REGIONAL BRIEFS: Man gets jail for cheating in fishing tournament
Credit Forum News Service
Father of infant left in van charged with manslaughter
MOORHEAD, Minn. -- Prosecutors filed a manslaughter charge Tuesday against the father of a 5-month-old girl who died when he left her in a hot van for hours last week -- a death that came after police had visited the home three times in the last three years on reports of child neglect or endangerment.
The felony charge alleges Andrew Sandstrom, 24, was neglectful in causing the death of Christiana Sandstrom, who will be buried in a funeral today.
The father told police he was napping and "awake or dazed" during the estimated four hours he left the infant in the family's van while watching his and his wife's six children.
In the complaint filed in Clay County District Court, police describe putrid conditions in the family's apartment, including a refrigerator with rotten food leaking out of the door and a bathroom with an overwhelming odor of human waste.
The other five children of Andrew and Shayna Sandstrom -- three boys ages 6, 5, and 1½ along with two girls ages 7 and 3 -- are in foster care after being taken into custody by Clay County Social Services the night of the baby girl's death.
A warrant was issued for Andrew Sandstrom's arrest, but Melton said police will give him time to turn himself in after he attends the funeral today.
Man gets jail for cheating in fishing tournament
PARK RAPIDS, Minn. -- A Long Prairie angler was given seven days in jail Monday for cheating at the Park Rapids American Legion Community Fishing Derby this winter.
Alfred "Tom" Mead, 72, pleaded guilty in Hubbard County District Court to a felony charge of theft by swindle May 20, for sneaking a previously caught fish into the tournament Feb. 2.
Mead admitted to catching two northern pike on another lake and keeping them alive to bring to the American Legion tournament.
In exchange for the guilty plea, prosecutor Erika Randall dismissed the game and fish violation he'd been charged with, for transporting live fish.
Mead will be on probation for four years, during which he is barred from the Legion Club, was fined $200 and ordered to pay a $75 public defender co-payment.
During his probation, prosecutor Erika Randall asked that he not be allowed to participate in any fishing contests or tournaments, and that he apologize to the Legion. He also lost his fishing and hunting privileges for two years in Hubbard County and all adjacent counties.
WE Fest beer vendor avoids tax trouble
DETROIT LAKES, Minn. -- Tax troubles raised the possibility this week that WE Fest organizers would be barred from selling alcohol at this summer's festival.
But fear not, country music fans: There will be beer.
Horseshoe Inc., the company that handles alcohol sales for the annual music festival in Detroit Lakes, cropped up Monday on the Minnesota Department of Revenue's list of businesses behind on paying their beer, wine and liquor taxes.
By Tuesday morning, the company was cleared.
Had it stayed on the list, festival organizers would have been unable to buy alcohol from distributors or wholesalers starting Thursday.
Bob Bliss, the festival's chief operating officer, said he got a letter Tuesday saying the company had been removed from the blacklist.
Keith Urban, Carrie Underwood and Eric Church are set to headline this year's WE Fest, the 31st annual festival that brings tens of thousands of country music fans to Detroit Lakes. The three-day festival starts Aug. 1.
Teen births decline 14 percent in Minnesota, report says
ALEXANDRIA, Minn. -- Declining teen pregnancies in Minnesota indicate that some kids are listening when their parents have "the talk."
Teenwise Minnesota reported the number of teen mothers fell 14 percent between 2010 and 2011. Education and human services are credited as major reasons for the drop. A 16.5 percent decrease was reported for the 18- to 19-year-old group alone; those teens are considered adults. "Teens" are between the ages of 15 to 19 for most of Teenwise's studies.
Birth rates were measured per 1,000 teen girls for Teenwise statistics. The statewide teen birth rate, based on this calculation, is about 19 births per 1,000 girls, a 50 percent dive from Minnesota's peak of 36.5 in 1990.
However, the number of births is not representative of the number of actual pregnancies. There were 59 teen pregnancies per 1,000 in 1990 and almost 30 recorded in 2010, when there were 22.4 births, meaning not all babies were born.
In 2010, 5,351 females ages 15 to 19 and 89 girls younger than 15 became pregnant in Minnesota. Of those girls, 4,023 15- to 19-year-olds delivered babies, as did 47 girls younger than 15. Nationally, 34.3 15- to 19-year-olds delivered babies.
For more information on the Teenwise Minnesota study, visit www.moappp.org.
Klobuchar: 'Immediate action' needed on loans
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said Tuesday that Congress must act soon to prevent the interest rate on subsidized Stafford loans from doubling July 1 to 6.8 percent.
Klobuchar cited a new report from the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, a group she serves on as vice chairwoman, that found the nation's total student debt increased to just less than $1 trillion in the first three months of 2013 - a jump from $550 billion at the end of 2007.
According to the report, Minnesota college students who graduated in 2011 had the country's third-highest average debt at $30,411. About 71 percent of students had debt from college.
North Dakota's Class of 2011 graduated with an average of $27,994 of debt, and 83 percent of graduates took out loans - the highest percentage in the country.
Klobuchar said Minnesota has one of the country's top five lowest delinquency rates for student loans at just 9.8 percent, below the national 15.9 percent delinquency rate and lower than North Dakota's rate of 10.4 percent.
"This report makes it clear that we need to take immediate action to block the rate hike," she said.
Oppidan breaks ground on Stanley, Tioga projects
STANLEY, N.D. -- Minneapolis-based Oppidan Investment Co. broke ground on two retail developments in North Dakota's Bakken region last week.
In Stanley, Oppidan broke ground on a 23-acre development that will include Cash Wise Foods, Holiday Station Stores, O'Reilly Auto Parts, Tractor Supply Co. and Main Stay Suites. The first tenant is expected to open in January. Oppidan expects to develop an additional 10 acres adjacent to the site in 2014.
In Tioga, Oppidan broke ground on a 36,000-square-foot Cash Wise Foods that is expected to open in October.
Oppidan presented the Mountrail County Health Center and the city of Tioga with $10,000 each.
With the addition of these two projects, the national property development firm has initiated or completed eight retail and residential developments in the region for a total investment of $150 million.
College dedicating wind turbine
DEVILS LAKE, N.D. -- Lake Region State College will dedicate a 1.6-megawatt wind turbine today.
The ceremony, which begins at 1:30 p.m. at the turbine site about four miles northwest of the Devils Lake school, sets a cornerstone for the school's wind turbine technician training program.
"This project was the missing piece to our wind energy program," Lake Region President Doug Darling said Monday. "We needed the turbine to turn a good program into a great one. Students feel we have a whole new program now -- one where they can learn theory and then enter the work environment of a commercial grade turbine and reinforce classroom learning with hands-on experience. "
The project cost about $7.2 million, including the turbine, switch gear and tower facility.
The school has been averaging about 20 freshmen annually for its one-year wind energy technician certificate program. About half of the students stay for a two-year certificate, according to the school.
The wind turbine powers the school, with excess power sold to Otter Tail Power Co., based in Fergus Falls, Minn.
(GFH, Note: today is Wednesday)
Thune's border fence plan defeated in Senate
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. Senate defeated a requirement sought Tuesday by Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., to build a border fence before setting undocumented immigrants on a so-called path to citizenship.
The amendment failed on a 54-39 vote.
Thune, who hasn't been vocal on the immigration issue, plans to submit four more amendments to the massive immigration reform bill.
On Tuesday, he criticized his colleagues who voted against the border fence amendment, which would have required 700 miles of double-layer fencing along the U.S.-Mexican border. Congress passed a law to build the fence seven years ago, but little of it has been completed.
"Our immigration system is broken and must be fixed," Thune said in a prepared statement. "Unfortunately, each time Congress has tried to fix our immigration system, promises to secure our border are never upheld. The completion of the fence required by current law would be a tangible demonstration that Congress and this administration are serious about border security."
The other amendments Thune plans to offer include giving states a say in the federal plan and increasing the number of border patrol agents.