’re trying to figure out who would pick the upstream portion of the talks and come to the table,” Mahoney said “And we’re trying to let them figure that out. We’d rather let them figure out how we want to do this. So we’re trying to give as much choice as possible to let people do it they want they think this is right.”

Fox feels there needs to be a change in tone from the Diversion Authority about ramming the project down outlying communities’ throats.

“If somebody wants to talk about resolving this, that’s one thing, but just telling people that you are stuck with this and this what you are going to have … whether the Richland Wilkin County JPA or whether it’s the Hickson, the residents of Bakke, they don’t want this,” Fox said. “So if they don’t want the flood protection, why call it flood protection and give it to them when they don’t want it?”

The next few months should be telling about whether all sides can come together with a plan that everyone supports.

Recently in:

WASHINGTON D.C. – The federal government reopened Monday, but not after blame shifting and a reluctant agreement made on key issues. Republicans declared victory, and some analysts agree, adding it will be short-lived.Short-lived…

When I was a young boy of five I was lucky enough to have a black and white TV in our house. I had a lot of friends in those day because I let the whole neighborhood come over on Saturday morning to watch cartoons. I distinctly…

Wednesday, January 24, 6pmFargo Theatre, 314 Broadway NThe very first showing of “Homegrown: From Farm to Fargo,” a half-hour documentary shot, written, edited and produced by mass communication and journalism students at…

Last week I was asked to appear and speak on behalf of Matt Pausch, owner of the Oasis, before the Public Works and Safety Committee in Wahpeton. The Pausches are great people and I will never forget the time I spent at the Oasis.…

Corky had a knee replaced in late December and she has been diligently doing the physical therapy connected with the rehab. Although the operation was done in Fargo, I imagine the procedure would have cost about the same if it had…

Rhombus GuysWhile they may be known locally and throughout the region for their restaurants, which feature over thirty different pizzas, and their recent addition of a brewery in Grand Forks, Rhombus Guys also proudly pour from a…

Do you eat enough vegetables? Almost no one does. The current USDA nutrition guidelines for adults recommend 2.5 to 3 cups of vegetables to be eaten daily. Other nutrition sources indicate this number can be upwards of 6 cups of…

No one who has lived in Fargo for any length of time has to be told how bitterly cold it can get here during the winter. As much as we might complain about the cold temperatures, the biting winds, or the copious amounts of snow, we…

Now playing on Netflix Instant Watch, Voyeur is the curious story of strange bedfellows Gay Talese -- the once influential and celebrated journalist -- and Gerald Foos, a creepy peeper who spied on the guests at his hotel,…

High Plains Reader: How did the idea for Daily Trump Cartoon come to you -- what was your call to action?Peter Yuenger: It wasn't really a call to action, It was more of a New Year’s resolution to get back in the habit of drawing…

Smoke starts to seep from the sides of the stage and a rocker’s voice echoes over the crowd: “Are you ready to rock?!”You might think that you’re at a rock concert, if you weren’t seated in a black box theatre. For the…

Humor

​Talking to strangers

by Sabrina Hornung

“I don’t have a tour, like, on the back of a sweatshirt,” comedian Paula Poundstone says. “I go out every weekend. This weekend I went out Friday, Saturday and Monday. Mostly it’s Friday/Saturday or Thursday through…

“What are some of your favorite bottles of whiskey?” is a question I get asked quite frequently and is often harder to answer than one might think. One of the great rewards of my profession is getting to sample some of the…

Essential oils. They are all the buzz lately. It seems everyone has heard of them or is purchasing them. Some people know how to use them; others are just interested in the wonder of their complex scents.Essential oils are as…

Live and Learn

​The other shoe

by HPR Contributor

By Elizabeth Nawrotnawrot@mnstate.eduI look up from my hotel lobby breakfast astonished to see a framed print of Wassily Kandinsky's "Mit und Gegen,” a masterpiece of color and composition that just happens to be my favorite…

By Gary Olsonolsong@moravian.edu“Kissing a man without a beard is like eating an egg without salt.”— Dutch proverb, probably written by a man.“Kissing a man with a beard is like going on a picnic. You don’t mind going…