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REGIONAL BRIEFS: Seaplane crash-lands on Ely lake; no injuries

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Minn., N.D. earn high marks for child well-being

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Minnesota ranks fourth nationally in overall child well-being, with North Dakota just two slots behind at sixth, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2013 Kids Count Data Book.

In addition to overall national rankings, the annual assessment rates each state in four categories: economic well-being, family and community, education, and health.

Minnesota maintained its decade-long streak of landing in the top five for overall child well-being, ranking high in the categories of family and community, economic well-being and education. As for health, Minnesota ranks 15th, most notably indicated by about 80,000 children living without health insurance.

North Dakota ranks first in economic well-being, with the state having the smallest proportion of children with parents lacking secure employment.

But North Dakota fell behind in education and health, where it ranks 16th and 25th, respectively.

The data show that nearly two-thirds of fourth-graders lack proficiency in reading and over half of eighth-graders lack proficiency in math.

Also, the child death rate in North Dakota ranks 41st in the U.S. and the percentage of babies born with low birth weight increased from 6.4 percent in 2005 to 6.7 percent in 2010.

For the full list of state rankings and data, visit


North Dakota

Painted Canyon staying open an extra month

DICKINSON, N.D. -- The Painted Canyon Overlook will now be open until November.

A one-month extension of the operating hours for the scenic rest area off Interstate 94 just east of Medora was made possible through a donation from the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation, according to a release Tuesday from the office of Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D.

“We are grateful that the community has come together and found a way to keep the Painted Canyon Overlook open longer,” Hoeven said in a statement. “We appreciate the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation for securing the additional funding to ensure that the public can enjoy the beauty of our Badlands for an additional month.”

Because of budget concerns caused by the so-called federal sequestration this year, Theodore Roosevelt National Park officials had announced that the overlook would not be open for its regular hours this summer. But Hoeven initiated a working group that included local and state leaders in an attempt to keep the canyon open following the announcement.

Open since late May, the canyon features a visitors center that is staffed by park employees from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday during the summer.


Suit challenges two anti-abortion laws

BISMARCK -- Legal counsel for the state’s only abortion clinic filed a lawsuit Tuesday in federal court here against the state over two recently passed anti-abortion laws.

The Center for Reproductive Rights, on behalf of the Red River Women’s Clinic in Fargo, filed a suit arguing laws that prohibit an abortion once a heartbeat is detected and abortions on the basis of gender or genetic abnormality are unconstitutional.

North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, Cass County State’s Attorney Birch Burdick and the North Dakota Board of Medical Examiners are listed as defendants in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court.

The suit comes a day after a failed attempt to refer the laws to a statewide vote, and joins the clinic’s May 14 lawsuit challenging another law passed this year requiring physicians performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

Supporters of abortion rights have said the heartbeat law could outlaw abortion as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.

The new prohibitions on abortion, passed by state lawmakers this year, would take effect Aug. 1. The lawsuit seeks a court order to stop them from being enforced until their legality is settled in court.


Name of victim in fiery crash released

STANLEY, N.D. -- One of three people killed last week in a multiple-vehicle crash involving an oil tanker that exploded was identified Tuesday as Tyler Fischer, 23, of Minot, the North Dakota Highway Patrol said.

Authorities withheld the release of his name until receiving positive confirmation from the medical examiner, said Capt. Gary Orluck.

Heavy fog contributed to a five-vehicle crash Friday morning east of Stanley on U.S. Highway 2, which caused an oil tanker to explode on impact and several other vehicles to burn for hours.

Official confirmation of the other two victims’ identities will require DNA analysis, which could take several weeks, Orluck said.

A death notice in the Wahpeton Daily News identified one victim as Patrick David Wilkie, 26, of Minot, formerly of Wahpeton.

The third is a 41-year-old Minot man, the Highway Patrol said. Three other people were injured in the crash, which closed the highway for much of Friday.


Woman killed in semi-pickup collision

OAKES, N.D. -- A woman was killed Tuesday morning when a semi struck the pickup she was driving to work.

The woman was southbound on state Highway 1 about 9 a.m. from her home to her place of business about two miles south of Oakes, according to a news release from the North Dakota Highway Patrol. The woman started to turn left into the business’s driveway when she was hit by the northbound semi.

The semi driver tried to stop to avoid the crash but was unable. The speed limit for the highway in that area is 65 mph.

Both vehicles came to rest in a ditch, and both were considered totaled.

The driver of the semi, Eric Taylor, 28, of Britton, S.D., was driving from Hecia, S.D., to Oakes. Taylor was not injured.

The woman’s name had not yet been released. She was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash, the patrol said.



Seaplane crash-lands on Ely lake; no injuries

ELY, Minn. -- A small seaplane apparently crash-landed Tuesday afternoon onto Shagawa Lake in Ely, the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office reported. Its two passengers were not injured.

A 911 call came in to the county dispatch center at 12:55 p.m. about a 2000 Aviat Husky plane crashing on Olson’s Bay, Lt. Jason Akerson said. Witnesses said the pilot was trying to land the plane when it went down hard onto the water.

Pilot Timothy Breuhl and his wife, Judy, were rescued by a nearby boater, Akerson said. Both are 62 and from Paradise Valley, Ariz.

The St. Louis County Rescue Squad was working to take the badly damaged plane off the water late in the afternoon. The accident remains under investigation by county and Federal Aviation Administration officials.


Man indicted on multiple murder counts in Alexandria stabbing

ALEXANDRIA, Minn. -- A Douglas County grand jury has returned a three-count murder indictment against an Alexandria man in the stabbing death of another man June 1 in Alexandria.

The indictment returned June 19 charges Kody Klimek, 25, with two counts of second-degree murder and one count of third-degree murder. Phillip Altstadt, 28, of Alexandria, died of a stab wound June 1 near the Lincoln Estates apartments.

Klimek has been held in the Douglas County Jail since June 1 on a criminal complaint for second-degree murder with unconditional bail set at $1 million.

Klimek was transported to court June 20 and was advised of the indictment. He remains in custody. A July 5 court date is scheduled.


Reward offered in Moorhead man’s killing

MOORHEAD, Minn. -- Police here are offering a $1,000 reward for information in the killing of an 87-year-old Moorhead man.

Police are looking specifically for information that would lead to the arrest or conviction of the person or people responsible for the death of Henry “Hank” Volochenko, according to a news release from Moorhead police.

Volochenko’s body was discovered Wednesday night at his home by a friend. Preliminary autopsy results conducted on Volochenko indicate he was killed in an apparent assault. Police have said he died as a “result of trauma by homicidal violence.”

Police also say Volochenko’s black walking cane is missing, and they have urged area residents, particularly those in the downtown area, to look through their property for the cane and anything else unusual.

Police haven’t said that they suspect the missing cane was used in the assault.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is helping with the investigation.



Dynamite found under deceased man’s shed

BIRCHWOOD, Wis. -- Washburn County authorities said Tuesday that they found 60 pounds of high explosives under the floor of a garden shed of a man who recently died.

The dynamite sticks were found by the executor of the man’s estate, who was looking for items to sell in an estate sale. They had been stashed under the floorboards in the metal shed behind the house in Birchwood.

It was reported about 4:15 p.m. Monday, according to a news release from Washburn County Sheriff Terry Dryden.

County officials called in the Marathon/Oneida County Bomb Squad, which removed 30 two-pound sticks of explosives. Authorities evacuated nearby residences while the bomb squad removed the explosives. They later detonated them in a sand/gravel pit outside the village.

There was no explanation for why the man might have stashed the explosives.


Coast Guard rescues two boaters in Apostle Islands

BAYFIELD, Wis. -- The U.S. Coast Guard rescued two boaters Tuesday morning after their 26-foot pleasure craft began taking on water near Hermit Island in the Apostle Islands.

“They were relieved that we showed up in time,” Coast Guard Boatswain’s Mate 2 Shane Robitille said. “Very happy.”

The Coast Guard is not releasing the names or hometowns of the two.

One of the boaters contacted the Coast Guard search-and-rescue controller in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., via VHF-FM marine radio at 6:44 a.m. to report the Sea Ray was taking on water faster than their pumps could handle.

The boaters believed they had struck a submerged log, which tore off the engine’s lower unit. They estimated the boat was taking on about 80 gallons of water a minute.

According to the reporting person, both boaters had put on life jackets.

After receiving the mayday call, the Coast Guard issued urgent marine information broadcasts alerting nearby mariners of the emergency. The search-and-rescue controller also directed the launch of a 45-foot response boat from Coast Guard Station Bayfield and a rescue helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City, Mich.

The Coast Guard boat towed the pleasure boat to Blackhawk marina in Bayfield, where the boat was taken from the water. No injuries were reported.


Jeff Holmquist
Jeff Holmquist has been managing editor of the New Richmond News since 2004. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and business administration from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. He has previously worked as editor in Wadena, Minn.; Detroit Lakes, Minn.; Hutchinson, Minn.; and Bloomington, Minn. He also was previously owner of the Osceola Sun, Stillwater Courier and Scandia Messenger along with his wife. Together they previously founded and published The Old Times newspaper for antiques and collectibles collectors; and Up!, a Christian magazine of hope and encouragement.
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