NEWS FOR THE LAKES AREA
Anthony Stands Trial
The trial for a Pelican Rapids man accused of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old female is in its second day in Otter Tail County District Court.
Twenty-three-year-old Anthony Lee Stands is charged with third-degree criminal sexual conduct for the assault reported October 10th last year in Pelican Rapids.
Stands contends in a court complaint that the sexual contact was consensual.
The trial is expected to last through Friday.
Judge tosses restraining order against Minnesota blogger
A judge has thrown out a restraining order against a Minnesota blogger who has written about two Lakeville sisters who went missing. The Washington County judge on Tuesday said the woman who accused Michael Brodkorb of harassment brought the petition in the wrong county. Brodkorb has been covering the case of Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, who was sentenced last week for hiding her two daughters for more than two years. Grazzini-Rucki filed a restraining order petition against Brodkorb, claiming he had followed her and intimidated her. In her petition, Grazzini-Rucki listed her home address as the Stillwater business address of her attorney, Michelle MacDonald. Judge John McBride granted the order. After a hearing, McBride threw out the order, saying Brodkorb did not live in Washington County. (Via AP)
Storage Locker Burglaries
Storage lockers located on the east side of Fergus Falls along Highway 210 were burglarized earlier this week.
Police received a report that the locks on five units were cut off. One renter reported the theft of a Hoover carpet shampooer, various clothing, VHS tapes, a John Wayne collectible plate and a John Wayne statue. The items are valued at $1,150.
Another renter reported the theft of a yellow 9” Jiffy ice auger and two mesh bags filled with 36 mallard decoys. Those items were valued at $620.
The other renters have not inventoried their property.
Boat Trailer Theft
The Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the reported theft of a boat trailer from a residence on the east side of Otter Tail Lake.
The North Dakota resident’s trailer is identified as a 2003 Shorelander 21-foot tandem axle roller boat trailer, white in color.
It’s not known exactly when the trailer was taken.
Alexandria police are looking for a man who entered All Stop Gas Station on McKay Avenue Tuesday afternoon and demanded money from an employee.
The man gave the impression he was holding a firearm though it remained concealed underneath his sweatshirt.
The suspect fled the scene with an unknown sum of money. Officers responded to the scene but at this time have been unable to locate the suspect.
The Alexandria Police Department does not believe there is an ongoing risk to the general public.
The man is described as white, about six feet tall, with a slim build. His age is estimated at 30 years old.
Verran Burdunice First Appearance
A Minneapolis man charged in the death of a Fergus Falls man in 2012 made his first appearance in Otter Tail County District Court Monday.
Fifty-three-year-old Verran Zani Burdunice is charged with third-degree murder and Great Bodily Harm caused by distribution. A warrant for his arrest was issued in October, 2012. He was taken into custody on the warrant Monday.
Burdunice is accused of providing drugs to Thomas Rasmussen, who was 23 at the time. Rasmussen was found to be unresponsive in a vehicle parked in a driveway west of Dalton with the engine running on August 10, 2012. He had no pulse when authorities eventually got inside the vehicle. An autopsy determined that methamphetamine and amphetamine caused his death, and that meth levels in his system were toxic.
Burdunice is being held on $200,000 bond or $100,000 cash bail. His next appearance is October 10th.
Otter Tail County Probation To Take New Approach
In a recent update from the Otter Tail County Probation Department at the monthly Board of Commissioners meeting, new Probation Director Desta Lutzwick says they are working on creating better patnerships and collaborations within the county. She says the increased cooperation and communication may lead to better outcomes with certain cases. Upcoming meetings between departments will take place within the next few months and cover a very wide range of topics.
Duck Boat Capsizes
Hunters needed rescuing after the duck boat they were in took on water about 9:30 Saturday morning.
Authorities were called to Christopherson Lake north of Elizabeth. The 14-foot duck boat, occupied by five people, was traveling across rough water when it started taking on water over the bow, causing it to swamp and capsize about 400 yards from shore. There were no life jackets on board.
A 15-year-old boy was able to swim to shore by holding on to the gas tank. Other hunters on shore heard the shouts for help and one of them, a 24-year-old woman, grabbed life jackets and swam to the boat. She encountered one of the hunters swimming toward shore and gave him a life jacket. He continued to shore while the woman took the rest of the life jackets to the other hunters who were hanging onto the capsized boat.
When responders arrived, they could see all four of the remaining people hanging on to the boat. Rothsay Fire was able to launch one of their boats and bring them to shore.
The driver of the boat, 53-year-old Ronald Haugrud of Avon, was arrested for operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol. More charges may be possible.
Habitat for Humanity Director
The Fergus Falls Area Habitat for Humanity has named a new Community Outreach Director. She’s Marcia Johnson, who will be responsible for connecting with the churches, businesses, service organizations and other nonprofits who support Habitat and its mission to eliminate sub-standard housing in our area.
Johnson recently worked for the Red Cross in Fergus Falls as the Business Account Executive for the past nine years.
FERGUS FALLS TOWNSHIP ANNEXATION
The Fergus Falls City Council chambers were full as residents of Woodland Heights packed the room to listen to annexation discussions.
The council wants to move ahead with annexation of portions of Fergus Falls township. They prepared a joint resolution that they are encouraging the township to sign off on.
There are also seven areas where township land is surrounded by the city. Those areas would also be immediately annexed.
The city council voted to hire legal representation to move ahead with the process. The township has not acted on the proposal provided to them.
A “Meet the Candidates” forum will be held for Minnesota Senate District 8 and House District 8A candidates October 14th.
The Fergus Falls Chamber of Commerce is the event host. The forum will focus on business-related issues that affect West Central Minnesota. Questions will be developed by the Chamber Advocacy Committee. Questions from the public will not be taken during the forum. However, a “Meet and Greet” will follow the forum.
Incumbent Republican House 8A candidate Bud Nornes and challenger C.J. Holl have been invited to attend.
Incumbent Republican Senate District 8 candidate Bill Ingebrigtsen and challenger Shawn Olson have also been invited to attend.
The forum will be held at a Center for the Arts from noon to 1:00 pm.
Elbow Lake Open House
An open house for the public to learn about a 2019 project on Highways 55, 59, and 79 in Elbow Lake is scheduled for Thursday, September 29.
The meeting will run from 5:00 to 7:00 pm in the lower level of the Elbow Lake Community Building at 119 Central Avenue. No formal presentation is planned. The project includes pavement resurfacing, sidewalk accessibility improvements, and hydraulic upgrades. The meeting is an opportunity for the public to review the proposed project and offer feedback.
Great Plains Initial Rate Increase Not Approved
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has issued its written order in the rate case for Great Plains Natural Gas. The company had requested a 1.6 million dollar rate increase, or a 6.4 percent overall increase. The Minnesota Department of Commerce had suggested that increase would be excessive. Ross Corson, Director of Communications says that while the case was pending, the public utilities commission had approved an interim rate increase of 1.5 million dollars with customers actually paying that rate since last year, so because the final rate increase was lower than what was approved, customers will be issued a ‘modest’ refund as a result of the final decision. Corson says customers will see an adjustment in their bills over the next few months.
Kiwanis Candidate Forums
The Fergus Falls Kiwanis club will host the fourth annual city government candidate forums.
All forums will be held from noon to 1 pm at the city council chambers and are open to the public.
Ward One and Ward Four will be featured on Monday, October 3rd. Ward One candidates, incumbent Jim Fish and challenger, Ruth Rosengren, will give their views on the issue. Anthony Hicks in the fourth ward, even though he isn’t challenged, will participate in the process.
Ward Two candidates will be featured on Wednesday, October 5th. The candidates are Scott Kvamme, Tom Rufer, and Tedd Steenbock.
Ward Three will be featured on Thursday, October 6th. Incumbent Wayne Hurley and challenger Brent Thompson will provide their views.
And the Mayoral Candidates will be featured on Monday, October 10th. Ben Schierer, Randy Synstelien and Amanda Whitney are the candidates.
Sarah Duffy, from Pemberton Law, will moderate the forums.
False Crash Report
A Battle Lake woman was caught in a lie after she reported being the victim of a hit-and-run driver.
Fergus Falls police received a call shortly before 8:00 am Tuesday from 27-year-old Cassandra Jean Whitcomb reporting that a pickup had sideswiped her while she was westbound on Lincoln Avenue near Western Avenue, and that the driver had failed to stop at the scene.
She told police there would likely be significant damage to the passenger side of an early 2000s yellow Dodge Ram pickup.
Upon further investigation, it was discovered there was no accident and that Whitcomb had falsely reported a hit and run after she ran into a light post in the Walmart parking lot.
Mahnomen County Murder
A Minneapolis woman is facing murder charges in connection with the death of a Minneapolis man in Mahnomen County last month. The Mahnomen County Sheriff's Department says 41-year-old Andrea Ortley was arrested on August 27th in Minneapolis in connection with the death of Jon Rock on August 12th. Ortley made her initial court appearance this week in Mahnomen County District Court on charges of third degree murder. Bail was set at 50-thousand dollars cash or 500-thousand dollars bond. Ortley's next court appearance is scheduled for September 13th in Mahnomen County. According to reports filed in the case, Mahnomen County Dispatch received a call of a male bleeding from his leg at a residence south of Mahnomen. When law enforcement arrived they found a deceased man, Jon Rock, with a stab wound to his upper leg.