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REGIONAL BRIEFS: After fish hook mishap, dad on the hook for reckless driving

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REGIONAL BRIEFS: After fish hook mishap, dad on the hook for reckless driving
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Minnesota/North Dakota

Minnesota Power adding wind turbines in N.D.

DULUTH -- Minnesota Power is increasing the amount of electricity it generates using wind power.

The Duluth-based utility on Thursday announced plans to build a $345 million, 200-megawatt expansion of its Bison wind project in North Dakota.

The expansion will add 64 wind turbines to the 101 turbines Minnesota Power has installed since 2010 near New Salem, N.D. Construction is expected to begin this year, and the facility is projected to be operational by the end of 2014. The new turbines will generate enough energy to power 92,000 homes.

“We’ve found a way to meet the state of Minnesota’s renewable energy standard early and reduce costs at the same time,” Al Hodnik, chairman, president and CEO of ALLETE, said in a news release.

Minnesota’s renewable energy standard requires that utilities generate 25 percent of their power from renewable energy by 2025. Minnesota Power now generates about 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources, namely wind and hydro.

The Bison expansion project still needs regulatory approval in North Dakota and Minnesota.



1 dead, one critically wounded in shooting near New York Mills

NEW YORK MILLS, Minn. -- One man is dead and another was in critical condition Thursday after a shooting late Wednesday near New York Mills, the Otter Tail County Sheriff's Office said.

Authorities received a call at 9:13 p.m. Wednesday from a 21-year-old woman who reported gunshots at a location east of New York Mills on County Highway 56. Deputies and emergency medical personnel found a 20-year-old man was dead at the scene, according to a release from the sheriff’s office.

A 23-year-old man was airlifted to a St. Cloud hospital, where he was in critical condition and on life support Thursday. A previous release from the sheriff's office said the 23-year-old was deceased, but an updated release said the sheriff's office had been misinformed.

Administrative Lt. Matthew McGuire confirmed Thursday that the shooting was an apparent murder and attempted suicide. McGuire said the sheriff's office had ascertained a possible motive: The 23-year-old shooter was the ex-boyfriend of a woman the 20-year-old man was currently involved with.

Two witnesses saw the shooting, he said. He declined to comment on the relation of the witnesses to the two men, whose names were withheld pending notification of families and the ongoing investigation.


Ex-school board member sentenced on solicitation charge

VIRGINIA, Minn. -- A former Virginia School Board member was sentenced to four years of supervised probation Wednesday for asking a 12-year-old girl to engage in sexual conduct.

Donovan Eric Strong, 37, of Tower, was found guilty of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and solicitation of a child to engage in sexual conduct, both felonies, by a St. Louis County jury in October 2011. He was acquitted of attempted first-degree criminal sexual conduct.

But in March the Minnesota Court of Appeals overturned the sexual assault conviction. The court, however, affirmed the solicitation conviction and sent the case back to the trial court to determine how to proceed.

On Wednesday, State District Court Judge Gary J. Pagliaccetti sentenced Strong to 15 months in prison, but stayed execution of the sentence and placed Strong on four years of supervised probation, which is consistent with state sentencing guidelines.

The 12-year-old victim said Strong grasped a string bow to pull down her bikini bottom about 1 inch and directed a sexually suggestive and lewd comment to her during a boat outing on Lake Vermilion on July 2, 2011.


Hibbing motorcyclist killed in crash is identified

HIBBING, Minn. -- Authorities on Thursday released the name of the Hibbing man killed Wednesday morning in a motorcycle accident south of Hibbing.

Thomas L. Kotula, 65, was killed when his Harley-Davidson hit a deer on Minnesota Highway 73 about 13 miles south of Hibbing shortly after 10:30 a.m., according to the Minnesota State Patrol. A passenger, Kathryn A. Kotula, 60, was airlifted to Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Medical Center in Duluth, where she was listed in fair condition Thursday.

The Kotulas were traveling south when they hit the deer just south of Beauty Mountain Road and lost control, ending up in the west ditch.


Paul and Babe honored as top roadside attraction

BEMIDJI, Minn. -- Paul and Babe have been named the Best Roadside Attraction in Minnesota by WCCO-TV.

The Bemidji Area Chamber of Commerce was notified of the recognition Wednesday. Matt Brickman, a WCCO-TV reporter, presented the chamber with an award Friday as film crews taped footage to air during the 10 p.m. newscast Thursday night and again at 8 a.m. Saturday.

"It's cool that we're being recognized," said Lori Paris, president of the chamber.

The statues stand near the shores of Lake Bemidji.

In 2010, Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox were included in Time magazine's online list of the Top 50 American Roadside Attractions.


Man killed in Meeker County crash

LITCHFIELD, Minn. -- A man is dead after the vehicle he was driving collided with a truck Wednesday in Meeker County.

Frederic Brown, 76, of rural Darwin, was driving north on Minnesota Highway 4 when he crossed over the centerline and struck a Freightliner tractor-trailer, driven by Ricky Lahr, 28, of Paynesville.

Brown was pronounced dead at the scene. Lahr was transported to the Paynesville Area Hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.


North Dakota

Casselton man killed in rear-end crash on I-94

WEST FARGO, N.D. -- A 61-year-old Casselton man was killed Thursday morning in a rear-end collision on Interstate 94 west of West Fargo.

The North Dakota Highway Patrol said Royce Rodacker was pronounced dead at the crash scene near mile marker 341 just before 6 a.m.

Troopers arrived to find one car in the ditch and a small pickup truck that had rolled in the median.

Rodacker, the driver of the pickup, was thrown from the vehicle, according to state troopers.

The driver of the car, Nicholas Milbrandt, 20, of Kindred, was taken by a private vehicle to Essentia Health in Fargo, where he was treated for minor injuries.

Milbrandt told troopers he and Rodacker were eastbound on the interstate. Milbrandt was trying to pass the pickup when a rear-end collision occurred.

Rear-end collisions are unusual on an open interstate but not unheard of, said Highway Patrol Sgt. Dave Wolf.

The patrol continues to investigate the accident.


N.D. mental health group awarded three-year grant

FARGO – Mental Health America of North Dakota recently received a three-year grant to boost education efforts and resources to help those recovering from mental illness.

The Statewide Consumer Network grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration was awarded July 1 and runs through June 2016.

Mental Health America of North Dakota is the state’s only behavioral health education and advocacy nonprofit, and the organization offers support groups on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Visit for more information.



After fish hook mishap, dad on the hook for reckless driving

SUPERIOR, Wis. -- A Wisconsin man is accused of pushing another car off the road while driving to get his son medical attention after a fish hook mishap.

Shayne Trevor Dalbec, 38, of Maple, faces one count of felony second-degree recklessly endangering safety and misdemeanor hit and run-attended vehicle from the July 20 incident.

According to the criminal complaint, Dalbec reported his child had a fish hook stuck in his carotid artery and drove to meet emergency personnel in a McDonald's parking lot. Authorities saw the child had a three-pronged treble hook stuck in his right cheek, but there was no active bleeding and no injury near the artery.

As an officer was preparing to talk to Dalbec about speeding to get to medical attention, a report came in of a Mustang striking another car.

When questioned by police at the Douglas County Jail, Dalbec admitted hitting the back of the Toyota after the driver had stepped on the brakes. He said the Toyota continued to stop, so he pushed the vehicle onto the sidewalk.

He said that after he got to the hospital with his son, Dalbec felt he'd made a mistake because the injury was nowhere near the carotid artery.

Dalbec has pleaded not guilty to the hit-and-run charge.


Jeff Holmquist
Jeff Holmquist has been managing editor of the New Richmond News since 2004. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and business administration from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. He has previously worked as editor in Wadena, Minn.; Detroit Lakes, Minn.; Hutchinson, Minn.; and Bloomington, Minn. He also was previously owner of the Osceola Sun, Stillwater Courier and Scandia Messenger along with his wife. Together they previously founded and published The Old Times newspaper for antiques and collectibles collectors; and Up!, a Christian magazine of hope and encouragement.
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