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REGIONAL BRIEFS: St. Louis County Board approves harassment deal

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North Dakota

Watford City to house new judge

BISMARCK -- Watford City will be home to a new judgeship aimed at addressing the increase in court filings in growing Oil Patch communities, the North Dakota Supreme Court decided Tuesday.

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State legislators created two new judgeships for the Northwest Judicial District, with one chambered in Williston and the other location to be determined.

Watford City, Williston and Stanley were discussed as possible locations for the judgeship, the ruling said. A report filed by the Northwest Judicial District said the presiding judges said Williston was their first choice for the judgeship, but the courthouse does not have adequate space. The second choice was Watford City, which was supported by the McKenzie County Commission and the Watford City mayor.

Court filings increased 37 percent in the district between 2010 and 2012, with McKenzie County seeing the largest percentage increase with 135 percent, according to numbers in the ruling.

The Legislature also created a new judgeship for the East Central Judicial District in Fargo. A committee will interview applicants and nominee candidates by the end of June. The governor has until July 31 to name the judges.

(AD)

Hundreds of dead carp reported at Jamestown Dam

JAMESTOWN, N.D. -- A European or Asian fish virus may be responsible for the deaths of hundreds of carp in the waters behind Jamestown Dam, according to Gene van Eeckhout, fisheries biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.

Carp are not considered a game fish and are not commonly caught by anglers. Some fish are taken by archers during spring. The disease is not considered a threat to humans.

"We don't believe it is winter kill at the Jamestown Dam," van Eeckhout said. "The reports started in early May of fish behaving strangely. They wouldn't swim away from anglers, who said they could reach out and touch them with a fishing rod tip."

Earlier this spring dead carp were reported at Pipestem Dam. Those fish are believed to have died of oxygen starvation or winter kill, van Eeckhout said.

Van Eeckhout said he believes spring viremia of carp is the culprit at Jamestown Dam. Lab testing of samples from dead fish has not been returned to confirm the diagnosis.

"What we're seeing is a classic chronic disease," he said. "How it got here or into the wild population is unknown."

(JS)

Water restrictions issued for Williston area

WILLISTON, N.D. - Officials here declared a water emergency Tuesday and asked residents of Williams and McKenzie counties to limit water use to essential needs only.

The Williston Regional Water Treatment Plant is operating at a reduced capacity due to the spring rise in the Yellowstone River and heavy rainfall that has increased sediment levels in the Missouri River to historic levels, Mayor Ward Koeser said.

The area's population growth and industrial demand for water also stress the plant, officials said.

The water being produced by the plant continues to meet all water quality standards and is safe for human consumption. However, if water demand is not reduced and water storage levels continue to decline, the result could be a regionwide boil order, officials said.

All businesses and residents in Williston, Watford City, and the rural water districts for Williams and McKenzie counties are asked to shut off lawn sprinklers, refrain from washing vehicles and implement other water conservation measures.

Violating the water emergency procedures is a Class B misdemeanor.

Water depots operated by the Western Area Water Supply Authority that provide water to the oil industry will not operate during the emergency. Privately owned water depots are not under the restriction.

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Child porn on cellphone leads to guilty plea

FARGO -- Dustin H. Muscha, 32, of Moorhead, Minn., has pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Fargo to two counts of sexual exploitation of minors and two counts of possessing child pornography.

The case came to light when a cellphone Muscha lost at a Fargodome concert last September was turned in to a Sprint retailer in Fargo. The store found pornography on the phone involving a 6-year-old child, according to a statement released Tuesday by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Fargo.

Investigators found additional videos on the phone involving two other children under the age of 4, the statement said.

Muscha is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 29.

Each count of sexual exploitation of minors carries a minimum mandatory penalty of 15 years in prison and a maximum penalty of 30 years. Each count of possessing child pornography carries a potential maximum of 10 years in prison.

(FF)

Minnesota

Prosecutor: Suspect wanted victim to bleed to death

DULUTH -- A Marquette, Mich., woman coldly and calculatedly stabbed a woman in the back and then pulled the knife out because she wanted the victim to bleed to death, a St. Louis County prosecutor told a Duluth judge Tuesday.

Nicole Leone Revello, 29, heard those words without visible emotion as she was charged with intentional second-degree murder in the death Sunday of Lisa Kay Davis, 46, of Duluth, in a Central Hillside apartment.

The criminal complaint alleges that the dispute started over clothing that Revello took from the apartment. Duluth police on Monday said the specific item of clothing in dispute was a pair of pants, but the complaint refers to a bag of clothing.

St. Louis County prosecutor Kristen Swanson asked Judge Eric Hylden to set bail at $350,000 because of the serious nature of the crime and the fact that Revello has no ties to the community and that she is a threat to public safety. Hylden set bail at $250,000.

Revello's next hearing is scheduled for June 26.

(DNT)

St. Louis County Board approves harassment deal

DULUTH -- The St. Louis County Board of Commissioners voted Tuesday to approve a $65,000 settlement in the lawsuit that claimed former Commissioner Dennis Fink sexually harassed an employee over many years.

Former board administrative secretary Betty Sislo filed suit in federal court in December claiming years of sexual harassment by Fink and claiming the county did nothing to correct the problem or prevent retribution by Fink and his allies after she came forward with the allegations in 2007.

There was no discussion on the matter during Tuesday's regular board meeting in Duluth, where it passed by a voice vote. Board Chairman Chris Dahlberg abstained from the vote, saying he was a friend of Sislo's. The board previously had agreed to the settlement in closed session, and the deal was approved by attorneys for both sides in a court settlement hearing in May.

Fink was defeated in 2010 by current Commissioner Frank Jewell in the district that represents central Duluth.

(DNT)

Synod to elect new leaders in Moorhead

MOORHEAD, Minn. -- Lay leaders and ministers in the Northwestern Minnesota Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America will meet to elect a new bishop and celebrate the ELCA's 25th anniversary Friday through Sunday at Concordia College.

About 600 lay leaders and ministers will elect a new bishop for a six-year term. The current bishop, the Rev. Lawrence R. Wohlrabe, has served since 2007. He is eligible for re-election.

A new synod secretary, treasurer, board of directors and synod committees will also be elected.

The Rev. Linda Norman, treasurer of the ELCA, will preside over the bishop election.

The annual assembly will also include a celebration Saturday night with former synod bishops and staff. Christian musician Nate Houge of St. Paul will provide music.

(FF)

South Dakota

Semi slams into truck stop; nobody injured

MITCHELL, S.D. -- About 55 cattle caused some damage to the I-90 Travel Center on Tuesday morning in Mitchell, but they weren't stampeding.

They were waiting for their driver to use the restroom.

The movement of the cattle in a trailer contributed to a brake failure on the semi to which the trailer was hitched, and the rig rolled into the travel center's south wall.

"It was just fortunate that no one was in there when it hit," said Mitchell Patrol Officer Dan Kopfmann.

I-90 Travel Center Manager Brad Kehn said the crash caused minimal damage to one shower stall inside the building, in addition to the exterior damage.

"We don't care about the shower," Kehn said. "We're just happy no one was hurt."

The truck's driver, Tyler Harmelink, 24, of Yankton, was inside using the restroom at the time of the crash. Kopfmann said he was not cited.

Kopfmann estimated about $4,000 in damage to the truck and "thousands of dollars" in damage to the building.

According to his logs, Kehn said the last person who used the damaged shower stall signed in about 45 minutes before the accident.

"So I bet you someone walked out of there 15 or 20 minutes before it happened," Kehn said. "If I were that person, I'd go buy a lottery ticket."

(DR)

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