REGIONAL BRIEFS: Teen charged with aiding in homicideCLOQUET, Minn. -- A 17-year-old Duluth boy was charged Thursday with second-degree murder for his alleged role in the slaying of a 25-year-old Floodwood woman.
From the Forum Communications News Bureau
Teen charged with aiding in homicide
CLOQUET, Minn. -- A 17-year-old Duluth boy was charged Thursday with second-degree murder for his alleged role in the slaying of a 25-year-old Floodwood woman.
Joseph Allen Yellow Jr. is accused of assisting Michael William Siewert in the murder of Cristyna Leah Watson, whose body was found on Oct. 4 on property off Reservation Road outside Cloquet. A medical examiner determined that she died as a result of “homicidal violence.”
According to the juvenile delinquency petition charging Yellow, the teenager told investigators that he was with Michael William Siewert, 22 — who authorities have identified as a gang member of the Native Mob — and the victim when Siewert pulled the vehicle he was driving to the side of the road and they exited the vehicle.
Yellow said he saw Siewert strike Watson in the head with a hammer and he assisted with the killing by manually strangling the victim before they concealed her body. Siewert was arrested Oct. 4 on an unrelated charge in connection with allegedly shooting a man in the foot on the Fond du Lac Reservation in August as punishment for “certain gang-related activity.”
State paying extra for earlier bridge opening
HASTINGS, Minn. -- The price for the new Hastings bridge over the Mississippi River just went up by at least $2.4 million.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation agreed last week to pay the contractor in the project $2.1 million for overtime to keep the project on schedule for a December 2013 completion.
In its early stages, the project was hit hard by delays due to weather and a state government shutdown. To make up for that lost time, MnDOT is paying out the overtime to the contractor, Lunda/Ames. In addition, the contractor can earn an incentive of $10,000 for every day four lanes of traffic are open before Dec. 13, 2013, up to $300,000.
Originally the project was to be completed by May 2013, but high water in the fall of 2010, high water in the spring and summer of 2011 and the state government shutdown all forced delays out of the contractor’s control.
Once the dust settled from the shutdown, it appeared as though the project wouldn’t be complete until May 2014.
Woman to appeal arson conviction
MOORHEAD – A woman sentenced to five years and nine months in prison for setting multiple fires at her rural Barnesville farmstead is appealing her arson conviction.
The notice of appeal was filed last week on behalf of 34-year-old Tara Andvik, who is serving her prison sentence in Shakopee.
A jury found Andvik guilty of three counts of first-degree arson on May 15. The prosecution alleged that Andvik set the fires in October 2011 to frame her ex-lover because she was upset with how he ended their affair. Two of the fires destroyed her barn and the farmhouse that also was home to her husband and two children.
Andvik denied responsibility for the fires until her sentencing on June 28, when she said, “I didn’t intend for things to go this far” and “I don’t understand why I did it.”
Poll shows tight 8th District race
A new poll finds Rep. Chip Cravaack and challenger Rick Nolan virtually tied in the race for Minnesota's 8th Congressional District seat, with nearly 10 percent of those polled saying they remain undecided.
The SurveyUSA / KSTP-TV poll of 578 registered, likely voters, released by the Twin Cities television station Thursday, finds that Nolan, the Democratic challenger, holds a 46 percent to 45 percent lead over Republican incumbent Cravaack. That's within the poll's 4.2 percent margin of error.
The poll, conducted Oct. 7-9, found that 9 percent of voters remained undecided.
Nolan had a 10-point lead among women voters, while Cravaack held a 10-point lead among men.
Of the likely voters polled, 35 percent identified themselves as Democrats, 28 percent as Republicans and 32 percent as independents.
The 8th District includes Duluth and all of northeastern Minnesota. It also stretches down the Interstate 35 corridor toward Chisago and Isanti counties, and west to Brainerd and Park Rapids.
In 2010, a Survey USA/KSTP-TV poll released Oct. 29 showed longtime Democratic incumbent Jim Oberstar with a 47 percent to 46 percent lead over then-challenger Cravaack.
City seeks to shut down shop
DULUTH -- The city of Duluth on Thursday stepped up its efforts to deal with complaints about the crowds of people flocking daily to purchase synthetic drugs at the Last Place on Earth.
A complaint was filed in Minnesota’s Sixth District Court on owner Jim Carlson notifying him that city prosecutors could seek to shut down his shop at 120 E. Superior St. because of the public nuisance it has created. Duluth has filed for a court injunction that could put Carlson out of business, at least temporarily as the case is heard.
The city of Duluth requested an Oct. 29 hearing on its motion for a temporary injunction.
Carlson’s attorney, Randall Tigue, said his client was out of state and had not yet been served any papers, nor had Tigue himself seen the complaint. But Tigue maintains the city has no legitimate legal basis for its complaint.
Air power called in to fight grass fire
REGAL, Minn. -- Firefighters from area departments were being assisted by airplanes from the state Department of Natural Resources in fighting a grass fire near Regal west-central Minnesota.
Crews were in the area of Regal Meadows Wildlife Management Area of northern Kandiyohi County on Thursday evening. Multiple fire departments were responding to the fire.
Student shoots self in class
FAIRMOUNT, N.D. – A high school student in the small southeastern North Dakota town of Fairmount brought a gun to class Thursday and shot himself.
Principal Jay Townsend says the boy survived what officials believe was a suicide attempt Thursday morning. He says the boy did not threaten anyone else.
The boy was coherent when he was taken by ambulance to a hospital in Breckenridge, Minn., which is 15 miles away, Townsend said. The hospital declined to release any information about the boy because he's a minor.
Students said that the freshman student was in an algebra class that started at 8:30 a.m. The students said about 10 minutes later the boy handed his girlfriend a note, told the teacher "I'm sorry," and then shot himself.
The students, who weren't in the algebra class, said they didn't hear the gunshot, but heard crying and screaming. They described the boy, whose name has not been released, as a bright student who enjoyed playing the guitar.
After the incident, the school was put into lockdown for about an hour.
Townsend says the school has about 110 students. About 370 people live in the town.
Devils Lake police seek carjacker
DEVILS LAKE, N.D. -- The Devils Lake Police Department is looking for a carjacker, according to Det. Sue Schwab.
Police were called at 1:13 a.m. Thursday after a taxi driver was threatened at knife point by a man who then stole the taxi. Officers later found it stuck in the mud outside the city. The driver was unharmed.
The detective said she can’t recall having ever heard of a carjacking in the city.
Growth challenges emergency response
MANNING, N.D. -- With the influx of people and activity in the Oil Patch, emergency responders in Dunn County have found it challenging to keep up with calls and, in some cases, even locate individuals who need help.
An issue that has cropped up lately is that some newer roads and trails used primarily for oil drilling purposes are difficult for responders to find.
“We had an accident (Wednesday) in the northwest part of the county that took two hours to find,” Dunn County Chief Deputy Ron Krivoruchka said.
In an effort to keep up with demand, Dunn County emergency calls, which had been routed through the Stark County Department of Emergency Services at the Law Enforcement Center in Dickinson, will soon be connected with the statewide emergency system in Bismarck.
The change will take effect later this year, though no concrete timetable has been set, said Dunn County Auditor Tracey Dolezal.