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Michael Alan Burris Sentenced
A Fergus Falls man was sentenced Friday to 12 ½ years in prison for the shooting death of his nephew in May, 2012. Sixty-six-year-old Michael Alan Burris pleaded guilty in October to second-degree murder. He shot his nephew Scott Burris in the head over an argument concerning drugs. Otter Tail County Prosecutor Michelle Eldien says she’s satisfied with the judge’s sentence, which Eldien had suggested.
“When the plea agreement was arranged during trial, it was at least that length of time, which would, for us, pretty much guarantee that he would be in custody for the duration of his life. We’re happy with that. That’s what I expected would happen today.”
The Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office had members in the courtroom. They put in countless hours trying to solve the case and give Scott Burris’ father and mother closure about their son’s death, even though the father died before getting that closure. Sheriff Brian Schlueter had these comments.
“So the crime really deserved more than he got. But, because of the complexity of the case, and he and his son were the only two who knew what really happened, the plea deal is probably appropriate for closure. So I was at least satisfied that the court, in this case, unlike the son, went with a recommendation from the plea deal and got the 150 months.”
Michael Alan Burris’ son, Michael Kyle Burris, was given 20 years probation for his part in the murder. He helped dispose of Scott Burris’ body and vehicle.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Investigators say it appears overhead gas heaters were the source of carbon monoxide that sickened 19 workers at Red River Commodities, a bird food company, in Fargo's industrial park yesterday afternoon. The workers complained of headaches and nausea. Those taken to the hospital were treated and released. Firefighters found dangerously high levels of carbon monoxide in the plant. Battalion Chief Bruce Anderson says the incident serves as a reminder to have detectors in homes and businesses.
Anderson says there were no carbon monoxide detectors inside and there is no law or regulation that a workplace has to have a detector. The company says it is installing detectors now. It's the second such incident in Fargo this week. Dozens of players, spectators and others were sickened by carbon monoxide Sunday at the Teamsters Arena.
A Menahga (men-aw'-guh), Minnesota man has been sentenced to 28 years in prison in the strangulation death of a Park Rapids woman. Harley Leritz was drunk and high on meth when he murdered Kiela (kee-LUH) Knowles in her apartment last February. Knowles was survived by a 3-year old son. Lori Hanson was one of her closest friends.
Those close to Knowles got tattoos in remembrance of her loving heart. Leritz's father, David Leritz, wishes he could do something to change the past, and gives his condolences to the family.
Leritz could be eligible for parole after serving more than 18 years.
Salvation Army At Half Of Their Fundraising Goal
The Fergus Falls Branch of the Salvation Army is having a sucessful fundraising season so far. Lt. Linda McCormick gave us an update...
"Well, right now we are at 56 percent, so we've got about 40,000 dollars left to raise. We will be ringing until December 24th, we quit at noon except for the Lions Club, they ring until 4 o'clock on Christmas Eve."
Donations can be made in the red kettles at most retail store locations in Fergus Falls, as well as at their headquarters on Vernon Ave.
Fergus Falls police were busy Monday responding to traffic accidents. Although police were sent to the scene of seven accidents, there were no injuries. However, a parked police car with it’s flashing lights activated was struck by a car about 4:15 pm. The accident happened at the intersection of West Lincoln Avenue and North Kennedy Park Road. The car’s driver was cited for failure to drive with due care.
The Otter Tail County Sheriff’s office responded to a handful of traffic accidents, also with no injuries reported.
Special Perham City Council Meeting December 18
A special Perham City Council meeting has been scheduled for Thursday, December 18 at 5:15 in the Perham City Hall. The agenda for the meeting will include a request from Barrel O Fun for an interim use permit, extending the closure of Third Street NW due to continued construction, and deferring assessments for lots in the Happel Addition.
Sebeka House Fire
Fire damaged a home west of Sebeka about 5:30 pm Monday. The fire was reported at a home owned by Albert Anderson.
Wadena Fire Chief Dean Uselman says his department assisted the Sebeka Fire Department at the scene. Uselman says the fire started in the wall adjacent to the home’s chimney. He says when firefighters arrived, the fire was smoldering in the wall, so firefighters opened up and wall and extinguished the fire.
There was moderate damage to the home. The home remains habitable.
Golf Course 2015 Rates
The Fergus Falls City Council passed a resolution Monday that signs off on proposed rates at Pebble Lake Golf Course next year.
City Finance Director Bill Sonmor says generally speaking, rates will go up three percent except for the following categories…
“The single, new member, that is no change. Under family, each child and maximum three children, that’s no change there. The weekly single and weekly couples rates, no change. And the punch cards, no change. Everything else is about a three percent increase.”
The reason certain rates stayed the same is because the golf board is trying to attract more familes and tourists to the golf course.
The golf board, as part of the lease agreement with the city, needs to have the city council act at this time of year so the golf board can start planning advertising and promotions for 2015.
Train Strikes Abandoned Pickup
The Clay County Sheriff’s Office continues to look for the driver who abandoned a pickup stuck on the tracks at a rail crossing a mile south of Hawley. The vehicle was later struck by a BNSF train. The Sheriff’s Office is concerned that the driver may have wandered off. Deputies and Hawley Police, along with a Sanford Air Med Chopper performed an extensive search of the area, but did not find anyone. The Clay County Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone with information to contact them.
If you live in Becker, Clay or Wilkin Counties and owe library fines, you can clear up your account without using cash.
The Lake Agassiz Regional Library is running a promotion to help out local food banks while cleaning up old debts.
During the month of January, 2015, you can bring in your overdue library material to any library in the network along with a unexpired, non-perishable food item and they’ll erase your late fee.
One non-perishable food item equals a $2 fine waived. The regional library will accept “Food for Fines” at all of its 22 locations throughout January during open hours.
Free Holiday Movies in Perham Saturday
The featured film for this week's Free Holiday Matinee at the Comet Theater in Perham is the PG movie "Rio 2", showing at both 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. This week's free movie, the last of the four holiday movies sponsored by the Perham Merchants, will feature pop from Pepsi and peanuts from Henry's Food. Theater goers are invited to bring a free will offering of food for the Perham Food Shelf.
Today Last Chance to Access Perham Food Shelf Before Holidays
Today is the last day the Perham Food Shelf will be open until after the new year. In 2015, the Food Shelf will be open extended hours each Tuesday from 8 a.m. to noon and from 3 to 6 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month. Anyone living in the Perham Dent School district can use the Food Shelf.
Although the Food Shelf will be closed during the Holidays, emergency boxes can be made available by leaving a voice message on the food shelf number 346-6181.
Vehicle Through Ice
A rural Dent man had to be rescued when the vehicle he was driving went through the ice on Walker Lake near Ottertail Saturday night.
The Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office says 27-year-old Justin Adkins apparently became disoriented in the fog and drove through a patch of weak ice near a river entrance. The vehicle was submerged in about four to five feet of water.
Adkins was not injured but was stranded on his vehicle. Perham Fire, Perham EMS, Ottertail Fire and Rescue, Minnesota DNR and the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office responded. The driver was rescued by members of the Ottertail Fire Department.
One Vehicle Rollover
A one-car rollover led to injuries and DWI charges for a Wahpeton man. The Richland County Sheriff’s Office says they received a report of the rollover crash shortly before four am Sunday. The rollover happened five miles south of Wahpeton on 182nd Avenue. They say the driver of the vehicle, 33-year-old Dean Krause of Wahpeton, was northbound on 182nd Avenue when he swerved to miss a deer, entered the east ditch and rolled.
Krause was wearing his seatbelt and was not ejected. He was taken to St. Francis Medical Campus in Breckenridge for minor injuries, then released.
Krause was cited for DWI. The crash remains under investigation.
Car vs Train Fatal
Mahnomen County authorities say a 45-year-old Mahnomen man was killed when the car he was driving was struck by a train early Sunday morning.
The car, driven by Timothy Goodman, was traveling on 140th Street when he crossed the tracks. The Canadian Pacific train tried to stop but was unable to before hitting Goodman’s car.
Goodman was pronounced dead at the scene. Goodman was taken to Grand Forks for an autopsy to determine the cause of death. The crash is under investigation by the sheriff’s office and the railroad.
Mahnomen County Crash
Two people were injured in a traffic collision mid afternoon Saturday north of Waubun.
The State Patrol says a car driven by 18-year-old Alexis Belland of Waubun was westbound on Mahnomen County Road 12. Belland did not stop at a stop sign at Highway 59 and collided with an SUV driven by 42-year-old Eric Gordon of Detroit Lakes.
Both drivers were transported to the hospital for treatment. Their injuries were not considered life-threatening.
A Bluffton man is dead following a head-on crash south of Wadena early Saturday morning.
The State Patrol says the accident happened on Highway 71 near 120th Street.
A car driven by 22-year-old Tyler Langer of Wadena was northbound on highway 71. A semi driven by 31-year-old Jovanny Vega of Chicago was southbound. Langer’s car crossed over the center line and struck the semi head on in the southbound lane.
The passenger in the car, 23-year-old Gabriel Kemp of Bluffton, died at the scene. Langer was seriously injured. The semi driver was not injured.
Rothsay Property Taxes Going Down
The Board of Education of Rothsay Independent School District 850 has announced that property taxes for the most part will go down. According Business Manager Neil Cussler, overall property taxes for the district will go down 1.37 percent, but this depends on the property value. The amount being levied for bond payments for the new building was $36,000.
Local Nursing Facility Cited
PioneerCare in Fergus Falls has been cited in a Minnesota Department Of Health report. The report states that a resident who was admitted to the facility in January of 2014, requested in an advanced directive to receive CPR, if needed. On May 7th the resident did not receive CPR because it was not originally entered into the electronic database for nursing staff. The resident died of coronary artery disease according to the official death certificate. In a follow-up and unannounced visit in July a Minnesota Health Department official determined that the facility had made the necessary changes and was in regulatory complaince as an audit had been performed for every resident of PioneerCare and updated each file so it was clear if they had an advanced directive for CPR. PioneerCare is appealing the state's findings based on a non authorized staff tool that was called a "cheat sheet" to determine a resident's advance directives. According to PioneerCare CEO Nathan Johnson they do not condone ANY kind of "cheat sheet", but even considering that, it was NOT a contributing factor in the resident's passing. Johnson also re-affirmed PioneerCare's committment to patient safety.
CFL Lighting May Cause A Fire
An alert is being sounded about Compact Florescent Lighting, otherwise known as CFL’s which can cause overheating and smoking and sometimes a fire. The issue has been raised occasionally since they became common in households. According to the Fergus Falls Fire Department there are instances where a CFL will present an odor, smoke, or darkening of the plastic enclosure near the base of the bulb and could catch fire. Dean Anderson from the Fergus Falls Fire Department told us they have had a few of these over the last few weeks and to be aware:
"When we look at the manufacturers, some of them are not on recall. It can happen to pretty much any brand. So we're asking everyone to just be careful. Be aware of it, if you have them you might want to think about something different. We are seeing this in some of the fire literature that we get, we are getting information that they are actually starting fires. They've actually started fires across the country, and that's why some of the manufacturers are on recall."
According to fire department you may want to find something different than a CFL for your lighting needs for the time being.
Reception for Community Art Show at Cultural Center in New York Mills December 19
"From Your House to Ours" is the theme of a community art show at the Cultural Center in New York Mills on display through December. The exhibit celebrates the importance of living with art and features images owned by local art collectors. A reception will be held on Friday, December 19 from 4-6 p.m.
Wadena County Trailer House Fire
A rural Menahga man was rescued from his burning trailer house mid afternoon Wednesday. The Wadena County Sheriff’s Office says they received a call at about three pm requesting a welfare check at the trailer, located just south of Menahga.
When they arrived on the scene, the trailer house was on fire, with 47-year-old Stephen Leritz inside. Deputies were able to get to Leritz and pull him out before the fire became too intense.
The trailer house was a total loss.
Thin Ice in Wadena County
Two people were lucky to escape their predicament when the ATV they were riding broke through the ice on Lower Twin Lake, northeast of Menahga, late Wednesday night.
The Wadena County Sheriff’s Office says the ATV was pulling a trailer. The ATV and trailer sank in about 10 to 15 feet of water, 200 yards south of the access in the channel area.
The riders were in the water for an extended period of time and did attempt to call 911, although their cell phones got wet and didn’t work. They managed to get back onto the ice and returned home to report the incident.
Deer Creek Fire
A fire at a rural Deer Creek residence Wednesday evening caused smoke damage but no fire damage.
The Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office and the Deer Creek and Henning Fire Departments were called to the Michael and Sarah Collins residence outside of Deer Creek on a report of a chimney fire.
The fire was caused by a wood stove pipe being plugged. There was minor smoke damage and the fire departments helped with ventilation.
No one was injured.
A 39-year-old Fergus Falls man is in custody in the Otter Tail County jail after he was arrested during a traffic stop in Fergus Falls shortly after 10:30 Wednesday morning.
Joby Francis Johnson was arrested on charges of obstructing the legal process, fifth-degree controlled substance crime for possession, possession of drug paraphernalia and driving after suspension.
What started out as a report of a woman acting strange and possibly on drugs eventually led to the arrest of a 25-year-old Fergus Falls woman.
Police received a report of Amanda Jo Waddell acting strangely. They found Waddell in the parking lot at Lake Region Hospital shortly after seven am Wednesday. Police say Waddell was upset and unable to maintain a thought process. She agreed to go into the hospital for an evaluation.
About two hours later, police received a report that Waddell was on a doctor’s hold in the emergency room and needed to be transported to detox.
Police transported Waddell to detox where she resisted police with force, grabbing a pen as a potential weapon. She was arrested on a charge of gross misdemeanor obstructing the legal process and was transported to the jail.
Cyrus Autopsy Results
An autopsy on a 23-year-old Fergus Falls man who died November 3rd indicates he died of a drug overdose.
Justin Nicolas Maurice Cyrus was found to be unresponsive shortly after midnight at a home in the 1300 block of South Cascade Street. CPR was attempted but Cyrus was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Police detective Carol Schmaltz says the autopsy concluded Cyrus died of an overdose of Fentanyl, which is a prescription pain killer. Schmaltz says Cyrus had reportedly taken the drug orally.
She says the investigation into the death is still open. Police want to interview more people in hopes of finding out where Cyrus obtained the Fentanyl.
Shop with a Hero
Fifty-four children got to shop with a hero Wednesday night at Walmart. Grant funds from Walmart, along with cash donations from Frito Lay and Ringdahl Ambulance, were used to give each child a $50 gift certificate, which they used to shop with members of the police department, fire department, state patrol, DNR and Ringdahl. Police spokesperson Carol Schmaltz says it was a special shopping spree…
“They bought a lot of gifts and they had a good time. I know we volunteers also had a good time.”
Schmaltz says seven children were not able to attend. Gift cards will be sent to them too.
In addition to the grants, Walmart supplied a photograph for each child with their hero as well as free gift wrapping with treats and beverages.
Target also is involved with the program. They have provided grant funds to allow 12 more children to go shopping with a hero at Target next Wednesday.
One Vehicle Interstate Crash
A Fergus Falls man was injured when the car he was driving went off Interstate 94 northwest of Alexandria and overturned, coming to rest on its roof.
The State Patrol says the crash happened shortly after seven this morning at mile marker 96. The driver, 52-year-old Charles Bangs of Fergus Falls, and his passenger, 21-year-old Brandon Richgruber of Blaine, suffered non life-threatening injuries.
The roadway was considered icy at the time of the accident.
After a record year, Shoremaster LLC, a Fergus Falls manufacturer of dock and boat lift systems, distributed a profit-sharing bonus to eligible hourly and salaried employees this week.
Don Hurley, President and CEO of Shoremaster, says the company’s employees’ commitment, dedication and hard work led to a record year. He says the company has undertaken a number of lean initiatives and Cap Ex projects in the past year that helped to increase efficiencies which, alongside the rebounding economy, helped provide the ability to award profit sharing bonuses.
Profit sharing bonuses started at over $500 for a full-time employee who had been with the organization for the entire year. Checks were awarded based off of an employee’s position, years of service and performance.
A profit sharing bonus is just one of the additional benefits for employees this year. Employees also received extra floating holidays and a Thanksgiving turkey.
One Vehicle OTC Accident
A Fergus Falls woman was injured in a one-vehicle accident northeast of Elizabeth last (Tuesday) night.
The Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office says 79-year-old Bonita Anderson was northbound on Norgren Road about 8:15 pm when she lost control of her car on a curve and entered the northwest ditch.
The car narrowly missed a fallen tree, went over a fenceline and came to rest on the edge of Devils Lake.
Anderson suffered soreness and bruising to her left ribs and also a scratch on her leg. She was taken by private vehicle to Lake Region Hospital for an evaluation.
Two Men Arrested for Drugs
Two 18-year-old men were arrested for drug possession and other offenses near New York Mills early Tuesday morning.
The Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office says the driver of a vehicle, Dalton Alan Schultz of Menahga, was arrested on charges of fourth-degree DWI for driving under the influence of drugs, no Minnesota driver’s license, no insurance and fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance.
A passenger in the vehicle, Tyler Barton Allen of Staples, was arrested for fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance.
Authorities impounded the vehicle for forfeiture and a K-9 search.
Hit and Run Collision
The Minnesota State Patrol is investigating a hit and run injury crash that happened on Highway 10 between Audubon and Lake Park.
The suspect vehicle is believed to be a white, 1992-1998 GMC Sierra extended cab pickup with a missing tailgate. It left the scene of the crash heading east on Highway 10 and likely has significant rear-end damage. The crash happened at an unspecified time yesterday (Tuesday).
The driver of the car that was struck, 20-year-old Marcus Johnson of Detroit Lakes, suffered non life-threatening injuries.
Fergus Falls Tax Levy Increase
The Fergus Falls school board approved a tax levy increase of 26.8 percent in its Monday evening meeting.
While the levy of $6,232,425 is a major jump from the previous year’s levy of $4,914,948, the levy is only slightly higher than the 2009 levy of $6,205,030.
Business Manager Mark Masten explained that the levy has just climbed up back to its normal level, after economic downturn of the past several years resulted in lower overall property values and therefore a lower tax base.
Masten pointed out that the school’s tax levy in 1999 was also at $6 million, explaining that even as the tax base has increased, the average levy has remained the same, which means that tax rates for property owners nearly half that of the 1990s.
Perham City Council Approves Tax Levy at 2 Per Cent
Perham's City Council voted to adopt the 2015 Budget and Levy following a public meeting Monday night. The final certified levy was set at a little over one million dollars. The increase in general operating funds was offset by a reduction in overall debt service, resulting in an overall increase of two percent. Of the 2015 tax levy, 36 percent is allocated for debt service, 31 percent for the general fund, 10 percent for the library, nine percent for other capital improvements, eight percent for the fire department, five percent for economic development and one percent for the Housing and Redevelopment Authority.
Rural Vergas Crash
No one was injured, but a car crash Monday morning did some damage northeast of Vergas.
The Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office says a 16-year-old Frazee boy was northbound on county road 4 near Rose Lake when he lost control of his Pontiac Grand Prix. The car entered the right ditch of the roadway and collided with several dock sections as well as a concrete boathouse.
The car sustained heavy front end damage and was towed from the scene. The dock sections and boat house were also damaged.
The sheriff’s office says roadways were ice covered and slick at the time of the accident, 7:45 am. They say the weather conditions contributed to the crash.
Free Workshop December 11 in Little Falls for Minnesota GreenStep Cities
The Central and West Central Clean Energy Resource Team is hosting a free workshop on Thursday, December 11 from 3:30 to 5:00 pm at the Initiative Foundation in Little Falls for people interested in participating in Minnesota GreenStep Cities. The workshop will offer attendees one-on-one assistance in creating a strategy specific to their city. A complete agenda is available at greensteplittlefalls dot eventbrite dot com (http://greensteplittlefalls.eventbrite.com)
Perham Supports Otter Tail County TAP Application
At the Perham City Council meeting Monday night, the Council approved a resolution of support for Otter Tail County's application for funding through the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) for the Perham to Pelican Rapids Regional Trail. This Trail will link the City of Perham, Maplewood State Park and the City of Pelican Rapids
Perham City Council Proposes Paving for Coney Street Truck Route
The Perham City Council voted at Monday night's meeting to apply to the Minnesota Department of Transportation for funding for the reconstruction of Coney Street East. This street currently serves as a regional truck route within the city limits of Perham. The project, which is estimated to cost slightly over one million dollars, would include paving and curbing of the gravel roadway. The State Aid application could cover $750,000 of the costs.
Weirdo Arrested on Warrant
Fergus Falls police were called to 1425 West Lincoln Avenue on a report that a man was standing on Lincoln Avenue in front of Olson Oil and making inappropriate gestures at vehicles driving by.
When police made contact with the man, 44-year-old Emiliano Elizondo of Redwood Falls, they discovered there was a warrant for Elizondo’s arrest from Redwood Falls.
Elizondo was arrested and handed over to Redwood Falls authorities.
4 Wheeler Theft
The Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Department is asking for the public’s help in locating a stolen 4 wheeler.
A green Honda Forman Rubicon 500 was stolen from a home located next to the Green Plains ethanol plant northwest of Fergus Falls.
The theft happened sometime Sunday night or Monday morning. The 4 wheeler is valued at $3,500. There are no suspects.