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REGIONAL BRIEFS: Nuclear plant cited by feds

From the Forum News Service


Nuclear plant cited by feds

RED WING, Minn. -- Prairie Island nuclear plant has been cited by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a violation involving the repair of a gas radiation monitor, the federal agency reported Wednesday.

The violation has been assigned a white finding, which indicates low to moderate safety significance.

The monitor, which is located on a ventilation system to detect radiation leaks at the plant, was placed on a repair list in July 2011 and remained out of service for roughly 10 months until plant workers repaired it in May 2012.

The commission decided a white finding was warranted due to the length of time the monitor was out of service, Xcel Energy spokeswoman Mary Sandok said in a statement. The plant has adjusted its processes so radiation monitor repairs will be made in a timely fashion in the future.

"Throughout the time the radiation monitor was out of service, backup measures were in place, the plant operated normally, and there never was any danger to the public or plant workers," Prairie Island site manager Jim Lynch said.

Xcel will have until April 25 to contest the commission's finding, commission spokeswoman Prema Chandrathil said.

The plant is along the Mississippi River near Red Wing.


Steinbach named fire investigator of the year

WILLMAR, Minn. -- Deputy State Fire Marshal and Investigator John Steinbach has been named the 2012 fire investigator of the year by the Minnesota Chapter of the International Association of Arson Investigators.

The award will be presented to Steinbach today at the association's conference in St. Cloud.

Steinbach, who has been a fire marshal and investigator for 16 years, was nominated, in part, for his work as the lead state investigator into the Verso Paper mill fire last May in Sartell. The fire claimed the life of one mill worker, Jon Maus, 51, of Albany, and injured five other workers. The plant, which employed 260 people, was closed.

The blaze burned for several days, and 92 fire departments battled the fire. Steinbach and the team of investigators determined that a lack of water flow to an air compressor caused the compressor to overheat and catch fire, which caused an explosion of an air tank and resulted in the paper-fueled fire.

"I am humbled and very honored," Steinbach said regarding the award. "I don't think that I went above and beyond the call of duty."

Steinbach, of New London, was a volunteer firefighter for 18 years before he became a fire marshal and investigator.


News veteran named Bemidji Pioneer editor

BEMIDJI, Minn. -- Matt Cory, a news veteran who has been witness to major changes transforming the media landscape, was named Wednesday as editor of The Bemidji Pioneer.

"As newspapers have learned in the last 10 years or so, and really ratcheted up in the last five, we have to be a lot of different things to different people," said Cory, who will begin his new position in mid-April. "You want to cover the big stories, but you want to tell the stories of individual people within the community as well."

For the last 19 years, Cory, 42, has been with the Grand Forks Herald in myriad roles, including stints as a reporter in news and sports, copy editor and city editor.

"We are fortunate to hire an editor of Matt Cory's skills and experience," said Pioneer publisher Dennis Doeden. "Matt has a passion for newspapers, and I am excited to add him to our leadership team in Bemidji."

A native of East Grand Forks, Cory attended the University of North Dakota. He will replace Steve Wagner, editor since October 2011. Wagner was named the Herald's editor March 8.


Man charged with assaulting 11-month-old child

HASTINGS, Minn. -- A 22-year-old Hastings man is in the Dakota County Jail after being charged with one felony count of assault in the first degree on an 11-month-old child.

A Hastings woman contacted police March 16 reporting that Steven Edward Dale Wiltermuth had offered to take care of her child overnight and returned the child with numerous injuries.

Court records show an examination at a hospital indicated a fractured bone, some fluid on the brain, many bruises and blisters.

When Wiltermuth was interviewed by police, he claimed that his child "caused all the injuries." A doctor said that the "injuries could not be explained by the action of the other child of around 2-years of age who was present who was present with the 11-month-old on the night of the injuries."

Wiltermuth was arrested March 19. His next court date is set for April 15.


North Dakota

Fire victim identified as Washington man

WILLISTON, N.D. -- Authorities have identified a man who died in Monday's camper fire in rural Williston as Lawrence Norman, 47, of Kelso, Wash.

The Williams County Sheriff's Office is still working to identify a woman who also died in the fire, said Sgt. Detective Caleb Fry.

The cause of the fire, reported at 1:30 a.m. Monday in the 600 block of Riverside Drive near Williston, is under investigation.


Williston ready for its largest job fair

WILLISTON, N.D. -- The largest job fair Williston has seen is planned Thursday as more than 110 employers looking to fill positions in several different fields will participate in the fair put together by North Dakota Job Service.

Marci Seamples, executive director of the Williston Area Chamber of Commerce, said she expects several hundred people to show up to the job fair.

Seamples said past job fairs in oil boomtown have had about 70 to 75 employers.

"We have companies from all over the map," Seamples said. "Even the school districts are participating. We have a really good mix of businesses."

The event at the Airport International Inn in Williston is free and open to the public.

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Jury selection starts Monday for N.D. man's murder trial

HUDSON, Wis -- Jury selection in the trial of a man accused of killing his three daughters last year is scheduled to start Monday

Jury selection was originally scheduled for the Hudson Golf Club facilities because more than 200 potential jurors had been summoned; however the settlement of another civil case has freed up room to move jury selection back to the County Government Center.

Judge Howard Cameron will preside over the trial of Aaron Schaffhausen.

Schaffhausen, 35, of Minot, N.D., is facing three counts of first-degree intentional homicide in the July 10 deaths of his daughters, Amara, 11, Sophie, 8, and Cecilia, 5. He is accused of going to his ex-wife's home in River Falls, Wis., and cutting the girls' throats.

It is the largest number of potential jurors ever called for a case in a St. Croix County, Clerk of Court Lori Meyer said.

Jury selection is scheduled for two consecutive days.

South Dakota

Farm net profit rose 3.3 percent in 2012

MITCHELL, S.D. -- The average farm saw a 3.3 percent increase in net profit from 2011 to 2012, according to financial information compiled from 140 farms enrolled in South Dakota's Center for Farm/Ranch Management.

"Net farm profit is money earned before business expansion, loan principal payments and family living expenses are paid," explained farm management instructor Roger DeRouchey.

Administered by Mitchell Technical Institute, the farm program helps producers improve their management skills. It has instructors in Mitchell, Watertown, Aberdeen, Pierre and Rapid City.

The average net profit of the enrolled farmers and ranchers in the program was $228,908 in 2011 and, despite the drought, that increased to $236,437 in 2012.

The 2011 farming year was good for both livestock and crop enterprises, but in 2012 livestock enterprises barely broke even because of higher feed prices, the center found. Grain producers were helped by higher grain and feed prices as well as returns from crop insurance.

The average farm enrolled in the management program spent $62,940 for living expenses and earned $20,886 from nonfarm sources.