NEWS FOR THE LAKES AREA
Outstanding Media Service Award
Fergus Falls Sportscaster Craig Olson is this year’s recipient of the Minnesota State High School League’s Outstanding Media Service Award. The award, in its third year, honors a media member for their excellence, dedication, and commitment to coverage of high school sports.
High School League Communications Coordinator Tim Leighton says representatives of the 525 member schools nominate individuals for the award. And he says it wasn’t just Fergus Falls High School that nominated Olson. There were over 35 candidates nominated for this year’s award. Olson will receive the award during half time of the Class 3A championship game Saturday night at the Target Center. He’ll also be featured in the high school league’s quarterly magazine being sent to schools in April.
Dalton Garage Fire
Fire destroyed a detached garage at a residence southeast of Dalton early Thursday morning. The garage was fully engulfed when Dalton firefighters arrived at the Timothy Mounts residence about 1:45 am. The home’s residents were home at the time of the fire but were not injured. The cause of the fire is believed to be an outdoor wood burning furnace located next to the garage.
Becker County Bat Disease
Becker County is among six counties in Minnesota where a disease that can kill hibernating bats is present. The Department of Natural Resources says white-nose syndrome has been confirmed in Becker, Dakota, Fillmore, Goodhue, and Washington counties. The first confirmed case was last March in St. Louis County. Recent DNR surveys have found the annual bat count down from 31 to 73 percent in locations where the disease has been found.
The disease is named for the white fungal growth observed on infected bats. It is not known to pose a threat to humans, pets, livestock or other wildlife.
The DNR is working with federal and state officials to consider a variety of treatment trials, to test new fungicides that may kill WNS spores. Treatments are unlikely to eradicate WNS, but could slow the spread and reduce the number of bat deaths.
WNS was first documented in North America in 2007 in eastern New York and has since spread to 30 states and five Canadian provinces, killing more than 5.7 million bats.
The DNR asks anyone who sees a sick or dead bat to submit a Bat Observation Report. DNR staff reviews the reports and additional follow-up or testing is conducted as needed.
Bemidji School Administrator Facing Child Sex Charges
A middle school assistant principal in Bemidji is in jail for allegedly soliciting children in sexual acts. 34-year-old Brandon Bjerkness is in the Beltrami County Jail awaiting charges on soliciting a child though electronic communication and soliciting children to engage in sexual conduct. Bjerkness was hired as the assistant principal in 2014. He had previously been a fifth grade teacher for the district. Charges are still pending.
Fergus Falls police received a report Tuesday of the theft of a torch, tank, and cart from Thiele Technologies. An employee had left the items outside from 9pm Saturday to 10am Sunday. The items are valued at $700.
Two MState Fergus Falls students are jailed after a search of their apartments turned up stolen goods. Aaron Lionel Pierre and Travis Mogene, both 20, are charged with second-degree burglary. They are accused of entering two apartments at College Manor on North Tower Road and stealing two flat screen televisions, two Play Station 4s, five controllers, and six games Tuesday. Campus security was able to name suspects after reviewing video. Search warrants were executed at Pierre and Mogene’s apartments and the stolen items were returned to the victims.
Police were notified Tuesday of a theft of a backpack and purse from a car in the 1100 block of Park Street. The items had been left in the car overnight. There are no suspects.
Police were informed of an apparent scam Tuesday. A Fergus Falls resident received a phone call from an unknown female claiming to work for Herbergers. The caller wanted the resident to make a payment using a credit card. No information was exchanged. Herbergers advised it was a scam.
Fire Destroys Home On Peace River Ranch Road
Nothing suspicious and no cause has yet been found following a fire that destroyed a rural Becker County Monday evening. Detroit Lakes Fire Chief Scott Flynn says the state fire marshal’s office is conducting a routine investigation of the fire scene at the home on Peace River Ranch Road. Flynn says it appears the fire was accidental, there is nothing suspicious. He said the homeowner had left for a while and returned to find the house on fire and called it in. Fire departments from Detroit Lakes, Frazee and Wolf Lake were dispatched to the scene on Peace River Ranch Road around 7:15 pm Monday. Flynn says the home was a complete loss due to fire and smoke damage. No injuries were reported and the sole resident of the house is staying with a neighbor.
Polk County Shooting
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has identified the man who died in an officer-involved shooting incident that happened Monday in rural Polk County. The BCA says the man who died of a gunshot wound at the scene of the incident has been identified by the Grand Forks Medical Examiner as 73 year old Clarence Duane Huderle of Warren. How Huderle died is under investigation by the BCA. According to a press release from the BCA, an officer had responded to the report of a rural mail carrier, who, while delivering mail had the rear window of his vehicle shot out. A Polk County deputy arrived at the scene where the shots were fired and while investigating confronted Huderle armed with a rifle. The deputy had called for assistance and other agencies responded. Preliminary investigation indicated Huderle fired at the deputy, striking his vehicle and Huderle was later located deceased outside his residence with a high powered rifle. The BCA interviewed one law enforcement officer who had fired his weapon. The officer is a member of the Pine to Prairie Drug Task Force and his identity is not being named because he works in an undercover capacity according to the BCA. No further information was given as the BCA says the investigation of the case is still open and when it's complete the agency will turn over its findings to the Polk County Attorney's office for review.
Local Youth Conservation Corps Seeking Entrants
It’s almost time to start the Youth Conservation Corps for another year. The YCC has introduced young Americans to conservation opportunities in public lands since the program was created in 1970. Youths who are between 15-18 years old will have an opportunity to help maintain the wetland management district. Applications can be picked up from the Prairie Wetlands Visitor Center in Fergus Falls. The program is administered by the Department of Interior, Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, National Park Service, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Caregiver Pay Increase Moving Through The Legislature
Wages have not kept pace for those who care for people with disabilities in the state. Productive Alternatives in Fergus Falls is supporting a much needed pay increase for the direct support professionals who do this work. Area legislators including Bud Nornes, Bill Ingebrigstson, and Mary Franson have also signed off on the bill in the house and the senate.
Minnesota’s providers of training and employment services for people with disabilities are finding great difficulty in attracting and keeping direct support employees, jeopardizing the wellbeing of people served by their organizations. Increasing regulations are also taking time away from these staff members, who should instead be helping individuals with disabilities. The bill is tied into a large health and human services omnibus funding bill.
Fergus Falls police received a report over the weekend of a burglary at Augustana Lutheran Church.
One or more people broke into a locked office inside the church. Unspecified electronic equipment was taken.
The burglary was reported Saturday afternoon.
A 43-year-old Fergus Falls man has been mailed a citation for theft in connection with an incident Saturday night in the 900 block of East Vernon Avenue.
A woman told police that $170 cash fell out of her pocket and the suspect picked it up and left the scene.
Horse Throw Fatal
An Underwood woman has died from injuries sustained when she was thrown from a horse Wednesday afternoon.
The Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office identifies the victim as 48-year-old Kirsten Laney.
Laney was riding a horse with a friend in a wooded area near her home east of Underwood when her horse was suddenly spooked. Laney fell from the horse and sustained a fatal head injury.
Laney and her friend, who was riding a second horse, had been riding for about 30 minutes before the incident.
Teacher Layoffs Bill
When Minnesota school districts get into financial trouble, faculty positions are often the place school boards look to to balance the budget. But the old rule of thumb – last hired, first fired – could be a thing of the past with legislation passed Thursday by the Minnesota House.
The bill gives more power to local school districts to decide which teachers are cut from the roster. Democrats say taking away teacher protections will almost certainly made the state’s teacher shortage worse, especially in rural areas.
But Republican State Representative Bud Nornes, one of many co-authors of the bill, says students deserve the best teachers possible, whether young or old.Nornes says it would be just another tool for administrators to have at their disposal.The bill has been introduced in the Senate and has been given a first reading.
Osakis Bridge Closes
Motorists south of Osakis will have to find alternate ways to cross Interstate 94 when construction begins on the Highway 27 bridge and the bridge over I-94 closes next Monday.
Motorists will be directed 11.5 miles west of Highway 27 to Highway 29, or 4.5 miles east of Highway 27 to Douglas County Road 46 near West Union.
Once the bridge is closed, it will stay closed through early July. All ramps at the I-94/Highway 27 interchange will remain open. And I-94 at Highway 27 will be reduced to one lane as needed through early July.
The closures are needed while crews redeck, repair, and resurface the bridge; repair and resurface both bridge approaches; and resurface all four interchange ramps.
Minnesota College Students More At Risk For Problem Gambling
This month is being recognized nationally as problem gambling month, and the focus is on college students. Nearly six percent of college students in the United States have a gambling problem or issues. The Minnesota Department of Human Services has started a new campaign called “JUST ASK MN”, to raise awareness with young people about the risks associated with gambling.
“JUST ASK MN” includes a website and social media outreach that will hopefully connect a younger demographic to the actual consequences and better understanding the signs of a gambling problem.
Dwight Robertson Sentenced
A Clitherall man had one too many DWIs. Sixty-eight-year-old Dwight Eric Robertson was sentenced Friday in Otter Tail County District Court to six years in the St. Cloud prison.
Robertson pleaded guilty earlier to DWI in connection with a traffic stop in Parker’s Prairie October 3rd last year. According to a court complaint, Robertson was obviously intoxicated when pulled over. He refused tests at the scene and at the jail.
Robertson was convicted of felony DWI on three previous occasions – once in Otter Tail County and once in Douglas County in 2003 as well as in Otter Tail County in 2013. His license had been cancelled as inimical to public safety.
FF Essential Air Service
Fergus Falls to Minneapolis scheduled air service could be reestablished in Fergus Falls in the future.
Minnesota Congressman Collin Peterson met with Fergus Falls Mayor Ben Schierer and airport personnel this week and Peterson says there’s interest in starting up scheduled air service again.
Peterson says Thief River Falls just got their service going again with a company called Boutique Air out of San Francisco. Peterson says he doesn’t believe federal essential air service authorization was ever terminated. He’ll be checking into that. If it has been terminated, he’ll find out what has to be done to reestablish it. Even if the city still has authorization, a TSA would have to be established at the airport. And a study of potential demand would have to be undertaken before approaching Boutique Air. Boutique Air is currently flying single engine turbine Pilatus PC-12s with nine seats.
Cody Dahl First Appearance
A rural Richville man accused of burning down his own home has been ordered to undergo mental health assessments at Lakeland Mental Health Center in Fergus Falls.
Thirty-five-year-old Cody James Dahl made his first district court appearance this week on a charge of first-degree arson.
According to a court complaint, authorities were called to Dahl’s home west of Ottertail Saturday night after a neighbor reported smoke coming from Dahl’s home. When an Otter Tail County deputy arrived at the scene, he observed Dahl leaving the scene and his house on fire.
That same deputy pulled Dahl’s vehicle over and when confronting Dahl, could smell smoke consistent with a house fire, distinguished from a campfire. Black soot was allegedly on Dahl’s hands, neck, and face.
The deputy reportedly commented to Dahl that he smelled like a fire and asked him if he started any fires. Dahl allegedly thought about that for a second and stated he started his house on fire. When the deputy asked him why, he responded that he no longer wanted to live there. Dahl was arrested for arson and taken to jail. Dahl was reportedly in possession of a lighter, crumpled up paper and a headlamp. During a second interview, Dahl allegedly stated that he started a fire in the garage and used gasoline. The house was encumbered by a mortgage from Wells Fargo.
A Rule 20 mental evaluation was ordered. Bond was set at $50,000 with cash bail at $5,000.
The mental evaluation, due back to Judge Sharon Benson within 60 days, will determine if Dahl is capable of understanding his criminal proceedings and is able to participate in his defense.
Burns without Permit
A Garfield man has been cited for failure to obtain a burning permit in connection with a fire on land the man owns east of Sebeka.
The Wadena County Sheriff’s Office received a call of a structure fire in Meadow Township late last Saturday morning.
The officials arrived at the scene, a small detached garage and an abandoned house were found to be fully engulfed in flames. The landowner, Jeremy Wagner, told authorities he just wanted to burn the garage down, but the flames spread to the abandoned house.
Wagner stated he did not have a burning permit even though he knew he needed one.
A rural Ottertail residence and shop was reportedly burglarized in February. The owner called authorities to report that floor boards, gauges, and fairings for a Harley Davidson motorcycle were stolen from his shop and change was taken from his house. The stolen items are valued at $5,400. The items were taken sometime between February 8th and 24th.
Christopher Bone First Appearance
A 44-year-old Fergus Falls man has been charged in Otter Tail County District Court with second and fifth-degree assault.
Christopher William Bone allegedly threatened a man with a folding knife at a residence in the 400 block of East Vernon Avenue March 10th.
Bone was arrested at the Fergus Falls VFW. He’s being held on $20,000 cash or bond. His next court appearance is April 10th.
Christopher Wilkie First Appearance
A Sheldon, North Dakota, man has been charged in Otter Tail County District Court with one count of first-degree drug sales, second-degree drug sales and second-degree drug possession.
Twenty-two-year-old Christopher Lee Wilkie is believed to be the owner of 45 grams of methamphetamine found in an SUV in Dalton March 10th.
State troopers and sheriff’s deputies were called to the Corner Store on a report of an invalid debit card being used to pay for gasoline and the vehicle’s occupants acting strangely. While troopers talked to the car’s four occupants, they noticed methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia in the vehicle.
A drug-sniffing dog discovered the methamphetamine, inside baggies in a coat pocket. They also found a meth pipe. Authorities confiscated numerous cell phones, tablets, and lap top computers.
Wilkie is being held on $50,000 cash or bond. He has been ordered to sign a waiver of extradition to face charges in Cass County, North Dakota.
His next court appearance is scheduled for April 7th.
Fire Department Urges City Residents To Get Burning Permits Early
With spring still several weeks away, its odd to think about burning permits for fire pits or fire bowls, but that’s exactly what the Fergus Falls Fire Department wants residents to do. The best part is there is no fee for the lifetime of the property owner, and it if you do rent your property you only have to renew it once a year. The permits are available at City Hall. The Fire Department reminds residents that under no circumstances does the permit give residents in town the option of burning garbage or paperboard products. This is illegal and could result in a hefty fine.
Rebecca Draack Theft Citation
An Elbow Lake woman has been cited for theft for stealing a dog from the Otter Tail County Humane Society.
Fergus Falls Police received a report late Tuesday morning of a missing puppy from the humane society. The theft took place sometime between 4 pm and 5 pm Monday.
An American Bulldog puppy valued at $400 was taken. Humane Society staff had a suspect. Police cited 26-year-old Rebecca Draack for theft. The puppy was later returned to the humane society.
Kameron Boudin Trial
The jury trial of a rural Parker’s Prairie man is underway in Otter Tail County District Court today.
Twenty-eight-year-old Kameron Erik Boudin is charged with a fifth-degree controlled substance crime, first-degree criminal damage to property, and two petty misdemeanors – possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of a small amount of marijuana.
Authorities were called to Boudin’s home near Pickeral Lake northeast of Underwood on June 23rd, 2015 for a domestic disturbance. Boudin was allegedly throwing items around the home and furniture onto the front lawn. A metal frame for a futon struck a woman on the shoulder, cutting her. Boudin also caused an estimated $1,195 damage to the interior of a squad car after his arrest. He allegedly tried to kill himself while in the squad car.
Boudin has a warrant for his arrest out of Chisago County for failing to appear on a reckless discharge of a firearm charge.
The trial should wrap up by tomorrow (Thursday).
Shawn Agar First Appearance
A 32-year-old Fergus Falls man has been charged in Otter Tail County District Court with possession of a firearm after being convicted of a crime of violence.
Shawn Patrick Agar is accused of selling a .22 caliber pistol to a confidential informant on February 7th.
Agar is a convicted felon and is prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition. He is also on probation.
Agar made his first appearance on the charge Monday. He was released on his own recognizance. His next appearance is scheduled for April 24th.
Misty Gustafson First Appearance
A rural Wadena woman made her first appearance in Otter Tail County District Court Monday on charges of theft and rustling and livestock theft.
Thirty-six-year-old Misty Ann Gustafson is accused of stealing an Angus bull and Angus cow from a neighbor, then selling the cattle at the Perham Stock Yards.
The bull sold for $1,060 and the cow for $780. According to a court complaint, Gustafson said she and her husband had already spent the money received. She said the money was needed to support their family and six children.
The Angus bull was reportedly registered. The owner believed that increased the value of the bull to $3,250.
Gustafson has been released on her own recognizance. Her next court appearance is scheduled for May 15th.
Jamie Hutchins First Appearance
A 48-year-old Fergus Falls man has been charged in Otter Tail County District Court with second-degree burglary.
Jamie Michael Hutchins made his first appearance Monday. He’s accused of breaking into a Fergus Falls home in the 1000 block of West Cavour Avenue May 20th last year. Two books of checks and some old coins were taken.
Police believe Hutchins cut through a window screen and crawled in the window, then ransacked drawers throughout the home looking for items to steal.
A knife believed to have been used to enter the home allegedly had DNA matching Hutchins.
Hutchins was released from custody on his own recognizance. His next court appearance will be May 15th.
Becker County Fatal
A Naytahwaush man is dead following a one-vehicle crash in Becker County Tuesday.
The Becker County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a rollover crash about 10:30 am on County Highway 21, seven miles north of Detroit Lakes. A Chevy Traverse driven by 41-year-old Marvin Tibbetts, Junior, went out of control and entered the east ditch. The vehicle then hit an approach and came to rest against a tree.
Tibbetts was taken by ambulance to Essentia-St. Mary’s Hospital in Detroit Lakes where he was pronounced dead. The cause of the crash remains under investigation.
A man struck and killed by a train in Fargo has been identified as 39-year-old Kyle M. Kubousek of Fargo. Police say the death does not appear to be an accident but foul play is not suspected. The incident was reported around 4 yesterday morning in the 4000 block of Main Avenue by a BNSF crew member who witnessed it. He told police it did not appear Kubousek made an attempt to cross the tracks in front of the west bound freight train. At the same time, an eastbound train was passing the location.
Dalton Drug Arrest
Three people were arrested and one person was cited following an incident in Dalton about 7:40 am Friday.
Staff at the Dalton Corner Store called authorities to report that four people in a car pulled in and dispensed $49 in gas. They tried to pay for it with an invalid credit card. They were also said to be acting strangely.
State Patrol troopers and Otter Tail County Sheriff’s deputies went to the location and talked to the car’s occupants. While talking to them, they discovered methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia.
Three of those in the car were arrested. Forty-one-year-old Robert James Murray of Twin Valley was arrested on a Clearwater County warrant. Two North Dakota residents were also arrested. They are identified as 21-year-old Christopher Lee Wilkie, who was arrested on a probable cause charge of second-degree drug possession and a Cass County, North Dakota, warrant; and 18-year-old Mikayla Rae Norquay, who was arrested on probable cause charges of receiving stolen property, financial transaction card fraud, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Authorities say they discovered over one ounce of methamphetamine in the vehicle and another stolen credit card. The fourth person in the vehicle was not arrested. There is no other information available on that person.
Chris Bone Arrested
A 44-year-old Fergus Falls man was arrested last Friday afternoon after he allegedly threatened a man with a knife.
Chris Bone was reportedly intoxicated when he pulled a knife out during an argument with a 62-year-old Fergus Falls man at a residence in the 400 block of East Vernon Avenue.
Police arrested Bone away from the residence on a probable cause charge of second-degree assault with a weapon. The victim was not injured.
Minnesota Reinsurance Bill
The Minnesota House of Representatives has approved a bill that would provide double-digit reductions on health insurance premiums by mitigating the impact of high-risk consumers in the individual market.
The bill would establish a state-based reinsurance program administered by the Minnesota Comprehensive Health Association, which for more than 40 years, ran a high-risk pool that brought stability to the individual market and ensured the sickest Minnesotans had access to coverage. Projections indicate the move could reduce premiums by about 18 percent.
State Representative Bud Nornes of Fergus Falls says it’s another step toward restoring some common sense in Minnesota health care.
The new program would be funded by existing revenue sources. The MCHA board, comprised of members of the public and health plan experts, would design payment parameters to mitigate risk, stabilize or reduce premium rates, increase participation, and account for federal funding available for the plan. The Minnesota Senate is expected to vote on a similar proposal in the coming weeks.
A fire that destroyed a home west of Ottertail on Long Lake has led to the arrest of the owner of the home for first-degree arson.
A neighbor reported smoke coming from the home of 35-year-old Cody Dahl of rural Richville about 9:45 pm Saturday.
Dahl allegedly had mental health issues. He allegedly gathered up materials in his attached garage and set fire to them. An accelerant was believed to have been used.
When authorities arrived, the garage and house were engulfed and Dahl had left the scene. He was later stopped in his vehicle and arrested. His vehicle was towed for evidence.
The home is a complete loss. The motive for the fire is not known. The state fire marshal’s office is investigating the fire.
Two Nelson people were injured, one critically, when an ATV crashed in Douglas County late Saturday afternoon.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office says the crash happened north of Nelson about 5:30 pm.
An ATV driven by 28-year-old Aaron Salo flipped over. He and a passenger, 53-year-old Diane Danner were thrown from the vehicle. While both were injured, Danner was able to return to the residence to get help.
Deputies found Salo near the ATV unconscious. He was treated at the scene by paramedics, then flown by LifeLink to the St. Cloud Hospital. Danner was also treated at the scene, then transported to the Douglas County Hospital.
Salo had surgery and his condition isn’t known. Danner was admitted to the Douglas County Hospital and is listed in fair condition.
The cause of the crash remains under investigation.
BB Player Injured
Fans were nervous about a student injury in last night’s Fergus Falls Hillcrest and Park Christian basketball game in Fergus Falls.
At the end of regulation, a collision knocked Park Christian Junior Guard Steele Senske to the floor, where he was motionless for quite some time before paramedics were called to the Hillcrest gymnasium.
According to Park Christian officials, Senske suffered a severe concussion. Good news though, Senske was sent home, where he’s recuperating today.
The Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office received a report Thursday of a burglary at a residence northwest of Underwood.
The owner reported that sometime in the last month, several items were stolen from a detached garage.
Items missing include a Stihl chainsaw with a yellow case, a Craftsman chopsaw, a Dewalt corded saws-all, a Poulan chainsaw, and three five-gallon gas cans.
The stolen items are valued at $1,120.
Daniel Lang Sentenced
A Fargo man, formerly of Pelican Rapids, has been sentenced in Otter Tail County District Court to 180 days in jail.
Fifty-two-year-old Daniel Todd Lang was convicted of second-degree criminal sexual conduct. He inappropriately touched an 11-year-old girl in the summer of 2015.
A 36-month prison term was stayed. Lang was placed on 25 years probation.
Ashley Hamilton Sentenced
A Clitherall woman has been sentenced to time served in Otter Tail County District Court concerning two individual cases.
Thirty-four-year-old Ashley Renee Hamilton was convicted of fifth-degree controlled substance crime in one case. She sold meth to a confidential informant in Fergus Falls in July, 2015.
She was convicted of first-degree burglary in another case. Last June, Hamilton forced her way into a house on the 1100 block of Mount Faith Avenue in Fergus Falls June 23rd last year, and assaulted people inside the home.
A 45-month prison term was stayed. Hamilton was given credit for 402 days served in jail. She’ll be on probation for 20 years.
James Helps Recaptured
A Fergus Falls man who escaped from custody while working on a Sentence to Service crew February 14th has been captured.
Fergus Falls police say 36-year-old James Fitzpatrick Helps was nabbed in Fargo at about 10:00 pm Wednesday.
Helps left his Sentence to Service work crew
Fergus Falls Habitat for Humanity To Begin Family Selection
Family Selection for Fergus Falls Habitat For Humanity is about to begin, and will only be open for one month. Stan Carrigan with the organization says they want two have 2 families selected for a 2018 build. Fergus Falls Habitat will be holding their Spring Fling Annual Fundraiser on April 27th.