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REGIONAL BRIEFS: Highway closed after anhydrous ammonia leak

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North Dakota

N.D. ranked 10th best retirement destination

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- North Dakota cracked the top 10 in a recent ranking of best states in which to retire.

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Retirement should not be just sunshine and beaches, according to Chris Kahn of the financial information website Bankrate.com. North Dakota was No. 10 in Bankrate's ranking, which considered medical care access, crime rates, cost of living -- and yes, climate.

Despite North Dakota being the coldest state in the contiguous United States, Kahn's report said the state received a high ranking because of its low crime rate, and light state and local tax burden. The report also said North Dakota has five hospital beds for every 1,000 people, tied for second best in the country.

Grand Forks Senior Center Executive Director Colette Iseminger said the state's budget surplus allows continued funding of senior programs that other states may have needed to cut.

Much of the top 10 were outside the Sun Belt, long considered a retirement hotspot. Tennessee, Louisiana and South Dakota were Nos. 1, 2 and 3, respectively. Another Midwestern state, Nebraska, was No. 9.

Minnesota, next door to two top 10 states, was No. 43.

To see Bankrate's report, visit bit.ly/10ecdxF.

(GFH)

Owner cited after dogs kill sheep in NDSU research barn

FARGO -- North Dakota State University plans to seek compensation from the owner of two dogs that attacked a flock of sheep inside an NDSU research barn, killing seven sheep and injuring five others that had to be euthanized.

Campus police Lt. Greg Stone said employees discovered the two huskies when they showed up for work around 8 a.m. Tuesday at the barn.

Six sheep that survived the attack were being treated for their injuries, said Greg Lardy, head of NDSU's Department of Animal Sciences.

The Fargo Police Department impounded the dogs and later released them back to their owner, Stone said. The owner, whose name wasn't released, was cited with two tickets for dog running at large, a noncriminal infraction punishable by up to a $500 fine.

"The owner was contrite," he said. "He showed me where he keeps the dogs, and he said that a visitor at his home had accidentally let the dogs out."

University officials were still calculating the financial loss, but Lardy said it will likely be in the thousands of dollars. He said the university intends to seek compensation from the dogs' owner through a civil case.

(FF)

Woman charged with stealing from fundraising firm

FARGO -- Giving Point's mission for the past five years has been to help area nonprofits raise cash for worthy causes, but court documents show that one of its employees has been raising cash primarily for herself by allegedly stealing more than $140,000 of Giving Point's money.

Sheila Horner, 47, of Fargo, was charged Monday in Cass County District Court with one count of forgery and one of theft, both Class B felonies, for forging $110,350 in checks from Giving Point, and for unauthorized charges on the company's credit cards for another $33,424. It occurred sometime between July 1, 2011, and March 1, 2013.

According to court documents, Horner admitted in a police interview that she had been writing checks to herself and her son from the Giving Point bank account. She admitted keeping a bank credit card open to use it for cash advances, gambling, and to use it to put cash deposits back into the company's checking account. She also admitted unauthorized use of an American Express credit card account, the documents say.

Giving Point director Shannon Schweigert said the forgeries appeared to have only affected internal operations of Giving Point, not its nonprofit clients.

(FF)

Minnesota

Huber found guilty of second-degree murder

WILLMAR, Minn. -- A jury on Tuesday found Timothy Huber guilty of two counts of second-degree murder -- but not guilty of first-degree premeditated murder -- for his role in the killing of Timothy Larson in October 2011.

The jury in Kandiyohi County District Court began deliberating the case Monday afternoon.

Huber, 47, of rural Paynesville, and his father, Delbert Huber, were indicted on charges of first- and second-degree murder. Delbert Huber shot Larson, 43, to death after a confrontation in rural Belgrade. Now 82, he is serving the maximum sentence of 367 months in prison -- more than 30 years -- for second-degree murder, to which he pleaded guilty in August.

Timothy Huber was charged under the "liability for crimes of another" portion of Minnesota law, which says a person is criminally liable for a crime committed by another if the person "intentionally aids, advises, hires, counsels, or conspires with or otherwise procures the other to commit the crime."

County Attorney Jenna Fischer said the state will seek the maximum sentence for the Timothy Huber.

Public defender Carter Greiner declined to comment Tuesday after the verdicts were read.

District Judge Donald M. Spilseth ordered that Huber be held without bail until his July 12 sentencing.

(WCT)

Highway closed after anhydrous ammonia leak

MURDOCK, Minn. -- U.S. Highway 12 west of Murdock remained closed Tuesday evening, and motorists were being asked to avoid the area after a semi-trailer hauling anhydrous ammonia collided with a train hours earlier.

Traffic was being detoured and emergency crews were continuing efforts to stop the escape of anhydrous ammonia from a tank involved in the morning accident.

Four people were transported to Swift County-Benson Hospital for anhydrous ammonia inhalation, the Swift County Sheriff's Department said Tuesday afternoon. Two of those people were transported by Lifelink to other area hospitals.

The tank held roughly 9,000 gallons of anhydrous ammonia, and about half of that amount had escaped or been transferred to another tank. A hazardous-materials crew was trying to move the gas from the damaged tank to another.

Anhydrous ammonia leaking from the tank was drifting north-northwest across Highway 12. Residents within a two-mile radius were asked to stay away from the accident scene.

(WCT)

Ice or no ice, fishing opener will be one to remember

PARK RAPIDS, Minn. -- The Governor's Fishing Opener highlighting the Park Rapids lakes area is about to begin -- ice or no ice.

"Area lakes have nearly shed their winter coats," said Katie Magozzi, director of the Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce. "We are optimistic for soft water."

"Fishing will be on open water," event chairman Dennis Mackedanz said of launching on the river system, if necessary.

If the ice doesn't recede, this is a fishing opener that will always be remembered, he said.

Park Rapids would go down in history as hosting an opener on ice.

Dignitaries and media will begin arriving Thursday. Park Rapids is the first municipality to invite guests a day early, offering tours of the area's unique features.

(PRE)

South Dakota

Death sentence weighed for S.D. murder suspect

CHAMBERLAIN, S.D. -- Prosecutors will decide within a week whether to seek the death penalty for a man accused of killing a Mitchell woman in March.

Assistant Attorney General Bob Mayer, who participated Tuesday in a hearing at the Brule County Courthouse, is involved in the decision regarding the sentence sought for Kent Davidson.

"We have not made a decision," Mayer said, "but we would not need a lot of time to make it."

Judge Bruce Anderson gave Mayer until early next week to decide. Brule County State's Attorney David Natvig is prosecuting the case with Mayer but did not appear at the hearing.

Davidson, 36, is accused of fatally shooting Crystal Schulz, 26, in the head with a shotgun March 11. Schulz's body was found March 14 in a shed at her mother's residence in rural Chamberlain. Davidson and Schulz were engaged to be married, according to their Facebook pages.

Davidson appeared in court Tuesday with his court-appointed attorney, Clint Sargent of Sioux Falls. He pleaded not guilty last month to first-degree murder, second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter and committing a felony while armed with a firearm.

Anderson set Davidson's trial for January.

(DR)

Trial set for woman accused of beating child to death

CHAMBERLAIN, S.D. -- A Gann Valley woman accused of beating a 4-year-old child to death because he wet his pants has been scheduled to stand trial in February.

Donika Gonzales, 22, is accused of slapping, kicking, shoving and stomping 4-year-old Mason Naser, a child living in her home, to death Feb. 21. She pleaded not guilty last month to second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter, aggravated assault and felony child abuse. Second-degree murder, the most serious of the charges, carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

Gonzales appeared in court for a motions hearing Tuesday at the Brule County Courthouse, along with her court-appointed attorney, Randy Stiles of Mitchell.

Anderson set Gonzales' trial for February. He also granted a motion allowing defense lawyers to hire a forensic pathologist as an expert witness.

He plans to rule later on the state's request to require the expert witness to produce a report with any findings the witness makes and to limit the witness's testimony to just the items contained in the report.

Anderson, as he has at prior hearings, also denied a request to lower Gonzales' bail from $30,000 cash to a 10 percent bond.

(DR)

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