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REGIONAL BRIEFS: Body found along St. Croix River

From the Forum News Service

North Dakota

1 killed when train hits car

WEST FARGO, N.D. -- At least one person is dead after a train and pickup collided about 1:45 p.m. Tuesday near West Fargo.

Detective Joel Stading of the Cass County Sheriff's Office said the driver of the truck was pronounced dead at the scene.

The BNSF train collided with the truck at a marked intersection west of West Fargo, pushing it about 900 to 1,000 feet west of the gravel intersection.

Authorities will investigate whether crossing arms were operating correctly, but Stading said it appears they were.

Photo 1, Photo 2


Student fees would fund new NDSU aquatic center

FARGO -- North Dakota State University students want to build a new, $11 million swimming facility on campus.

Students would foot the entire bill for the new aquatic center, a facility with competitive and recreational pools to be added to the school's exercise center in north Fargo, through a staggered, $113 increase in annual student fees.

Once finished -- expected in 2017 or 2018 -- students could use the pools for free.

The State Board of Higher Education will discuss on May 23 the plan for the new facility. The board needs to sign off before the project moves ahead.

Construction wouldn't start until at least 2015 because the Legislature also needs to approve the project. The Legislature doesn't reconvene until early 2015.

NDSU students held an election in April to weigh in on the project. Of the 2,400 who voted -- about 18 percent of the student body -- 60 percent approved of building the swimming pool using student fees.

Starting this fall, NDSU students would pay $58 more a year in fees to cover the construction costs for the 29,000-square-foot addition to the school's Wallman Wellness Center. Another $54 increase would be added starting in fall 2016.


Male body found near Williston

WILLISTON, N.D. - Authorities discovered a man's body seven miles east of Williston on Tuesday while executing a search warrant, said the Williams County Sheriff's office.

The body was found during the course of the search, which began about 8 a.m. Tuesday involving the sheriff's office and the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

The body is being sent to the North Dakota State Medical Examiner's Office for identification and cause of death.

Sgt. Detective Caleb Fry said authorities were waiting on positive identification before commenting further.

A rancher from the Williston area has been missing since last month.

It was unknown if authorities believe the body Tuesday is that of the missing man, Jack Sjol.

The sheriff's office has said foul play is suspected in the disappearance of Sjol, 58, who has not been heard from since April 24.


Legislators seek state mineral revenue protection

WASHINGTON -- A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers introduced legislation Tuesday that would give states the option to collect their own share of revenue generated from energy development on federal lands.

Currently, mineral revenue from development on federal lands is paid to the federal government and then distributed to the states.

Legislation introduced in both the Senate and the House would prohibit the federal government from withholding mineral royalties and would eliminate a 2 percent fee the federal government charges for collecting the revenue. The federal government would still keep its 50 percent share of mineral revenue under the legislation.

Among the sponsors are North Dakota Sens. Heidi Heitkamp and John Hoeven and Rep. Kevin Cramer.



Body found along St. Croix River

LAKELAND, Minn. -- Washington County authorities are investigating human remains found Tuesday along the St. Croix River in Minnesota.

According to a news release from the sheriff's department, officers received a report at 11:38 a.m. Tuesday of a possible dead body on the shore of the St. Croix River in Lakeland.

Deputies said the remains were in "a significant state of decomposition" from having been in the water for a long time. Immediate identification of the remains was not made.

The remains were turned over to the Ramsey County Medical Examiner's Office.


Fires break out in north-central Minnesota

RED LAKE, Minn. -- Citing extreme weather conditions that have sparked 25 wildfires across the state, Gov. Mark Dayton on Tuesday issued an emergency executive order providing assistance to battle the blazes.

The order will assist the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center in fighting the fires, including two north of Red Lake.

Dale Zeidlik and his wife, Arnetta, didn't know they would be on the frontline of the wildfires.

But standing outside his home, near where the River Road fire began in north-central Minnesota on Monday morning, Red Lake Fire Chief Mark Sigana confirmed the Zeidliks were the first to call in one of two fires that nearly 50 firefighters continued to battle Tuesday night.

"This is the biggest in my time here," said Sigana, chief for the past three years and a firefighter for 14 years before that.

The River Road fire spread in grass marshes about 20 miles northwest of Red Lake, and was being fought by 15 firefighters. Its sister blaze, the Buffalo Ranch fire, had burned 4,900 acres by Tuesday afternoon, according to Jean Good, a spokeswoman for the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center. Fifty firefighters fought flames at Buffalo Ranch.

Beyond the two fires near Red Lake, portions of Park Rapids were being evacuated Tuesday evening due to a wildfire there, where winds nearing 30 mph were reported. Northwest of Red Lake, firefighters contended with gusts of up to 40 mph, Sigana said.


South Dakota

Bogus stop can still lead to DUI charge, court rules

WESSINGTON SPRINGS, S.D. -- Even though the reason he was stopped turned out to be bogus, a Jerauld County man still must face a drunken driving charge.

The South Dakota Supreme Court has ruled that a circuit judge was wrong to suppress evidence of drunken driving obtained after Brian Amick was pulled over in 2011. A sheriff's deputy stopped Amick because the deputy could not see a rear license plate on Amick's vehicle. There was in fact a dealer plate in the rear window, and Amick used that fact to persuade a judge to suppress evidence of drunken driving obtained during the stop.

But in a decision filed May 8, the state Supreme Court reversed an earlier decision by the judge that had suppressed the evidence and dismissed Amick's drunken driving case.

The Supreme Court found that even if the deputy had seen Amick's valid temporary license, he is still permitted to make contact with Amick, explain the reason for the stop and tell him he is free to go.

Because Amick saw an open beer bottle in Amick's pickup, he was then justified in expanding the stop to investigate his new suspicion of criminal activity, the decision says.

The Supreme Court remanded the case back to circuit court.