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REGIONAL BRIEFS: Crosswinds school given one-year reprieve

From the Forum News Service


Crosswinds school given one-year reprieve

WOODBURY, Minn. -- A Woodbury school thought to be all but mothballed in June was revived for at least another school year.

East Metro Integration District School Board members last week approved a measure that will keep Crosswinds Arts and Science School open for the 2013-14 school year under the management of the Perpich Center.

"It is very satisfying to see Crosswinds as a choice school for students and families," East Metro Integration District Superintendent Janet Mohr said after the meeting.

The Perpich Center -- a state agency that operates an eponymous school in Golden Valley -- will manage Crosswinds, whose fate has been in limbo since funding shortages forced EMID to close the building after the 2012-13 school year. Adding to the uncertainty surrounding the school was behind-the-scenes maneuvering last session at the Legislature, where lawmakers ultimately balked at passing a bill that would have conveyed the building to an entity willing to preserve its unique integration model.

Both Perpich and South Washington County Schools were vying for the building, though the local district fell out of favor after confirming the integration model would not be part of its plans for the space.


Goodhue planning commission says no to extending mining ban

RED WING, Minn. -- The Goodhue County Planning Advisory Commission voted Monday night not to extend the county's mining moratorium. All that remains is final approval by the County Board for the moratorium to automatically expire Sept. 6.

The unanimous recommendation came after a nearly two-hour public hearing, and echoed the recommendation made July 8 by the county’s Mining Study Committee.

About a dozen area residents, including members of the grassroots activist group Save the Bluffs, engaged planning commission members in occasionally heated discussion about environmental, health and tourism impacts of mining.

Lake City Tourism Bureau President Greg Schreck expressed concern about how mining would affect tourism along the Mississippi River from Goodhue County to the Iowa border.

Planning Commissioner Bernie Overby said the revised mining ordinance allows the county to put provisions in conditional-use permits to adequately protect citizens. "And we will do that," he said.

The planning commission’s decision includes reviewing modifications to the county's Comprehensive Plan stressing the importance of tourism in the area. But commissioners agreed the discussion could be done without a mining moratorium in place.

The County Board will hold a public hearing and potentially make a final vote on the fate of the mining moratorium Aug. 6.


I-94 construction begins near Fergus Falls

FERGUS FALLS, Minn. – Drivers on Interstate 94 northwest of here could see delays when construction begins Thursday.

Crews will reconstruct the eastbound bridge deck on I-94 over Otter Tail County Road 21.

Construction is expected to take about two weeks and some lanes will be closed while crews install safety barriers and temporary crossovers in the median.

For the rest of the project, all traffic on I-94 will shift to the westbound lanes while crews reconstruct the eastbound bridge.

Flaggers will control traffic on Otter Tail County Road 21, when necessary.

The full project should take two years. Next summer crews will reconstruct the westbound bridge deck.

The upgrades will prolong the life of the bridges and result in a smoother road.


Baby-sitting dispute may have prompted home invasion

AURORA, Minn. -- A dispute over baby-sitting money may have led to a home invasion and assault Monday night in Aurora. Two people were arrested and a third was being sought.

St. Louis County sheriff’s deputies responded to a home early Tuesday after two men reportedly forced their way in and assaulted a man and woman living there with their young child.

A neighbor provided officers with descriptions of the men and the vehicle they were riding in with two females. Officers found the vehicle at the Lakeland Trailer Park south of Biwabik less than an hour later and arrested a 23-year-old man and a 36-year-old woman, both from Gilbert. They were being held at the St. Louis County jail in Virginia on charges of burglary and assault. A second man, 28, also of Gilbert, fled on foot and could not be found.

The second female in the vehicle was the juvenile daughter of the woman who was arrested. She was not taken into custody.

The home invasion and assault reportedly resulted because the suspects felt the couple owed the juvenile money for baby sitting.

“I think the amount was either $10 or $20,” sheriff’s office Sgt. James P. McKenzie said. “I don’t know if they got it.”

Formal charges against the suspects were pending.


Sex offender, already in prison, sentenced for child porn

BEMIDJI, Minn. -- A Bemidji man already serving a 12-year sentence for sexually assaulting an 11-year-old was sentenced last week for an additional charge of child pornography possession.

Tyler Michael Gabrelcik, 20, was convicted of possessing child pornography by Beltrami District Judge John Melbye and sentenced to 30 months at the St. Cloud Correctional Facility. The prison is where Gabrelcik has been serving his sentence for first-degree criminal sexual conduct, of which he was convicted last October.

Gabrelcik's cellphone and other electronics were seized after his arrest for that charge, according to a criminal complaint filed by the Beltrami County Attorney's Office.

Among the files the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension found on the devices were images of child pornorgaphy.

During the sexual assault investigation, investigators learned that Gabrelcik had shown the victim two images of nude females on his phone. Gabrelcik also asked the victim, who was known to him, to remove clothing on multiple occasions and touched the victim inappropriately, according to the complaint.

The abuse took place in the summer of 2011.


North Dakota

NDSU director nominated for U.S. surgeon general

FARGO -- The director of North Dakota State University’s Master of Public Health program has the backing of two national American Indian organizations to become the country’s next surgeon general.

Donald Warne was among the list of four nominees given to President Barack Obama on July 3 by the National Indian Health Board and the National Congress of American Indians.

Current U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, appointed to the job in 2009, announced June 12 that she would resign this month.

Warne said that while he’s proud to be nominated, he’ll be vying for the job with many other qualified candidates.

“My sense of it is there’s significant competition, so it’s not something that I’m counting on at all,” he said. “I’m just very honored to be in the discussion.”

Warne was born into a family with a focus on health care. His mother was a public health nurse in the Indian Health Service, and several uncles were healers in the traditional Lakota way of medicine in Pine Ridge, S.D.

If appointed, Warne said one of the biggest challenges he would try to address is the lack of access to health care and basic services for many in the country, especially among those in poverty who are disproportionately racial minorities.

(FF) Warne mug

Driver cited in Valley City bus crash

VALLEY CITY, N.D. -- A driver whose bus left the road and crashed in Valley City early Monday will be cited in that accident.

North Dakota Highway Patrol Capt. Brian Niewind said a thorough investigation of the Jefferson Lines bus, including a look at all of the mechanical components, found no defects.

Niewind said the bus was in "tip-top shape."

The driver, Stephen Arthur, 46, of Duluth, Minn., initially told troopers the brakes failed, causing the bus to go through a stop sign while exiting Interstate 94 in Valley City around 5 a.m. Monday. The bus came to rest in a ditch.

Jefferson Lines spokesman Kevin Pursey told The Associated Press that the bus was recently inspected and it's doubtful the brakes failed. He says the driver might have taken a corner too fast.

Niewind confirmed that driver error was to blame.

Arthur will be cited for care required and be fined $30.

There were 15 passengers on the bus when it crashed. Five of them suffered minor injuries.

Niewind says it's fortunate the bus didn't tip over, which would have caused more serious injuries.


Bird with West Nile found in Grand Forks

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Grand Forks health officials are warning the public to protect themselves against mosquito bites after the first North Dakota case of West Nile virus was found Tuesday and the number of mosquitoes that can transmit the disease has risen.

The percentage of culex mosquitoes, the most common species to transmit the virus and one of the most common mosquitoes in the region, jumped from an average of 15 percent of total mosquitoes to 58 percent on Monday, said Todd Hanson, supervisor of Grand Forks Mosquito Control.

A crow had been found with the virus in Grand Forks on Monday, and test results came back positive Tuesday, but Hanson would not identify exactly where the bird had been found.

After a mosquito feeds on an infected bird, it can pick up the virus and transmit it to humans and other mammals as well as noninfected birds, according to the Grand Forks Health Department.

Most people infected with the West Nile virus, which can be fatal, do not develop symptoms.

Still, a mild illness with symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches and swollen lymph nodes can develop in some people one to two weeks after exposure, the health department said.


Presidential permit approved for Vantage Pipeline

WASHINGTON -- A presidential permit has been approved for the Vantage Pipeline, which will connect a natural gas processing plant in Tioga, N.D., to pipelines in Canada.

The 430-mile pipeline will transport ethane from Hess Corp.’s processing plant to a pipeline network near Empress, Alberta, with a flow rate of 40,000 to 60,000 barrels per day.

Justin Kringstad, director of the North Dakota Pipeline Authority, said the pipeline will add value to natural gas produced in the state, which is rich in natural gas liquids such as ethane. Ethane is used by the petrochemical industry to produce plastics, rubber, detergents and other consumer products.

“Right now there are limited options for that ethane,” Kringstad said.

The North Dakota portion of the pipeline is about 80 miles. Construction of the pipeline will be ongoing in conjunction with the expansion of the Hess natural gas plant, which is expected to be complete this year, Kringstad said.

The Vantage project is estimated to require 400,000 man hours to construct and cost $300 million.


South Dakota

Mitchell’s drive-in theater to close

MITCHELL, S.D. -- The Starlite Drive-In’s screen will soon go dark, possibly forever.

Jeff Logan, owner of the Starlite and Logan Luxury Theatres, said that due to changes in technology, the Mitchell drive-in will probably not reopen after it closes in September and undergoes its annual winterization process.

“We are going to run it right into the end, and then put it into mothballs,” Logan said.

By the end of the year, movie studios will switch from using film prints to digital, forcing theaters to convert. Logan has already converted the screens in his indoor theaters for a cost of $70,000 per screen. He said the cost to convert the drive-in isn’t economically viable, especially since digitization carries higher operating costs and the drive-in’s required projector would have to be the largest on the market.

Logan said he won’t be able to show older reel films at the drive-in, either. After a theater is finished screening a film, it sends the $2,000 film print back to the studio, where it is either stored or destroyed.

“There will be no movies to run,” Logan said.

The Starlite’s last showing is uncertain due to weather, but is expected to be during the Longfellow School Carnival on Sept. 21.


Jeff Holmquist
Jeff Holmquist has been managing editor of the New Richmond News since 2004. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and business administration from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. He has previously worked as editor in Wadena, Minn.; Detroit Lakes, Minn.; Hutchinson, Minn.; and Bloomington, Minn. He also was previously owner of the Osceola Sun, Stillwater Courier and Scandia Messenger along with his wife. Together they previously founded and published The Old Times newspaper for antiques and collectibles collectors; and Up!, a Christian magazine of hope and encouragement.
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