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REGIONAL BRIEFS: Man dies during diving expedition at Isle Royale

Credit: Forum News Service

North Dakota

Woman pleads guilty in death of Spirit Lake girl

FARGO -- Hope Tomahawk Whiteshield pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court here Monday to felony child abuse and witness tampering in the death last month of her step-granddaughter, Laurynn Whiteshield, 2, on the Spirit Lake Indian Reservation.

A plea agreement negotiated by the U.S. attorney's office and Whiteshield’s federal public defender was accepted by U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson after he asked her a series of questions to determine whether she understood her rights and consequences of the pleas.

Each count carries a potential sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. A sentencing hearing will be set later.

Whiteshield, 32, was initially charged with abuse or neglect of a child resulting in serious bodily injury.

According to the criminal complaint, she threw Laurynn Whiteshield down an embankment by the family's home near St. Michael, N.D., on June 12. She later told investigators that she threw Laurynn and pushed her twin sister over the embankment because she "was getting depressed about having kids all the time."

The safety of children on the reservation has been a major issue for the past year and a half following several instances of children dying or reporting abuse or sexual abuse.


Halliburton fined over fatal accident

BISMARCK -- For the first time, oil industry giant Halliburton has been cited for workplace safety violations in North Dakota.

A release issued Monday by the U.S. Department of Labor detailed two “serious safety violations” levied against the energy giant in relation to the Jan. 19 death of a Duluth, Minn., man at an oil rig site north of Watford City.

Mike Krajewski died as the result of injuries suffered when a pipe from a high-pressure line dislodged and struck him in the head while he was working on a hydraulic fracturing job.

“The company failed in its responsibility to maintain a worksite free from recognized safety hazards, such as struck-by hazards,” said Eric Brooks, who is based in Bismarck as the area director for the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration. “It is tragic when a worker is killed on the job. Employers must take all precautions to prevent such incidents.”

Halliburton has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request a conference with OSHA officials or contest the findings before an independent OSHA commission. It is required to pay $7,000 for each violation.

A serious violation is levied when it is found that there is “substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known,” according to OSHA rules language.


Motor coach crash sends 5 to hospital

VALLEY CITY, N.D. – A motor coach tour driver bound for Minneapolis with 14 passengers lost control of the tour bus near here, landing the bus in the ditch and sending five passengers to the hospital.

North Dakota Highway Patrol Sgt. David Wolf said driver Stephen D. Arthur, 46, of Duluth, Minn., was headed from Bismarck at about 5 a.m. Monday to their next scheduled stop in Valley City when he tried to slow the bus down on the eastbound off ramp at exit 292 near Valley City.

Arthur told state troopers he tried to use the foot brake, but it had little or no effect.

He tried steering right onto a paved county road, but the bus continued into the east ditch, hit the embankment, and came to rest about 150 yards away in a field southwest of the interchange.

Five passengers were taken by Barnes County Ambulance to Mercy Hospital in Valley City. Damages to the bus are estimated to be about $20,000.

Arthur told troopers he had stopped the bus in Bismarck without any mechanical issues.

Wolf said the cause of the crash remains under investigation.

Donation drive for dogs surpasses $11,000

FARGO – Concerned members of the public have donated more than $11,000 so far to a fund established to help with the medical and other needs of 170 dogs seized last week by the Cass County Sheriff’s Department from a Wheatland, N.D., puppy mill.

Sgt. Tara Morris said the fund, which is called Operation Cass County Rover Rescue, had collected $11,076 as of Monday to help with the cost of wellness exams, treatment, vaccinations and other expenses for the animals, which are being housed at Casselton Veterinary Clinic.

Morris said the Circle of Friends Humane Society in Grand Forks is also accepting donations of supplies for the Wheatland dogs, including paper towels, newspapers and blankets.  

Circle of Friends is located at 4375 N. Washington St. in Grand Forks. For more information, contact Arlette Moen at (701) 775-0858.

Money can be donated at any Bremer Bank location to Operation Cass County Rover Rescue in care of Casselton Veterinary Clinic.



Man dies during diving expedition at Isle Royale

HOUGHTON, Mich. -- A 55-year-old Wyoming, Minn., man died Saturday after suffering problems while scuba diving off Isle Royale National Park, the National Park Service reported Monday.

Lloyd W. Krohn was pronounced dead at the scene by park ranger emergency medical technicians.

An autopsy is underway by the Keweenaw County, Mich., Medical Examiner’s Office to determine the cause of death.

According to the Park Service, Krohn was part of a charter group diving with the charter Lake Superior Diver at the shipwreck of the Kamloops near Isle Royale.

At about 10 a.m. Saturday, his diving partners noticed Krohn was experiencing difficulties. They attempted to assist him but were forced to send him to the surface alone after he became unconscious. He was spotted by the boat crew and was brought aboard unresponsive and not breathing. Park rangers responded to the incident after receiving a distress call on marine band radio.


Judge upholds ordinance against synthetic drugs

DULUTH -- A federal magistrate judge Monday denied the owner of Last Place on Earth’s motion for a preliminary injunction to keep the city of Duluth from enforcing its ordinance regulating sales of synthetic drugs.

Headshop owner Jim Carlson’s attorney, Randall Tigue, filed a motion arguing that the city ordinance is unconstitutional because it requires an individual applying for a city license under the new ordinance to provide self-incriminating information, in violation of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Carlson faces federal charges after being indicted by a grand jury for allegedly selling misbranded synthetic drugs and chemicals substantially similar to controlled substances.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Leo Brisbois wrote in a 24-page report and recommendation that the court does not believe that the city ordinance requires any applicant to make any compelled self-incriminating statements by the mere application for a license.

“Therefore, the court finds that plaintiff has not met his burden of demonstrating a threat of immediate irreparable harm, ” Brisbois wrote.


Indoor Football League looking for investor

BEMIDJI, Minn. - The Indoor Football League is considering adding a team in Bemidji.

But for that to happen, an investor or investors would need to finance the expansion. To that end, IFL officials will hold a press conference Thursday to make that need known, according to a press release issued Monday.

The press conference will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday at the Sanford Center, where the team would play seven games from February to June.

The league, owned and operated by the teams' owners, was formed in 2008 and includes nine teams, including the Green Bay Blizzard and the Chicago Slaughter.


Man found guilty on charges from fatal crash

MONTEVIDEO, Minn. - A jury has found a 71-year-old Minnesota man guilty of two felony counts of criminal vehicular homicide for a December 2011 crash that killed a 39-year-old woman.

According to Chippewa County Attorney David Gilbertson, Ronald Jaenisch of Clara City also was found guilty of misdemeanor charges of open bottle and stop sign violation in a two-day trial last week.

Jaenisch was charged for driving through a double-posted stop sign at the intersection of Chippewa County Road 13 and Minnesota Highway 29 on Dec. 16, 2011, and hitting the vehicle of Kelly Marie Berghorst of Montevideo. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

The criminal complaint includes that Jaenisch had a blood alcohol level of 0.11 percent within two hours of the accident, over the legal limit of 0.08. Law officers responding to the accident reported finding an open bottle of wine in his vehicle.


Authorities search for missing swimmer

INTERNATIONAL FALLS, Minn. -- Officials from the Koochiching County Sheriff's Office are assisting in the search for a 27-year-old man who disappeared Sunday evening while swimming from the Canadian side of the Rainy River.

The Ontario Provincial Police reported that two people attempted to swim out from and back to the public docks in Emo, a distance of about 200 feet. One of the swimmers returned to the docks, while the second swimmer went under the water and did not return to the surface. Emo is about 20 miles west of International Falls; the Rainy River marks the border between the U.S. and Canada.

Canadian authorities conducted a shoreline search for the missing man, and continue to patrol the water with the assistance of officials from the U.S. An Ontario Provincial Police underwater search and recovery team was en route to the scene Monday.


More Minnesota households have broadband access

WILLMAR, Minn. - Recent research shows the number of Minnesota households with access to broadband Internet service is on the upswing.

Those with a minimum of 10 megabits-per-second download and 6 megabits-per-second upload have increased from 61.57 percent in October 2012 to 69.19 percent in June 2013.

"We are glad to see these numbers move in the right direction," said Minnesota Department of Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman in a news release. "Hopefully with this research, the development of broadband stays on pace to meet Minnesota's goals and needs."

The research was conducted by Connect Minnesota, a nonprofit agency working since 2008 to ensure that Minnesota residents have access to the economic, educational, and quality of life benefits derived from increased broadband access, adoption, and use.

Minnesota has a state statutory speed goal that “no later than 2015, all state residents and businesses have access to broadband service that provides a minimum download speed of 10 to 20 megabits per second and minimum upload speed of 5 to 10 megabits per second."

This is the seventh comprehensive broadband availability data released from Connect Minnesota since the State Broadband Initiative started in 2009.



PSC seeks input on broadband availability

The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin is trying to paint a picture of access to broadband in the state.

In its efforts, it has requested assistance from counties across the state to conduct a survey in broadband demand to residents and businesses.

The PSC, in cooperation with LinkWISCONSIN, has developed a broadband demand survey intended to provide a more accurate picture of speeds, availability and access to broadband in Wisconsin with the ultimate goal of working with internet service providers to allow access in areas that are not or under served in the state.

The more responses gathered, the more complete and accurate the picture will be. Responses will be used to identify areas where service is inadequate and where demand is unmet for high-speed internet service to give the PSC the tools needed to communicate broadband needs to internet service providers.

The deadline for completing the survey is Aug. 15.

The residential survey is available at Business participating in the survey can find the online survey at


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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