REGIONAL BRIEFS: Two homicide charges filed in car-surfing deathMEENON, Wis. -- Burnett County authorities have charged a Minnesota man with three felonies — including two counts of homicide — for an August incident in which a man died while taking part in the high-thrill practice of car-surfing.
From the Forum Communications News Bureau
Mom pleads guilty in meth exposure case
FARGO – A 19-year-old woman accused of exposing her 1-year-old daughter to methamphetamine pleaded guilty Monday to a downgraded charge of contributing to the deprivation of a minor.
Amber Helps of Moorhead, Minn., received a deferred imposition of sentence and one year of supervised probation for the Class A misdemeanor in Cass County District Court.
Helps must undergo a chemical dependency evaluation and mental health evaluation and follow through with the recommendations. She also must comply with the requirements of Cass County Social Services, which still has custody of the girl, Assistant State’s Attorney Tristan Van de Streek said.
Helps had been charged with felony child neglect or abuse, punishable by up to five years in prison.
Fargo man pleads guilty to child porn charges
FARGO – A 30-year-old Fargo man charged with possessing more than 200,000 images and 1,000 videos of child pornography pleaded guilty in federal court Monday.
John Robert Ehlen pleaded guilty to one count of receiving materials involving the sexual exploitation of minors and three counts of possession of materials involving the sexual exploitation of minors, according to a news release from Timothy Purdon, the U.S. attorney for North Dakota.
Ehlen will be sentenced on Feb. 20 in U.S. District Court.
State investigators became privy to Ehlen’s collection after conducting a routine online investigation of IP addresses known to be sharing child pornography.
In January, Fargo police executed a search warrant on Ehlen’s home and he reportedly admitted to using a peer-to-peer sharing software program to search for, view and download the files, some of them containing children as young as 6 years old.
Special needs hearing Thursday
BISMARCK -- Parents of children with special needs and other interested individuals will have a chance to attend and participate in a North Dakota Interagency Coordinating Council meeting Thursday.
The council is comprised of members of the North Dakota Department of Human Services, N.D. Department of Health, N.D. Department of Public Instruction, among other agencies that work with children with special needs.
The meeting is based at the Department of Human Services Developmental Disabilities Division in Bismarck, but will connect to offices in Devils Lake, Dickinson, Fargo, Grand Forks, Jamestown, Minot and Williston through interactive television.
The meeting is set for noon to 4 p.m. in the Basement General Staff Conference Room at the Badlands Human Service Center, 300 13th Ave. W, Suite 1.
Publication to return with new owners, new plan
BISMARCK – The Great Plains Examiner, a monthly newspaper that began operating in Bismarck and Mandan about a year and a half ago, has suspended publishing while a new ownership arrangement is finalized.
Matt Bunk, the editor and publisher of the paper, said once the deal is completed he will remain an owner of the paper but no longer have control over day-to-day operations.
Gary Emineth, a businessman and former chairman of the North Dakota Republican Party, said he and a small group of new investors in the paper plan to expand its coverage to other parts of the state, particularly the Oil Patch.
The paper did not publish in November and it probably won’t resume publishing until January, Bunk said.
Emineth, who is a partner with Scott Hennen in the Bakken Beacon Media radio network, said there is a good chance the network – KTGO 1090 AM in Tioga and AM 1100 The Flag in Fargo – will play a role in expanding the newspaper’s coverage of the Oil Patch.
Possible last rave at barn venue draws 13 arrests
ARTHUR, N.D. – What might have been the last rave at a popular party venue here was a real bust.
Thirteen people were arrested at a rave at Johnson’s Barn here on Saturday, nine of them for drug-related crimes, said Capt. Mitch Burris of the Cass County Sheriff’s Office. Three minors were arrested for consuming alcohol, and one person was arrested on a warrant for outstanding parking tickets.
Burris said the sheriff’s office has been providing security at the barn since it opened in the 50s, and specifically at rave events for about six years.But citing large crowds, sometimes as many as 500 people, and rising illicit drug use at rave events, Burris said the sheriff’s office will no longer be working security at those types of events.
He said management has expressed to him that, without the sheriff’s office policing the event, it’s unlikely that more raves will be held.
A message left for management at Johnson’s Barn was not returned Monday evening.
Schafer to speak at S.D. conference on Bakken
RAPID CITY, S.D. – Former North Dakota Gov. Ed Schafer will be the keynote speaker Dec. 11 for a conference in Rapid City to explore the Bakken oil boom and opportunities it presents for small businesses.
The day-long summit, called Opportunities in the Bakken & West River Expansion, is at the Hilton Garden Inn, 815 E. Mall Drive, Rapid City.
Schafer, also a former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, serves on the board of directors for Oklahoma company Continental Resources.
To register, go to www.bakkenseminar.com. Cost is $129 in advance or $199 at the event.
Guard facing sex charge appears in court
GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. -- A corrections officer facing seven felony charges for allegedly having sex with a female inmate made his first court appearance in Itasca County on Monday.
Bail for James Allen Bongaarts, 56, of Tower, was set at $50,000 without conditions or $25,000 with conditions, including keeping court appearances, keeping in contact with his attorney, and remaining law abiding. His next court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 14.
Bongaarts was charged Friday with multiple acts of sexual misconduct with a female inmate at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Togo, also known as Thistledew.
Thistledew is an alternative incarceration facility that began in 1955 as a forestry work camp for young offenders. It continues with programs for children in trouble from ages 13 to 17. In 2004, the facility began a six-month boot camp program for non-dangerous adult women offenders.
Bongaarts has been employed there for two years.
Two-year detour nears an end
WORTHINGTON, Minn. — The Minnesota Department of Transportation lifts the U.S.Highway 59 / Minnesota Highway 60 detour that has been in place for much of the past two years is set to end Friday.
MnDOT District 7 project engineer Bob Williams said the biggest chunk of the detour will be lifted at the end of this week, with drivers being able to use a newly expanded four-lane highway.
Work will continue for the next three weeks near a railroad bridge that will continue to require a detour, Williams said.
Crews were already out on Monday removing some of the detour signs and getting the area ready for vehicle traffic, and Williams said a meeting between MnDOT and contractors was planned for today.
Two homicide charges filed in car-surfing death
MEENON, Wis. -- Burnett County authorities have charged a Minnesota man with three felonies — including two counts of homicide — for an August incident in which a man died while taking part in the high-thrill practice of car-surfing.
Cole Tyler Fohrenkamm, 21, of St. Paul, was charged Wednesday with one count each of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle, homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle and first-degree recklessly endangering safety. Fohrenkamm also was charged with one count each of reckless driving while endangering someone’s safety and driving with a person riding illegally.
According to the criminal complaint, Fohrenkamm, drove with Shawn Gunner Swanson, 21, of St. Paul, and Steven Lee Uhl Jr. on top of a vehicle near the Town of Oakland. Swanson fell from the vehicle and died the next day.
Fohrenkamm admitted to authorities that he had been drinking and was driving the vehicle when Swanson fell.
Fohrenkamm is scheduled to appear in Burnett County Circuit Court on Dec. 19.