5 things to know today: Stepping down, Mercury pollution, Worker shortage, Kmart demolition, Mask mandates – INFORUM

Bryan Nermoe Sanford.jpg

Bryan Nermoe, president of Sanford Fargo. Special to The Forum

1. Leader of Sanford Health in Fargo says he resigned, uncertain of ‘next chapter’

The leader of Sanford Health’s Fargo branch has stepped down.

Bryan Nermoe , 56, told The Forum he decided to leave his position as the health system’s CEO and president of Fargo operations.

Tiffany Lawrence, vice president of finance for the Fargo market, has replaced him in the interim, with the changes effective Friday, March 4, Sanford spokesman Nathan Aamodt confirmed.

In a phone interview, Nermoe said he’s not sure what he plans to do next. “It’s a good time for me to look at the next chapter in my life and really for the first time in 30 years to have a blank page on what that might look like,” he said.

Nermoe joined Sanford in 2008 in Sioux Falls. He became president for the Fargo region in 2019 after the health care system announced Sept. 26, 2019, that his predecessor, Nate White, would leave Jan. 1, 2020, to take a “corporate leadership role” at the Sioux Falls headquarters.

Read more from The Forum’s April Baumgarten

2. US coal plants slashed their mercury pollution. North Dakota accounts for a big share of what remains


The Great River Energy Coal Creek Station coal plant near the Falkirk mine outside of Underwood, N.D., is the largest power plant in North Dakota Michael Vosburg / Forum News Service

Over the last decade, power plants across the country have slashed the amount of mercury they release into the atmosphere. But of the electricity sector’s remaining mercury emissions, North Dakota’s fleet of coal-fired power plants contributes a disproportionate share.

Coal-burning facilities in North Dakota have cut their mercury emissions from more than 2,300 pounds in 2010 to 847 pounds in 2020, according to data supplied by the state Department of Environmental Quality. That mirrors a national trend, as some coal plants around the country have been replaced by natural gas and the rest have had to adapt to tighter environmental policies from the federal government.

While coal-fired power is no longer the country’s largest source of mercury pollution , North Dakota plants dominate recent catalogs of the biggest mercury emitters in that sector. In 2020, North Dakota ranked second only to Texas in mercury emissions released by facilities regulated under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s mercury and air toxics standards, according to agency data . And an analysis of the country’s largest power producers, compiled last year by the consultancy Environmental Resources Management, showed that four of the country’s top six mercury-emitting coal plants were in North Dakota in 2019. Coal Creek Station, the largest coal-fired power plant in the state, ranked second.

Read more from The Forum’s Adam Willis

3. Postal Service faces uphill battle as it seeks to fill 20 openings in Fargo

The Minnesota House debates whether to allow gay marriage May 9, 2013. As lawmakers prepare to return to session Tuesday, no debate with such drama is expected this year. Don Davis / Forum News Service

David Samson/The Forum

Every week for the past five years, Greg Johnson has kept a standing commitment to post job openings online.

It’s become something of a tradition for Fargo’s postmaster, though the results of his toils have been mixed and are declining. These days, Johnson said, the United States Postal Service is “lucky” to get one or two applications on a job posting that used to bring in between five and 10 applicants. Simply put, Johnson categorized the employee search for USPS as “slow.”

The postmaster couldn’t land on one specific factor to blame for the drop-off in applicants. Sure, the pandemic has played a role, but Johnson said his issues predate the arrival of COVID-19. “The pandemic impacted it, but I’ve been posting these positions every week for the past five years,” he said. “We’ve been constantly trying to hire for five years, but we’ve never had our levels as low as this.”

He also attributed the decline to the imbalanced labor market in Fargo, with hundreds of businesses looking to fill thousands of jobs from a comparatively small pool of candidates.

Read more from The Forum’s Thomas Evanella

4. Enclave to begin demolition of south Fargo Kmart next week for senior housing, commercial redevelopment

Heavy construction equipment is queued up on the north side of the Kmart building at 2301 S. University Drive on Thursday, March 3. West Fargo-based developer Enclave plans to start razing the 60-year-old big box store next week, company officials said.

The Forum: Helmut Schmidt

Demolition will begin next week on the former Kmart big box store on South University Drive, making way for 88 units of low-income senior housing, and commercial and retail development.

Heavy construction equipment is parked just north of the 60-year-old building, standing ready to rip down the walls at 2301 S. University Drive.

West Fargo-based developer Enclave is in charge of the Kmart demolition to prepare that part of the site for senior housing.

Tim Gleason, a developer for Enclave, said that asbestos abatement has been completed. He expects the building part of the site will be clean and ready for new construction by affordable housing developer Beyond Shelter between mid-April and early May.

Read more from The Forum’s Helmut Schmidt

5. NDSU, MSUM end mask mandates


The EPA has revoked use of chlorpyrifos product with food use.

Two universities in the Fargo-Moorhead area will no longer require masks in indoor settings.

Minnesota State University Moorhead ended its face covering mandate for indoor public settings on Friday, March 4, and North Dakota State University announced it will stop requiring masks in classrooms as of Monday, according to their websites.

Professors at NDSU may still require masks in their classes. NDSU previously made masks optional in indoor settings outside classrooms.

Read more from The Forum’s April Baumgarten