1. Oil tycoon gives ‘game-changing’ $50 million donation to Roosevelt library
Billionaire businessman Harold Hamm has donated $50 million to the group behind the planned Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library, a massive tourism project slated for Medora, North Dakota.
Hamm, founder of oil giant Continental Resources, emerged as one of the leading beneficiaries of western North Dakota’s oil boom in the late 2000s. The Oklahoma native has since grabbed headlines in the state for his philanthropic work, including eight-figure donations to the University of North Dakota and the University of Mary.
The hefty check Hamm has written the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation makes him the project’s leading donor. Melani and Rob Walton, of the Walmart fortune, previously committed $50 million to the project, but
they later pared down their gift to $15 million.
Hamm, 77, said he is pleased to support an ambitious vision that will perpetuate the 26th president’s legacy for generations to come.
“We invest in big ideas that are built to last,” Hamm said in a news release. “The Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library will inspire Americans for centuries, not decades. Theodore Roosevelt was a person of great vision and leadership, and he was transformed during his time in North Dakota.”
The proposed library is meant to celebrate the story of Theodore Roosevelt, the one-time governor of New York who became the president of the United States in 1901. As a young man, the politician-to-be spent parts of three years hunting and ranching in present-day western North Dakota before the country came to know his outsized personality.
Read more from Forum News Service’s Jeremy Turley
2. Burgum highlights ‘infinite opportunity’ in annual address
Gov. Doug Burgum painted a rosy picture of North Dakota’s economic prospects in his annual State of the State address on Tuesday, Jan. 3.
The speech fell on the first day of the legislature’s four-month session, and Burgum issued several calls to action for lawmakers in attendance.
The Republican governor said there is “infinite opportunity” in North Dakota to lead the world in agriculture and energy — the bread and butter of the state’s economy. Burgum said lawmakers should kill a ban on corporate farming for animal agriculture and invest millions of dollars in
a nascent technology that would bury carbon emissions deep underground.
State law restricts most corporations from owning farms and ranches, but Burgum said the rules that aim to protect family operations are handcuffing agricultural production in the state. The former tech mogul said ending the prohibition on corporate farming for animal agriculture would allow the state to put out more beef, pork and dairy.
“When it comes to making business decisions, in North Dakota, apparently that freedom applies to everyone, in every industry, except our farmers and ranchers. It’s time to change that,” Burgum said.
House Minority Leader Josh Boschee, D-Fargo, said Burgum is taking the wrong approach to supporting agriculture producers. He noted that there is little support around the state for lifting the corporate agriculture restrictions.
In 2016, voters
that would have eliminated the corporate farming ban on dairy and pig farms.
Senate Majority Leader David Hogue, R-Minot, said he supports the governor’s plan and he believes reform would allow farmers to pool resources and establish hog and dairy operations.
Read more from Forum News Service’s Jeremy Turley
3. MHA Nation buys land on Las Vegas strip for roughly $90M as investment property
Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation has purchased land on the Las Vegas strip from MGM Resorts that includes the site of a mass shooting that killed concertgoers.
Chairman Mark Fox said the Three Affiliated Tribes bought 13 acres for approximately $90 million. Combined with
8.7 acres the tribe acquired nearby in 2021 for $12 million
, the tribes now have almost 22 acres in a rapidly growing area of Las Vegas.
“So many things are going into that area prospectively,” making it an appealing investment property, Fox said on Tuesday, Jan. 3.
The tribe now will take about a year to determine what to do with the real estate, located in an area that is filling up with new resorts, a new major league baseball stadium and underground transportation, he said.
“My goal is to find opportunities to bring in revenues, a return,” he said. Proceeds from the tribe’s investment portfolio help to build infrastructure and programs, including health care and housing, for the tribe.
Possibilities include holding the land, allowing it to appreciate in value, or to develop the land, with possibilities including a resort and casino, Fox said.
“We have options now,” he said. “We want to examine those options.”
The 13 acre purchase from MGM Resorts, which closed on Friday, Dec. 30, includes an area across from the Luxor called the Village, where a gunman in a hotel shot down on concert goers at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in 2017, killing 60 and injuring more than 850.
Read more from Forum News Service’s Patrick Springer
4. Minnesota prosthetist building limbs for Ukrainian soldiers, civilians
A small, newly formed Twin Cities prosthetic manufacturer works closely with a nonprofit organization to fit Ukrainian soldiers and civilians with free devices.
Wade Hallstrom has been involved in the prosthetic industry for his whole life, while Heidi has been in the field for 23 years. In September, they launched their own prosthetic device manufacturing company, called Heidi’s Legs LLC.
“It’s been very rewarding to open up our business and help this nonprofit get this work done,” said Hallstrom, who grew up in St. Hilaire, Minnesota, near Thief River Falls, but now lives in the Twin Cities. “We’re happy to help out that community with our tools and craftsmanship.”
Read more from Forum News Service’s Shannon Geisen
5. ‘Cheers’ opening montage featured this wild Minnesota logging town
Every Thursday for 11 years, from 1982 to 1993, millions of Americans settled into their sofas as the notes started playing: “Making your world in the world today takes everything you’ve got…”
The theme song to the sitcom “Cheers” was recently ranked by “Rolling Stone” magazine as the 13th best. Writers praised the song for its initial “somber” lyrics about life’s challenges to its “rousing” conclusion about the simple beauty of going somewhere warm and welcoming where “they’re always glad you came.”
“Like the show’s dark wooden fixtures and golden lighting, it helped make ‘Cheers’ feel like your Thursday-night home away from home,” said Rolling Stone’s Sean T. Collins.
But just because the photo preceded episodes of one of the funniest comedies of all time, don’t assume the Minnesota bar was anything like Sam Malone’s tame, “meet-me-for-happy-hour” Cheers. Forget about finding softies like beer-loving accountant Norm Peterson or know-it-all mailman Cliff Clavin bellied up to the bar. In Craigville, you were more likely to find hooligans, troublemakers and felons.
Read more from The Forum’s Tracy Briggs
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