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REGIONAL BRIEFS: Man wanted in sex assault found on I-35 on foot
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North Dakota

Bids for 'Fighting Sioux' sign reach $7,100

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- The high bid for a set of letters that formerly spelled out "Home of the Fighting Sioux" on the exterior of the University of North Dakota's Ralph Engelstad Arena stood at $7,100 Friday.


The online auction started Monday and will continue until 8 p.m. next Friday. Payment must be received by April 5, according to the arena's website,

The Ralph announced the auction March 15 and started the bidding at $1,000, asking that bids be made in increments of $100.

The full set of "Home of the Fighting Sioux" letters was one of six sets that trumpeted the former UND nickname on the exterior of the arena and the neighboring Betty Engelstad Sioux Center until they were removed last fall. The signs' removal was part of the retirement of the nickname and a condition of the legal settlement between the NCAA and the state of North Dakota, acting on behalf of the university.

Jody Hodgson, the Ralph's general manager, said the auction had attracted about 20 bids so far, and he expects "a flurry" at or near the end of the auction period. He had no idea or expectation, he said, how high the bidding might go.

"It's such a unique piece of inventory," he said. "We didn't come into this with any expectations."


Company backs off plan to drill near Elkhorn Ranch

DICKINSON, N.D. -- ExxonMobil subsidiary XTO Energy has backed off its request to drill for oil near the historic Elkhorn Ranch site in Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

The company, which had petitioned to drill on U.S. Forest Service land adjacent to the landmark for Roosevelt's former homestead and cattle ranch, withdrew its application late Thursday.

In a letter sent by its legal counsel, XTO instructed the North Dakota Industrial Commission's Oil and Gas Division to "dismiss without prejudice" its request to explore for oil on two sections of land next to the 218-acre park-controlled ranch.

Roosevelt raised cattle at the Elkhorn Ranch site in the mid-1880s. The site was added to the National Register of Historic Places late last year.

Department of Mineral Resources officials had been scheduled to discuss the XTO plan at a hearing next week.

Park officials were surprised to learn early Friday that XTO had changed its plans.

"We're especially pleased that (XTO) realizes the importance of the Elkhorn Ranch and how important it is to preserve it for today and for future generations," said park spokeswoman Eileen Andes said.


Marching bands sought for 2014 celebration

WASHINGTON, D.C. - North Dakota's congressional delegation is encouraging the state's high school marching bands to apply to take part in the 2014 National Independence Day Parade in the nation's capital.

The delegation said bands can apply through their congressional offices. Parade organizers seek at least one band from each state.

North Dakota bands interested in applying should contact Sen. John Hoeven's Bismarck office at (701) 250-4618 no later than April 10.

Bands nominated by the delegation will work with parade coordinators to submit additional application materials such as video recordings and other relevant background information. Selected bands are responsible for furnishing all costs associated with the trip.


Cramer to serve on HEAT committee

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congressman Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., was chosen to serve on the House Energy Action Team known as HEAT.

HEAT is a supplemental group that serves an as advisory group on energy policy.

Cramer was chosen for the spot by House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

Cramer served as a Public Service Commissioner in North Dakota. As a U.S. Congressman, Cramer is a member of the Natural Resources and Science, Space and Technology House Committees, including the Natural Resource Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, and Subcommittee on Energy of the House Science Space and Technology Committee.


Casselton teacher wins national ag award

CASSELTON, N.D. - Mary Kensok, a fourth-grade teacher at Central Cass Elementary School, has received the "Excellence in Teaching about Agriculture" award.

The award is given annually to five educators at the National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference.

Kensok will be honored at the conference in June in Minneapolis.



Man killed in bloody melee; two charged in death

CASS LAKE, Minn. -- A day of drinking alcohol to near-fatal excess ended in a bloody melee that left one man dead after a severe beating, police said.

Leslie Headbird, 44, was beaten so badly Thursday night that police were unable to revive him when they arrived at a residence on Quill Lane, the same street on which the man lived. Headbird was killed in a maelstrom of fists, police said. They would not say whether a weapon was used in the fatal bludgeoning.

Damion John Gullickson Jr., 18, and Dora Jean Keezer, 29, were arrested in the beating. Both were booked into the Beltrami County Jail on charges of second-degree murder. They are expected to be formally charged with murder and lesser felony assault counts Monday, a spokeswoman for the Beltrami County Attorney's Office said.

An unidentified 33-year-old man and Headbird's mother, Gloria Headbird, 62, were injured in the fight. Both were taken to Sanford Bemidji Medical Center, where they were listed in good condition Friday, according to a Sanford spokeswoman.

Police responded to reports of disorderly conduct at the home Thursday afternoon. They arrested Leonard Dean Headbird, 37, a relative of Les Headbird's, on a charge of violating a no-drink order and Tressa Lee Bisonette, 39, on a child endangerment charge. A young boy was found at the home and taken into protective custody, authorities said.

Leonard Headbird and Bisonette both had blood-alcohol levels of 0.33, police said. The legal threshold for drunken driving in Minnesota is 0.08.

Police were called back to the home just after 6:30 p.m. to find the chaotic and bloody scene.


Bagley fire believed to be accidental

BAGLEY, Minn. -- Authorities have determined that an apartment fire Tuesday that killed a 92-year-old woman was accidental.

The Clearwater County Sheriff's Office also identified the woman Friday as Edna Leone Halvorson of Bagley.

"The cause of the fire is accidental, believed to be started by (a) smoldering cigarette in a chair," the sheriff's office said in a news release.

The sheriff's office said Thursday that the woman was pulled from Parkview Apartments on Tuesday night as the second floor was engulfed in flames.

Halvorson was airlifted to Hennepin County Medical Center, where she died.


Man wanted in sex assault found on I-35 on foot

BLAINE, Minn. -- A man walking along Interstate 35W in a Minneapolis suburb was arrested Thursday night after it was found he was wanted for an alleged sexual assault near Hibbing this month.

A Minnesota State Patrol officer found John Everette Pierce walking along the interstate in Blaine about 6:30 p.m. Thursday. The St. Louis County Sheriff's Office had issued a warrant for Pierce's arrest March 6 after a report of an assault March 2 in Cherry Township.

Pierce, 44, of Cambridge, was wanted on 13 felonies in connection with the incident, including first-degree criminal sexual conduct, second-degree assault, kidnapping, false imprisonment, violation of a restraining order while possessing a dangerous weapon, domestic assault, terroristic threats and burglary.

Pierce was known to frequent the Hibbing and Cambridge areas and had last been seen driving a blue pickup truck.

He was being kept in Anoka County Jail on Thursday night.


Man dies when pickup collides with logging truck

TWO HARBORS, Minn. -- An 85-year-old Two Harbors man died Thursday afternoon when the pickup truck he was driving collided with a logging truck northwest of Two Harbors.

The Lake County Sheriff's Office reported that the crash happened about 2:45 p.m. at County Road 12 (Westover Road) and Holm Road. A tractor-trailer logging truck driven by a 48-year-old Duluth man collided with the pickup. The circumstances of the crash remain under investigation by the sheriff's office and the Minnesota State Patrol.

The victim died at the scene. The driver of the logging truck was not injured. There were no passengers in either vehicle. The names of those involved in the crash have not yet been released, pending notification of family.

The Two Harbors Police Department, Two Harbors Fire Department, Lake County Ambulance and Lake County Search and Rescue also were dispatched to the scene.


Lack of entries threatens catfish tournament

EAST GRAND FORKS, Minn. -- Faced with declining participation, organizers of the Cats Incredible catfish tournament in East Grand Forks, said Friday they'll cancel this year's event if they don't reach the full field of 125 teams by April 17.

The tournament on the Red River between East Grand Forks and Grand Forks, N.D., had received only 78 applications as of the March 15 entry deadline, according to Barry Wilfahrt, president and CEO of the chamber of commerce for the two cities.

To make the tournament successful, the full roster of 125 two-person teams is needed, he said.

"You have to look at the amount of effort and the amount of time that goes into organizing this," Wilfahrt said. "We had a waiting list of 25 to 30 teams not too many years ago, and now a total of 78 applications for this year's tournament. That's a pretty big drop-off.

"Maybe this event has run its course."

The chamber administers the tournament, which this year is set for July 27-28.

Changes in river access and regulations to slow the spread of invasive species are among the factors cited for the decline.


Two Canadians arrested in Baudette with 2 pounds of hashish

BAUDETTE, Minn. -- Two Canadian men were arrested after border inspectors found more than 2 pounds of hashish on their vehicle March 1 at the Baudette, Minn., port-of-entry, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said this week.

Stephane Grimard and Shawn Menard, both from Valcourt, Quebec, have been turned over to the Baudette Police Department for further investigation and prosecution.

During the inspection of their vehicle, CBP said it found two bricks of an unknown substance, that later tested positive for hashish. The bricks weighed a total of 958 grams or 2.1 pounds.

CBP also found several methamphetamine tablets weighing a total of 11 grams or 0.38 ounces.


South Dakota

S.D. tops in juvenile incarceration rate, report says

MITCHELL, S.D. -- South Dakota has the highest rate of juvenile incarceration in the nation, a report says.

According to a report released Feb. 27 by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, South Dakota's rate of juvenile incarceration was 575 juveniles per 100,000 in 2010, an 8 percent increase from 1997, when the state's rate was 533 juveniles per 100,000.

The report's data was collected from a one-day count, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, of "young people under the age of 21, assigned a bed in a residential facility," the report says. The most recent published data is from 2010.

Wyoming has the next highest rate, with 440 juveniles per 100,000.

In 2010, a young person in South Dakota was 11 times more likely to be locked up than one in Vermont, which had the lowest rate in the nation, the report says.

The national rate of juvenile incarceration reached a 35-year low in 2010, at 225 juveniles per 100,000.