Technology changing how grain elevator operates

RURAL TAYLOR — When he first began working for Southwest Grain several years ago, Kent Candrian said there were days when he would walk about a mile or more at work — all of it in a 20-square-foot area.

Manning toggles and switches on a large wall switchboard, Candrian would make sure grain hauled to the Boyle Terminal between Gladstone and Taylor made it to the proper bins.

These days, Candrian still does that job. Instead, he sits in front of a bank of computer screens and does the majority of his work with the click of a mouse.

“I do everything in one spot,” said Candrian, a longtime driveway attendant for the CHS Inc. elevator. “Basically, it eliminates walking.”

Like many elevators, Southwest Grain has converted to automated systems that speed up its daily unloading of farmers’ trucks, its own loading of rail cars and also makes the lives of its employees easier.

“In the last four or five years, technology has advanced to the point where it just makes more sense because of the volume we do anymore,” Southwest Grain General Manager Delane Thom said. “It gets rid of some employee fatigue. It makes their job much easier and you can manage the whole system from one spot.”

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For New England, reaching state tournament is ‘dream come true’

NEW ENGLAND — The party didn’t stop after the post-game celebration.

In New England, the revelry for winning the Region 7 boys basketball championship game last Thursday night in Dickinson lingered until the team and fans got home. Then it spilled over onto the city’s Main Street, led by fire trucks blasting sirens, a stream of cars honking horns, and the hoots and hollers of fans in this town of about 650 people relishing something that hasn’t occurred in nearly a generation.

New England, with only 69 kids in high school, will be both the smallest school and community participating in this year’s Class B state tournament, which begins today at the Bismarck Event Center.

“For us, this is the ultimate,” said Daryl Jung, the school’s longtime athletic director. “It’s actually a dream come true.”

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Safety first: MBI offers unique training program — slowly

BELFIELD — Troy Ohlhausen never lets the needle on his pickup’s speedometer go beyond 10 mph when he’s on an oilfield site — even if the site where he’s driving is nothing more than a simulation.

As Ohlhausen drove slow and steady around MBI Energy Services’ training facility Thursday, he pointed out truck drivers training to haul crude oil by first spending time in classrooms, tank batteries set up to show employees proper safety techniques, and even one trucker undergoing a quality control check on how to properly put chains on his truck’s tires.

“You can do training out in live operations, but it’s so fast,” said Ohlhausen, MBI’s director of training. “Everything is fast-paced. We slow it down out here.”

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Dickinson Investments names former management company operator of Hawks Point

The management company that ran Dickinson’s Hawks Point at its inception will soon be in charge once again.

Dickinson Investments LLC — the group that owns the senior living community on the Dickinson State University campus — announced Thursday that, beginning April 1, Senior Services of America will take over management of the facility.

Senior Services of America managed Hawks Point from its inception in 2007 until 2013, when the company was terminated by Dickinson Investments. From that time forward, the DSU Foundation managed the facility.

However, Dickinson Investments has been searching for a new management company since last November when North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem forced the Foundation into financial receivership.

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Trial Runners continues to expand

Few Dickinson businesses felt the impact of the Great Recession.

As stock prices fell, the national housing market crashed and consumer confidence dipped, southwest North Dakota largely weathered the storm.

Trial Runners tells a different story.

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Listening to fulfill a need

Do you read?

I’m not talking about this column and newspaper, or the Facebook news feed some of you probably scrolled through to get here. Yes, that is reading, but it’s a different type of reading than I’m talking about.

Really, my question should be: Do you read books?

For me, the answer is … kinda. Let me explain …

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Small fires point to dry conditions in southwest N.D.

Dickinson Fire Department firefighters Russ Murphy, rear, and Levi Hammond, talk after quelling a fire Friday afternoon near Second Nature greenhouse on south State Avenue in Dickinson.

Dickinson Fire Department firefighters Russ Murphy, rear, and Levi Hammond, talk after quelling a fire Friday afternoon near Second Nature greenhouse on south State Avenue in Dickinson.

Three small grass fires near and in Dickinson the past two days have shown area authorities and meteorologists just how dry southwest North Dakota is.

While temperatures are on an upward trend — the National Weather Service predicts that highs will be in the 40s this weekend and the 50s early next week — there’s no precipitation in the 14-day forecast.

“It’s quite dry out there and certainly this would be the time of year that’s more susceptible to grass fires,” said Bill Abeling, a meteorologist with the weather service.

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Planner talks ways to improve cities; focuses on Dickinson’s downtown

Mike Zimney, a planner with Ulteig Engineers in Fargo, gives a presentation about building better cities Thursday afternoon at the Eagles Club in Dickinson.

Mike Zimney, a planner with Ulteig Engineers in Fargo, gives a presentation about building better cities Thursday afternoon at the Eagles Club in Dickinson.

Mike Zimney believes there are good and bad ways to build cities.

The Dickinson Downtown Association brought in the city planning specialist to speak to a group of about 60 Dickinson officials, business owners and others interested in revitalizing downtown Thursday afternoon at the Eagles Club.

“We can still build great places,” Zimney said early into his hour-long presentation, “Designing Great Cities.”

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Gatekeepers of the refinery: Lab chemists play large role in Dakota Prairie Refining

Holly Dalen, laboratory supervisor at Dakota Prairie Refining, shows how to use a flash point analyzer on Thursday inside the lab on the refinery’s site west of Dickinson.

Holly Dalen, laboratory supervisor at Dakota Prairie Refining, shows how to use a flash point analyzer on Thursday inside the lab on the refinery’s site west of Dickinson.

In a windowless room inside of a non-descript steel building at Dakota Prairie Refining’s sprawling facility west of Dickinson, there are six people whose job is to make certain America’s first greenfield refinery built since 1976 turns Bakken crude oil into diesel fuel.

“It’s a chem nerd’s dream,” laboratory technician and chemist Nicole Haller said of the lab where she works on the 375-acre refinery site.

The small lab crew — led by supervisor Holly Dalen of Dickinson — has some of the most important jobs at the refinery, which is in the final stages of testing before ramping up operations.

They already spend each day testing crude oil, diesel fuel and its sulphur levels, as well as other products to be produced by the refinery. They also run constant tests on city wastewater to be used in the refining process.

The lab crew act as the refinery’s gatekeepers. If a product goes in or comes out of the refinery, the lab has its eyes and instruments on it.

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B&A Global Energy sets sights on ending flaring in Bakken

Photo by Jonathan Pezza / Special to The Press Jack Kelley, president and CEO of B&A Global Energy of Tulsa, Okla., left, speaks with Michael Wu, inventor of the Energy Capturing Operating System (ECOS) at a well site in Mongolia in this undated photo provided by the company.

Photo by Jonathan Pezza / Special to The Press
Jack Kelley, president and CEO of B&A Global Energy of Tulsa, Okla., left, speaks with Michael Wu, inventor of the Energy Capturing Operating System (ECOS) at a well site in Mongolia in this undated photo provided by the company.

Jack Kelley and Skip Bennett are an unassuming duo with a big idea.

The entrepreneurs, together with a Taiwanese inventor and engineer, have a plan to capture natural gas, eliminate flaring at the wellhead, create a viable commodity from that gas, and pay both energy companies and royalty owners for their share.

B&A Global Energy, a small company based in Tulsa, Okla., has acquired the rights to the Energy Capturing Operating System (ECOS), a portable refinery able to be placed at a well site. The ECOS captures and processes methane gas produced in the hydraulic fracturing process into liquefied natural gas (LNG).

“This is a game-changing technology to the oil and gas business,” said Kelley, B&A Global’s president and CEO and a 25-year veteran of the energy industry who is also a retired U.S. Air Force pilot and a licensed architect.

B&A Global wants to bring its ECOS technology to the U.S. — specifically to North Dakota’s Bakken and Texas’ Eagle Ford shale formations — after witnessing the technology work in Asia.

“We have chosen the Bakken as our focus,” said Bennett, B&A Global’s board chairman and founder.

The idea, they say, is simple.

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What do I want my 30s to be about?

Something dawned on me the other day. Tomorrow, I’ll no longer be 30. I’ll actually be in my 30s.

I’ve reached that stage in life where everything begins to slow down while simultaneously becoming more complicated.

Spending the past year as a 30-year-old, I never truly felt like I was “in my 30s “ As my 31st birthday arrives Monday, that feeling is beginning to change.

At 30, I got married, lost an old friend far too early and said goodbye to my second grandparent in as many years.

That, along with the speculation of what is to come in life, has led me to spend more time thinking about the impact I’m making as I start my own family, play a visible role in our community and try to leave a lasting impact on our world — even if that “world” is limited to southwest North Dakota.

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Thrifty White Pharmacy leaving mall in March

The new Thrifty White Pharmacy building is shown on the Third Avenue West frontage road Friday in north Dickinson.

A longtime tenant of the Prairie Hills Mall is leaving for its own space.

Dave Reuter, vice president of personnel for Thrifty White Pharmacy, said the Dickinson business is relocating to its own building nearing completion on the Third Avenue West frontage road between Brady Martz and Eyewear Concepts and behind the North Hills Shopping Center.

The new pharmacy plans to be open in its new location Monday, March 2, Reuter said. Its final day at the mall is Saturday, Feb. 28.

“This really gets us into a real building that’s a professional pharmacy,” he said.

The store, commonly known by its former name, White Drug, is selling out of its food and other merchandise at the mall location through the rest of February.

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Co-op store vital to Regent

The Regent Co-Op Store’s facade has barely changed over the years. It opened in 1936 and continues to serve the small community today.

REGENT — Darrel Remington remembers when Regent supported three grocery stores.

“All were important, of course,” he said as he looked over a mostly quiet Main Street on the morning of Feb. 5. “Then it narrowed down to eventually the one.”

The one, thanks to sustained community efforts, has fought through the tough times and still provides an essential service to the small southwest North Dakota town of less than 200 people.

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Men of steel: Mott’s Roadmaster makes impact for energy, ag industries by fabrication

Roadmaster manager Corey Johnson stands in the shop the company moved into last December.

MOTT — Mott sits on the outer edge of western North Dakota’s Oil Patch. Still, the small town of about 800 people has found ways to contribute to the bustling energy industry.

The company making perhaps the biggest impact is Roadmaster, a subsidiary of K&K Construction in West Fargo.

Though its name can be deceiving — a remnant of about a decade ago when its primary task was fabricating and welding metals for asphalt paving equipment — Roadmaster is contracted to fabricate and weld structural steel used on electrical substations that end up being used on oil rigs and at major substations throughout the country. Along with that, the shop also makes cattle creep feeders.

“A lot of this goes nationwide,” manager Corey Johnson said. “It’s a big process.”

Video: Jim Ferderer explains what Roadmaster does.

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Fisher Group strives to be ‘best in class’

Four years ago, Mike Fisher set out to bring a handful of companies he ran together under one roof.

Today, The Fisher Group employs an estimated 250 people at a more than a dozen area businesses and has turned into a management company that has given area residents businesses they not only want but, in many ways, need.

“We want to be the best at what we do,” Fisher said. “We want to be the best in class.”

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