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REGIONAL BRIEFS: 13-year-old driver held after police chase

Credit Forum News Service


Goodhue County mining ban gets 6-month extension

RED WING, Minn. -- Silica sand mining in Goodhue County will have to hold off for at least another six months.

The County Board voted unanimously Tuesday to extend the county's mining moratorium for an additional 180 days past its Sept. 6 end date, eliciting a round of applause from an impassioned crowd of close to a hundred area residents gathered in the Government Center.

The decision is less than the one-year extension sought by citizens, but the compromise was seen as a victory, said Jody McIlrath, chairwoman of local activist group Save-the-Bluffs.

"It still means a lot of work needs to be done quickly in those six months," McIlrath said.

She said the group will now shift its focus to creating a mining overlay district, which it proposed to the county's Planning Advisory Commission last month. The district would show specifically where mining would and would not be allowed in the county.

A motion to extend the mining moratorium for another year was considered but failed by a 3-2 vote.

The compromise came after a nearly two-hour public hearing in which citizens continued voicing concerns about the health, environmental and economic impacts of silica mining in the county.


13-year-old driver held after police chase

ROSEMOUNT, Minn. -- A 13-year-old driver led Rosemount police on a three-mile chase in the heart of this Twin Cities suburb early Monday afternoon.

The pursuit started about 2:50 p.m. Monday when a Rosemount police officer tried to stop a car that failed to stop for a stop sign. According to Police Chief Eric Werner, the driver accelerated to a high speed and the officer pursued.

At one point the officer attempted a PIT maneuver, bumping into the other car in an attempt to turn it sideways and get it to stop. The move was not successful, but the 13-year-old driver pulled over and gave up a short time later.

The 13-year-old was being held at the Dakota County Juvenile Detention Facility on probable cause theft of motor vehicle, traffic violations and fleeing a police officer.

Werner said the conditions on the road help determine whether Rosemount police officers get involved in a pursuit.

“We’re constantly evaluating the nature of the offense, what is going on with traffic conditions, are there pedestrians,” he said. “There was nobody injured during the pursuit. The officers were able to handle this in a professional manner.”


Deputy could face more abuse allegations, prosecutor says

FERGUS FALLS, Minn. -- An Otter Tail County prosecutor believes more victims may have been sexually abused by a Mille Lacs County deputy at summer camp.

Aaron Heuer, 29, is accused of having sexual contact with four boys while volunteering as a fishing guide at Lutheran Island Camp near Henning in June.

He is charged in Otter Tail County Court with eight counts of criminal sexual conduct.

Court documents say Heuer sexually touched the boys, all between ages 8 and 10, then asked them to touch him. Authorities say additional incidents may have taken place in Aitkin County with two of the victims during a separate fishing trip.

Assistant Otter Tail County Attorney Michelle Eldien said the investigation is ongoing.

“We’re talking about multi-jurisdictional issues, so the counties are working together closely to make sure we work in the best interest of the victims,” she said. “But there will be some additional people we work with.”

When Heuer made his first court appearance Monday, a woman told WDAY-TV that he also molested an 8-year-old girl in her family and that the woman will seek legal action against Heuer.

Heuer is on administrative leave from the Mille Lacs County Sheriff’s Department. His attorney refused to comment to WDAY-TV on Monday.

Heuer is being held in jail on a $200,000 cash bond. His next court appearance is set for October.


Board approves expansion of Burntside Lake wild area

ELY, Minn. -- The St. Louis County Board on Tuesday approved expanding the state’s Burntside Islands Scientific and Natural Area to include three additional islands on the west end of the lake near Ely.

The three islands totaling about 10 acres contain what forestry experts say are prime stands of virgin cedar and pine forest. They are within sight of the Listening Point property where famed conservationist Sigurd Olson did much of his writing, and there’s an active bald eagle nest on one of the islands.

As an SNA, the islands will be preserved as-is and can never be developed.

The Department of Natural Resources is in the process of buying what have been called the Gaul Islands from the nonprofit Trust for Public Land. Two larger islands already are designated as SNA.

The site’s significance comes not just from its natural features but also because it helps establish a string of wild, old-growth forest that will remain undeveloped amid the lake that lies just outside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, DNR officials said.

The newly protected area is one of 159 Scientific and Natural Areas across the state, most of which are in remote areas of northern Minnesota.


Burglar turns up in woman’s bathroom, police say

BEMIDJI, Minn. -- A Bemidji man broke into a woman's home early Saturday, broke a towel rack in the bathroom of the master bedroom and urinated in the toilet, according to Bemidji police.

Lance Francise Day, 24, was arrested not far from the home just after 5 a.m. Saturday. He was arraigned Tuesday in Beltrami District Court on one count of second-degree burglary and was being held on $10,000 bail, an official at the Beltrami County Jail said.

According to a criminal complaint filed by the Beltrami County Attorney's Office, the woman, who lives alone, heard the bathroom door shut and opened it to find Day. The bathroom is only accessible by walking through the woman's bedroom. After discovering Day, the woman told him to leave and walked him downstairs before calling police, the complaint stated.

Police said Day entered the home by slicing open a screen door on the front porch. After he left, police found Day walking with a knife.

The complaint does not list any items taken from the home. But police found a broken towel rack in the bathroom, and there "was urine and toilet paper left in the toilet by the suspect," the complaint stated.

Day does not have a criminal history in Minnesota, according to the state courts website.


Head-on crash kills Grand Rapids man

HERMANTOWN, Minn. -- A Grand Rapids man was killed Tuesday morning in a head-on crash on U.S. Highway 2 in Solway Township west of Hermantown.

The crash happened shortly after 6:30 a.m. when an eastbound Volkswagen Jetta crossed the center line and collided with a westbound semi on the westbound shoulder, according to the Minnesota State Patrol.

The driver of the Volkswagen, Evan W. Huotari, 26, was killed. Huotari was wearing a seatbelt and no alcohol was detected in his system, the patrol said.

The driver of the semi, William T. Rowe, 57, of Proctor, suffered no apparent injury.


Woodbury police officer acquitted in assault case

TWO HARBORS, Minn. -- A Lake County jury found a Woodbury police officer not guilty last week of assaulting a nurse in Two Harbors as the officer removed her partner from the hospital against the advice of doctors.

The four men and two women on the jury found Vickie Braman, 51, of Richfield, not guilty of charges of fifth-degree assault and disorderly conduct on July 29.

The case stems from an Aug. 30, 2011, incident at the hospital in which Braman was cited for allegedly putting her hands around a nurse's neck and shoving her. The nurse at the time was trying to remove an IV tube from Braman's life partner, who had left the hospital against medical advice.

Woodbury Public Safety Director Lee Vague said the department will launch an internal "administrative investigation" into Braman now that the criminal trial has concluded. He lauded the highly decorated 17-year department veteran's work.

Vague said Braman will remain an active duty officer during the investigation.


North Dakota

Former RedHawks pitcher chosen by ‘Bachelorette’

FARGO -- Former Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks pitcher Chris Siegfried slid into the national spotlight Monday night when he received the final rose from Desiree Hartsock on ABC’s “Bachelorette” finale.

Hartsock and Siegfried made the media circuit Tuesday in New York to talk about their engagement.

In Fargo, his former RedHawks teammates remembered the 6-foot-5 relief pitcher, who ended his 2011 season – and career – early due to injury.

“He was pretty effective,” RedHawks manager Doug Simunic said. “If he was able to stay healthy, he would have been with us the whole season, or would have been picked up by a (major league) organization.”

RedHawks shortstop Zach Penprase remembers playing with Siegfried during that 2011 season.

“He was a big part of our pitching staff,” Penprase said. “He was a real nice guy. We were cool. We talked a little bit.”

Simunic has watched “The Bachelorette” on a few occasions with his 16-year-old daughter, Allaysn.

“I may have tuned in with my daughter for about a 10- or 15-minute window,” Simunic said.

Simunic ­-- who is in his 18th season with the RedHawks -- said this is the first time one of his former players has become a reality TV star.

“I’ve never had anything like that before,” Simunic said.


AG says higher ed board met illegally to discuss buyout

BISMARCK -- The State Board of Higher Education violated open meeting laws when it met privately in June before officially buying out Chancellor Hamid Shirvani’s contract, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said Tuesday.

After listening to the recording of the “executive session” on June 3, in which the board discussed buying out the remainder of Shirvani’s contract, Stenehjem said parts of the 77-minute session were improperly closed to the public. Shortly afterward, the board voted to move ahead with the nearly $1 million buyout.

In a separate opinion, Stenehjem said a series of individual meetings between board members and 10 North Dakota university presidents -- held about a week after Shirvani’s ouster -- weren’t subject to the state’s open meetings law, in part because less than half of the board participated in each meeting.

Several news organizations asked the attorney general’s office for an opinion on whether both meetings violated the law.

Regarding the June 3 meeting, Stenehjem ordered the board to turn over a transcript of the portions that should have been public.

It’s not the first time Stenehjem has ruled that the board met illegally this year.

In a May opinion that dinged the board for two improper meetings, Stenehjem wrote that the board’s violations of open meetings laws are “pervasive.” He required all board members to complete training to avoid further violations.


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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