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REGIONAL BRIEFS: Man set to get Habitat home receives 16 years for sex abuse

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REGIONAL BRIEFS: Man set to get Habitat home receives 16 years for sex abuse
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From the Forum News Service


Bemidji hospitality tax clears House

BEMIDJI, Minn. -- A provision allowing the city of Bemidji to impose a hospitality tax is included in a tax bill the Minnesota House approved Wednesday night.


The omnibus tax bill, a 338-page document filled with various tax-related provisions, cleared the House floor on a 69-64 vote.

Among those provisions is a bill authored by DFL Rep. John Persell to allow Bemidji to impose up to a 1 percent tax on purchases at hotels and restaurants. Revenue generated from the tax would be dedicated to Sanford Center operations, maintenance and capital improvements.

The Senate's tax bill, released Tuesday morning, does not include the Bemidji hospitality tax. Lawmakers from both chambers will negotiate on their respective bills in a conference committee in the coming weeks.


Man set to get Habitat home receives 16 years for sex abuse

MOORHEAD, Minn. -- A Clay County District Court judge has sentenced a Moorhead man to 16 years and nine months in prison after he was convicted on three counts of repeatedly sexually assaulting an 8-year-old girl.

Judge Galen Vaa also found that Wilfred Carl Hudson, 49, is subject to indefinite civil commitment.

Hudson was charged in September with seven counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct on a person under 13. The remaining four counts, plus an eighth charge that alleged Hudson sexually assaulted an adult woman while she was asleep and on muscle relaxants, were dismissed.

At the time the charges were filed, Hudson was in line to receive a home from Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit that builds houses for low-income families who pay off the homes with a no-interest mortgage.

Hudson has prior convictions for rape, forcible sodomy and breaking and entering from 1985-86 in Norfolk, Va.


Bemidji State names Dill athletic director

BEMIDJI, Minn. -- Bemidji State University and Tracy Dill had their sights set on each other for a long time.

Dill, currently an associate athletic director at St. Cloud State University, was named BSU's new athletic director Thursday. He will officially begin duties as athletic director June 1, taking over for the outgoing Rick Goeb.

Dill said the decision to come to Bemidji after spending 27 years in St. Cloud wasn't something he took lightly, but it was something he knew he wanted from the moment he applied.

"If it was offered, I had every intention of taking it," Dill said after being formally introduced at the university Thursday. "It was the perfect time for our family, number one. And I just looked at everything and saw they had some good people in place."

Thursday's announcement ended a months-long search that began last November when the university announced it would be replacing Goeb at the end of the 2012-13 academic year.

The Iowa native started his career in 1981 as an assistant football coach at his alma mater, William Penn College. He was also the head track and field coach at the Oskaloosa, Iowa, school before being hired at St. Cloud State in 1988, also as an assistant football coach. He has been associate athletic director since 1999.


North Dakota

Report warns of water depletion due to fracking

DICKINSON, N.D. -- A scathing report issued Thursday by the Western Organization of Research Councils says water used in the process of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is reaching a crisis point in Western states.

The report, titled "Gone for Good," warns of continued diminished water supplies in areas that have been hit hard by drought. The report also says the data currently available and processes used to track energy industry water used for fracking are not sufficient, and that the "current level of water use for oil and gas production simply cannot be sustained."

Fracking is the process of extracting oil and gas from underground formations using pressurized fluids, sand and chemicals.

The report says that although much concern has been voiced about environmental issues tied to fracking, the problem of water conservation in the face of continued fracking in states such as North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming and Colorado has largely been ignored.

North Dakota Petroleum Council spokeswoman Tessa Sandstrom said Friday that energy giant Halliburton is "at the forefront of developing technologies to reduce water consumption" and added that shale well consumption accounts for 0.3 percent of the total freshwater used in the U.S. in 2011. Sandstrom said that number is compared to 0.5 percent of all freshwater in the same year used by golf courses.

The WORC report calls for more planning and closer monitoring of fracking-related practices and water consumption.


Pilots give Fargo Jet Center high marks

FARGO -- Fargo Jet Center officials are walking on air.

The reason: The center recently landed a No. 2 ranking among the thousands of similar aviation service companies in the Western Hemisphere.

"We're thrilled," said Jim Sweeney, president and co-founder of the Jet Center, located at Fargo's Hector International Airport.

The second-place ranking is based on an annual survey commissioned by the publication Aviation International News. The survey asks pilots and readers of AIN to evaluate aviation service companies in North America, South America, Central America and the Caribbean.

At a news conference Thursday at the Jet Center, Sweeney said it was the third time the center has made the survey's Top 40 since the Jet Center began operating about 18 years ago.

"There are more than 3,000 entities like ours that could potentially land in the rankings of this survey. Only one aviation company ranked with a better score than we did," Sweeney said.

The Jet Center is a dealer of aviation fuels, an aircraft maintenance and avionics repair station and an aircraft dealer. It also provides aircraft charter, aircraft management services and operates a Cessna-certified flight school.


UND nursing faculty criticize dean and 'climate of fear'

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- A document written by faculty members of the University of North Dakota's nursing school says the dean of the school has created a "climate of fear, intimidation and retaliation."

A three-page, nonbinding "Document of Concerns Presented to the Dean and Faculty" states that Denise Korniewicz, who started as dean of UND's College of Nursing and Professional Disciplines less than two years ago, will have 10 working days to prepare a written plan that describes how she will address the concerns. It also says she must speak with faculty members during a special meeting within the same time period.

Nursing college faculty members met Wednesday. Several faculty members contacted for interviews were unwilling to speak on the record about the dean, but said the letter was read at the faculty meeting and a majority of those present signed the document.

Korniewicz did not respond to requests for comment.


Two arrested after large Williams County meth seizure

WILLISTON, N.D. - The Williams County Sheriff's Office arrested two Minot men Thursday after seizing $100,000 worth of methamphetamine.

The sheriff's office received a report Thursday morning of two males in a white pickup smoking a "crack pipe" while traveling on U.S. Highway 2, authorities said.

Deputies made contact with the vehicle and while conducting an ID check, the two males fled. After a short vehicle pursuit, the suspects were apprehended with assistance of the Williston Police Department and the Northwest Narcotics Task Force.

During the course of investigation, about $100,000 of meth was seized, the sheriff's office said.

The suspects were identified as Guy Johnson, 51, and Tom Johnson, 48. They are being held in the Williams County Jail on suspicion of Class AA felony possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver.


OSHA issues safety violations to oil drilling company

TRENTON, N.D. - The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued Nomac Drilling of Killdeer three safety violations, including one repeat for failing to provide fall protection to workers at a Trenton well site.

OSHA has proposed penalties of $65,300.

OSHA did an inspection earlier this month and cited the company for failing to protect workers from falling off platforms. The same violation was cited to Nomac in 2010 and 2011 in Pennsylvania and Oklahoma.

"Falls are one of the leading causes of injury and death in the workplace," Eric Brooks, OSHA's area director in Bismarck, said in a statement. "Employers have a responsibility to implement worker safety programs effectively and to train their employees on the proper use of fall protection equipment."

Nomac also was issued two serious violations for failing to install an effective emergency escape line from the derrick board and failing to provide a usable eyewash station for working with corrosive chemicals.

Nomac Drilling has been inspected by OSHA 35 times nationwide since January 2010, with 16 of those inspections resulting in citations.

The company has 15 business days to comply, contest the findings, or request to meet with an OSHA official.

A Nomac spokesman issued this statement: "Nomac takes worker safety very seriously and will address OSHA's concerns when we receive details from the agency."