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REGIONAL BRIEFS: Bus cleared on I-94 after bomb comment
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From the Forum News Service

North Dakota

N.D. trade mission heading to Norway

FARGO -- North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple, along with the North Dakota Trade Office, will lead a delegation of business and government leaders on a trade mission to Norway from Saturday through Thursday.


"Norwegian heritage has always been an important part of North Dakota, and our state is committed to enhancing this relationship through mutually beneficial trade opportunities," Dalrymple said.

Dalrymple will meet with Ole Borten Moe, Norway's minister of petroleum and energy, and Statoil President and CEO Helge Lund to learn more about how Norway manages the challenges created by new oil discoveries.

The governor's schedule also includes meetings with leaders of the province of Telemark to promote leisure travel to North Dakota.

The governor and provincial leaders plan to sign a memorandum of understanding to establish a sister-state relationship between Telemark and North Dakota.

Norwegians make up the largest ethnic group in North Dakota. In 2009, the U.S. census reported 199,154 Norwegian-Americans in North Dakota, more than 30 percent of the population.

The city of Northwood, N.D., has the largest Norwegian-heritage population in the United States.


Woman rescued twice from Red River dies

FARGO -- A woman who was rescued from the Red River early Monday morning died Thursday afternoon at Sanford Health, police said.

Sabrina Quintana, 41, of Fargo, had been in critical condition since Monday, when rescue crews found her floating in the river. It was the second time in as many weeks crews had rescued her from the water.

Early on May 24, a woman called 911 to report she was in the river. When authorities arrived, they found a phone on the riverbank and Quintana clinging to a structure near a boat landing.

Quintana was rescued and treated for hypothermia.

On Monday, fire crews again responded to the Midtown Dam about 1:30 a.m. on a report of a woman possibly in the river. Fargo police arrived first and found a phone on the shore but did not find the person it belonged to.

A fire crew in a boat spotted a woman floating in the river, and firefighters pulled Quintana to shore. Emergency workers performed CPR, and she was taken by ambulance to Sanford Medical Center.

Deputy Chief Pat Claus said Thursday that the incident remains under investigation by the Fargo Police Department and Cass County Coroner's Office.


Worker killed in I-29 construction zone accident

MANVEL, N.D. -- A 58-year-old worker from Clear Lake, Minn., was killed Thursday morning in a construction zone accident on Interstate 29 in Grand Forks County.

It happened about 8 a.m. on northbound I-29, just south of Manvel, said Grand Forks sheriff's Lt. Gary Grove.

The man was operating a concrete grinder, according to a release from the North Dakota Highway Patrol. He became trapped under the front of the machine and died on scene.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration will investigate with assistance from the Highway Patrol.

The contractor involved was Diamond Surface Inc. out of Rogers, Minn., the Highway Patrol said.

The victim's name was being withheld pending notification of relatives.


One killed, one hurt in Grand Forks crash

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- A two-vehicle accident in Grand Forks early Thursday left one man dead and another injured, police said.

The accident happened shortly after midnight when a 1994 Acura driven by Alexander Gabrysh, 22, of Grand Forks and Mandan, collided with a 2000 Toyota Celica driven by Ethan Jon Plemel, 21, of Grand Forks, at Ninth Avenue South and South 20th Street.

Both drivers were taken by ambulance to Altru Medical Center, where Gabrysh was pronounced dead. Plemel was treated for injuries and released.

It appeared that neither man was wearing a seatbelt, Grand Forks police Lt. Michael Ferguson said.

According to police, Gabrysh was traveling west on Ninth Avenue South and approaching the intersection with South 20th Street, where a stop sign controls traffic on the avenue. Gabrysh apparently "proceeded into the intersection and was struck" by the other vehicle.

Neither vehicle had any other occupants, Ferguson said.


Billings sheriff gets emergency funding for vehicle

BISMARCK -- Billings County Sheriff Dave Jurgens will receive another patrol vehicle soon after his original vehicle suffered engine failure while responding to an emergency call last week.

On Thursday, during an emergency meeting, the Board of University and School Lands approved $51,814 from the state's Oil and Gas Impact Grant Fund for an additional sheriff's vehicle.

Jurgens' vehicle had only 5,000 miles before the engine failed. It is expected to be covered by the vehicle's warranty, with repairs expected to take at least a month.

Jurgens is currently using a personal vehicle while on patrol, said Lance Gaebe, commissioner of the state's Department of Trust Lands.


N.D. leads states in economic growth

BISMARCK - For the third straight year, North Dakota's economy has outpaced all other states, a report from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis shows.

North Dakota's gross domestic product, which measures total economic production, increased to $38.7 billion in 2012, a 13.4 percent jump from 2011, the report stated.

Texas had the second-strongest state economy with a growth rate of 4.8 percent.

The country's average GDP growth rate was 2.5 percent in 2012.

"Our strong business climate, North Dakota's skilled and dedicated workforce and the innovation created by the state's small businesses continue to power our economic growth," Gov. Jack Dalrymple said in a statement.

"Moving forward, we will continue to support economic growth through low taxes, a sensible and effective regulatory environment and a state government that is responsive to the needs of business and job development."

The BEA report states that North Dakota's economy has averaged an annual growth rate of 7.52 percent since 2000, which compares to the national average of 3.9 percent.



Bus cleared on I-94 after bomb comment

WOODBURY, Minn. -- Bus passengers were back on their way to Chicago around 2 p.m. Thursday, about a half-hour after a bomb scare led to a temporary evacuation of the vehicle.

Minnesota State Patrol Lt. Eric Roeske said the bus was stopped by its driver on Interstate 94 in Woodbury after learning of a passenger's comments about a bomb.

The passenger, described only as a man, made reference to a bomb to passengers and the driver, Roeske said, adding that no specific threat was made.

"No one said, 'I'm going to blow up a bus,' " Roeske said.

The incident occurred just before 1 p.m. and drew eastbound I-94 traffic to a halt while troopers investigated the scene.

The man was taken into custody without incident before being transported to Regions Hospital. Roeske did not elaborate on the man's medical condition.

The other passengers were temporarily placed in an MTC bus until the situation was cleared. Roeske said a police dog detected no signs of explosives.

Passengers were seen re-boarding the bus just after 2 p.m. The bus returned to the road shortly thereafter.

Roeske said reports will be filed with the Washington County Attorney's Office, where charges will be considered.


Police say man shot self, made up assault story

WILLMAR, Minn. -- A 27-year-old Willmar man was treated at a hospital for a gunshot wound to the leg and released -- and then was sent to the county jail Thursday on assault and weapons charges.

A news release from Willmar police Capt. Jim Felt said officers were dispatched to Rice Memorial Hospital just before 3 a.m. Thursday for a person with a gunshot wound.

At the hospital, Daniel Esquivel Torres said he had been involved in an altercation with unknown people in south Willmar that included being shot. An investigation determined that Torres had physically assaulted an acquaintance and held a handgun to the person's head earlier in the evening, the release said.

Based on further investigation, police believe that Torres assaulted the acquaintance and then accidentally shot himself in the leg while placing a handgun in his pocket. He is suspected of fabricating the story about being an assault victim when he sought treatment at the hospital.

Pending charges include felony counts of second-degree assault, felon in possession of a firearm and reckless discharge of a firearm, plus a gross misdemeanor charge of fifth-degree assault.


Man faces three murder counts in Alexandria stabbing

ALEXANDRIA, Minn. -- An Alexandria man was charged with murder this week in Douglas County District Court in connection with a fatal weekend stabbing.

Kody Lee Klimek, 25, of Alexandria, is accused of killing Phillip Joel Altstadt on Saturday. Altstadt, 28, of Alexandria, died on the lawn outside Lincoln Estates apartments in Alexandria.

Klimek was being held in Douglas County Jail on a $1 million bond. He faces three felony murder charges: one count of second-degree intentional murder, which carries a maximum sentence of 40 years imprisonment; one count of second-degree unintentional murder, with a maximum sentence of 40 years imprisonment; and one count of murder in the third degree, which carries a maximum 25-year sentence.

An investigation indicates that Klimek and Altstadt got into an argument in the parking lot. Witness accounts state that after Altstadt pushed Klimek, he retaliated with a knife he was known to carry, according to the criminal complaint.

Klimek left the scene but was apprehended at gunpoint without incident and had a bloody knife in his possession, the complaint says. The arresting officer, Keith Melrose, reported that there was blood on Klimek's face, hands and clothing.

Klimek's case will be presented to a grand jury. His next court appearance is set for Monday.



Local man killed in boat accident

RIVER FALLS, Wis. -- A local man was killed and two others were injured in boat accident on the St. Croix River near Kinnickinnic State Park.

The Pierce County Sheriff's Department said David J. Riley, 40, of New Richmond, Minn., was killed in the accident just before midnight Wednesday. Patrick Puhalla, 46, of Bayport, Minn., and Daniel M. Schultz, of 55, Hudson, Wis., were injured and taken away by ambulance.

Emergency responders determined that the men's boat had been northbound when it hit a rock north of the state park beach on the Wisconsin side of the river.

Puhalla, the boat's owner, appeared to be operating the boat when it crashed.

Riley was pronounced dead at the scene by Pierce County Medical Examiner John Worsing.

The sheriff's department and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources are investigating.


South Dakota

Nearly a quarter of S.D. is drought-free

MITCHELL, S.D. -- Nearly 25 percent of South Dakota is no longer in a drought, a weekly drought report says.

Spring rainstorms have eased drought conditions across much of South Dakota, especially in the northeastern part of the state, where in many areas the drought has been eliminated altogether.

As of Tuesday morning -- the data cutoff for the most recent U.S. Drought Monitor report -- 24.44 percent of South Dakota was no longer in any type of drought. That's an improvement from last week, when 17.11 percent of the state was free of drought. Three months ago, all of South Dakota was in some form of drought.

The monitor is maintained by the National Drought Mitigation Center in Lincoln, Neb. The report measures drought on a scale ranging from abnormally dry to moderate, severe, extreme and exceptional.

Areas of moderate to severe drought remain in some areas of South Dakota, especially in the southwest, where the last sliver of extreme drought anywhere in the state hangs on in southern Fall River County.