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REGIONAL BRIEFS: Campground reopens after wolf attack

From the Forum News Service


Campground reopens after wolf attack

BEMIDJI, Minn. -- The campground where 16-year-old Noah Graham was attacked by a wolf last weekend was again open for business Wednesday.

Ann Long-Voelkner, a spokeswoman for the Chippewa National Forest, said the West Winnie Campground at Lake Winibigoshish reopened Wednesday afternoon. Several campers had reservations, she said.

"It's a good thing that campers can come out and enjoy the campground for the holiday weekend," she said.

The campground had been closed since Saturday morning when Graham, of Solway, was attacked by a 75-pound gray wolf, according to officials with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The wolf was eventually captured and killed, and the results of a necropsy to be performed at the University of Minnesota are pending.

Several DNR officials could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

The attack made headlines across the state, and the nation, as one of a small number of wolf attacks. A preliminary study of the wolf's carcass showed it had a misaligned jaw, suggesting it may have had difficulty catching large prey.


Michigan man accused of driving to Minnesota for sex with 15-year-old

ROSEMOUNT, Minn. -- A 20-year-old Michigan man has been charged with felony criminal sexual conduct after he allegedly drove to Rosemount and had sex with an underage girl he met online.

Zachary Gene Johnson was charged Monday with four counts of criminal sexual conduct.

According to a complaint filed this week in the Dakota County Attorney's Office, Johnson and the girl, then 14, met online in February 2012. They had been communicating by text message and social media ever since. Johnson came to Minnesota with friends Aug. 16 to meet the girl.

Johnson told police he knew the girl was 14 when he met her and that she had recently turned 15.

According to the complaint, Johnson had "sexual contact" with the girl on three occasions, including one in which they had intercourse at a home in Rosemount.


Man gets jail time for neglect of horses

FERGUS FALLS, Minn. -- The caregiver for six horses that were found dead, and 11 more neglected, at a farmstead near Vergas last winter has been sentenced to one year in jail.

William Vance Tompkins, 19, of Owasso, Okla., had been entrusted with the horses’ care by his mother, Penny Fick, and her husband, Bill Fick, of rural Vergas, while they temporarily resided in Montana.

The Ficks still face charges in the case.

Tompkins was sentenced last week in Otter Tail County District Court to 365 days in jail, with 284 days stayed for one year, for one gross misdemeanor count of mistreating animals. In exchange for his guilty plea, a felony count of mistreating animals was dismissed, along with three misdemeanor counts.

He was also placed on unsupervised probation for one year, and may not have any unsupervised contact with animals.

Bill and Penny Fick are both charged with mistreatment of animals. Tompkins is willing to cooperate in their prosecution, according to court records.

Court hearings are scheduled Oct. 3 for Penny Fick and Oct. 17 for Bill Fick.


Father, son fight extradition to Minn. in murder case

PHOENIX -- A father and son from Fergus Falls, Minn., who are in jail in Arizona on charges of murdering their relative over a drug debt, are fighting extradition back to Otter Tail County, Minn., WDAY-TV in Fargo reported.

Michael Alan Burris, 64, and Michael Kyle Burris, 23,  have each been charged with one felony count of second-degree murder in the death of Scott Burris.

Scott Burris is Michael Alan’s nephew and Michael Kyle’s cousin.

Scott Burris went missing from Elizabeth, Minn., in May 2012. His body was found in the Otter Tail River about a month later with a single gunshot wound.

Since the men are fighting extradition, the governor’s offices in both states need to get involved to issue a warrant to bring the men back to Minnesota to face charges.

They are in the Maricopa County Jail.

The charge carries a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.


Bemidji man sentenced on child porn charges

BEMIDJI, Minn. -- A Bemidji man arrested for posting an ad on Craigslist looking for a girl to pose for pictures was sentenced last week for possessing child pornography, charges he faced when the online ad was posted.

Jacob William Kinn, 30, will serve 65 days in jail after being given credit for 55 days served. But if he violates the terms of his probation, Kinn could serve five years.

The punishment, handed down by Beltrami District Judge Paul Benshoof, was an upward departure from sentencing guidelines due to the fact that Kinn’s actions affected multiple victims, represented by the seven minors in pornographic videos found on computers seized by police last year.

Kinn was the subject of a sting set up by Bemidji police and the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office in mid-February. A citizen reported a Craigslist ad, posted by Kinn, to police. An investigator began an email exchange with Kinn, pretending to be a mother willing to hand over her daughter for the photo shoot. The photos were for Kinn’s “personal collection,” according to a criminal complaint filed by the sheriff’s office.

Six days later, police arrested Kinn at a meeting where he was to meet the child.


Store worker pleads guilty to lottery ticket theft

WILLMAR, Minn. -- A 59-year-old Svea woman pleaded guilty Wednesday to a felony charge of state lottery fraud for stealing more than $29,000 in lottery tickets from her employer.

As part of Janice Marie Wadsworth’s plea agreement reached in Kandiyohi County District Court, another felony theft charge will be dismissed and she will receive a stay of imposition on her sentence. Under the stay, the felony conviction will be reduced to a misdemeanor if she complies with the conditions of her sentence.

Sentencing is set for Oct. 2.

The charges were filed after the Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office began investigating the theft of lottery tickets at Eagle Lake Country Store in July 2012. Store officials told investigators they had instituted a tracking system after another recent case of lottery ticket theft at the store. An audit of the tracking system showed inconsistencies between ticket sales and dollars on weekdays, which was when Wadsworth worked.

Other also employees reported seeing the high-dollar lottery scratch-off tickets, worth $10, $20 or $30, in the trash can after Wadsworth's shifts.

In September 2012, store officials presented investigators with a final summary from March to August, showing that $29,424.50 in lottery tickets had been stolen.


North Dakota

Overall enrollment rises slightly at UND

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- The University of North Dakota’s total fall enrollment grew marginally this year, according to a news release.

The university had an enrollment of 14,863 students, up 0.4 percent from last fall. The release said programs that experienced significant growth include the business, engineering and nursing programs.

The School of Graduate Studies also grew, but total undergraduate enrollment was down. UND President Robert Kelley attributed the undergraduate enrollment drop to more rigorous admission standards as part of the North Dakota University System’s Pathways to Student Success plan.

The drop means undergraduate figures are below last year’s record enrollment, but the fall 2013 enrollment is still above 2011 levels.


Red Cross provides water to Spirit Lake

FARGO -- The American Red Cross said Wednesday that it provided 180 cases of bottled water -- or about 4,300 bottles -- for Spirit Lake Nation residents without potable water.

A water system change from one system to another resulted in nonpotable water for about 300 homes, according to a Red Cross news release.

The Tribal Council had been using reserve water supplies to supply the community.

The Red Cross and Spirit Lake Nation have reached out to state emergency management and community partners to assist with the response.

“We are working with the tribal emergency manager to address current needs,” said Sean Coffman, disaster program manager for the Red Cross’ Minn-Kota Territory. “Our staff and volunteers want to make sure all of these residents are safe and cared for.”


Victim of tractor fire near Minto identified

MINTO, N.D. -- The Walsh County Sheriff’s Department has identified the victim of a tractor fire Monday as Charles L. Slominski, 79, of Ardoch.

Authorities responded to a report of a tractor fire one mile east of Interstate 29 and three-quarters of a mile south of County Road 15 on Monday evening.

After Minto firefighters put out the fire, Slominski’s body was found inside.

The fire is under investigation.



Glenwood City Council adopts mining ordinance

GLENWOOD CITY, Wis. -- The Glenwood City County has adopted a nonmetallic mining ordinance that would govern the mining of sand.

Sand mining is a controversial topic in western Wisconsin and southern Minnesota, where sand ideal for use by the oil and gas industry in hydraulic fracturing -- or fracking -- is found.

The city has been studying such an ordinance for several months, as Vista Sand seeks a permit to mine and process silica sand.

The version the council approved Monday in a 5-1 vote resembles one currently employed by the Town of Howard in Chippewa County. It also contains many of the provisions currently required by St. Croix County for nonmetallic mining operations.

One difference is that it increases active mining acreage from the 20 acres allowed by the county to 35 acres, not including processing and storage acreage.

The city previously had no regulations on sand mining, meaning permit decisions were left to St. Croix County government.

Monday’s vote likely sets in motion a debate about the city annexing land from the Town of Glenwood for a mining operation.


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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