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REGIONAL BRIEFS: Black bear sightings reported in Cottage Grove

From the Forum News Service

North Dakota

Death near Williston ruled a homicide

WILLISTON, N.D. -- The death of a man whose body was found Tuesday near Williston has been ruled a homicide, the Williams County Sheriff's Office said Wednesday.

The man suffered a fatal gunshot wound, authorities said. The North Dakota State Medical Examiner's Office is still working to positively identify the man.

Authorities have identified a male person of interest who is being held in the Williams County Jail on unrelated charges. The Williams County Sheriff's Office did not release the person of interest's name.

Officers discovered the body after executing a search warrant about 8 a.m. Tuesday at an unidentified location about seven miles east of Williston.


Train victim identified

WEST FARGO, N.D. -- Cass County authorities have identified the Fargo man who died in a collision between a train and a pickup just west of here Tuesday afternoon.

Del Shannon Hiltwein, 40, was the pickup driver found dead after a BNSF train hit his truck, pushing it about 900 to 1,000 feet down the track west from 38th Street Southwest, a gravel road, Cass County Sheriff's department Sgt. Tara Morris said in a news release.

The intersection is about a half-mile north of Interstate 94, about four miles west of West Fargo.

Morris said deputies were dispatched to the collision at 1:43 p.m.

Morris said the sheriff's department is investigating the collision.


Oil companies continue litter cleanup efforts

TIOGA, N.D. -- Volunteers from oil and gas companies will clean up litter from roadways in Tioga today, continuing the North Dakota Petroleum Council's Pick Up the Patch initiative that has already involved 500 employees this spring.

Dozens of energy companies have helped pick up more than 900 bags of trash and clean 20 miles of roadway in western North Dakota during the past four weeks. Cleanup efforts have been held in New Town, Williston and Dickinson.

Today's event focuses on the Tioga area and an event Friday focuses on the Minot area.

The North Dakota Petroleum Council launched the campaign last spring to clean up debris left behind after the snow melted. Last year, more than 70 companies and 1,000 volunteers picked up more than 200 miles of roadways.


Binford man accused of attempted murder

COOPERSTOWN, N.D. -- A Griggs County man allegedly ran over two women during a domestic dispute Monday and fled to Illinois, where he is being held, the sheriff's department here said Wednesday.

The department is working to extradite Tyronza Watkins, 36, of Binford, to face charges of attempted murder and reckless endangerment.

Injured were Jessica Overby, 28, whom Watkins lived with in Binford, and Dawn Leininger, 41. They were taken to the hospital in Cooperstown before being airlifted to a hospital in Fargo. Overby was released Tuesday, but Leininger remained hospitalized.

A sheriff's deputy arrived Monday at the home Watkins and Overby shared to find a bystander pulling a person out from under a Chevrolet Avalanche truck, which had been driven into the west side of the house.

The witness told the deputy that Watkins was seen fleeing in a maroon Oldsmobile Bravada with large chrome wheels and tires. A description and photo of the vehicle led police in Bloomington, Ill., to stop Watkins on an interstate highway. He is now at the McLean County jail there.

The case is under investigation and other charges are possible, the Griggs County Sheriff's Department said.



Black bear sightings reported in Cottage Grove

COTTAGE GROVE, Minn. -- Police said a black bear was spotted multiple times early Wednesday in this Twins Cities suburb, first in a residential neighborhood, then in a park and later along Highway 61.

A resident called police about 12:30 a.m. after seeing a bear in a backyard. A police officer found the bear and watched it make its way through multiple yards, according to the police report.

Police contacted the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, which advised to monitor the animal and let it wander until it returns to a nonresidential area.

Emergency dispatch received two more reported sightings, one from a caller who spotted a bear in Hearthside Park and another from someone who saw it behind a restaurant.

Then, about 8:40 a.m. a caller reported seeing a bear near a guardrail along Highway 61 in St. Paul Park.

DNR officials told police that as long as it wasn't creating a hazard or safety concern, they should let it wander back into a rural area.


Increased seat belt patrols start Monday

MOORHEAD, Minn. -- Extra Click It or Ticket seat belt patrols will take to the roads in Minnesota starting Monday through June 2.

Nearly 400 state agencies will increase patrols to encourage motorists to buckle up.

In the last three years on Minnesota roads, there were 864 traffic deaths, 352 of which involved failure to buckle up, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety.

Drivers and passengers, including those in the back seat, must be belted.

Minnesota child car seat laws state:

-- Children under age 8 should ride in a federally approved car seat or booster, unless the child is 4 feet 9 inches or taller.

-- Rear-facing infant seats: newborns to at least 1 year and 20 pounds; recommended up to age 2; it is safest to keep a child rear-facing as long as possible.

-- Forward-facing toddler seats: age 2 until around age 4; it's preferable to keep children in a harnessed restraint as long as possible.

-- Booster seats: Use once they have outgrown a forward-facing harnessed restraint; safest to remain in a booster until 4 feet 9 inches tall, or at least age 8.

-- Seat belts: Children are ready for an adult seat belt when they can sit with their back against the vehicle seat, knees bent comfortably and completely over the vehicle seat edge without slouching, and feet touching the floor; children 4 feet 9 inches tall or taller can correctly fit in a lap/shoulder belt.



School district mourns after two students commit suicide

HAMMOND, Wis. -- The St. Croix Central School District is mourning the loss of two high school students.

A statement by high school Principal Glen Webb on the district's website said sophomore Erika Borgstrom, 16, and senior Dakotah Coach, 18, took their own lives early Tuesday.

"They will be missed greatly by all who knew them," the statements reads. "Our thoughts, prayers and support go out to their families, friends and the entire community during this very difficult time."

Media reports indicate Borgstrom and Coach jumped from the Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis. The search for their bodies continues.

St. Croix Central students were given the news shortly after school began Tuesday. Counselors and clergy members are available to meet with students and staff over the next few weeks.

Coach and Borgstrom went missing Friday. At about 6:30 p.m., Borgstrom texted her mother that she would be home shortly. A short time later, relatives and friends of the girl received a text stating "I LOVE YOU." No further contact with Borgstrom was reported.

According to an alert issued by the St. Croix County Sheriff's Office and the Wisconsin Crime Alert Network, Borgstrom had just received her driver's license Friday. She then left home in her parents' vehicle.