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Lakes Radio News
Town Hall Meeting for City Council Candidates
One last candidates forum in Fergus Falls is being scheduled for Thursday evening from 7-8:30 at the Center For The Arts where voters can interact with city council candidates. Featured candidates from Ward 1 will be Matthew Nickolauson, and Darren Appert, Ward Two Tedd Steenbock, Brent Thompson and Justin Arneson from Ward Three and Rod Spidahl from Ward Four.
Fergus Falls police say a 36-year-old Fergus Falls man staying at America’s Best Value Inn allegedly caused damage to his room. The damage was reported by the Fergus Falls motel just before one o’clock yesterday afternoon. The suspect allegedly wrote in black marker on the wall, “You’re in Hell.” The suspect also wrote that message on the face of the room’s flat screen television. The damage is estimated in the $800 to $1,000 range.
Police identified the suspect through his room payment. The motel will put the damage costs on the suspect’s credit card.
Local Perham Business Robbed
A prominent parts business in Perham reported two snowblowers missing Wednesday morning as well as 10 used tires. The value of the tires is unknown, but the snowblowers were valued at $799 each. Police are investigating, but so far no arrests have been made.
American Legion Fire
The Fergus Falls American Legion is hoping to be open to serve food sometime today, following a fire in the attic of the business last night (Monday).
Smoke was reported in the building about 8:15 pm and was determined to be coming from the attic. The restaurant, bar and bingo hall were evacuated. A patron in the building climbed up into the attic with a fire extinguisher and attempted to knock down the fire. He apparently suffered smoke inhalation but refused medical treatment.
Fergus Falls Fire Chief Mark Hovland says when firemen arrived on the scene, the person in the attic was just coming out a service door and was coughing. Hovland says the patron did something very dangerous that should be left to professionals.
The fire caused some minor smoke damage. Firefighters shut down the burners on the furnace, which is believed to be the cause of the fire.
American Legion manager Mary Morris says they’re waiting on getting natural gas lines turned on again so they can prepare meals. They are also working on getting heat in the building now that the furnace is damaged.
Still No State Hospital Decision
Still no decision on the fate of the former state hospital or Kirkbride building in Fergus Falls.
Developer Ray Willey addressed some concerns to the council. He said he provided last night (Monday) right before the meeting the confidential financial information requested.
The council passed a motion to take the time between now and the next council meeting for Kent Madsen and Anthony Hicks to review the information and to have a recommendation at the next council meeting November 3rd.
The city has posted a packet information without the confidential info on their website.
FF Council to Decide RTC Fate Monday
The Fergus Falls City Council meets tonight (Monday) for a special council meeting. On the agenda is discussion and action on the Historic Properties’ proposal for the former state hospital. It also says council discussion and action on alternates to Historic Properties Proposal –if necessary.
On their Facebook page, the Friends of the Kirkbride say that Ray Willey plans to be at the meeting. The council had given him until last Thursday to send the information they were requesting.
The meeting is earlier than normal, at 5 pm in the city council chambers.
Air-soft Guns Taken Seriously
Two teenagers found out that police take playing with guns seriously.
A 16 year old and a 14 year old jumped out of their vehicle in the 1000 block of West Summit in Fergus Falls. A 10 year old and 8 year old were building a fort in the back yard. The teens were wearing masks and fired air-soft guns at the younger kids.
Police had a good description of the gun and stopped them with guns drawn. Air-soft guns look like real guns. Police Sergeant Michael Kusnierek says the orange tips on the barrel of an air-soft gun is not always easily seen:“You have to assume the gun is real until you can get your hands on it and can physically identify whether or not it’s a real gun or not. Until then you have to assume that it is.”
Police conducted a felony traffic stop on the vehicle. The 16 year old was cited for assault with a dangerous weapon, terrorist threats, and disorderly conduct. The 14 year old was cited for disorderly conduct.
Kusnierek says that air-soft guns should be handled just like real guns; they should not be carried out in the open but should be carried instead a case.
Bomb Squad Called to Otter Tail County
The Red River Bomb Squad was called out Friday north of Pelican Rapids. A woman cleaning her uncle’s place found suspicious wood boxes with suspected explosives in the attic.
The sheriff’s office took pictures and sent them to the bomb squad first. The labeling on the box was consistent with explosives sold from the 1950’s and 1970’s. The explosives were packed in sand.
The bomb squad removed the boxes and detonated them in a field. They said because of the sand the exact type of explosives is unknown.
Weekend Fire Reports
Several Otter Tail County fires over the weekend caused damages, but no one was injured.
A fire was reported shortly after three Sunday afternoon, northeast of Fergus Falls on County Road 18. A large amount of standing corn burned in a field. A bon-fire that rekindled started that fire.
Another fire south of, and between, Underwood and Battle Lake just before three Saturday afternoon, caused moderate damage to a garage.
Several fire departments were called to a garage fire just south of Elizabeth around five o’clock Sunday afternoon. The owners of the house, Mark and Connie Armstrong, arrived home to find their garage fully engulfed in flames. The fire moved from the garage to a nearby wooded area containing an outbuilding, two vehicles and a trailer. The items in the wooded area were damaged.
The Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Department is advising the public to pay special attention to bon fires and brush fires to make sure they don’t reignite. In one case this weekend, a homeowner was cited for not adequately extinguishing a fire and causing damage to a neighbor’s property. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says west central Minnesota is currently in a high fire danger situation.
Michael Burris Sentence Postponed
The sentencing of 24-year-old Michael Kyle Burris has been continued to Monday afternoon in Otter Tail County District Court. Burris pled guilty in August to Accessory to Murder After the Fact. He helped dispose of the body of his murdered cousin, Scott Burris, after his father killed Burris in Fergus Falls.
Prosecutor Michelle Eldien argued this afternoon for a prison sentence, while Burris’ attorney argued for probation. Judge Wally Senyk determined that probation is the proper sentence based on outcomes of similar court cases in Minnesota.
Burris will likely be sentenced to up to 20 years of probation, with no further jail time, since he has served 379 days. However, Senyk would not let Burris be released from custody until he has found a Minnesota residence and telephone so probation officers can keep track of him.
Senyk says an evaluation of Burris found that he is mildly retarded and faced years of abuse from his father. He said Burris’ ability to assist his father, not resist, was influenced by his mental impairment.
Burris’ father, Michael Burris, is scheduled for sentencing December 19th. He pled guilty to murder in the second degree – unintentional.
Ward Four Candidates Met Thursday
Fergus Falls City Council Ward Four candidates squared off in a forum last night (Thursday) at city hall. The candidates were asked what they feel is the current state of the downtown business vitality. Write-in candidate Rod Spidahl says he’s seen a negative decline over the decades:
“It really doesn’t matter just what I think. It matters what the people are saying. It matters what people in other communities are saying. And what I hear people are saying is, we don’t have much going in Fergus Falls guys – we’re going downhill. What I hear people saying is we’ve got like three to five years to turn this ship around. And it takes new leadership and new thinking on the council and in city hall.”
Spidahl says a continual economic decline will put an increasing burden on an aging population to meet the city’s needs.
Incumbent Randy Synstelien says he doesn’t share that opinion:
“Downtown, no doubt, looks different today than 20 years ago, and it will look different 20 years from now than it does today. But different doesn’t necessarily mean better or worse. And so, if you walk downtown, there’s not a lot of vacancies. And so I view that as a very good thing.”
Synstelien says the general vitality of Fergus Falls is good. And he says the healthcare industry is a big part of that.
Underwood Man Injured in Explosion
An Underwood man was injured Thursday while trying to light some brush on fire. John Leroy on Jensen Lane was pouring accelerants on the brush pile when there was an explosion. Two fuel drums also exploded. The sheriff’s office says Leroy was transported to the hospital with minor injuries and his pickup was totaled in the fire.
Items Reported Missing
Equipment taken during the day from a home shop in the 1900 block of West Alcott, Fergus Falls. A window may have been used to access the locked building. A welder and saws worth more than a thousand dollars were taken.
Owners of the Dalton Café discovered a burglary today (Wednesday) when opening. A check book and cash from the register are missing.
Fergus Falls Scam Averted
An age-old scam was attempted yesterday (Wednesday) involving a couple in Fergus Falls. They were reported as arguing in the Sunmart parking lot during the noon hour. Officers called to the scene were told that the wife had received a call saying their daughter was in jail and needed money wired to pay for fines and lawyer fees. The husband was arguing that he thought it was a scam. Police Sergeant Michael Kusnierek says the officers told the couple to call their daughter and found that she was in fact, not in jail…
“Very rarely are you going to have any situation where someone is going to need to have money wired to a jail. If they’re going to send it by wire, if the person’s in jail, there’s no way they could go to pick up that money that’s being wired.”
The couple had mentioned that the scam artist had requested they purchase green dot cards at Kmart. Since there is no Kmart in Fergus Falls anymore, Kusnierek says that was also a red flag that the scammer didn’t know what’s going on in Fergus Falls.
Ward Three Candidates Met Thursday
Fergus Falls City Council Ward Three met Thursday. Candidate Justin Arneson talked about transparency in his opening remarks:
“My desire to be on city council is to bring some of my views and thoughts, to be transparent and educate the citizens on key issues facing our city and to work together for the needs of the city. There seems to be a big disconnect with information or lack of information the citizens receive and what is really going on in the city… As your councilman, my goal is to keep citizens more informed on current projects, future projects and the direction we are trying to move the city.”
Jay Cichosz responded in the closing remarks:
“Because we got tons of information to our disposal prior to making decisions. We don’t just sit up here like a bunch trained monkeys and say ‘yes’ every time. That’s not how it works. It’s a well thought out decision that we talk about many times before and read stuff before we come here. You have access and the community to all that stuff. Instead of complaining about where is the information, just ask for it and it’s all there….. The decisions made up here are informed decisions and there is not some grand conspiracy of city council members trying to do something for their best benefit.”
Peg Access recorded all of the forums and will be playing them over the next couple of weeks.
Brent Thompson, another candidate in Ward Three, did not attend the forum.
Tri-County Health Care to sponsor Women's Day Out November 2
Tri-County Health Care will sponsor a Women's Day Out on Sunday, Nov. 2, focusing on health, organizational tips, inspiration and style trends perfect for today’s busy women. The annual event will be held at the Wadena-Deer Creek Middle/High School from 1 – 5:15 p.m. and features educational booths, health screenings, cooking demonstrations and breakout sessions. Women will have the chance to connect face-to-face with medical providers and hear keynote speaker Joan Steffend speak on rediscovering who you were born to be. Free childcare will be available. Admission to Women’s Day Out is free. However, seating is limited and pre-registration is required by calling Tri-County Health Care in Wadena or by registering online at TCHC dot org (www.TCHC.org)