Andrew Haffner covers higher education and general assignment stories for the Grand Forks Herald. He attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where he studied journalism, political science and international studies. He previously worked at the Dickinson Press.
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GRAND FORKS -- Police have opened a homicide case -- but aren’t currently seeking any suspects -- after a Grand Forks woman and her three children were found dead in their home Thursday morning. The bodies of Astra Volk, 35, and her children Arianna Talmage, 6, Aidan Talmage, 10, and Tyler Talmage, 14, were found in their home on the 1000 block of South 12th Street during a welfare check requested by Lewis and Clark Elementary School, where the two younger children were students.
GRAND FORKS—University of North Dakota students have selected their champion. More than 2,300 campus voters cast digital ballots earlier this week to choose the look for their new university mascot, a costumed character based on the Fighting Hawks athletic logo. The option "Z" Hawk, a serious-looking bird with a head of ruffled feathers, won the day with 843 votes. Option "X," the next runner-up, received 775 votes and option "Y" finished with 684.
GRAND FORKS — The internet can be a strange place. For a world with no physical substance, seemingly populated entirely by cat videos, contentious politics and endless social media preening—and griping—our online interactions have a way of raising some strong emotions in people. At times, our blood boils online in ways seldom seen in the "real" world. Even worse, sometimes we find ourselves getting mean in the comments. Why is that?
GRAND FORKS—While sagging public pensions in states like Illinois now resemble earth-bound, budgetary comets, North Dakota pension plans aren't likely to sink anytime soon. At least, that's the goal behind a set of legislative changes now being weighed to head off future disruption to one of the state's largest pension funds, the North Dakota Public Employees Retiree System—NDPERS, for short—which could otherwise run dry in decades to come.
GRAND FORKS — Some North Dakota higher education leaders have begun calling for urgency in fighting a potential continuation of budget cuts to public campuses. Casey Ryan, a member of the State Board of Higher Education, described the prospect of deeper cuts as "incongruent" with the state's goal of improving the higher education system, particularly the research institutions at the University of North Dakota and North Dakota State University.
GRAND FORKS—The University of North Dakota has partnered with education giant Pearson to promote some online programs over at least the next decade, a move that has pleased school leaders while leaving some faculty wary. The university struck a deal in mid-March to push two master's-level courses starting next year with Pearson, a company that, among other things, prints textbooks and handles digital coursework as an online program manager, or OPM. School leaders hope the deal will give UND an edge as the campus extends its reach for online-only students.
GRAND FORKS—Terrorists. Child-killers. Bloody-handed puppeteers. The National Rifle Association and its members have been called unflattering names in the months after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting as proponents of gun control have leveled their sights on the nation's most prominent Second Amendment advocacy group. Across the region, members of the NRA say it's unfair and misguided. Phillip Lee, a young father from McIntosh, Minn., takes issue when people believe the NRA advocates violence.
GRAND FORKS—A day after his budget guidelines hinted at future cuts to higher education, Gov. Doug Burgum described part of his vision for the state university system as one of increasingly flexible campuses operating in a more decentralized environment. "There's lots of things happening in higher ed that require attention, in terms of the business models, the competition, roles of research," Burgum, a former tech executive who has promised to reinvent government, said Thursday, April 19.
GRAND FORKS—The governor's early budget guidelines could mean a higher education cut of more than $50 million, deepening reductions handed down last spring to the North Dakota University System. Tammy Dolan, NDUS chief financial officer and a vice chancellor, said the 10 percent cut recommended Wednesday, April 18, by Gov. Doug Burgum "will have a significant impact" on the state's 11 colleges and universities.
GRAND FORKS—It was dusty on the Odra LLC manufacturing floor, but, given the mission of the place, that was kind of fitting. Odra, a U.S. subsidiary of a Canadian firm and named after a Polish river, builds street sweepers in a shop not far from the Canad Inns and waterpark in Grand Forks. Despite the complexity that becomes apparent when standing next to a sweeper, a bulk of hydraulic lifts, flexible brushes and operator controls, the vehicles don't often get a spotlight—Odra managers say they're doing their jobs best when they go unnoticed.