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REGIONAL BRIEFS: Man gets 15 years for totem pole death

Credit: Forum News Service

North Dakota

Sonic restaurants likely to spread in N.D.

MINOT, N.D. - The developer of a Sonic fast-food restaurant in Minot says other North Dakota are likely.

Abe Sakak said the plan is to build one in Fargo within the next 18 months and the development group expects to have Sonics in Bismarck, Grand Forks, Dickinson and Williston in the next three to four years

The Minot Sonic is expected to open in April or May.

The Oklahoma City-based restaurant chain is known for its drive-through service, but Sakak said given this region's climate the Sonic being built in Minot will have a dining room.

It is being designed so part of the dining room can be opened to the outdoors during warmer months, Sakak said.


Photographer to visit UND, crew camps

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Photographer Kyle Cassidy is visiting the University of North Dakota on Friday to present his ideas on visual storytelling and how the medium of photography has changed over the past decade.

Cassidy, who has been documenting America since the 1990s, is giving a presentation at noon in the East Asia Room in the Chester Fritz Library.

He will also join UND professors William Caraher and Bret Weber that day to take photos in the western part of the state, where the professors have been working on their North Dakota Man Camp Project. The project has been studying the special housing arrangements oilfield workers have using in Williston and Watford City.

Cassidy has previously photographed a wide range of subjects, including music subcultures, politicians and science fiction fans. Cassidy's previous work has been collected in the books "Armed America: Portraits of Gun Owners in Their Homes" and "War Paint: Tattoo Culture and the Armed Forces." His current project is called "Where I Write: Fantasy and Science Fiction Authors in their Creative Spaces."



Truck's load hits bridge, hits car, kills driver

MILAN, Minn. -- A Granite Falls man was killed early Monday morning when a truck carrying an oversized load struck an overhead railroad bridge, causing the load to smash into the man's car.

George J. Piasecki, 61, was killed when the load came off a semitrailer on Minnesota Highway 7/U.S. Highway 59 north of Milan in west-central Minnesota, according to the State Patrol's online report.

A 2012 Kenworth driven by Dennis R. Clark, 66, of Vernal, Utah, was southbound before 7 a.m. when the oversized load struck an overhead railroad bridge. The load landed on 2004 Toyota Camry being driven northbound by Piasecki.

Clark suffered no apparent injury.

The car was totaled, and the truck had moderate damage.

The accident led to the highway being closed all of Monday morning.


Group lobbies for pro-solar policies

DULUTH -- Two changes to Minnesota laws limiting solar power production could help boost local jobs, reduce emissions and move the state toward energy independence.

And the effort won't cost taxpayers a dime.

That was the assessment Monday from the group Minnesota 2020, which called on the 2013 state Legislature to get rid of the current 40-kilowatt cap placed on homes and businesses with solar electric panels tied into the electric grid.

Minnesota law requires utilities to buy excess electricity from grid-tied solar systems, but only up to 40 kilowatts. If that cap was removed, homeowners and businesses could expand their solar capacity and sell their extra electricity to the utilities, said Matt Entenza, senior policy director for Minnesota 2020, a progressive-leaning social policy think tank.

The group also called on the Legislature to remove a current law prohibiting third-party investors from building solar electric systems on homes or businesses and then selling that power to utilities.


Man gets 15 years for totem pole death

INTERNATIONAL FALLS, Minn. -- The man who pleaded guilty to unintentional second-degree murder for killing his wife with a 17-foot-long, 700-pound totem pole was sentenced Monday to 15 years --the maximum allowed under court guidelines.

Carl Muggli, 51, of Ray, admitted in a plea hearing in State District Court last month that he raised a 5-foot wooden-handled cant hook -- used for lifting, turning and prying logs -- two-handed over his head in a threatening motion while his wife recoiled in fear, fell backward and knocked a 17-foot-long, 700-plus-pound totem pole out of its cradle system onto her head and chest, leading to the injuries that caused Linda Muggli's death.

Muggli said that he and his wife were in a heated argument about his Internet romance with an Alabama woman at the time of the incident.

Koochiching County Sheriff Brian Jespersen was the lead investigator in the case when he was his office's chief deputy. Jespersen said in an interview that the defendant's version of events didn't square with the results of an investigation done by his office and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. He said the manner of Linda Muggli's death isn't exactly known, but he doesn't believe that it was an accident that the log landed on her.


Woman who left child in car to gamble sentenced

CARLTON, Minn. -- A Cloquet woman who left her baby in the car while she went inside Black Bear Casino to gamble was sentenced Monday to a year in jail, with most of that time to be served on probation or already served.

Depending on the results of a review hearing set for Aug. 21, Jordanne Teryce Setterquist, 26, won't serve more than 47 days.

Setterquist's attorney, Sonia Sturdevant, told Carlton County Judge Dale Wolf that her client has been threatened since news stories were published about her case.

Setterquist pleaded guilty to one count of fifth-degree drug possession and one count of contributing to the need for child protection, while three other charges were dropped: a second drug possession charge, possession of marijuana in a motor vehicle and possession of drug paraphernalia. On Monday, she also pleaded guilty to an unrelated petty misdemeanor charge of shoplifting.

Setterquist was arrested June 16 after Fond du Lac police officers were dispatched to the casino parking lot on a report of an infant who left unattended in a vehicle in the casino parking lot for about 45 minutes.


Deer smashes patrol car

MENTOR, Minn. -- A Minnesota State Patrol squad car was damaged Monday morning when it was struck by a deer near Mentor in northwest Minnesota

Trooper Rick Olson was southbound on Polk County 12 at 7:03 a.m., when a deer darted out of the ditch and struck his police cruiser in the driver's side door, according to the state patrol.

The vehicle sustained about $3,400 in damage, according to Sgt. Jesse Grabow. The driver was not injured. As for the deer, police are not quite so sure.

"The deer ran away," he said. "It was a hit-and-run."