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The City of Lignite and the Lignite Fire Department have been at odds as to the ownership of the well, which is not the well that provides water for domestic use within the city. The well in question was originally acquired from the railroad. Further developments are likely.

The City of Lignite does have a permit, and a certain amount of water pumped and sold was covered by that permit, which is a very rare dual-use permit for municipal and industrial uses. However, the amount of water sold by the Fire Department far exceeded the allowable amount.

After investigators determined the correct permit was not in place, the State Water Commission assessed a penalty of $658,871. The fine was based on the exceeded amount and on the profit made from the sale of the water.

The volunteers on the Lignite Fire Department did not realize the permit for the well did not allow commercial water sales. They admit it was a mistake and did not realize what they were doing was illegal. They used the money for the replacement of equipment that was very old and in desperate need of updating, including a new fire truck, replacing a 1959 model.

According to Patch, the fine amount cannot be negotiated, however the Lignite Fire Department has consented to a negotiated settlement.
“We have been very consistent on not negotiating the fine amount,” said Patch. “But there are other aspects.”

Patch explained they have a method whereas they will not pursue a criminal penalty if the violators consent to the civil penalty (fine); and that is what the Lignite Fire Department has agreed to.

Under the agreement, they must repay the penalty with minimum yearly payments of $36,000. They have been given a conditional water permit, and money raised from water sold under that permit, will be used to repay the penalty.

The peak year for water demand in the oil patch was 2014, and the demand this year has dropped by about one third from last year down to levels seen in 2013.

The department also presented a recognition certificate to regional representative Tracy Follman, who is employed by the state agency.

Currently, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program helps about 53,290 qualifying low-income North Dakotans pay for food. Almost half of the program participants are children; many others are elderly or have disabilities.

Individuals can apply for the program online at or at their county social service office. If they qualify, individuals receive a special debit card, which can be used to purchase food items only.

In June 2015, the federally-funded program provided 37 households in Burke County with nearly $9,900 in benefits that were used to purchase food at local grocers.


On July 16, 2015, our son, Jackson, will click over one more notch on the odometer and celebrate his “Sweet Golden Birthday…Golden Sweet Birthday…” or something to that effect.

Jackson has been a bundle of nerves for the past few weeks in anticipation of this momentously grand, golden, and sweet event (please read this sentence with thick and heavy sarcasm for proper conveyance of reality).

I didn’t think it possible, but the boy may be surpassing me in “laidbackness.” Which is troubling since my father proclaimed when I was teenager, “If you were any more laid back you would soil yourself” or something along those lines…perhaps with a bit more colorful language thrown in for effect.

Let the record reflect this is a blatant exaggeration on behalf of my father as I have not soiled myself since college…or thereabouts…and it had nearly nothing to do with being laid back.

I’m not entirely sure where it began, but it appears the outward expression of this laid back gene is intensifying with each generation. This does not bode well for my potential great grandchildren (several…several years from now) who apparently will spend their lives shrugging and grunting indiscriminately from their hammock homes.

I have to admit there is some allure to that life, but it doesn’t pay well and Depends are not cheap…so I’ve heard.

Do any of you remember your “golden” birthday? How about “Sweet 16”?
Were they as shiny, sweet, and life changing as you had hoped or was it just another birthday?

Just another day celebrating the completion of one more year free of suffering an unfortunate hotdog eating incident or zigging when you should have zagged…while eating a hotdog. Hotdogs are dangerous.

My wife asked Jackson what he wanted to do for his special day and got the same response we get for most questions asked of him, “don’t care,” “don’t know” or when the formation of syllables and other grammatical structure is just too much to deal with, “mmaahhmmah.”

Sometimes he may get dramatic and throw in a discrete shoulder shrug to accompany his response.
The shoulder shrug lets us know that he REALLY, “doesn’t care,” “doesn’t know,” or “mmaahhmmah.”

As of this writing I’m not sure what his big day will entail. Historically, the kids get to pick a place to go out and eat for their birthday. So the day will most likely find us dining at the Japanese Steak House where my wife and I will have the pleasure of translating the boy’s menu related grunts and shrugs to a server who has a rudimentary grasp of the language our son is sort of communicating in.

Teenagers are interesting creatures who seem to exist in an alternate universe from their parents and any other adult who may have the audacity to try and help them.

Jackson is a good kid. A bright young man who is polite, friendly, and fully in possession of the ability to verbally communicate intelligently and completely when he so chooses.

Stay golden, stay sweet, and, for the most part, go ahead and stay laid back.
Happy Golden Sweet Birthday Jackson….and many…many more.

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