Please Click here to listen to the newscast or right click the link and save as to download.
Lakes Radio News
Fergus Falls police say an unidentified man walked into Cooper’s Technology Group during the noon hour Wednesday and stole a computer.
The man was wearing a black Carhartt hat and dark Carhartt jacket. He stole an Acer Aspire V11 Touch silver-colored computer valued at $499.
Surveillance footage shows the suspect concealing the computer in his jacket and exiting the store.
The man’s photo will be posted on the police department’s Facebook page as well as the Lakes Radio Facebook page.
Knodel Court Hearing
ANOTHER COURT HEARING FOR AARON KNODEL, THE FORMER NORTH DAKOTA TEACHER OF THE YEAR. HE'S ACCUSED OF HAVING SEX WITH A WEST FARGO HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT IN 2009 AND FACES FIVE COUNTS. HIS ATTORNEY BOB HOY, HAS ASKED A JUDGE TO ORDER THE RELEASE OF THE MEDICAL RECORDS OF THE FORMER STUDENT. HOY BELIEVES THOSE RECORDS COULD PLAY A KEY ROLE IN THE CASE, BUT PROSECUTORS SAYS THE DEFENSE SHOULD NOT HAVE ACCESS TO THE ADDITIONAL RECORDS BECAUSE SOMEONE’S PREVIOUS MENTAL HISTORY SHOULD NOT A PLAY A ROLE IN THE CASE. KNODEL IS FACING UP TO 35 YEARS IN PRISON ON THE CHARGES. HE WAS SUSPENDED FROM TEACHING IN AUGUST. THE TRIAL IS SET TO BEGIN ON MARCH 26TH.
A Fergus Falls woman is under arrest after she allegedly went on a rampage and damaged three cars Wednesday night.
Police say 27-year-old Stephanie Ann Brown, formerly Stephanie Ann Kirk, was apparently upset with her husband about a relationship he had before they were married.
Brown allegedly used her car to ram a woman’s car in the 900 block of East Vernon Avenue. Police came and surveyed the damage. After they took their reports, Brown allegedly showed up again at the same address and started striking the same car with a stick.
Meanwhile, Brown is also allegedly responsible for accidentally damaging two other cars in the north alley behind the 400 block of West Lincoln Avenue.
None of the cars were occupied at the time of the incident. Damage is estimated at well over $1,000. Alcohol was not involved.
Brown was arrested for felony criminal damage to property.
Fish House Break-ins
The Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Department received reports of two fish house break-ins that happened Wednesday night or Thursday morning on the north side of Lake Lida.
In one case, a small Buddy Heater, valued at $100 was taken. In the other break-in, a propane gas lantern, valued at $40, was taken. There are no suspects.
Schultes Shooting Incident
A rural Perham man is jailed in connection with a shooting incident late Wednesday morning southwest of Perham near Lake Marion.
The Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office says 53-year-old Jeffrey Schultes is being held on charges of first-degree attempted murder, second-degree attempted murder and second-degree assault.
Sheriff’s Lieutenant Barry Fitzgibbons…(:20)
”The incident stems from an argument between family members at the rural address. At one point, the suspect, Jeff Schultes, fired a 22 round, striking the window of the car. Subsequently, the victim sustained minor injuries from the broken glass.”
The victim, a 24-year-old Perham man, suffered small abrasions to his face. The suspect, Schultes, was located in a wooded area about ¾ miles south of the shooting scene suffering from mild hypothermia. He was taken to the Perham hospital before being transported to jail. The weapon used in the shooting has been recovered.
Perham Fire Reports Increase In Calls
With the subzero temperatures in the last few days the Perham Fire Department has gotten quite a few calls. Starting last week Thursday at approximately 6:55am a mobile compressor caught fire. Early Saturday they were called to a turkey barn in the 40,000th block of Black Diamond Road where a propane vaporizer had malfunctioned.
At approximately 7:19 on Saturday evening Perham Fire was called to the 200th block of Pine Cone Park where a fire had started in a trailer, in a back laundry utility room. When crews arrived they attempted to knock the fire down, but discovered it had reached past the utility room and had reached all the way to the middle part of the trailer into a kitchen area, Fire Chief Mark Schmidt estimates it will probably be a total loss. 26 Firefighters from Perham attended to the blaze and Vergas Fire Department assisted.
Then, early Monday Perham fire was called to the 200 block of 3rd Ave SE, known as the Bergum Apartments where a fire alarm was activated but there was no fire, so crews helped management reset the alarm.
The woman who stole an SUV from College Way Auto in Fergus Falls January 5th was convicted of motor vehicle theft this morning in Otter Tail County District Court.
Twenty-nine-year-old Latoya Lynne Wilson of Camden, Tennessee, was sentenced to time already served in jail. A 21-month prison sentence was stayed.
Wilson drove off from the dealership after a test drive. She told the judge, “I was trying to get back to Tennessee.” She led authorities on a chase until the SUV ran out of gas west of Fergus Falls.
Wilson will now be made available to Tennessee authorities. She is wanted by the U.S. Marshal’s Office for violating probation on an accomplice to bank robbery conviction in Tennessee.
Her 13-year-old daughter, a passenger in the stolen vehicle, is with family in Tennessee.
A Sabin, Minnesota, man is under arrest for second-degree arson. Fifty-one-year-old Jon Leo Lague is accused of intentionally setting fire to his home on February 6th.
The Clay County Sheriff’s Department, the ATF and the State Fire Marshal’s Office investigated the fire and determined the fire’s origin.
Formal charges have not been filed.
Serious Injury Crash
Two people were seriously injured when the van they were traveling in rolled along Highway 210 about 2:30 Wednesday afternoon.
The state patrol says the crash happened east of Hewitt. The van, driven by 85-year-old Betty Wettstein of Aitkin, was westbound when she veered across the eastbound lane and went into the south ditch, rolling and landing on its wheels.
A passenger in the van, 85-year-old Francis Wettstein of Aitkin, was also seriously injured. The patrol says the pavement was dry at the time.
Frustration was evident when the topic of the Fergus Falls Regional Treatment Center development plan came up on the city council’s agenda. Face to face meetings with developer Ray Willey were supposed to have begun in December last year. But as of Tuesday, none had been scheduled. And not because the city’s negotiating team hasn’t been trying.
Alderman Scott Rachels says its frustrating for him when constituents ask him, “What’s going on?”.
Negotiating team member Anthony Hicks says numerous phone calls have been made, along with many emails, requesting information and possible meeting dates at a neutral site. The city is trying to get a timeline on project financing.
He says a development agreement with Historic Kirkbride would be best negotiated face to face. But he says the city can’t negotiate with itself.
It appears the first opportunity for a face to face meeting is in March.
Health Overhaul Audit – Franson
Minnesota’s legislative auditor says the state health insurance exchange’s failures outweighed its successes in its first year.
The Office of the Legislative Auditor released its wide-ranging audit of MNsure Tuesday. The audit says exchange staff didn’t adequately test its website before launching in 2013 and didn’t share information about technological issues with the MNsure board. The legislative auditor says those and other lapses added to MNsure’s rocky rollout in its first year.
State Representative Mary Franson of Alexandria says she knew two years ago that there would be problems with MNsure, which has such significant power and so little accountability to the public.
She says instead of providing affordable care, MNsure has caused headaches and higher costs for families.
In a formal response to the audit, exchange CEO Scott Leitz says he disagrees with the conclusion that MNsure failed in its first year. He points to Minnesota’s low uninsured rate and says many improvements made the exchange’s second round of open enrollment smoother.
Majority House Republicans have taken an initial step to negate raises awarded to top administration managers by DFL Governor Mark Dayton. The GOP added a clause to a must-pass spending bill Monday that seeks agency budget cuts equal to sizable commissioner raises, which came to light last week. The governor doled out huge raises to 27 commissioners at a cost to taxpayers of $800,000 per year.
Representative Mark Anderson, who represents Wadena, Todd and Cass Counties, says the pay raises are almost shameless spending…:33
“This is really difficult to swallow – the total cost on this $800,000 per year – as if we have all this money in our state coffers. It looks like they’re averaging about $30,000 in raises. But the toughest one to swallow is this Metropolitan Council chair getting an $86,000 increase. Now I don’t know how of you folks at home have gotten an $86,000 increase in the last couple of years, but I haven’t, and I don’t think this guy deserves it either.”
Dayton has offered to meet with the House State Government Finance Committee this month to give his reasoning for the pay raises.
Fire Marshall Investigation
The Minnesota State Fire Marshall’s Office is investigating a house fire in Campbell that occurred about four pm Saturday.
The Wilkin County Sheriff’s Office and Campbell Fire Department were called to the home. The sheriff’s office says the fire was contained to the living room area of the home.
The homeowner, James Mclaren, was not home at the time of the fire. The fire department found the fire to be suspicious.
Nornes Week in Review
State Representative Bud Nornes of Fergus Falls says last week at the capitol was all about agriculture and broadband.
Nornes says on Wedesnday, Dairy Day at the Capitol, the House Agriculture Policy Committee, of which he’s a member, heard some of the challenges facing dairy producers. He says dairy farmers are asking the state for tax relief. Inheritance taxes, estate taxes and property taxes all take bites from the farmers, not to mention costs incurred trying to comply with state regulations.
The subject of broadband has to do with Otter Tail Telcom’s applications for broadband grants. Nornes says all three of the company’s applications were approved.
Otter Tail Telcom is expected to spend almost $878 thousand in overall expenditures in the Swan Lake West project, including the $439 thousand match in state grant funds.
They’ll spend $211 thousand in overall expenditures in the Stuart Lake project, including the $105 thousand match in state grant funds.
There’s also plans for $217 thousand in overall eligible expenditures in the 245th project, including the $109 thousand match in state grant funds.
On another note, Nornes says he’ll continue working on a solution to Governor Mark Dayton’s plan to close the CARE treatment facility in Fergus Falls. He says he’ll attempt to keep the facility open, whether its through the state or private ownership.
And Nornes says he has introduced a $10 million bonding request to help address high-water issues between Fergus Falls and Perham. Problems started there even before last summer’s flooding and his bonding request would help fund long-term solutions.
Field Street To Be Extended With Property Purchase
A Former College Way business location in Fergus Falls, most recently used by Royal Tire at 1960 College Way adjacent to Fleet Farm, and formerly known to long time area residents as the Roller Rink building has been purchased by the city of Fergus Falls in what City Administrator Mark Sievert calls an opportunity to eventually extend Field Street.
No State or local funds have been authorized yet for any road work, but city crews are actively involved in the demolition process at this point to clear the dilapidated building.
Lake Alice Island Trees To Be Adressed
Among the many items discussed at Monday night’s Fergus Falls City Council meeting was the issue of dead trees on Lake Alice, specifically on the islands. Council Member Rod Spidahl expressed concern about polluted soil on the islands as well as how time is of the essence while city crew can get out to the dead brush and trees to clean them up while ice is thick enough…
Spidahl 16 Sec
“I think we’ve heard enough from residents about the eyesore of the dead trees etc., there’s a number of issues here, but I do believe the city wants us to act on some of the things, and with the staff’s recommendation, I think what Jim has said, I think we should hear if they think it is prudent to cut the trees at this point at least.”
A motion was then passed by council to, at the minimum take care of the tree situation. In a related development, rather than replacing topsoil on the islands at this time, the polluted soil will be planted with some inexpensive vegetation over the next year to see if that will mitigate the toxicity.
Other issues discussed included Summerfest and the city’s contribution to that, as well as more discussion on water lines and where the city’s responsibility ends and the homeowner’s begins and whether an individual would continue to pay for a full assessment or the city would pick up the tab and spread the fee out over all users.