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REGIONAL BRIEFS: Wisconsin increases wolf quota from previous year

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North Dakota

Gabby Giffords to push gun control in N.D. visit

FARGO -- Former Arizona U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords and her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, will visit North Dakota next week as part of a nationwide tour to push for stricter gun control.

Giffords was shot in the head in Tucson, Ariz. in January 2011 at a public meet and greet. According to a news release, Giffords and Kelly will arrive in North Dakota on July 3, but where they will visit hasn’t been announced. A schedule of public appearances will be released in the next week.

Several stops of the seven-state tour are in states in which a senator is seen as a swing vote, such as Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., who voted against a proposal this year to expand federal background checks for gun gales. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., also voted against the proposal.

According to a poll commissioned by the gun violence prevention group founded by Giffords and Kelly, 79 percent of North Dakotans support expanded background checks when buying a gun.


Cain out as Spirit Lake chief judge

FORT TOTTEN, N.D. -- Shirley Cain, chief judge of the Spirit Lake Tribal Court, was removed from office Wednesday by order of the Tribal Council.

Cain said she had tendered her resignation Friday, making it effective in 30 days, as required by her contract with the tribe, but she received a letter Wednesday from Chairman Roger Yankton directing her to leave the office.

“The tribe let me go today,” she said. “They want me out immediately. They kicked me out.”

Cain, who has been chief tribal judge for about 15 months -- through the child protection crisis that has roiled and occupied the reservation -- said she was notified of her immediate dismissal first by El Marie Conklin, who has been acting as a special tribal judge, and later by Yankton.

A Tribal Court clerk confirmed that Cain is gone, but she had no further information.

Because she is waiting for final paperwork and her last check from the tribe, Cain said she was reluctant to explain immediately her reasons for offering her resignation last week. But the recent case of a Spirit Lake toddler dying after being removed from a Bismarck foster home and returned to a family member on the reservation was a factor, she said.

It was an order from Cain’s court that brought the child back to Spirit Lake.



Sen. Thompson enters GOP governor race

ST. PAUL -- Dave Thompson, who made his name as a conservative talk show host, says he stands out from other Republican gubernatorial candidates because he can work with Democrats and Republicans alike.

“I don’t like to put one set of Minnesotans against another,” the state senator said Wednesday as he became the fourth person to join the GOP race to take on Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton next year. “I will be there for that farmer ... that window maker in Warroad ... that shoemaker in Red Wing and ... that single mother in East Grand Forks,” he said.

Thompson, like other Republicans, criticized a $2 billion tax increase the Democratic-controlled Legislature and Dayton approved this year. He also called for financial help, perhaps in the form of a tuition tax credit, that would allow parents to put their children in private schools if their local public schools are not adequate.

Thompson, 52, an assistant Senate minority leader, is a former KSTP radio talk show host, a lawyer and state senator since 2011. His district serves parts of Dakota and Goodhue counties.

He joins former House Speaker Kurt Zellers, Jeff Johnson and Scott Honour in seeking the GOP nomination.


Sanford to build new clinic in Bagley

BAGLEY, Minn. -- Sanford Health has broken ground here on a new $1.5 million clinic.

The new clinic, which will be three times the size of the current clinic, will provide one central location, enhancing the coordination of patient care.

Sanford Bagley Medical Center will continue to provide inpatient services to those requiring surgery and hospitalization. The existing Sanford Bagley Clinic will be used for other outpatient visits and ancillary services.

The new clinic is expected to open in the fall or winter of 2013.


Man rescued after plane crashes in Itasca County lake

GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. -- Authorities are investigating an Itasca County plane crash that injured a Grand Rapids man Tuesday afternoon.

Shortly after 5 p.m., the Itasca County Sheriff’s Department received a report of a float plane that had crashed into Shoal Lake five miles north of Grand Rapids. Personnel with the sheriff’s department, Itasca County Search and Rescue, Cohasset fire and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources responded to the scene, where a float plane partially submerged was found. The pilot and only occupant, Gerard Dale Pearson, 71, was rescued from the plane.

Pearson was taken to Grand Itasca Medical Center and later was airlifted to Duluth. Beth Johnson, a spokeswoman with Essentia Health in Duluth, said Pearson was in good condition and would be released Wednesday.

The cause of the crash is under investigation.


South Dakota

Freeman police chief pleads guilty to drug charge

FREEMAN, S.D. -- Freeman’s police chief pleaded guilty Wednesday to obtaining a controlled substance from different practitioners.

Eric Seitz, 35, appeared for a status hearing at the Yankton County Courthouse but ended up changing his plea after agreeing to a plea bargain.

The state dropped two of three original charges, and Seitz pleaded guilty to obtaining hydrocodone from different medical practitioners at the same time, a misdemeanor.

He was also sentenced by Judge Tami Bern. She fined Seitz $300, ordered him to pay $84 in court costs and $63.11 in prosecution costs, and to get a chemical dependency evaluation. He will serve 60 days of unsupervised probation.

Seitz is still Freeman’s police chief, said City Attorney Mike Fink.

“He is presently on suspended status,” Fink said. “The city’s going to have to make decisions based on his criminal case. They’re going to have to look and see what his sentence is, and it depends on what happens with the state certification training board.”

Court records state that between Aug. 1 and Aug. 31, Seitz obtained prescriptions for hydrocodone, a pain reliever, and another for carisprodol, a muscle relaxant. Between Oct. 1 and Oct. 31, he obtained prescriptions for hydrocodone from different practitioners.

He was originally charged with three counts of obtaining hydrocodone and carisprodol from different medical practitioners at the same time.



Wisconsin increases wolf quota from previous year

MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin wolf hunters and trappers will have a quota of 275 wolves this fall, up from a quota of 201 last year, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources announced Wednesday.

The state’s Natural Resources Board approved the 2013 Wisconsin wolf season quota Wednesday. The quota was set with the intention of continuing to reduce the state’s wolf population, DNR officials said in a news release.

Hunters and trappers took 117 wolves during the 2012 season. Wisconsin American Indian bands were entitled to take 83 wolves last year but took none. Of this fall’s quota of 275, tribes may take 115, said Fred Strand, DNR wildlife manager at Brule.

The DNR Wolf Advisory Committee, composed of DNR staff along with stakeholders and partners, proposed the 2013 quota.

The state’s current late-winter minimum wolf count is 809 to 834 wolves, DNR officials said. That’s down from a count of 815 to 880 wolves in the 2012 count. After pups are born in spring, the wolf population approximately doubles then declines through the year.


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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