Planned soybean plant top Jamestown 2017 story
The year of 2017 brought new buildings and the talk of new business to the Jamestown area. It also brought business closings and tragedy to the region. The editorial staff of The Jamestown Sun chose the Minnesota Soybean Processors’ plan to build near Spiritwood as the top story of 2017. The other top nine stories follow in no particular order.
Minnesota Soybean Processors announced in February plans to construct a $245 million soybean crushing and processing plant at the Spiritwood Energy Park Association industrial park.
The company is continuing an equity drive with a $40 million goal to match a $60 million investment by Minnesota Soybean Processors as well as negotiating with partners.
An announcement could come yet this winter on the project with possible groundbreaking in the spring.
The Two Rivers Activity Center opened on Sept. 5. Jamestown voters approved a 1 percent sales tax in June 2015 to pay for the $28.6 million first phase of TRAC, a fitness center. As of Dec. 4, TRAC had 2,724 active members.
While a contract for residential recycling was approved in September 2016, it will be sometime in 2018 before the program begins.
Ralph Friebel, owner of the Recycling Center of North Dakota, planned to start the program July 1. Delays in acquiring automated garbage trucks for the city of Jamestown and financing problems for the Recycling Center delayed implementation.
In October, the Jamestown City Council set March 1 as the deadline for implementation or the contract would be revoked and rebid.
As of Dec. 21, the Recycling Center announced it would distribute recycling containers in January and start collections February.
Harold Newman Arena dedicated
The University of Jamestown celebrated the opening of its $15.5 million sports facility on Sept.
29. The Harold Newman Arena has a 2,000-seat main court area for basketball and volleyball, along with training rooms, a commercial laundry room, a video scoreboard capable of showing replays, locker rooms and a practice field for the football team and offices for coaches and athletic department staff.
A new road between the Menards area and Jamestown Regional Medical Center opened in November adding a second route to the hospital that doesn’t involve Interstate 94. The road also fulfilled the top priority listed by the Land Use and Transportation Plan adopted by the Jamestown City Council in 2015.
Construction costs of $2.1 million were well under the $3.4 million engineer’s estimate. The road opening was about two weeks after earlier estimates due to late weather delays. Asphalt and new striping will be added in the spring.
Wells County sheriff resigns amid drug charges
Johnny “Zip” Lawson, 41, Fessenden, resigned his position as Wells County sheriff on April 25 after he allegedly consumed methamphetamine provided by Alexander Lail, 47, New Rockford. Lawson allegedly received the drug in exchange for not investigating burglaries and break-ins of residences around Wells County in 2016 and 2017 that may have been done by Lail or some of his associates. Lawson is charged in Southeast District Court in Fessenden with conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance-methamphetamine, a Class A felony and bribery-unlawful influence of public servants, a Class C felony, and three Class A misdemeanors: false report to law enforcement or other security officials, public servant refusing to perform duty and ingesting a controlled substance-methamphetamine.
Airport activity expanding
Jamestown Regional Airport hit the 10,000 paid passenger boarding mark on Oct. 6, more than a month earlier than when it hit the same mark in 2016. Having 10,000 paid passenger boardings in a year means the airport will receive $1 million in entitlement funds from the Federal Aviation Administration, whereas the airport used to receive $150,000. The airport is working with the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. to establish an industrial park along N.D. Highway 20 and plans to expand the airport parking lot in 2018.
Murder-suicide in Jamestown
The Jamestown Police Department responded to the home of Casey Gene Jensen, 33, and Cherish Renae Petersen, 26, in northeast Jamestown, who were found dead on Sunday, Aug. 6, by relatives. The couple’s 3-month-old child had been left in the house by itself for more than 24 hours after Jensen shot Petersen, killing her, then himself. The shooting happened sometime in the late evening of Aug. 4 or early morning of Aug. 5.
J.C. Penney store closes
As part of a corporate downsizing that included 138 stores nationwide, the J.C. Penney store in the Buffalo Mall closed on July
31. The store had around 30 employees.
J.C. Penney opened in Jamestown in 1922 and moved two times in its 95-year history here.
UJ fin ed by Department of Education
The University of Jamestown learned on Sept. 23 that the U.S. Department of Education could assess the school $210,000 in fines for violations of reporting standards. The DOE claims that from 2010 through 2015, UJ was not in compliance with the Clery Act which requires institutes of higher education that receive federal funds to report crime statistics and safety policies to its students.
The DOE started an investigation in 2014 following a complaint alleging UJ had failed to develop and implement required campus safety and crime prevention policies until October 2016. UJ appealed the fine to the DOE Office of Hearings and Appeals.
Other stories of note
Other notable stories from the region include the completion of the Hansen Arts Park in downtown Jamestown, the May opening of the 1883 Stutsman County Courthouse to visitors and the Feb. 25 mobile home fire in Carrington that killed Alexander, Melody and Spencer Tufte, the children of Brandon and Dawn Tufte.