REGIONAL BRIEFS: Woman found guilty in child punishment caseWOODBURY, Minn. -- The Woodbury woman accused of delivering an unusual punishment to her boyfriend’s daughter was convicted by a jury last week of malicious punishment and domestic assault.
From the Forum Communications News Bureau
DNR raises fire danger in northwest Minnesota (GFH)
Unseasonably high temperatures and a lack of rain have combined to create high fire-danger ratings in northwest Minnesota, the state Department of Natural Resources said.
Expected hot, windy weather this week will increase fire potential throughout most of the state.
Fire managers in northwest Minnesota reported seeing willow brush producing 30-foot flames and fire burning in the tops of aspen trees, a phenomenon known as “crowning.”
Fires can spread quickly through grass and can ignite peat that can burn deep.
The DNR urges those heading to the lakes and woods for the holiday weekend to use caution with fire and suggests people clear an area around the fire, attend to it at all times and make sure it is cold to the touch before they leave it unattended.
Burning permits are likely to be restricted in dry areas this week. Check the DNR website at www.dnr.state.mn.us/forestry/fire/questions.html for updated information or call a local area forestry office. The number for the Warroad office, which handles much of northwest Minnesota, is (218) 386-1304.
Landowners or others who lose control of a fire will be responsible for costs of firefighting as well as the costs of extinguishing any peat that might ignite.
Pilot killed in ultralight crash (BP)
BEMIDJI, Minn. – An ultralight plane crashed Monday evening, killing one man and injuring another.
Pilot Jay Russell Davis, 49, of Bemidji, was pronounced dead at the scene.
The passenger, Paul Jerome Wannarka, 56, was airlifted to a Fargo, N.D. hospital. Brian Shaw, president of the Experimental Aircraft Association’s local chapter, said Wannarka has a broken leg but should make a full recovery.
In the news release, Beltrami County Sheriff Phil Hodapp said witnesses reported the plane was banking through a turn – apparently preparing to land at the grass strip – when the wing struck the ground causing the plane to crash.
The aircraft is described as a “tricycle” style plane with seating for the pilot and one passenger position behind the pilot.
The crash occurred at a grass landing strip west of Bemidji. It was reported at 7:17 p.m.
Davis piloted at least three uneventful flights Monday,
Shaw said Davis had plenty of experience in the air.
“He was an awesome guy,” Shaw said.
Woman found with throat cut, man arrested (GFH)
THIEF RIVER FALLS, Minn. -- A Crookston man has been arrested in the homicide of a Thief River Falls woman who was found dead with her throat cut and partially nude along a river.
Agents with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension early Monday evening arrested Jedidiah Dean Troxel, 31, of Crookston, without incident.
Troxel is a suspect in the murder of Tanya Marie Kazmierczak, 40, whose body was found Sunday near the Red Lake River in rural Pennington County. Kazmierczak had been missing since early Saturday.
According to court documents, Kazmierczak was stabbed multiple times and her throat was cut. Both Troxel and Kazmierczak attended the same party in Thief River Falls on Friday night and both left early Saturday morning, the documents said. Investigators interviewed all the people at the party, including Troxel, documents show. Investigators questioned Troxel more than once based on inconsistencies in his account of what happened that night, according to court documents. Also, investigators linked a boot print found near Kaxmierczak's to boots Troxel had, according to court documents.
Troxel is in the Pennington County Jail. His first court appearance is scheduled for 8 a.m. Wednesday.
Woman found guilty in child punishment case (WB)
WOODBURY, Minn. -- The Woodbury woman accused of delivering an unusual punishment to her boyfriend’s daughter was convicted by a jury last week of malicious punishment and domestic assault.
Prosecutors alleged Ahavel Scherz, 27, made the 13-year-old girl kneel on a kitchen floor while holding a chair above her head. When the girl couldn’t keep the chair aloft, the Scherz struck her with a wooden spoon, the charges alleged. The girl was left with bruises on her arms and legs.
The next day, Scherz wrote the girl’s name on a T-shirt that also included the phrase “I am a thief.” The girl was forced to wear the shirt to school. School officials reported the incident to police.
The girl’s father, Garrett Scott Jensen, also was charged in the case. Jensen is charged with malicious punishment of a child, a gross misdemeanor, and misdemeanor domestic assault. According to a criminal complaint, he was in “complete agreement” with the discipline, which he oversaw.
The case is set for a Nov. 7 sentencing.
Authorities searching for escaped prisoner (GFH)
WANNASKA, Minn. -- Authorities in Roseau County of northern Minnesota were searching Tuesday for an escaped prisoner.
According to the sheriff’s department, Kevin Leigh Martin Jr., 32, escaped Monday morning while working with a sentence-to-serve program work crew near Wannaska.
Martin escaped while the crew made a stop at a convenience store in Wannaska, said Sheriff Steve Gust.
A Wannaska woman, who Gust said is believed to be Martin’s girlfriend, has been taken into custody. She had not been formally charged by Tuesday afternoon.
Authorities have recovered a van used in the escape.
Martin, described as American Indian, 6-foot 1-inch tall and weighs 205 pounds, had been held since Aug. 16 on a charge of felony vehicle theft.
Authorities were going door-to-door Tuesday in a residential area about 3 miles southeast of Wannaska, according to the sheriff, although he said the suspect may have gone to the Red Lake Reservation, where he lives.
Wannaska is 60 to 70 miles from the reservation.
The sheriff’s department also is working with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the Red Lake Reservation.
Zebra mussels found in northern mine pit lake (DNT)
DULUTH -- The slow but insidious spread of zebra mussels into more Minnesota lakes and rivers continues, with the Department of Natural Resources confirming Tuesday that the invasive mussels have invaded Lake Ore-Be-Gone in Gilbert.
After a report of mussels in the former iron ore mine that’s now a popular fishing lake, DNR divers confirmed adult mussels had infested an area near the lake’s boat landing.
This is the first time zebra mussels have been found in a mine pit lake and the farthest north they have been found in Minnesota.
Lose your dentures? Look to Moorhead man (FF)
MOORHEAD – If you haven’t seen your bottom teeth lately, Robert Fracker might have something for you.
The Moorhead man stumbled upon an odd discovery near his home the other week: a complete set of bottom dentures, lying on the sidewalk.
“I was walking my dogs and there it was,” he said.
The missing mouthpiece turned up near the intersection of Ninth Street North and Third Avenue. It’s dated 2010 and carries the name “A. Jolicoeur.”
Fracker took out a “found” ad in The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, but hasn’t heard from anyone.
He has no idea how the dentures got there or where they came from.
“I just kind of wondered if someone got it from an estate sale or something, decided they didn’t want it, and just threw it out the window,” he said.
Fracker can be reached at (218) 233-8922.
MSUM enrollment down (FF)
MOORHEAD – Enrollment at Minnesota State University Moorhead is down compared with last fall, but that’s what officials expected after a large graduating class last spring and a push to refer more poor-scoring applicants to two-year schools.
Spokesman David Wahlberg said there were 6,824 students enrolled on the first day of classes Monday. That’s down 430, or about 5.9 percent, compared with last fall.
But he said the figures can’t be directly compared. The official enrollment of 7,254 last fall was tallied on the 30th day of class, and he expects more students will enroll this fall before the official 30-day headcount.
MSUM saw a slight increase in graduate enrollment, with about 310 full-time equivalent students compared with 282 last fall. But undergraduate numbers are down – 5,629 this fall, a drop of about 5.3 percent in the past year.
N.D. ranked No. 1 for young adults (FF)
FARGO - An online publication recently ranked North Dakota as the No. 1 state for adults ages 18 to 24.
MoneyRates.com compared key factors like unemployment rate, nightlife, tuition prices and housing affordability.
The site says North Dakota earned its mark because of its strong economic conditions and 3.3 percent unemployment right for those 20 to 24 years old.
South Dakota, Iowa, Montana and Nebraska round out the top 5.
Fargo man eyes write-in Senate campaign (FF)
FARGO – Bill Kiefer, a retired Fargo businessman, is running for the open North Dakota U.S. Senate seat as a write-in candidate.
Kiefer will run as a “total independent,” with no party affiliation.
Former attorney general Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat, and Rep. Rick Berg, a Republican, are running for the seat of retiring Sen. Kent Conrad, a Democrat.
Kiefer plans to officially announce his bid Wednesday in his hometown of Foreman, N.D., before widening his campaign.
“My goal is to have a public and open forum in every county in the state,” Kiefer said. “If the other candidates want to be there when I have some of these, that’s up to them.”
If elected, Kiefer said he hopes to immediately write a bill to change campaign rules.
“I propose all campaigns be reduced to two months. If I win, I’ll have proof it can be done,” he said.
Kiefer led a group in 2010 that attempted to combine North Dakota State University and University of North Dakota.
Kiefer said all voters have to do is write his name on the ballot. He plans to register with the Secretary of State to ensure his name is counted Nov. 6.
Sodbuster Stampede features Bullorama (FF)
SIBLEY, N.D. – The 67th anniversary of the Dazey (N.D.) Sodbusters Club features a Bullorama at 3 p.m. Sunday during the Sodbuster Stampede in Sibley, 12 miles east of Dazey.
A kids’ tractor pedal pull is set for 5 p.m., and a dance is set to start at 8:30 p.m.
Dale Kunze is being honored by the Sodbusters Club as 2012 Outstanding Sodbuster of the Year.
Tickets for the Bullorama are $12 for adults, $8 for students, and preschool/children are admitted free. Tickets for just the dance are $8.
Ceremony planned today at Hickson Dam (FF)
HICKSON, N.D. – The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the city of Fargo and River Keepers will host a celebration at 10 a.m. today at the Hickson Dam in recognition of the modifications to the Christine and Hickson dams.
Before modification, the dams were significant migration barriers to many native fishes, such as lake sturgeon, that depend on a connected river system to access spawning and wintering habitat.
Modification of the dams reconnects these habitats, provides increased river recreational activities, eliminates drowning hazards and reduces maintenance and repair issues.
The celebration will include brief comments by lead agency project members, a ribbon-tying ceremony and a release of Lake Sturgeon fingerlings provided by the Genoa National Fish Hatchery.
Several youth members also will participate by canoeing and kayaking the Red River and releasing a fleet of mini-canoes to drift northward to Hudson Bay.
NDSU to host STEM program for girls (FF)
FARGO – Applications are now being accepted for a 10-week after-school program designed to introduce third- through seventh-grade girls to fields in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
TechGYRLS will be held on the North Dakota State University campus from 4 to 6 p.m. starting the week of Sept. 17. The program is sponsored by the College of Engineering and Architecture and the NDSU student chapter of the Society of Women Engineers.
Registration is $50 and open now. To register, log on to www.ndsu.edu/cea.
Woman accused of hitting children with cornstalk (PCH)
ELLSWORTH, Wis. – A western Wisconsin woman is charged with child abuse after allegedly hitting her children with a cornstalk.
Tracy L. Blair, 41, of Spring Valley, was charged in Pierce County Circuit Court with two counts of felony child abuse. She is to appear at a pre-trial conference on Oct. 29.
According to the criminal complaint, police were called to the residence on Aug. 17, where one of the three children explained they followed Blair out of concern as she left the house drunk and riding a bicycle.
Another one of the children obtained the bicycle and took it home. The children then regrouped and followed her on foot until Blair got to a cornfield. Blair ripped a cornstalk from the ground and swung it at the children, screaming at them to get away from her. They refused, and she swung it back and forth, sometimes striking them. None of the children needed medical attention.
After the incident, the chidlren followed Blair home, and the police were called. Blair was arrested at the house and a preliminary breath test indicated Blair had a blood alcohol level of 0.171.