NEWS FOR THE LAKES AREA
LOTS OF CANCELLATIONS AND POSTPONEMENTS, CLICK HERE FOR LATEST UPDATES:
The Community Co-Op Cenex Convenience Store in Flom has been gutted by fire. Norman County Sheriff Jeremy Thornton says the call came in just before 7 Monday morning. He says fire departments from Twin Valley, Waubun, Ogema and Ulen responded. Thornton says the building may be a total loss. A Deputy State Fire Marshal will look for the cause. The Flom Store is part of a five-chain cooperative with other locations in Lake Park, Mahnomen, Twin Valley and Detroit Lakes.
John Eiden New Charges
A Forest Lake man, a student at MState in Fergus Falls, will face additional charges after assaulting jail staff. Nineteen-year-old John Prince Eiden was charged Monday with two felony counts of fourth-degree assault of a correctional employee. According to a court complaint, Eiden was acting strangely in his Otter Tail County jail unit December 2nd, causing jail staff to attempt a lock down to keep other inmates safe. When they tried to escort Eiden back to his cell, he allegedly punched a female officer in the eye, and struck a male officer twice in the head. It took five officers to subdue Eiden and restrain him. Eiden was in jail in connection with an incident at an apartment building on the MState campus earlier that day. He allegedly damaged a large flat screen television and a wall and then went to another apartment where he refused to leave. He is charged with misdemeanor counts of fourth-degree damage to property and trespassing.
Barr Charged With Manslaughter
A Twin Cities man has been charged with manslaughter for the death of a Vadnais Heights, Minnesota woman after human remains were found west of Fargo on Friday. The Sheriff's Office says Timothy Barr led deputies to the location where the remains were found. Barr had earlier been charged in St. Paul, but those charges were dropped as the search for the body of 45 year-old Michelle Newell was underway. Newell was last seen with Barr at a farm southwest of Fargo in late August.
Alexandria police say a 30-year-old Osakis man is in custody awaiting a court appearance for a Saturday night incident.
Police were called to Fat Daddy’s Bar about 11:40 pm for a fight involving a knife. Officers responded and took Jeremy Opperud into custody on a probable cause charge of second-degree assault.
Witnesses reported that Opperud attempted to stab a 38-year-old St. Joseph man. The motive for the assault is not known and it doesn’t appear the two knew each other prior to the assault.
The case remains under investigation. The victim did not require medical attention.
After Major Victory, ND Pipeline Protesters To Defy Deadline
Protesters celebrated a major victory in their push to reroute the Dakota Access oil pipeline away from a tribal water source but pledged to remain camped on federal land in North Dakota anyway, despite Monday's government deadline to leave. Hundreds of people at the Seven Council Fires, encampment cheered after the Army Corps of Engineers refused Sunday to grant the company permission to extend the pipeline beneath a Missouri River reservoir. The company constructing the pipeline, Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, released a statement Sunday night slamming the Army Corps' decision as politically motivated and alleging that President Obama's administration was determined to delay the matter until he leaves office. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe and its supporters argue that extending the project beneath Lake Oahe would threaten the tribe's water source and cultural sites. The segment is the last major sticking point for the four-state, $3.8 billion project.
Perham Woman Injured in Crash
A Perham woman was injured Saturday when the car she was driving ran off Highway 10 east of Lake Park due to the weather.
The State Patrol says 20-year-old Alyssa Graphenteen was taken by ambulance with non life-threatening injuries.
That crash happened shortly before 7:00 pm.
Another Business Puts Salvation Army Outside Doors
Another Fergus Falls retailer, Walmart, is placing Salvation Army bellringers outside their doors this holiday season. Walmart is now enforcing a longstanding agreement of 15 feet of distance from their doors. Capt. Linda McCormick with the Fergus Falls Salvation Army says it is too early to tell what the impact will be for attracting volunteers to do bell-ringing. McCormick says any avoidance of a store by someone will only hurt the workers and their families. All donations made to the red kettles will remain in Fergus Falls where they were collected, and help The Salvation Army provide food, clothing, shelter, and financial assistance to area residents.
Two Wanted for Stealing ATM
Arrest warrants have been issued in Becker County for two suspects involved in the break-in at a business and theft of an ATM in Pelican Rapids last week. A Lake Park man and Arizona woman are suspects in the theft of an ATM from a Pelican Rapids business on Thanksgiving. According to court records, the Becker County Sheriff's Office was contacted the morning of November 24th around 7:30 by the owner of the Cormorant Inn and Suites off Highway 5 in Pelican Rapids about a burglary sometime between 1:00am and 7:00am that day. When deputies arrived they observed a glass door had been shattered and an ATM, which the business's owner said held several thousand dollars, had been taken. Records indicate vehicle tracks lead up to the door.
About a half hour later that morning in Frazee, a 2005 Tahoe reported stolen from Lake Park was located in Frazee. Police in Frazee noted another vehicle had left the area where the Tahoe had been found. Further investigation turned up a cashbox, apparently from an ATM, was found next to the Tahoe. Other evidence at the scene included tire tracks and shoeprints--which matched those left at the sight of the ATM burglary. Following up later with the owner of the vehicle that had left the scene in Frazee, police learned the man had received a call from 36 year old Dale Lee Anderson of Lake Park and 37 year old Dierdra Martel Eckers of Chino Valley, AZ, saying they were stuck in Frazee and needed a ride. Investigators also learned that Anderson and Eckers had gone to a residence in Frazee and used the person’s phone to call for a ride. Each face a count of 3rd degree Burglary and a count of theft.
Yankowiak Trial Verdict
An Otter Tail County jury has acquitted a 49-year-old Faribault man on a charge of first-degree criminal damage to property.
The verdict was returned Wednesday during the second day of the trial against Paul George Yankowiak.
Yankowiak had been accused of vandalizing a home southwest of Sebeka on November 30th, 2014.
Frazee Man Arrested After Knife Incident
Charges are pending against a Frazee man who was arrested Wednesday morning after an incident at the Becker County Human Services Building in Detroit Lakes. According to the Becker County Sheriff's Office, just before 10:45 am the Sheriff's department received a call from the Human Services front desk stating there was an agitated man in their lobby sharpening a knife. Several law enforcement officers from the Sheriff's office and the Detroit Lakes Police Department responded to the scene. The incident report states 45 year old Donald Merrill of Frazee was taken into custody and law enforcement found he had several knives and controlled substances on him. Merrill was arrested and booked into the Becker County Jail. The Sheriff's Office says there were no direct threats made involving a knife. The incident is under investigation and formal charges are pending.
Douglas County Drug Search
The Douglas County SWAT Team executed a search warrant at an Alexandria residence Tuesday and arrested a 48-year-old Alexandria man.
Alexandria police say the search took place at a residence in the 500 block of 6th Avenue East. Authorities allegedly found about 77 grams of methamphetamine and more than $20,000 in suspected drug cash proceeds. Stolen property was also discovered.
Timothy Brockopp was arrested at the scene without incident. He is being held pending formal charges. More arrests are possible.
Waubun Woman Arrested For DWI
A Waubun woman faces felony DWI charges after leading police on a chase in northern Becker County with her young son in the vehicle last week. According to court documents filed this week in Becker County District Court, around 5:00pm last Wednesday, White Earth Police responded to the report of a possible break in and the suspects leaving the scene in a gold minivan. One police officer located the van on a trail in the Elbow Lake Village area. Documents allege, the officer proceeded head-on toward the van but the van didn't stop, struck the squad car on the front passenger side, and continued on the trail toward State Highway 113. Once on Hwy 113 another officer located the van and he activated his siren and followed the swerving van at various speeds before the van came to an abrupt stop about 100 yards from the Mahnomen County line. The officer ordered the driver, 29 year old Lucille Meyer, out of the vehicle and arrested her. Reports state the officer smelled a strong odor of alcohol coming from Meyer who also slurred her speech. In the van, a 7 year old boy, Meyer's son, was located in a backseat of the van. Court documents state, that nearly two and a half hours following the incident, Meyer's agreed to a blood draw which indicated her blood alcohol content was .25, which is over three times the legal driving limit of .08. Meyer faces two counts of felony DWI and one count of fleeing a peace officer. She has previous DWI convictions from 2014 and August of 2016.
Campbell Smoke in Home
The Campbell and Tintah Fire Departments were called out after 11 pm Monday on a report of smoke in a Campbell residence. All of the home’s occupants got out safely. During the response, Campbell fireman Benjamin Loll was struck by a fire truck. He suffered an ankle injury and was taken to the hospital by a private vehicle.
The cause of the smoke in the ceilings and walls is still being investigated. The smoke was in the area of the chimney.
Wadena Snowmobile Accident
A 28-year-old Menahga man has been charged in Wadena County District Court with criminal vehicular operation and first-degree driving while impaired in connection with a snowmobile accident November 21st.
The Wadena County Sheriff’s Office says two people riding a snowmobile south of Menahga were found unconscious in the roadway about 2:45 pm.
Carl Hendrickson was driving the snowmobile westbound on 340th Street when he put the snowmobile into a sideways skid and rolled it.
Hendrickson and his passenger, 26-year-old Stephanie Velasio of Fargo, were not wearing helmets. They were taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Park Rapids. Velasio was transported to a higher level of care facility for her injuries. Hendrickson was treated and released.
Bail for Hendrickson was set at $4,000.
Shop Fire B.L.
Fire destroyed a shop in Battle Lake early Friday afternoon. The Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office says Jeffrey Harms had just stoked fire for heat, went into his residence, then looked out the window and saw a fire.
The shop and its miscellaneous garden equipment and tools are considered a total loss.
The fire is not considered suspicious.
Azzel Foster First Appearance
A Nashville, Tennessee, man made his first appearance in Otter Tail County District Court Wednesday in criminal sexual conduct charges.
Twenty-four-year-old Azzel Mickeyle Foster is charged in Otter Tail County with three counts each of first and second-degree criminal sexual conduct, involving a six-year-old girl.
Foster is accused of having sexual contact with the girl in Fergus Falls on multiple occasions between November 1, 2014 and February 28, 2015. A complaint warrant was issued for his arrest September 29th this year after the alleged abuse was reported.
A public defender was granted by the court. A bail study was ordered. Foster’s next court appearance will be December 9th.
Detroit Mountain Recreation Area Opening
Winter sports enthusiasts will have to wait a bit longer to enjoy their usual winter wonderland endeavors.
Due to the unseasonably warm November weather, Detroit Mountain Recreation Area's White Friday opening didn’t happen. The staff at DMRA say they were on course to open with the hiring and training of nearly 150 employees and snowmaking, but the rain Monday night and warming temperatures throughout the week made a significant amount of terrain unsafe to ski. DMRA says they'll do their best to make snow this week and work to opening Saturday, Dec. 3rd. The expanded tubing hills will open December 10th.
Due to the delayed opening, they are extending the season pass price increase through Sunday, Dec. 4th. You can purchase online or come by the Mountain Lodge today through Dec. 2nd from 10am-6pm.
Three Burglary Arrests
Three 18-year-old Fergus Falls residents have been arrested in connection with numerous burglaries at a rural Underwood residence.
Chandler Ollila, Simon Hoffbeck, and Jac Thorstenson are three of eight adults and juveniles suspected of burglarizing the property between October 19th and November 8th. They were arrested November 18th. Charges are expected against the remaining identified and involved suspects.
Over $7,000 worth of stolen property has been recovered at this point, with more property still outstanding. Forced entry was made to a storage building and a residence on the property was also entered.
Vandalism was caused to the interior of the storage building as well as a vehicle parked inside. Windows on the vehicle were broken with estimates of damage over $1,500.
Dustin Howells Plea Hearing
A Battle Lake man pleaded guilty this week in Otter Tail County District Court to felony motor vehicle theft and misdemeanor DWI.
Twenty-eight-year-old Dustin Levi Howells stole a car in Battle Lake on July 30th and rolled it nearby. He had a blood alcohol content of .137.
A plea agreement calls for a 90-day jail term and restitution for the damaged car if requested.
He’ll be sentenced January 9th.
Victoria Avila Sentenced
A Fergus Falls woman has been sentenced to 60 days in jail for fleeing police in a motor vehicle August 24th in Fergus Falls.
Twenty-two-year-old Victoria Renee Ann Avila drifted into the path of an oncoming police squad car, causing the squad car to veer right to avoid a collision. The police squad immediately turned to follow Avila, who took off on a chase that lasted less than a mile. She ran stop signs to help her get away. But her car was found parked in the Lake Region Healthcare lot and she was arrested.
Avila will get credit for 40 of the 60 days already served.
OTC Broadside Crash
Two people were reportedly injured in a broadside crash on Highway 210 shortly after 8:30 am Monday.
The State Patrol says a pickup driven by 56-year-old Bradley Huseth of Underwood was stopped at a stop sign east of Underwood. A Honda Ridgeline driven by Paul Beyer of Battle Lake was approaching the intersection with 315th Avenue.
Huseth attempted to drive through the intersection and was struck by Beyer’s vehicle.
Huseth suffered non life-threatening injuries. A passenger in the Beyer vehicle, 76-year-old Barb Beyer, also suffered non life-threatening injuries. Any injuries to Paul Beyer were not documented.
Fire damaged a home northeast of Vergas Saturday night. The home’s owner, Michael Licence, says his girlfriend noticed smoke in the home’s vents and alerted Licence. He got his girlfriend and his grandchildren out of the house and then found the fire in the basement by the electrical panel and furnace.
Vergas, Perham and Frazee Fire Departments responded to the home on Wymer Lake Loop and extinguished the blaze. There was heavy fire damage in the basement and heavy smoke damage to the entire house.
No injuries were reported.
Another fire east of Erhard was reported late Sunday afternoon. The shop fire began when a wood stove ignited a wooden rafter adjacent to the stove pipe.
The fire was quickly extinguished, causing virtually no damage.
Fergus Falls Mighty Duck Grant
The City of Fergus Falls has been awarded a Mighty Duck Grant from the State of Minnesota, for equipment at the Community Ice Arena.
The Mighty Duck Grant program is administered by the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission. It provides grants to communities to improve their ice skating facilities.
Fergus Falls Parks, Recreation and Forestry Manager, Steve Plaza, says the Mighty Duck matching grant is for $137,000. It’s enough to pay for one of two electric Zamboni machines used to resurface ice sheets. They’ll replace current Zambonis that run on propane.
Plaza says the drawback of electric Zambonis in the past was their batteries didn’t last long and needed expensive replacements. He says the new electric Zambonis are much better, not to mention must safer.
Both of the electric Zambonis will be in place for the 2017-18 season, one for the main arena and one for the satellite arena.
Kirk Johnson Arrested
A Wednesday search warrant on an Alexandria residence led to the arrest of an Alexandria man.
The Alexandria Police Department says the West Central Minnesota Drug and Violent Crime Task Force executed the search warrant Wednesday in the 800 block of Fillmore Street. The search warrant was the result of an ongoing investigation into narcotics activity.
During the search, authorities allegedly found 36.8 grams of methamphetamine, 87.1 grams of prescription medication, drug paraphernalia, and packaging materials. Over $6,000 of suspected drug proceeds were also seized.
Fifty-year-old Kirk David Johnson was arrested at the scene. He is being held at the Douglas County Jail on probable cause charges of first-degree methamphetamine sales, second-degree methamphetamine possession, third-degree possession of a schedule 2 narcotic, and fifth-degree possession of a schedule 4 controlled substance.
Douglas County 2 Vehicle Crash
Two people were injured when two vehicles crashed in Douglas County Saturday afternoon northeast of Alexandria.
The State Patrol says a Toyota Corolla driven by 64-year-old Daniel Dziengel of Alexandria was westbound on 39th Avenue northeast and ran a stop sign, then struck a Ford Escape.
The Escape, driven by 65-year-old Michael Malone of New York Mills, was southbound on Highway 29. The Escape rolled into the west ditch, which cause the airbag to deploy.
Malone and his passenger, 64-year-old Judy Malone of New York Mills, were injured. But their injuries were considered non life-threatening.
Otter Tail Power Company Aquires New Wind Farm In North Dakota
Otter Tail Power Company has signed the purchase agreements for a 150-megawatt wind farm in southeastern North Dakota that EDF Renewable Energy will design and build in 2019. The company expects the project to cost more than $250 million and the wind farm to generate enough electricity to power more than 65,000 homes by 2019.
Before construction can begin, Otter Tail Power Company and EDF Renewable Energy will seek required approvals from state regulatory agencies, and the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc. will need to authorize interconnection to the transmission system. Upon completion it will be the largest capital project in Otter Tail Power’s history.
Fergus Falls City Election
Fergus Falls city residents have approved a half cent sales tax to pay for a $9.8 million expanded and remodeled public library with a yes vote of 4,394 and a no vote of 2,257. Now the issue goes to the Minnesota legislature for its consideration. The proposed sales tax needs their blessing before it can be imposed. The new tax would begin January 1st, 2018. Construction would begin next summer and be completed in the fall of 2018.
Fergus Falls residents elected a new mayor Tuesday. Current council member Ben Schierer received 61 percent of the vote, with 4,027 votes. Randy Synstelien had 1,851 and Amanda Whitney had 645.
The new Ward 1 council representative is current council member Jim Fish. Fish was the top vote getter with 727. Ruth Rosengren had 588.
The new Ward 2 council member is Tom Rufer, who took in 1,014 votes. Scott Kvamme had 469 and Tedd Steenbock had 258.
The new Ward 3 council member is Brent Thompson. He defeated incumbent Wayne Hurley 812 to 663.
Fergus Falls School District Election
The Fergus Falls School Board will have two new faces on the board in January.
The top three vote getters in the Tuesday election were incumbent Matthew Lemke with 4,411 votes and challengers Stephen Vigesaa, with 3,437 votes, and Natalie Knutson, with 3,326 votes.
The other two incumbents had the lowest number of votes in the eight-person contest.
State House/Senate Election Results
There was only one upset of incumbents in area state house and senate elections.
For State Senator District 2, Republican Paul Utke of Park Rapids defeated incumbent DFL’er Rod Skoe of Clearbrook, taking 57 percent of the vote.
Republicans maintained control in the House District 9A race. John Poston of Lake Shore defeated Megg Litts of Staples, taking 69 percent of the vote.
Otherwise, republican Bud Nornes of Fergus Falls was re-elected to the District 8A house post, taking 65 percent of the vote over C.J. Holl of Pelican Rapids.
Republican Mary Franson of Alexandria was re-elected to the House 8B post, taking 65 percent of the vote.
Incumbent republican Jeff Backer of Browns Valley was re-elected to the House 12A seat. He defeated Jay McNamer of Elbow Lake, taking 60 percent of the vote.
In Senate District 8, incumbent republican Bill Ingebrigtsen of Alexandria was re-elected with 66 percent of the vote.
And republican Torrey Westrom of Elbow Lake retained his Senate District 12 seat by taking 68 percent of the vote.
At the federal level, seventh district congressman Collin Peterson maintained democratic control of the district after taking 52 percent of the vote.
OTC Commission Election
The only contested Otter Tail County Commissioner race Tuesday saw the incumbent, Doug Huebsch, re-elected to his District 1 seat.
Huebsch had 3,827 votes to challenger Richard Snelgrove’s 2,622 votes. The third and fifth districts were uncontested.
Otter Tail County Referendum Results
Several area referendums were decided in Tuesday’s election.
Lake Park/Audubon School District voters, by a 56 percent margin, renewed its existing levy referendum of $195 per pupil for another seven years.
Battle Lake School District voters authorized, by a mere nine votes, an increase of $400 per pupil in general education revenue. In a separate vote, a $2 million bond referendum for a Battle Lake school addition failed when 54 percent of voters said no.
Rothsay School District voters said “yes” to continuing a $560 per pupil revenue authorization for another 10 years.
And Dunn Township residents voted by a 75 percent margin to allow the town clerk to be appointed instead of elected.
City Council Election Results
Gene Kelm is the new mayor of Battle Lake. He had just over 50 percent of the vote with 226. Challenger Rhoberta Tamke had 206. The two city council positions went to incumbent Ryan Christensen, who had 271 votes, and challenger John (Archie) Salvevold, with 242 votes.
Dennis Mosher was re-elected to the Dalton City Council with 83 votes. The other council spot went to challenger Eric Mounts with 59 votes.
Tom Svarvari was elected by a narrow margin the Deer Creek mayor. He had 66 votes compared to challenger Todd Larson’s 65 votes. The two Deer Creek council positions went to incumbent Dan Hendershot, with 97 votes, and John Cronk, with 61 votes.
Gaylord Anderson was re-elected to the Henning City Council with 229 votes. But the other elected member, Nancy Oseien, was the top vote-getter with 287.
Incumbent Thomas Myers was knocked off the Parker’s Prairie City Council. The most votes went to winners Linda Martinson Bates, with 324, and Kevin Birkholz, with 226.
At large positions on the Rothsay City Council went to incumbent Eric Larson, with 84 votes, and Joe Tillman, with 60 votes. Challenger John Kunze had 25 votes.
Two positions on the Underwood City Council went to Monica Uhlmann, with 91 votes, and John Hartman, with 86 votes. Brandon Lee had 83 and Suzanne Barrett had 53.
School Board Election Results
In a six-way race for the Henning School Board, the three incumbents were re-elected to the board. Rod Thalmann was the top vote-getter at 948. Kim Haugen had 916. Reed Reinbold had 890. The closest challenger had 457.
Two of three incumbents on the Pelican Rapids School Board were re-elected Tuesday. Incumbent Michael Forsgen had 2,224 votes. Challenger Anne Peterson had 1,887 votes. And incumbent Jon Karger had 1,773.
Two incumbents running for re-election to the Perham School Board were re-elected. Sue Von Ruden was the top vote-getter, with 3,307. The other incumbent, Cyndy Huber, had 3,105. The third position went to Aaron Kalina, with 2,856. Challenger Mike Wasche had 2,746 and Myron Roe had 1,911.