A big year: Fertilizer plant plan was top story of 2012From a massive proposed fertilizer plant, to a murder trial, and even changes in the air we breathe, The Jamestown Sun has covered many things affecting the area in 2012.
By: By Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
From a massive proposed fertilizer plant, to a murder trial, and even changes in the air we breathe, The Jamestown Sun has covered many things affecting the area in 2012.
The top story of the year was CHS Inc.’s announcement of a $1.2 billion fertilizer plant planned for the Spiritwood Energy Park located about 10 miles east of Jamestown.
Through a chemical process, the plant will take natural gas and convert it into anhydrous ammonia. It is expected to be completed by the second half of 2016.
“To the folks of Jamestown and Stutsman County — a big congratulations. You’ve hit the big one,” Gov. Jack Dalrymple, R-N.D., said when the plant was announced on Sept. 12.
The CHS plant could employ anywhere from 100 to 150 people, once fully operational. Construction alone will bring in hundreds of workers — up to 2,000 people working there at different parts of the process.
The population of Jamestown and the surrounding area is expected to swell once construction workers and new residents and their families once completed.
CHS is currently in the middle of a feasibility phase that will cost about $10 million, which will include a front-end engineering and design study.
Here are the remaining nine big stories of 2012, listed in no particular order:
Two crashes took 10 lives on Interstate 94 in the Jamestown area this year.
The first accident happened on July 6 by mile marker 225, 33 miles west of Jamestown.
Aaron, 34, Alison, 36, and their 18-month old daughter Brielle Deutscher of West Fargo, N.D. were killed when their vehicle was struck head-on by Wyatt Klein, 28 Jamestown.
Klein was driving drunk the wrong way on the interstate.
The accident prompted legislators to propose a bill to strengthen drunken driving penalties in the state.
The second happened on Dec. 26 just west of Jamestown on I-94 when a truck carrying men people went out of control on the icy roadway, crossed the median and was hit by a semi. All six in the truck died.
“In my career I can’t even remember hearing about a crash involving six fatalities,” said Sgt. Josh Rude of the North Dakota Highway Patrol.
This year North Dakota banned smoking in public places. A statewide ban was approved by voters in November and took effect in December.
Initially some bar owners said they expected the change would hurt business.
“Today we had our carpets all cleaned and our air ducts all cleaned out,” Casey Dodgson, co-owner of the Buffalo Bar & Lounge, also known as The Buff, said on Dec. 5. “There’s a possibility we may paint, too, but they washed the walls down.”
The North Dakota Department of Health offers help to anyone who wants to quit smoking through the North Dakota Tobacco Quit Line. People can call 1-800-QUIT-NOW for help.
Leron Howard was sentenced to life in prison following the murder of 18-year-old Abdi Ali Ahmed, Jamestown, who was found dead in April 2011.
A 12-person jury convicted Howard of murder and criminal conspiracy in August.
Janelle Cave was sentenced to 11 years in prison in April for her role in Ahmed’s death — 11 years for criminal conspiracy and eight years for manslaughter, to be served concurrently.
“I wanted her to die in prison,” Maria Ali, niece of the victim, said in a statement after the verdict. “I don’t think justice has been served, she could get out tomorrow.”
Ahmed was born in Somalia and came to the U.S. in 2006 to escape the civil war there. He lived in Columbus, Ohio, until he moved to Jamestown about a month before his body was found in a road ditch near Spiritwood, in 2011. He died of blunt head trauma and had also suffered stab wounds.
Disputes involving the City Council made headlines throughout the year.
One major issue is who should serve the area by the Jamestown Regional Medical Center with water.
Currently the disagreement between the city and Stutsman Rural Water District has meant the Titan Machinery project, now under construction, is without water.
“We’re all motivated to get this taken care of,” said Roger Florhaug, member of Rural Water’s board. “We are limiting this to the Titan and hospital area and other areas would have to be negotiated.”
The council also ran into conflict with Buffalo City Tourism Foundation during the process to approve a new contract with the organization. Earlier this month the city and BCTF reached an agreement that will provide tourism services through 2016.
Lutheran Social Services purchased the old Jamestown Hospital and is converting it into the Legacy Center, which will include housing for seniors early February.
The $10 million retrofit project will provide apartments for 51 seniors as well as commercial space when completed.
The James River Senior and Community Center will also relocate to the space downtown. ME’s 21st Century Learning Center, a day care center, will also continue to rent space in the building.
“For as complicated a project as this is, I have to say it’s gone really well and we have a good team that’s working on it — and that’s a real blessing,” said Jessica Thomasson, director of Lutheran Social Services Housing.
Leanne Buckley spearheaded a fundraiser effort in April to raise the money needed to help local rescue agencies purchase a remote operated vehicle, after her longtime partner Darrin Ackerman died after falling through the ice on Jamestown Reservoir in December 2011.
Buckley hosted an event with friends and family at the Civic Center with bands, food and an auction that raised about $24,000 toward the purchase of a ROV.
Buckley endured an eight-day search which ultimately ended when rescue crews found Ackerman’s body with an ROV from Duluth, Minn.
Jamestown Fire Chief Jim Reuther helped secure the rest of the total $87,000 needed by using grants.
“After the incident we wanted to figure out a way to get enough funding,” Reuther said. “Leanne, her family and friends I believe are the ones who made this happen in a short amount of time.”
Essentia Health has been preparing to relocate soon to be positioned next to Jamestown Regional Medical Center, west of Jamestown. The old clinic closes this Friday and the new one opens on Jan. 7.
The clinic and the hospital will be connected by a hallway. The relocation also helps create a medical campus by JRMC.
Essentia invested $1.9 million in the construction, new equipment and technology and furnishings for the new clinic.
“We’re not just improving our facility, we’re also seeking to improve the quality of our care,” said Laura Hovland, clinic manager. “We want to improve the personalized care that our patients have come to expect.”
Jamestown and Stutsman County, like 60 percent of the continental U.S., were in some form of drought for the majority of 2012.
“The warm and dry winter and spring led to a dry summer,” said Patrick Ayd, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Bismarck. “Much of Stutsman County was classified as under severe drought conditions by the fall of the year.”
Precipitation in Jamestown totaled 14.02 inches for the year as of Dec. 27. That is well below the average of about 18.75 inches.
The past year also saw record land prices being paid for farmland in Stutsman County.
Two quarters located northeast of Courtenay, N.D., sold for $4,100 an acre in October.
“It’s a common situation with farm land prices rising at unsustainable levels,” said Dwight Aakre, farm management specialist for the North Dakota State University Extension Service. “I know they are going up, I don’t know when it will peak.”
A building owned by Vining Oil on First Avenue burned on Feb. 17, causing a section of street to be blocked off for more than two months.
The fire destroyed the building and the contents stored inside — valued at more than $1 million — and damaged the former Elks building next door.
Vining’s building was demolished on April 2, and traffic was eventually restored to normal, after downtown lost a building that was part of the city’s history.
It was once owned by Anton Klaus, considered by many to be the father of Jamestown.