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REGIONAL BRIEFS: Former Globe dean wins whistleblower suit

From the Forum News Service


St. Louis County commissioner to run for U.S. Senate

DULUTH -- St. Louis County Commissioner Chris Dahlberg confirmed Tuesday that he plans to run for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Sen. Al Franken.

Dahlberg, 51, said he plans to make a formal announcement just before his Oct. 1 retirement from the U.S. Army Reserve, but the word got out this week when a prominent conservative donor circulated a memo in support of his candidacy.

Stanley S. Hubbard, chairman and CEO of Hubbard Broadcasting, told friends and colleagues in an email Monday that Dahlberg “has several qualities that make him a particularly strong candidate.”

In a statement Tuesday evening, Dahlberg said the support is welcome.

“I realize that I’m not well known outside of Northeastern Minnesota, so the only way to change that is to meet as many people as I can during the coming year,” he said. “I’m humbled that Mr. Hubbard likes what I stand for, and I intend to show all Minnesotans — regardless of political orientation — that I’ll bring a common-sense, balanced and fiscally conservative approach to representing them in Washington, D.C.”

Dahlberg, an attorney, is currently serving as chair of the St. Louis County Board of Commissioners, having first been elected to the board in 2008 and re-elected in 2012. He served on the Duluth City Council from 1992 to 1994.

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Former Globe dean wins whistleblower suit

STILLWATER, Minn. -- Former Globe University Dean Heidi Weber won her case against the school last week, as a jury found she was wrongfully terminated for reporting legal and ethical violations at the school.

The jury in Washington County deliberated for a full day examining hundreds of exhibits, including various internal emails presented in court, and recounted testimony from Globe executives.

Weber, who was the network dean of the medical assistant program overseeing numerous campuses out of Woodbury, was fired in 2011. She claimed school officials retaliated against her and violated the Minnesota Whistleblower Act for reporting the violations including falsifying job placement rates and lack of externships they promised students.

The verdict awards Weber nearly $400,000 for lost wages and emotional distress.

Globe University has a network of 14 Minnesota campuses, seven in Wisconsin and one in South Dakota.

The school is also being sued by another former employee, Jeanne St. Claire, who worked as network dean of business at the Woodbury location, for violating the Minnesota Whistleblower Act. That trial is not expected to begin until next year, according to Globe's attorneys.


Citizens work with Goodhue County on frac sand rules

RED WING, Minn. -- A citizens group will work with Goodhue County to review four amendments to its mining ordinance relating to silica sand extraction.

This comes as a public hearing for a frac sand mining overlay district proposed by the group. Save-the-Bluffs, was postponed Monday at a Goodhue County Planning Advisory Commission.

The changes to the ordinance would increase mining setbacks in residential zones to one mile, ban mines and processing facilities within a mile of the ordinary high-water line of the Mississippi River, enhance language around enforcement and restrict the use of flocculants and coagulants in the mining process.

Save-the-Bluffs members met with Goodhue County Commissioners Jim Bryant and Dan Rechtzigel to hash out the proposals Aug. 13, Chairwoman Jody McIlrath said.

Several details must be worked out, such as defining which kind of residences will pertain the one-mile setback. McIlrath said the one-mile setback from the Mississippi River would help protect area tourism, while restricting flocculants and coagulants would protect water quality -- two of the primary concerns brought up by citizens in previous discussions of silica mining.

The commission voted unanimously to send the four items to the county's Mining Study Committee for review at a meeting Sept. 4. The county's mining moratorium expires March 5.


It's official: Bemidji gets IFL franchise

BEMIDJI, Minn. -- The Indoor Football League is coming to Bemidji.

Just a month after league officials visited the Sanford Center to make a pitch to potential ownership groups, the league has made it official and granted Bemidji an expansion franchise to begin play in February.

An official news conference is scheduled for 11 a.m. today at the Sanford Center.

"It's our first foray into professional sports in this town," Sanford Center executive director Curtis Webb said. "It's pretty exciting for us to be able to do this."

Chris Kokalis, who is the co-owner and general manager of the Cedar Rapids Titans, will be a co-owner and president of the Bemidji franchise. Kokalis will split his time between Bemidji and Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

The IFL season runs from February to June and each team plays a 14-game schedule -- seven home games and seven on the road.

The Bemidji franchise, which is still unnamed, will be the league's 10th team. Webb said the league was also looking into franchises in Fargo and the Quad Cities in Iowa and Illinois but don't have ownership groups lined up quite yet.


Man sues Moorhead police officers

MOORHEAD, Minn. – A 77-year-old man with a heart condition is suing three Moorhead police officers, claiming they used excessive force when they restrained him and twice shocked him with a Taser, despite his warnings that the stun gun could kill him.

James Van Raden’s attorney filed the civil rights lawsuit against Sgt. Steven Larsen and Officers Matthew Wychor and Daniel Birmingham on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Minnesota.

The incident happened Aug. 23, 2011, nine days after Van Raden was arrested and charged with assault and terrorizing for allegedly threatening one of his apartment tenants with a shotgun, a claim he denied. The charges were later dismissed.

After the Taser incident, Van Raden was civilly committed to Prairie St. John’s psychiatric hospital in Fargo. He spent about three weeks involuntarily hospitalized.

Van Raden is demanding a jury trial and seeking unspecified damages for physical pain and injury, emotional harm and medical expenses, as well as punitive damages and attorney fees.

Moorhead Police Chief David Ebinger said Tuesday he wasn’t aware of the lawsuit and couldn’t comment on it, but he said he’s familiar with the Taser incident.

“That complaint’s been thoroughly reviewed and officers exonerated of any improper conduct,” he said.

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North Dakota

Mother of missing teen offers $5K reward for information

DICKINSON, N.D. -- The mother of a Texas teen who reportedly went missing from a Dickinson construction site is offering a $5,000 reward for information that would lead to his whereabouts.

According to Jolene Stubbs, 16-year-old Edward “Ashton” Stubbs disappeared June 17 from a job site north of Walmart. From that point on, his path is unknown.

Jolene Stubbs, who lives in El Paso, Texas, said Tuesday in a phone interview that she believes either someone is helping her son or he has been abducted and is being held against his will. She also believes he could still be in Dickinson.

Jolene Stubbs had put her son on a bus from El Paso to Fargo in early June. He was to work for a construction company with his cousin, who lived in Fargo. The company sent the two to Dickinson. Neither Jolene Stubbs nor her sister-in-law, Julie Stubbs, knew the company’s name.

Despite reports that Edward Stubbs had stopped at his cousin’s apartment June 20, detectives from both the Fargo and Dickinson police departments said Tuesday there is no definitive evidence that ever happened.


Tim Hortons coming to N.D.

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Tim Hortons, the quintessential Canadian quick-serve coffee and bakery chain, is coming to Grand Forks.

The restaurant is expected to be open by the end of the year across the street from the Alerus Center and Canad Inns events center complex.

It will be first of several Tim Hortons that will be developed in Grand Forks, according to Jenny Arel, business development and marketing director with Icon Architectural Group, a Grand Forks firm that is developing the location.

Icon and other business partners will own the local Tim Hortons franchise, as well as others that are expected to be developed in North Dakota, Minnesota and South Dakota.

Plans include a Fargo store, and Arel said a group from Icon and some Tim Hortons executives visited there Tuesday.

When it opens, Grand Forks will be the farthest-west U.S. location for the chain. It currently is in 11 states: Delaware, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.


South Dakota

Farm Bureau head: Keep nutrition in farm bill

MITCHELL, S.D. -- American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman says a nutrition program should be part of the new farm bill.

He spoke to about 40 people on the first day of the Dakotafest agricultural trade show Tuesday. Stallman said his organization believes the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as the food stamp program, must be part of a new farm bill for lawmakers to come together to pass the overall bill.

“We believe those who want reform in the nutrition program need to get together and craft something that puts our nutrition programs on a better path than they are on now,” said Stallman, a rice and cattle producer from Columbus, Texas. “But then put that back in the with farm bill. The point is, taking it out means the farm bill won’t get passed. It’s a political reality.”

In May, the Senate passed a version of the bill providing funds for nutrition and farm programs for the next five years. The House rejected a similar full version in June, and then approved a version in July that focused only on farming and excluded nutrition programs.

Stallman, who took over as Farm Bureau president in 2000, said the three biggest reasons why a new, five-year farm bill needs to be passed are certainty for the future, policy reform and improvement, and addressing the national deficit.


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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