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REGIONAL BRIEFS: House fire investigated as arson

From the Forum News Service

North Dakota

Highway 85 enforcement nets 125 citations

DICKINSON, N.D. - A law enforcement saturation on U.S. Highway 85 in southwest North Dakota on Sunday resulted in 125 citations.

The North Dakota Highway Patrol and the Billings County Sheriff's Office conducted patrols Sunday in an effort to increase traffic safety on busy two-lane roads in western North Dakota.

Highway Patrol Sgt. Daniel Haugen said troopers said Sunday brings an increase in traffic to Highway 85 due to people returning to work.

The 125 citations were primarily for speeding and came from Bowman, Slope, Stark and Billings counties, Haugen said.

The effort also resulted in two arrests for driving with a suspended license, one arrest for driving without insurance and 34 warnings.

The saturation aimed to reduce traffic crashes and accident-causing violations.


Dalrymple names director of Human Services

BISMARCK -- Gov. Jack Dalrymple has appointed Maggie Anderson the new director of the Department of Human Services, the state's largest department boasting more than 2,000 employees and an almost $2.6 billion budget.

Anderson has been serving as the interim director since August 2012, after the retirement of Carol Olson.

"It takes a lot of talent to fill this role," Dalrymple said during a Monday afternoon news conference. "I felt good Maggie has demonstrated to us her ability to do this well."

Anderson joined the department in February 2003 as the deputy director of medical services. She previously served as an assistant director of a child nutrition program in the Department of Public Instruction from 1989 until 2003.

Anderson holds a bachelor of science degree in food and nutrition from North Dakota State University and holds a master's in management from the University of Mary.

Anderson will receive an annual salary of $154,000.


North Dakotans rank in top 5 enjoyment poll

FARGO - North Dakota was named one of the top five states where people experience the most enjoyment, according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.

North Dakota was fourth, behind Hawaii, Wyoming and Utah. Idaho rounded out the fifth spot.

Rhode Island experienced the least enjoyment, followed by Kentucky, New Jersey, New York and West Virginia, according to the survey.

The index also ranked states where people are the most and least stressed out.

Hawaii took the less-stressed title while West Virginians were crowned the most-stressed out.


Flags to fly at half-staff in honor of Gov. Guy

BISMARCK - Gov. Jack Dalrymple has directed all state government agencies and encouraged all North Dakotans to fly the U.S. and North Dakota flags at half-staff to honor the life and legacy of former Gov. William Guy, who passed away last week at the age of 93.

The directive is in effect from sunrise today until sunset Thursday.

Memorial services will be held Tuesday in Fargo and Thursday in Bismarck, with a private burial to follow at the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery in Mandan.


Wahpeton man pleads guilty in child porn case

MINNEAPOLIS - A Wahpeton, N.D., man has pleaded guilty to distributing child pornography from his collection of more than 75,000 images and more than 1,800 videos, some of which were sadistic, masochistic, or otherwise violent in nature, according to the U.S. Attorney here.

William Robert Upshaw, 41, pleaded guilty Monday in U.S. District Court to one count of distributing child pornography on Aug. 19, 2011, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney B. Todd Jones.

Jones said as part of Upshaw's plea agreement, Upshaw admitted he distributed one or more items of child pornography from about 75,775 images and 1,880 videos in his possession.

Jones said Upshaw faces a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison, with a mandatory minimum penalty of 15 years.

Judge Michael J. Davis will determine his sentence at a hearing yet to be scheduled.


Man sets himself on fire

WATFORD CITY, N.D. -- A suicidal man set himself on fire as law enforcement personnel watched Sunday morning in McKenzie County.

The McKenzie County Sheriff's Office reported they responded to a call of a suicidal man in his pickup in the Outsiders Bar and Grill parking lot in Watford City at 9:25 a.m. Sunday.

When officers arrived two minutes later, they saw a man pouring gasoline on himself. As officers tried to talk to the man, he climbed into his pickup truck and started himself on fire.

Officers were able to extinguish the flames but not before the man suffered serious burns. He was transported to the Regions Burn Unit in St. Paul. His condition has not been released.

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Man accused of leading diesel theft ring

WATFORD CITY, N.D. -- A Watford City man is accused of leading several juveniles in a crime ring to steal diesel fuel over a one-year period.

Tyler DeFoe, 21, is facing charges of leading a criminal association, criminal conspiracy and five counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, Class B felonies and Class A misdemeanors, according to court documents. DeFoe allegedly used five minor boys to scout out sites, steal fuel and help him conceal it.

"The defendant would intimidate or use physical force against anyone who did not agree to follow his direction in his criminal enterprise," according to a complaint filed earlier this month.

In the one-year period, DeFoe is accused of being the "ring leader" and "master manipulator" in 16 diesel fuel thefts in McKenzie County, according to a document from the McKenzie County Sheriff's Office.

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Man dies in fall at lumber mill

BEMIDJI, Minn. -- A Grand Rapids man died Saturday after a fall at a Bemidji lumber mill.

According to a press release from the Hubbard County Sheriff's Office, Mitchell Harthan, 23, of Grand Rapids was pronounced dead on Saturday at the Potlatch Lumber Mill located in northern Hubbard County.

At 1:27 p.m. the Hubbard County Sheriff's Office received a call that Harthan had fallen from a catwalk 40 to 50 feet above the ground. He was unresponsive when found by co-workers.

The incident remains under investigation by the Hubbard County Sheriff's Office and OSHA.


House fire investigated as arson

DULUTH -- Authorities are treating the blaze that forced a mother and young son to flee their Duluth home early Wednesday as an arson fire.

The fire was reported at 1:43 a.m. The mother and her son escaped after smoke detectors woke the 4-year-old boy. No one was injured in blaze.

The first firefighters on the scene found an enclosed front porch in flames. They contained the fire to the porch, but the entire structure had significant smoke and heat damage. Estimates at the time placed damages at $25,000 to the structure and $15,000 to its contents.

A reward of up to $2,500 is available for information leading to the identification of the person or persons responsible for the fire. Anyone with information can contact the Duluth Fire Marshal's office at (218) 730-4397 or the Minnesota Arson Reward Project at (800) 723-2020.