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NEWS FOR THE LAKES AREA
Details are few at this time, but a collision on Highway 59 south of Mahnomen shortly after 2:00 am today resulted in a fatality.
The State Patrol says a Freightliner tractor trailer was southbound on Highway 59 when a Nissan Altima was northbound and crossed the center line, resulting in a head-on crash.
The Freightliner driver is identified as 44-year-old Derek Clark of Greenbush. He suffered non life-threatening injuries. A passenger in the Freightliner has not been identified. Also, the driver of the Altima has not been identified.
It has not been reported yet whether there was more than one fatality, and if so, from which vehicle. The patrol says more information is expected to be released Saturday.
Justin Myron Sentenced
An Elbow Lake man avoided prison when he was sentenced in Otter Tail County District Court Thursday afternoon.
Thirty-nine-year-old Justin Theodore Myron pleaded guilty to a lesser substitute charge of fourth-degree drug sale in exchange for the plea. He was originally charged with a third-degree crime.
He was sentenced to 365 days in jail and was credited with three days already served. He was also placed on 30 years probation.
Myron sold methamphetamine to a confidential informant in Fergus Falls in January last year. He had a previous controlled substance conviction on his record.
Wahpeton To Lose Local Landmark
After almost 87 years the Central Elementary building located at 212 Third Avenue North in Wahpeton is scheduled to be demolished by this fall. Superintendent Rick Jacobson says it was not an easy decision.
The Wahpeton Public Schools board accepted a bid from M&M to demolish the building and site for $416,886. M&M’s bid was accepted in a unanimous vote when the board met Monday, June 13.
Also starting this fall, the Wahpeton-Breckenridge Area Chamber of Commerce will operate out of the current Wahpeton Public Schools district office, located at 1505 11th Street N. in Wahpeton. The school board voted in favor of selling the building to the Chamber for $260,000 when they met Wednesday, May 11. The Chamber’s initial offer was $235,000.
Alexander Zent First Appearance
A Fergus Falls man made his first appearance in Otter Tail County District Wednesday in the case of a 19-year-old Fergus Falls woman who nearly died from a drug overdose.
Twenty-year-old Alexander Dean Zent appeared from custody to face two charges of Distribution of Drugs Causing Great Bodily Harm. One count concerns heroin and the other charge concerns fentanyl.
Zent is accused of supplying drugs to the victim, who overdosed and stopped breathing June 11th. Paramedics were able to revive her.
Judge Barbara Hanson set bond and bail at $100,000. She also granted a public defender. Zent will make his next court appearance July 5th. That’s the same day he’s supposed to be sentenced in a separate drug case.
He’s charged in that case with fifth-degree controlled substance crime. During a March 28th traffic stop in Fergus Falls, police found a half pound of marijuana in Zent’s backpack and $1400 cash in his wallet.
Under a plea agreement, he pled guilty to the crime with the understanding of a stay of adjudication and 30 days in jail.
A second suspect in the overdose case, 24-year-old Elijah Nathaniel Anderson, has not been charged yet. Authorities are still gathering information before charging him. According to Zent’s court complaint, the drugs in question were allegedly purchased from Anderson. He is expected to appear from custody Thursday.
I-94 Hit & Run
Authorities are looking for the vehicle that struck a motorcyclist on Interstate 94 just east of Moorhead Tuesday.
A motorcyclist from Simcoe, Ontario, was airlifted to Sanford Hospital in Fargo after the hit-and-run crash about 3 pm Tuesday.
The motorcycle was westbound when it was struck by a white pickup truck hauling what authorities believe was a U-Haul trailer.
Witnesses believe the pickup passed the motorcycle in the right lane and struck the motorcycle when moving back into the left lane. The State Patrol believes the pickup continued westbound into North Dakota after the crash.
Anyone with information is asked to call the State Patrol.
Pederson-Opsahl First Appearance
A Fergus Falls woman made her first appearance Wednesday in Otter Tail County District Court on fraud and theft charges.
Twenty-seven-year-old Danielle Arrice Pederson-Opsahl told Judge Barbara Hanson that the reason she failed to appear in court Monday is because notice of the hearing was sent to her old address. She was arrested on the warrant Tuesday.
Pederson-Opsahl is charged with financial card fraud, identity theft and theft. Working as a bank teller, she allegedly withdrew $300 from a bank customer’s account using a newly activated debit card. In another case, she made withdrawls from another account totaling $4,870.
Based on Pederson-Opsahl’s financial situation, a public defender was denied. Pederson-Opsahl stated she’ll represent herself in court proceedings. She was released on her own recognizance.
Her next court appearance is June 27th.
Michael Korby Sentenced
A Fergus Falls man charged with possessing and selling methamphetamine has been sentenced to 86 months in prison.
Thirty-two-year-old Michael Wayne Korby petitioned Tuesday in Otter tail County District Court to enter a guilty plea to first-degree drug sale.
A search of his home and vehicles in early February turned up two rifles in cases, a handgun in a case, and a zipper case with a one gallon Ziplock bag filled with methamphetamine.
The total amount of meth found in multiple search warrants was 459 grams. At $100 per gram, the drugs had a street value of $45,900.
Korby will receive credit for 140 days in jail. A charge of first-degree drug possession was dismissed.
PU vs. Dump Truck
A Parker’s Prairie man was injured in a two vehicle crash shortly before 8:00 am Wednesday.
The Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office says a pickup truck driven by 22-year-old Cole Thomas of Parker’s Prairie rear-ended a dump truck driven by 45-year-old Roy Bishop who is believed to be from West Fargo.
The crash happened near the junction of Otter Tail County Road 6 and Resser Road west of Parker’s Prairie. The pickup was totaled. The dump truck had heavy damage.
Bishop was not injured. Thomas was taken to the Douglas County Hospital in Alexandria with non life-threatening injuries.
Dayton will appeal imports of North Dakota electricity
Governor Mark Dayton says he'll appeal a federal court's ruling that Minnesota's law restricting imports of electricity from coal-fired power plants interferes with interstate commerce. North Dakota interests argue the Minnesota law hampers their ability to sell power to Minnesota from new coal-fired plants. A federal appeals court last week upheld a lower court ruling, saying the federal government has "exclusive jurisdiction to regulate wholesale sales and the transmission of electric energy" between states. But Dayton says he will continue to defend the State of Minnesota's right to protect the quality of the air citizens breathe.
Xcel Rate Hike
As Minnesota's largest energy supplier seeks another rate increase, one group says the move may be too expensive for some customers. The Minnesota Public Utility Commission is now considering the sixth rate-hike request from Xcel Energy in 10 years. A-A-R-P Minnesota says for some Xcel customers, it would mean paying about an extra 130-dollars a year. State A-A-R-P Director Will Phillips says if the extra charges are approved, those customers will be paying more than what's necessary for their utility service.
The public comment period is open for Minnesotans to weigh in on the issue. Xcel argues the rate increase is needed to pay for upgrades to the power grid and to make investments in cleaner energy production.
Phillips says he understands the need to cover those costs, but hopes the commission can find a more consumer-friendly solution than what Xcel is proposing. He also takes issue with Xcel's plan for a 25-percent increase in its fixed customer charge.
The state Commerce Department and Attorney General Lori Swanson's office have called the rate hike excessive. Xcel has said it's also planning to expand its low-income energy assistance programs. Public comments can be made on the Minnesota Public Utility Commission, and also on A-A-R-P Minnesota's website.
Brainerd Man Arrested For Marijuana Wax Possession
A Brainerd man is facing charges in connection with a large-scale operation of marijuana wax. The Lakes Area Drug Investigative Division executed a search warrant at a residence on Eighth Street in Brainerd. Agents found almost five pounds of marijuana wax and arrested James Kalk on June 16th. Marijuana wax is more potent than raw marijuana and the five pounds was valued at 150-thousand-dollars.
Poverty for Blacks
Minnesota tops the nation when it comes to children's well-being, but a new report says there's still work to do, especially for children of color. In the latest national Kids Count Data Book, Minnesota ranked number one for the second year in a row, with big improvements in education and health-care access. The numbers also show the state has seen a big drop in the rates of teen drug abuse and teen births. But Stephanie Hogenson with the Children's Defense Fund of Minnesota says the state continues to struggle with one of the highest rates of poverty among minority children.
Hogenson says Minnesota could help ease the financial burdens on these families in several ways, including setting up a statewide paid family-leave program and boosting childcare assistance. The Data Book ranks each state on 16 benchmarks, including health and education.
Douglas County authorities have identified the victim who drowned in Lake Andrew south of Alexandria Monday. The victim is identified as 61-year-old Glenn Steffen of South St. Paul.
Steven went fishing on the lake about 3:30 pm. When he hadn’t returned to his family by 7:30, family searched the lake and found his empty boat. A ground, water and air search began and his body was found along the east shore at 10 pm.
The cause of his death is not known. An autopsy was being performed by the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office.
Wadena County Structure Fire
A fire Monday evening caused substantial damage to a garage near Verndale.
The Wadena County Sheriff’s Office says the fire was reported at 5:19 pm in Aldrich Township.
When officers arrived on scene, the garage of the home was fully engulfed in flames.
There were no injuries and the fire cause is still under investigation.
Breckenridge Motorcycle Crash
The Wilkin County Sheriff’s Office says a motorcycle crash Monday night caused injuries to the driver.
The crash was reported shortly before 9:00 pm on Highway 75 north of Breckenridge.
The motorcycle was driven by Kevin Rensvold, who somehow lost control. The accident report is under investigation to determine what caused the accident.
Rensvold suffered non life-threatening injuries.
Jessie Gruettner Arrested
A Browns Valley man was arrested June 15th at Dakota Magic Casino for delivery of a controlled substance where methamphetamine was delivered.
The Traverse County Sheriff’s Office says 32-year-old Jessie James Gruettner was the subject of a four-month investigation involving Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota drug agencies.
The investigation involved numerous controlled buys where over 100 grams of methamphetamine was purchased from Gruettner with a street value of $20,000.
Subsequent to Gruettner’s arrest, two search warrants were executed at two Browns Valley residences. The case is still under investigation.
Gruettner is currently in custody in the Richland County Jail in Wahpeton. Bail is set at $20,000 cash and bond is set at $100,000.
Austin Franklin Arrested
A Fergus Falls man is in custody after allegedly assaulting a woman in Fergus Falls this (Tuesday) morning.
Thirty-five-year-old John Austin Franklin was arrested on probable cause charges of domestic assault and domestic assault by strangulation.
Franklin allegedly choked and punched the victim.
Alex Howard Warrant
A warrant has been issued for a rural Underwood man who failed to make his first appearance Monday in Otter Tail County District Court.
Twenty-six-year-old Alex Leroy Howard is charged by complaint with second-degree drug sales.
Howard allegedly sold methamphetamine to a confidential informant on December 10th, 2014, in Fergus Falls.
The Fergus Falls City Council upheld a recommendation last night from the city’s Planning Commission to deny a developer’s rezoning request.
Developer Paul Renner of Renner Construction wants to put in up to three 12-unit apartment buildings at 130 Skogmo Boulevard. He was turned down five years ago by the city council for the same type of project.
There were 38 signatures on a petition against the project from homeowners on Skogmo Boulevard, North Park Street, East Meadowlark Lane and Oriole Drive.
Others who spoke against the project complained that traffic would rise on their streets and their property values would be lowered.
The Planning Commission vote was 4-2 against the zoning change, from an R-2 to an R-4 multiple-family district. The city council voted 7-0 to uphold the Planning Commission recommendation.
Fergus Police Briefs
A Fergus Falls woman was cited after she allegedly caused a disturbance in the emergency room at Lake Region Healthcare.
Police received a report about 3:00 am Sunday that staff were having problems with a psyche patient throwing things around. The patient, 19-year-old Desiraya Latesha Britton, also allegedly struck a nurse in the face. Britton was cited for fifth-degree assault and disorderly conduct.
Fergus Falls police received a report of a burglary at an apartment in the 300 block of South Cascade. Sometime between 7:30 and 9:00 am Saturday, a man and woman allegedly kicked in an apartment door. They stole a 39” Hitachi flatscreen television. The perpetrators allegedly told a witness that the person renting the apartment owed the woman money. No arrests have been made.