5 things to know today: Controversial comments, COVID-19 deaths, Parking ramp, Legacy Fund, 'Jekyll and Hyde' | INFORUM

Local News 22-10-2021 IN FORUM 39

1. Fergus Falls doctor loses job after controversial comments at school board meeting

A Fergus Falls surgeon is no longer working at Lake Region Healthcare after comments he made Oct. 11 at a school board listening session about a mask mandate for students in the city's elementary schools.

The board established a two-week mandate at the schools that expired on Wednesday, Oct. 20, as a COVID-19 mitigation measure because younger children weren't eligible for the vaccine.

In the midst of the mandate last week, the board held the special meeting to listen to residents.

Read more from The Forum's Barry Amundson

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2. North Dakota eclipses 1,700 COVID-19 deaths

A coronavirus graphic. Courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

A coronavirus graphic. Courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The North Dakota Department of Health on Thursday, Oct. 21, reported an additional five COVID-19 deaths, bringing the state's overall pandemic death toll to 1,703 North Dakotans in nearly 20 months.

The additional deaths reported on Thursday come as hospitalizations in North Dakota, both the number of COVID-19 and non-coronavirus patients, remain high. Hospitals across the state are also experiencing severe staffing shortages. The Department of Health on Wednesday appealed to residents on its social media pages to do what they can to stay healthy and out of the hospital.

"At this critical time, please take precautions to stay out of the hospital, including being up to date on your immunizations and practicing injury prevention," the Department of Health said.

Read more from Forum News Service's Michelle Griffith

3. Fargo finalizes sale of Island Park parking ramp to Bell Bank

The Island Park Parking ramp is on First Avenue South between Bank of the West and Wells Fargo.  David Samson / The Forum

The Island Park Parking ramp is on First Avenue South between Bank of the West and Wells Fargo. David Samson / The Forum

The sale of one of the city's first downtown parking ramps to Bell Bank was approved unanimously by the Fargo City Commission on Monday, Oct. 18.

After finding some needed repairs, the city and the bank agreed to reduce the sale price from $9.5 million to $9.37 million. The repairs were found as part of a report on all of the city parking ramps and garage facilities.

Bell Bank decided to split the $248,000 price tag for repairs with the city, thus lowering the purchase price by $124,000.

Read more from The Forum's Barry Amundson

4. North Dakota lawmaker upset about sluggish in-state investment of Legacy Fund, files bill to bypass board

Rep. Mike Nathe, R-Bismarck, at the North Dakota Capitol on March 19, 2021. Jeremy Turley / Forum News Service

Rep. Mike Nathe, R-Bismarck, at the North Dakota Capitol on March 19, 2021. Jeremy Turley / Forum News Service

A North Dakota lawmaker who championed the idea of investing part of the state's oil tax savings account in local companies has filed a proposal that would circumvent a board that has yet to establish a process for investing the money.

Legislation passed earlier this year sets up an objective for the State Investment Board to invest up to 10% of the voter-approved Legacy Fund in stocks and other equity in North Dakota-based companies.

About 3% of the fund is earmarked for emerging local firms, but Rep. Mike Nathe, a Bismarck Republican who sponsored the original bill, said the remaining 7% of the fund meant for North Dakota companies hasn't been put to use.

Read more from Forum News Service's Jeremy Turley

5. ABC's '20/20' to explore case of ex-Grand Forks surgeon who murdered his wife in New York

ABC news anchor John Quinones (left) interviews Alayne Katz, sister of Gail Katz-Bierenbaum, for the "20/20" special, airing Friday, Oct. 22, about Dr. Robert Bierenbaum, a former Grand Forks surgeon, who was convicted of murdering his wife Gail Katz-Bierenbaum in their New York City apartment in July 1985. (Photo courtesy of ABC 2020)

ABC news anchor John Quinones (left) interviews Alayne Katz, sister of Gail Katz-Bierenbaum, for the "20/20" special, airing Friday, Oct. 22, about Dr. Robert Bierenbaum, a former Grand Forks surgeon, who was convicted of murdering his wife Gail Katz-Bierenbaum in their New York City apartment in July 1985. (Photo courtesy of ABC 2020)

The story of Dr. Robert Bierenbaum, a plastic surgeon who practiced in Grand Forks and Minot and later was convicted for the murder of his wife in their Manhattan apartment, will air in a two-hour, special “20/20” program beginning at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 22, on ABC.

Several people were interviewed for the special, including family and friends of Bierenbaum’s wife, Gail Katz-Bierenbaum; attorneys involved in the case; and women who had dated the surgeon.

The "20/20" episode is described as a “Jekyll and Hyde” story, according to an ABC news release distributed this week. By all appearances, Bierenbaum seemed to have it all -- he was a surgeon, a skilled skier, gourmet chef, fluent in multiple languages and an expert pilot. However, he had a darker side, which ABC’s news anchor John Quinones explores in the "20/20" special. Those tendencies included violent and abusive behavior. His wife, Gail Katz-Bierenbaum, confided to friends that she was afraid of her husband.

Read more from Forum News Service's Pamela D. Knudson


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