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REGIONAL BRIEFS: Man accused kidnapping his daughter

From the Forum Communications News Bureau


Crystal union members picket board members (FF)

CROOKSTON, Minn. - As the American Crystal Sugar lockout drags into its 13th month, union members are taking the fight to the doorstep of the company's directors.

Locked-out workers demonstrated in front of the homes of Crystal directors Wednesday for the second day in a row, in a bid to drive home the lockout's human toll.

"We can't let board members live in ivory towers when it's under their control," said Todd Anderson, an AFL-CIO leader who is helping coordinate the demonstrations. "In the morning and in the evening, they should have to look a locked-out worker in the face."

Workers are gathering in groups of two to six in multiple locations to begin and end the work day, Anderson said. He said the demonstrations are not meant to overwhelm neighborhoods with protests or picket lines.

"It's more of a vigil," he said.

He said the demonstrations will continue indefinitely. Workers were outside five homes on Tuesday in Crookston, Ada and East Grand Forks in Minnesota and Drayton and Minto in North Dakota.

Body of man missing since May found (DNT)

DULUTH -- A man with Twin Cities and Iron Range connections reported missing by friends four months ago was found dead Tuesday in a vehicle along a logging road in northern St. Louis County. Foul play is not suspected, officials said.

The St. Louis County Sheriff's Office reported that a hiker found the body of Andrew Wagner, 48, in a wooded area off the North Ash Lake Road near Orr early Tuesday afternoon.

Authorities who responded to the scene determined that the vehicle belonged to Wagner, and later determined that the body inside the vehicle was that of Wagner.

Wagner had been last seen May 3 at Greenwood Cemetery in Virginia, Minn. Wagner had residences in Cherry and in northeast Minneapolis near the former Ritz Theater, where he had been the artistic director.

Storms start more fires, fail to douse them (DNT)

ELY, Minn. -- Thunderstorms that crossed the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness on Tuesday night and Wednesday produced lighting that sparked several new forest fires, but officials said it didn't offer enough rain to help snuff any blazes.

The U.S. Forest Service said the Cummings Lake fire, about 12 miles northwest of Ely, covered about 50 acres Wednesday after more-accurate GPS readings were used to determine the fire's perimeter.

Some 18 personnel were on the ground Wednesday working to create a line around the fire and had nearly half the fire encircled as of Wednesday afternoon.

The storms brought up to 0.8 inches of rain to areas near Cook and Orr but little rain on the Cummings Lake fire area.

Superior National Forest officials reported at least five new fires smoking late Tuesday and Wednesday, sparked by lighting that came with little or no rain. So far most of those fires remained small, with ground crews and aircraft responding quickly to douse them before they can grow.

Storms also tore across northern St. Louis County on Tuesday and knocked out power to more than 2,000 customers and dropped hail as large as quarters.

Virginia hospital partners with Essentia (DNT, filed Tuesday)

VIRGINIA, Minn. -- On a 5-2 vote, the Virginia City Council on Tuesday approved an affiliation deal with Duluth's Essentia Health, sacrificing local control of the city-owned Virginia Regional Medical Center in return for a multimillion-dollar cash infusion.

Approval of the deal, which had been explored for two years, required a two-thirds majority, meaning one more "no" vote would have sunk the proposal. Mayor Steve Peterson, who voted against affiliation along with Councilor Nevada Littlewolf, tried to rally other councilors to his side, citing what he called past broken promises by Essentia in relation to the clinic it runs adjacent to the hospital.

Man killed in rollover accident (FF)

RICHWOOD, Minn. - A man is dead after he apparently was ejected from an SUV in a rollover accident just east of Richwood, the Becker County Sheriff's Office reported.

At about 7:45 a.m. Wednesday, a passer-by reported a vehicle that was rolled over on County Highway 34 just east of Richwood, or about 12 miles north of Detroit Lakes.

Officers arrived and found a rolled SUV and a deceased male who appeared to have been ejected from the vehicle, Sheriff Tim Gordon stated in a news release. The man's name was being withheld pending notification of family, the release stated.


Thompson man injured in grain auger accident (GFH)

HONEYFORD, N.D. -- A Thompson, N.D., man was injured Wednesday after his foot became caught in a grain auger.

David Brazee, 59, was shoveling inside a grain bin at the Honeyford Elevator when his foot slipped into the chute and became lodged in the auger system. Brazee was able to make contact with someone inside the grain house by radio and the emergency shut-off was activated, according to the Grand Forks County Sheriff's Department.

Brazee was removed from the auger by Gilby Fire and Rescue members, along with Altru ambulance personnel.

He was taken to Altru Hospital in Grand Forks by ambulance, where he was treated and released, according to a nursing supervisor.

UND med school named a national research center (GFH)

GRAND FORKS, N.D. - For the first time, the Center for Rural Health at the University of North Dakota's School of Medicine and Health Sciences has been designated as one of six national rural health research centers by the federal Office of Rural Health Policy.

UND was awarded a four-year, $2.64 million grant to operate the Rural Health Reform Policy Research Center.

The research center will conduct at least 16 policy relevant research studies and policy analyses relevant specifically to rural health, especially how health care reform influences rural health care access and delivery.

Among the other research facilities funded is the University of Minnesota's Rural Health Research Center Institution.

City sues glass recycler (FF)

WEST FARGO, N.D., - The city of West Fargo sued a glass recycling company in civil court on Wednesday, claiming Glass Advantage Inc. hasn't followed an order to reduce emissions the city declared to be a public nuisance.

Neighboring businesses complained last year about soot, dust and odor emanating from the facility, saying it was leaving a dust residue on vehicles and causing headaches and rashes for some of their employees.

The City Commission issued an order Aug. 29, 2011, requiring Glass Advantage to submit a plan within two weeks to take care of the public nuisances.

The lawsuit claims the company hasn't submitted a plan.

Man accused of vandalizing transit center (FF)

FARGO - Police say a 29-year-old Fargo man broke a window and computers in the dispatch area of the Ground Transportation Center in downtown Fargo on Tuesday, causing thousands of dollars in damage and forcing the bus depot to close temporarily.

About 7:25 p.m., a witness saw the man run into the GTC from outside and then run around the lobby for a short period of time before running into the glass in the dispatch area, Lt. Joel Vettel said.

The glass broke, and the man climbed through the broken window and started ripping computer monitors off their stands in the control room while yelling incoherently, Vettel said.

When officers arrived, they found the man lying on the lobby floor, covered in blood and bleeding from his nose and arms, Vettel said.

Thon Akuany Chol was arrested on suspicion of felony criminal mischief, contact by bodily fluids and disorderly conduct.


Man accused kidnapping his daughter (DR)

KENNEBEC, S.D. -- A Presho man is accused of kidnapping his 10-year-old daughter, firing a gun near her head, striking her with the butt of a gun and shooting her dog.

Clinton James Brown, 35, was indicted by a grand jury Friday on 14 felony and three misdemeanor charges. He could face a mandatory life sentence if convicted.

According to the indictment, Brown held his daughter in a vehicle and a field for approximately three hours from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. on Aug. 17 before authorities arrived. The indictment alleges Brown choked his daughter, pointed a gun at her, repeatedly fired a gun around her -- including at least one shot near her head -- and struck her with the butt of a gun.

Brown also allegedly shot his daughter's dog on Aug. 15 -- her birthday -- in front of her, "and taunted her about it after she refused to follow his orders to kill the dog for barking."

Brown was allegedly under the influence of methamphetamine and marijuana at the time of the Aug. 17 incident. During a search of the residence, authorities allegedly found methamphetamine, marijuana, two guns, ammunition and drug paraphernalia.