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REGIONAL BRIEFS: More charges in synthetic drug case

From the Forum News Service


Cleanup progressing at site of anhydrous ammonia leak

MURDOCK, Minn. -- Traffic will continue to be detoured around a portion of U.S. Highway 12 between Murdock and DeGraff for a few more days, possibly until Sunday, while anhydrous ammonia from a damaged tanker is safely removed.

The situation was under control, but authorities were being careful to prevent any risk to the public or workers at the site of Tuesday's semi-truck and train collision, the Swift County Sheriff's Office reported.

The Murdock Fire Department and hazardous materials teams are relieving pressure from the damaged anhydrous ammonia tank. A patch on the tank allows the escaping anhydrous ammonia to be transferred into a separate tank holding water, turning it into aqua-ammonia. The solution does not pose the same risks as anhydrous ammonia.

Eric Westin of Pine City, a licensed hazardous material hauler with Jensen Transport Inc., was airlifted Tuesday to St. Cloud Hospital, where he was last reported in critical but stable condition.

Sheriff John Holtz said Wednesday that Westin was the only person airlifted to medical care as a result of the accident.


Red Lake man charged with machete assault

ST. PAUL -- A Red Lake man was indicted Monday in federal court in St. Paul on a charge of assaulting another man with a machete in March in Redby.

Dale Clinton White Jr., 19, was charged with one count of assault resulting in serious bodily harm, according to a news release from the U.S Attorney's Office in St. Paul.

According to a law enforcement affidavit, police responded to a reported assault at a Redby residence March 22. Officers found a man in bed, unconscious, with extensive injuries to his head and arms, the affidavit said. Court documents indicate that witnesses also reported that other people had been in the house before police arrived. Police reportedly spotted one of those people, later identified as White, as he fled from a neighbor's house, where he had left behind a machete. The victim suffered several fractures, multiple lacerations, soft tissue damage and hemorrhagic shock, officials said.

If convicted, White faces a potential maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison. Any sentence would be determined by a federal district court judge. This case is the result of an investigation by the Red Lake Tribal Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.


Patrol: Driver in Coke spill had been put out of service

ALEXANDRIA, Minn. -- The driver of a semi that rolled and spilled its load of Diet Coke bottles on Interstate 94 near Alexandria early Wednesday had been put out of service at the I-94 weigh station in Moorhead about six hours before the crash, the Minnesota State Patrol said.

The crash was reported about 3:53 a.m., forcing the shutdown of eastbound I-94 for about five hours.

Patrol Sgt. Jesse Grabow said the driver of the semi, Shane Bembenek, 33, of Mosinee, Wis., fell asleep at the wheel and overturned the truck, then fled with a passenger on foot. Authorities found the men a short while later near a rest area about a mile away, he said.

Bembenek and the passenger, identified as Kenneth Sherman, 35, were taken to the Douglas County Hospital in Alexandria and treated for minor injuries.

Grabow said Bembenek and his rig had been put out of service at the Red River Weigh Station east of Moorhead about 9:45 p.m. Tuesday because Bembenek had a false log book and was operating a commercial motor vehicle while disqualified.

Bembenek was cited for failure to use due care, driving after out-of-service order, driving after being disqualified, log book not current, false log book and no seat belt.

Sherman was arrested on a warrant out of Wisconsin for cocaine possession, Grabow said.


More charges in synthetic drug case

DULUTH -- Jim Carlson, owner of the Last Place on Earth, and his employee-son, Joseph Gellerman, were in court Wednesday to challenge evidence against them, when the prosecutor informed the judge that amended complaints have been filed charging the pair with more synthetic drug crimes.

Carlson is free on $450,000 bail. Gellerman is free on $150,000 bail. Both men declined to comment outside the courtroom after the hearing.

Carlson, 56, of Superior, Wis., and Gellerman, 34, of Duluth, each were charged last month with four counts of the sale of a Schedule I controlled substance in the fourth degree. The charges resulted from five alleged sales of a controlled stimulant to undercover law enforcement officers.

The amended complaints filed by the St. Louis County Attorney's Office charge Carlson with five more controlled-substance crimes and Gellerman with three more, apparently linked to a search warrant executed by the Lake Superior Drug and Violent Crime Task Force at the Superior Street store on March 29.


North Dakota

Owner fined after dogs kill NDSU sheep

FARGO - Doug Petersen of Fargo pleaded guilty Wednesday in Fargo Municipal Court to two counts of having dogs at large.

Two huskies belonging to Petersen and his wife, Crystal, got away from the Petersen home Tuesday morning and attacked a flock of sheep inside a North Dakota State University research barn. The huskies killed seven sheep, five others had to be euthanized and six sheep that survived the attack were treated for their injuries.

Petersen was fined $500 for each dog, the maximum under city ordinance.

"Huskies are runners - that's a breed characteristic," Petersen said after his court appearance, during which he told the judge he and his wife had been in the process of saving enough money to have a wireless fence installed at their home to keep the dogs controlled.

The fine is not the end of costs the couple will face.

The Petersens are waiting to hear what the restitution bill will be from NDSU, which city attorney Jodi Bass said will be taken care of in civil court. Previous estimates put the cost of the loss of the sheep in the thousands of dollars.


Growers plan $1 billion fertilizer project

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- North Dakota corn growers are planning a $1 billion nitrogen fertilizer manufacturing plant to be built near Grand Forks in rural Grand Forks County.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple and Grand Forks Mayor Mike Brown will make a formal announcement today.

The plant will produce nitrogen fertilizer by converting gas currently being flared from oil wells in western North Dakota, according to Tom Lilja, president of the North Dakota Corn Growers Association. Other details will be released during today's news conference.

The facility, which has been estimated to cost between $1 billion and $1.5 billion, could supply fertilizer for up to 12 percent of the corn and wheat acreage in North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota, Lilja said last summer, when the group initially announced plans to build a plant somewhere in North Dakota.

It would use natural gas from western North Dakota's Oil Patch and provide farmers in the region with a guaranteed supply of fertilizer without relying on imports.


ONEOK completes natural gas processing plant in Williston

WILLISTON, N.D. - ONEOK Partners celebrated three projects Wednesday that will enhance the state's processing of natural gas and help reduce flaring in western North Dakota.

ONEOK marked the completion of its Stateline II natural gas processing plant near Williston that can process 100 million cubic feet of natural gas per day. It's the third natural gas processing facility that the Oklahoma-based company has completed in the Williston Basin since late 2011.

ONEOK also has completed its Bakken NGL pipeline, capable of transporting 60,000 barrels of natural liquids per day, that extends 600 miles from processing plants in the Williston Basin to an interconnection in Colorado. From there, natural gas liquids are delivered to storage facilities in central Kansas.

In addition, ONEOK is constructing a 270-mile natural gas gathering system that is expected to be fully operational by the third quarter of this year. The pipeline network will transfer natural gas from well sites in Divide County for processing at the company's Stateline I and Stateline II plants near Williston.

"With these major projects completed, we are able to further reduce flaring at oil well sites, decrease traffic congestion and impacts to our roads, and add value to our energy resources," Gov. Jack Dalrymple said at an event Wednesday recognizing the project .


South Dakota

Woman killed in Parkston house fire

PARKSTON, S.D. -- A Parkston woman known for her artfully decorated cakes and enthusiastic personality died Wednesday in a house fire.

Emergency personnel were called to the fire at the home of Kathie Neal, 64, around 2:30 a.m.

Parkston Police Chief Greg Reichenberg said no one else was in the home at the time and the house is a total loss. Deputy State Fire Marshal Paul Coon was on scene beginning his investigation into the cause, but he declined to comment.

Neal loved her grandchildren, according to several people around Parkston. She taught kindergarten through 12th grade art in the Parkston School District for many years. She retired seven years ago, according to Superintendent Shayne McIntosh.

"Our heartfelt sympathies go out to the family," McIntosh said.

Neal was most involved recently at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, where she taught catechism classes for five years. Her artistic skills always accompanied confirmation and first communion celebrations in the form of cakes. She helped celebrate confirmation Sunday, said the Rev. John Rader.

"She was willing to pitch in however she could help," he added.