REGIONAL BRIEFS: Missing man found dead at site of motorcycle crash
From the Forum News Service
DNR issues warning about fire danger
PARK RAPIDS, Minn. -- The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has issued a warning about areas of the state that are prone to fire due to a lack of rain.
With precipitation over the last 30 days at 50 percent of normal over most of Minnesota, DNR fire managers “are seeing an increase in fire danger and are urging people to use caution when working and recreating in dry areas,” the agency said.
DNR forestry areas with the highest fire potential are Bemidji, Park Rapids, Backus, Little Falls, Sandstone, and lands north of Cambridge and south of Cloquet, the department said.
“Continuing warm, dry weather could expand the area of concern to the Arrowhead region in northeastern Minnesota, where lightning ignitions could become more likely if thunderstorms develop with light rain,” fire managers said.
Man with rifle reportedly cuts off hair to elude police
DULUTH -- A man carrying a rifle was arrested after fleeing Duluth police Wednesday night — but not before he cut his hair in an attempt to elude police, authorities said Thursday.
Police reported receiving a call just before 11 p.m. Wednesday for a disturbance on East Fourth Street. The responding officer saw a man standing in front of a residence with a lever action rifle, police said. When ordered to drop the gun, the man dropped it but then ran inside the residence.
Officers went to the house and recognized the suspect, now in bed. But while the suspect on the street had shaggy hair, the man they found in bed had little hair on his head, police said.
After obtaining a search warrant, police located cut hair, scissors, a baseball cap and clothing that matched the suspect’s description, according to police.
The man was transported to the St. Louis County Jail and booked for fleeing a police officer on foot; other charges are pending, police said.
The man was convicted of third-degree burglary, a felony, in 2011, according to Minnesota court records. He also pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct charges in two separate cases earlier this year.
Body of missing man found in Mississippi River
GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. -- Authorities in Grand Rapids say that a body recovered from the Mississippi River on Thursday is believed to be that of a 36-year-old man reported missing earlier this week.
The body — believed to be Jacob Charles Marion — was found about 1:30 p.m. by a crew from Itasca County Search and Rescue, Grand Rapids Police Chief Jim Denny said. The cause of death has not been determined, and an autopsy is planned.
Marion was last seen Tuesday evening; police said he had health issues and depended on medication, but left without his medication or wallet.
Denny said police will continue to investigate the circumstances of Marion’s disappearance.
Ex-employee pleads not guilty to embezzlement
VIRGINIA, Minn. -- A former employee of Lanyk Electric in Mountain Iron pleaded not guilty this week to embezzling more than $20,000 from the company.
Melissa Godec Jondreau, 38, of Hibbing, pleaded not guilty to a charge of theft by swindle at an initial court appearance Monday in State District Court in Virginia.
According to the criminal complaint, Jondreau, who worked as a receptionist at the business, previously told authorities and her boss that she forged checks without authorization to pay for personal bills and gas.
On March 6, Craig Lanyk, owner of Lanyk Electric, requested that a St. Louis County deputy be on scene as he fired an employee for embezzlement, the complaint said. Lanyk reportedly provided the sheriff’s office with documentation showing that Jondreau had made unauthorized withdrawals and forged checks totaling more than $15,000 over nearly two years.
The information Lanyk provided also showed that Jondreau had charged more than $4,000 in gas for her personal vehicle, and nearly $500 was taken that Jondreau had listed as automatic withdrawals to Century Link, Dish Network and Sam’s Club, according to the complaint.
Jondreau’s next scheduled court appearance is a pretrial hearing Sept. 16.
I-94 cable barrier installation to finish in two weeks
ALEXANDRIA, Minn. -- A new cable barrier system snaking its way along a 10-mile stretch of Interstate 94 through the Alexandria area should wrap up within the next two weeks.
Installation began earlier this summer, and the Minnesota Department of Transportation hosted a training session last week for local professionals who may need to repair the barrier or respond to vehicle crashes.
In a classroom setting and out on the interstate, a group of MnDOT workers, tow truck drivers, emergency responders and law enforcement officials learned more about the high-tension cable barriers and how they work.
Cable barrier systems have been in use since the 1960s and provide for less violent impact. The barriers are designed to contain and redirect errant vehicles, primarily from crossing a median into oncoming traffic.
Next year, there are plans to continue the cable barrier along I-94. About 18 miles of barrier will continue west of Garfield to roughly the Ashby exit, according to MnDOT.
Land sale sets record in Nobles County
WORTHINGTON, Minn. -- The sale of one parcel of agricultural land in Worthington Township on Tuesday set a new record high in Nobles County.
The winning bidders, Todd and Lorna Kruger of Sibley, Iowa, paid $13,000 per acre for the 156.8-acre parcel of tillable land, for a total price tag of $2,038,400. The land was one of three parcels sold by the heirs of Ella Mae Sall.
The Prins-Sliver Auction Service saw brisk bidding among a field of regional bidders, according to Steve Prins. He said bidding started at $8,500 per acre and climbed to the $13,000 final bid within 15 minutes.
The previous record-high land price paid in Nobles County was $12,050 per acre, according to Nobles County Assessor Joe Udermann. Prior to that sale, the highest per-acre price paid was $11,700.
The $13,000 per-acre price was paid on land with a crop equivalency rating of 87. That figure is often used to gauge the productivity of the land through factors such as soil type, climate, crop combinations, market value of crops and cost of production, according to the Minnesota Geospatial Information Office’s website.
"It had a high crop rating -- a high soil type," Prins said.
Two Harbors man charged with producing child porn
MINNEAPOLIS -- A concentrated focus on child exploitation has resulted in a federal indictment charging a 37-year-old Two Harbors man with producing child pornography.
The single count was unsealed this week as Joel Ray Allard made his initial appearance Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis.
The indictment accuses Allard of producing visual depictions of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct in August and September 2011, and alleges that he enticed the minor to do so.
Allard faces at least 15 years in prison if convicted.
The case is moving forward as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide U.S. Justice Department initiative to combat a growing problem of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Federal, state and local law enforcement work to locate, apprehend and prosecute people who sexually exploit children and rescue the victims.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office further points out that a 2008 study shows that up to 80 percent of federal inmates incarcerated for child pornography also admit to hands-on sexual abuse of children. A new study is underway.
Students can apply for Senate Youth Program
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate Youth Program is accepting applications from high school juniors and seniors interested in participating in the program’s annual Washington Week scheduled March 8-15, 2014.
Student applicants must be elected officers for the 2013-14 academic year. Two delegates from each state will be chosen, and each will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington and a $5,000 college scholarship.
The application deadline for Minnesota students is Oct. 18, and the deadline for North Dakota students is Oct. 20.
Other state deadlines and more information can be found at www.ussenateyouth.org.
South Dakota man convicted in N.D. bank robbery
BISMARCK, N.D. -- A South Dakota man who had been charged in a 2012 bank robbery in New England was found guilty Thursday.
Colt D. Schneider, 19, of Rapid City, S.D., was found guilty of one charge of bank robbery and one count of carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime by a federal jury, according to a release from the Department of Justice.
Schneider and Johnner Joe Ward Jr. were accused of robbing American Bank Center in New England on Oct. 18. The two men had worked on a construction project in the New England area prior to the robbery.
Ward pleaded guilty in February to charges of bank robbery and use and carry of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. He is scheduled to be sentenced Monday.
Sentencing for Schneider is scheduled for Nov. 15.
Fargo man accused of leaving scene arrested
OAKES, N.D. — A Fargo man accused of running away from a car crash into a cornfield here Wednesday was arrested Thursday after authorities got a tip that he had stayed the night in a nearby hotel.
Gabriel Ekstrom, 37, was arrested around 10:30 a.m. in Oakes, according to a release from the North Dakota Highway Patrol. Ekstrom had checked into a hotel there under an alias, according to The Associated Press.
The Highway Patrol said Ekstrom – who was driving a Ford truck – failed to stop about 12:30 p.m. Wednesday at a stop sign at 81st Street Southeast. He hit an eastbound truck on the passenger side driven by Kyle Severance, 26, of Dickey, on Dickey County Road 1.
A Highway Patrol sergeant said Severance and two passengers in Eckstrom’s truck, Nathaniel Nash, 33, of Fargo, and Jose Montero, 24, of West Fargo, were taken to Oakes Community Hospital with injuries.
The Highway Patrol said Ekstrom faces a felony charge of leaving the scene of an accident and misdemeanor charges of driving under suspension, aggravated reckless driving and eluding.
Ekstrom was taken to the Barnes County Jail on Thursday.
FBI investigating Spirit Lake bomb scare
FORT TOTTEN, N.D. -- The FBI and the Bureau of Indian Affairs are investigating Tuesday’s bomb scare at Cankdeska Cikana Community College at the Spirit Lake Indian Reservation.
A bomb squad detonated the suspicious object that day after the college was evacuated.
The scare took place during registration week on campus.
The FBI said Thursday that it’s possible the object was placed to cause a scare during registration, but that it’s hard to be certain at this point.
Vice President of Academics Lane Azure said the school is trying to determine who left the object, which turned out to be a homemade weight, in the gym.
“Kind of a coincidence that it was found on that day,” Azure said. “Kind of looked inconspicuous at the time. Maybe it was there a day or two before that.”
The incident has caused the school to look into more emergency drills to better prepare the school’s staff, he said.
Tribal chair hearing moved from UND
GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- The appeals court set to hear arguments over the disputed Spirit Lake tribal chairman's seat says the University of North Dakota School of Law has pulled out of hosting the hearing.
The appeals hearing was originally set for Aug. 30 in Grand Forks.
But the Northern Plains Intertribal Court of Appeals said the university backed out of the agreement Thursday afternoon, citing logistical problems.
The court said the hearing will most likely take place now in Aberdeen, S.D., although it may be pushed back to a later date.
New managed care provider selected for northern Wisconsin
SUPERIOR, Wis. -- Family Care in Douglas and 10 other counties in northwest Wisconsin will get new management at the start of the new year.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services announced this week that Community Care of Central Wisconsin will take over management of the state's Family Care program for people with long-term care needs in northwest Wisconsin.
"The state's contracts go out routinely for bid every five years," said Kitty Rhoades, secretary of the Department of Health Services, which oversees the Family Care program statewide. "This is that routine procurement process."
Community Care manages long-term care services for about 3,400 members in Marathon, Portage, Wood, Lincoln and Langlade counties in central Wisconsin. In January, the organization will also serve members in Ashland, Barron, Bayfield, Burnett, Douglas, Iron, Polk, Price, Rusk, Sawyer and Washburn counties.
Rhoades said she expects a seamless transition when Community Care takes over the Family Care program.
"Members should not even be aware of the change," Rhoades said. "It will be a smooth transition of services. There will be no interruption of services.”
For more information about Community Care, go to www.communitycareofcentralwisconsin.org.
Missing man found dead at site of motorcycle crash
SUPERIOR, Wis. -- A man who had been reported missing Tuesday was found dead at the site of a motorcycle crash Thursday.
Emergency crews responded at 8:33 a.m. Thursday to the scene of a motorcycle crash on State Highway 35, according to a news release issued by Douglas County Sheriff Tom Dalbec. It was determined that the driver, Brian R. Androski, 38, had left the highway and was thrown from the motorcycle. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Androski was alone at the time of the crash and was not wearing a helmet, Dalbec said.
Androski was reported missing Tuesday, according to a Douglas County Sheriff’s Office report.
His brother, Dusty, last saw Androski at Les Birds Bar on Monday night, according to the report.