Military: Balloons obeyed fed laws

SIOUX FALLS | The military says recent high-altitude balloon flights over South Dakota and other Midwest states complied with federal laws against conducting surveillance on civilians.

Pentagon spokesman Chris Mitchell says two test flights that launched from Baltic, South Dakota, recently were part of a project to develop all-weather radar-imaging capability from the stratosphere. He says no tracking information was collected during these flights, and none will be collected in future flights.

But the South Dakota chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union said Friday it still has many questions about the imagery and how it will be used.

Policy Director Libby Skarin says the Pentagon statement seems to contradict filings, first reported by The Guardian, saying the balloons were meant to provide persistent surveillance to locate drug trafficking and homeland security threats.

Storm damage delays start of school

BURKE | This week's storm that caused extensive damage in the southern South Dakota town of Burke has caused school administrators to delay the start of classes.

The tornado and strong winds caused major damage to the community's only school campus. Officials are still deciding where the new school year will begin, possibly in local churches or a portable building. But one thing is certain. Classes that were to begin Aug. 21 will be delayed to Sept. 4.

Superintendent Erik Person tells the Argus Leader that when he saw the damage caused by Tuesday night's storm he had a sinking feeling, but is grateful no one was seriously injured.

The National Weather Service says the EF-1 tornado traveled nearly 4 miles in eight minutes, but says most of the damage was caused by 80 to 100 mph winds.

Heitkamp: not running for governor

BISMARCK, N.D. | If former U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp tries to resurrect her political career, she says it won't be through a run for governor.

Heitkamp tells the Bismarck Tribune that she won't run. Heitkamp says she is "just not interested in a running a two-year campaign."

Heitkamp was reacting to a news story on polling by Republican Gov. Doug Burgum on a potential 2020 matchup with Heitkamp.

Republican Kevin Cramer defeated Heitkamp last year in her bid for a second term in the Senate. Heitkamp has worked since her defeat as a political commentator. She's also serving as co-chairwoman of a coalition advocating for Congress to pass a trade agreement with Canada and Mexico.

University lands money for research

LARAMIE, Wyo. | The University of Wyoming has received an $8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to field test foam-assisted hydrocarbon gas injection technology that could help recover more oil from unconventional reservoirs.

The project through UW's Department of Petroleum Engineering plans to pilot the use of a hydrocarbon gas mixture to create foam for injection into hydraulically fractured reservoir rock. This foam will slow the flow of gas, allowing more oil to be extracted from the rock.

UW's project was among five research and development projects recently selected to receive federal funding. The DOE's National Energy Technology Laboratory will manage all of the selected projects.

Besides the $8 million in DOE money, the UW research project will receive an additional $2 million of funding from UW, Hess Corp. and Dow.

Hikers approve of shuttle system

DENVER | Thousands of people have hiked up to a popular scenic Colorado lake using a new reservation system.

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The Denver Post reports that White River National Forest officials received five out of five stars on a shuttle service implemented in May from more than 95% of survey respondents visiting Glenwood Canyon's Hanging Lake.

Park officials say the system replaces a visitor parking lot with $12 shuttle rides from Glenwood Springs to the lake about 155 miles (249 kilometers) west of Denver.

Officials say the goal was to improve the health of the trail and lake by moderating human impact while also improving the visitor experience.

Officials say Hanging Lake has a daily limit of 615 visitors and has reached more than 40,000 hikers since the program began earlier this year.

Wyo. approves $9M loan for plant

CHEYENNE, Wyo. | Wyoming officials have agreed to loan more than $9 million to a biotech company to build a manufacturing plant in the state.

The Wyoming Tribune Eagle reports the State Loan and Investment Board signed off on the loan Thursday for California-based Innovive.

The company plans to construct a nearly $18 million plant in Cheyenne.

The company specializes in making disposable rodent cages used in medical research labs.

Innovive says used cages would be sent to the 80,000-square-foot (7,400-square -meter) Cheyenne plant where the parts would be sterilized and reused in new cages.

The state treasurer's office and the company are still working out the terms of the loan.

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