REGIONAL BRIEFS: Suspected gang member accused in deathCLOQUET, Minn. -- A Duluth man who authorities identified as a Native Mob gang member is being held in the Carlton County Jail and is expected to be charged next week with the murder of a 25-year-old Floodwood woman, authorities said.
From the Forum Communications News Bureau
Secular Coalition organizing N.D. chapter
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A call-in meeting aimed at organizing a North Dakota chapter of the Secular Coalition for America will be held 2 to 3 p.m. Monday.
The goal of a state chapter will be to push legislators in the direction “of a strong separation of religion and government,” according to a news release.
Anyone, even those with religious beliefs, who shares that goal is invited to call in.
The Washington, D.C., -based coalition bills itself as a nonprofit serving as “a national lobby for atheists, agnostics, humanists, freethinkers and other nontheistic Americans.”
The coalition says it aims to have chapters in all 50 states. Since June, call-in meetings have been held for 38 states.
“Some of the most egregious violations of church state separation are being promoted and passed at the state level, and we absolutely must act to stop it,” Coalition Executive Director Edwina Rogers said in a news release. “There are 40 million Americans who don’t identify with any religion, but our political influence has been limited because we have not been organized. This year, that changes.”
The number for the call in is (530) 881-1400; the access code is 978895.
New Methodist bishop to be installed in Fargo
FARGO – Bruce R. Ough has been assigned to be the Bishop of the United Methodist Churches of North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota.
He will be installed at 3 p.m. Sunday at Fargo First UMC.
It is rare for a United Methodist Bishop to serve in their home state. Most bishops are assigned to serve outside of their home territory.
Ough is a native of Williston, N.D., attended North Dakota State University. He has served the United Methodist Church throughout the world, most recently in Ohio.
Berg expects farm bill vote this year
GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- U.S. Rep. Rick Berg, R-N.D., told a business roundtable meeting in Grand Forks on Friday that he expects the farm bill to come to a vote in the current Congress.
Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, “made a commitment to bring the farm bill up before the end of the year,” Berg said. “I take him at his word.”
The bill has a good chance of passing after the November election when political pressures holding up the bill are gone, he said.
“The last thing we want to do is to create this cloud of uncertainty over agriculture,” Berg told a group of about 20 representatives of the agriculture, transportation and banking industries, and others at the Chamber of Commerce office.
Berg is running for the U.S. Senate against Democrat Heidi Heitkamp.
Woman to plead guilty to prostitution
GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- A woman charged with prostitution in Grand Forks has told court officials she will plead guilty.
Kayla Wright, 20, was arrested Feb. 17 at a Grand Forks motel with a customer, who found her advertising on the controversial website Backpage.com. Police, looking for a friend of hers inadvertently discovered the pair.
Wright was scheduled to go to trial Thursday after telling a judge earlier that she would plead not guilty. The trial was canceled.
She and her customer, Paul Balstad of Emerado, N.D., were charged in May with corresponding misdemeanors: prostitution for her and hiring someone for sex for him.
The maximum penalty for prostitution is 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Balstad pleaded guilty in August and was sentenced to four days in jail and a fine.
Snow records in Fargo, Grand Forks broken
FARGO – An early season snowstorm broke snowfall records in Fargo and Grand Forks on Thursday, the National Weather Service reported.
The 1.4 inches of snowfall at Fargo’s Hector International Airport more than doubled the previous daily record of 0.6 inch in 1903. Grand Forks International Airport received 2.7 inches, breaking the old record of a trace set in 1952. A daily record of 3.5 inches also was set at the weather service office at the University of North
Man accused of assault on pregnant woman
GRANDIN, N.D. – A 21-year-old man was arrested here Friday morning after he allegedly assaulted a woman who is 30 weeks pregnant, the Cass County Sheriff’s Office reported.
Deputies arrested Taylor Wayne Rohrich at his home at about 5:30 a.m. on suspicion of aggravated domestic violence. He was taken to the Cass County Jail in Fargo.
The woman, who lives with Rohrich, alleged that he hit her in the face with his hands and a blunt object that she believed to be a baseball bat, Capt. Rick Majerus said.
A family member drove the woman to Sanford Medical Center in Fargo for treatment, Majerus said. He said he didn’t know the extent of the woman’s injuries.
Deputies responded about 4 a.m.
Parent reports gun threat near school
MITCHELL, S.D. -- Police on Friday took away a gun from a man who is accused of using it to threaten a parent near an elementary school in Mitchell.
In a letter to parents, Superintendent Joe Graves said during the last 15 minutes of the school day, a parent parked in the alley west of Longfellow Elemenatary to wait for his child. A nearby neighborhood resident, apparently angry that the alley was blocked or impeded and with a gun visibly in his possession, confronted the parent and threatened to shoot out his tires.
The parent moved his vehicle and reported the matter to police. The Mitchell Department of Public Safety responded immediately, confronted the man, confiscated his weapon and removed him from the scene in view of parents and students during dismissal.
Suspected gang member accused in death
CLOQUET, Minn. -- A Duluth man who authorities identified as a Native Mob gang member is being held in the Carlton County Jail and is expected to be charged next week with the murder of a 25-year-old Floodwood woman, authorities said.
Michael William Siewert, 22, was arrested Thursday on an unrelated charge in connection with allegedly shooting a man in the foot on the Fond du Lac Reservation in August.
Cloquet Police Chief Wade Lamirande said that the Ramsey County Medical Examiner on Friday identified the body of Cristyna Leah Watson.
Lamirande wouldn’t say what the exact manner of death was, but that she wasn’t shot.
Watson was last seen by family members Sept. 8.
Her body was found outdoors in rural Cloquet at 5 p.m. Thursday.
Lamirande said that the woman and Siewert were acquaintances, but it hadn’t been determined if they were in a romantic relationship.