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News Briefs: Detox employee abused client, report says

Editor's note: The following is a collection of news briefs from Forum Communication Company newspapers in Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin.


Detox employee abused client, report says

DULUTH -- An employee of the Duluth Detoxification Center abused a client who was having a panic attack and trying to “go to the hospital,” a state agency concluded in a report issued this week.

But the Minnesota Department of Human Services issued no sanctions, with findings that the facility was not to blame and that the employee could continue to work with vulnerable adults as long as there are no further incidents.

The report, labeled an “investigative memorandum,” was issued Monday but centered on an incident Feb. 27. As is normal with DHS reports, it conceals the identity and gender of the client, the employee and everyone else who was interviewed.

According to investigator Marie Tierney’s report, when the client started to go through a door between a living area and the nurses’ station “in an attempt to go to the hospital,” the employee pushed on the other side of the door. The client claimed the employee then kicked the client several times over two or three minutes, causing bruises.

The employee admitted pushing hard against the door and kicking the client’s fingers to get the client’s hand away from the door knob, but denied any additional kicks.

No video of the incident was available, the report said, and no injuries were documented.

Dayton signs small business proclamation

ST. PAUL -- Gov. Mark Dayton signed a proclamation Wednesday making Saturday Small Business Saturday.

Dayton’s proclamation says that more than 99 percent of all American companies are considered small businesses. Like other state executives, the Dayton proclamation comes at a time to help small businesses better compete with the big stores during the holidays.

“Small businesses create jobs, preserve city neighborhoods and small communities throughout Minnesota, and are essential to the future growth of our economy,” Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben of the Department of Employment and Economic Development said. “They are the bedrock of the state economy and deserving of this recognition.”

Settlement reached on college accreditation

ST. PAUL -- A for-profit Milwaukee college entered into a settlement Friday with Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson after the Minnesota official said Herzing University did not accredit its two-year medical associate degree program in Minnesota.

“Students need full and accurate information about the accreditation of a program, which can impact professional licensure and job prospects,” Swanson said.

An accredited program is preferred by many employers.

Herzing offered an accredited medical assistant diploma program in Crystal, Minn., for years, Swanson said. But in 2011, Herzing began to offer an unaccredited two-year associate degree in clinical medical assisting at its Crystal campus.

The settlement requires Herzing to disclose whether its programs are accredited and that lack of accreditation could affect a student’s ability to get a job.

Those who attended the unaccredited program may get a full refund (but lose their school credits), enroll elsewhere and get a refund for credits that do not transfer or receive $7,500 and continue their Herzing education.

DWI patrols up for holiday

ST. PAUL -- Minnesota law enforcement agencies promise to find turkeys behind the wheel this Thanksgiving weekend.

On Thanksgiving eve, officers began looking for drunken drivers by adding extra patrols.

“Thanksgiving begins a busy travel season and we need everyone’s help to ensure our roads remain as safe as possible,” Lt. Eric Roeske, Minnesota State Patrol said. “Safe roads begin with safe decisions, especially planning ahead for a sober ride.”

Man injured in Beltrami County Jail confirmed as mentally ill

BEMIDJI, Minn. -- A man who suffered a broken jaw in the Beltrami County Jail in September will not be returning to serve the remainder of his sentence.

Theran Stai, 46, of Bemidji, was committed as mentally ill by Judge John G. Melbye on Friday in Beltrami District Court. Stai was a patient at the Anoka-Metro Regional Treatment Center before Friday's hearing.

As a committed mentally ill person, Stai is not competent to stand trial and his criminal file will be suspended, according to court officials. Stai's charges include: fleeing a peace officer, DWI, escape from custody, disorderly conduct, domestic abuse, assault, theft and most recently possession of methamphetamine.

Conflicting reports were given on how Stai broke his jaw while under the watch of Beltrami County Jail staff. According to a jail incident report, Stai said he believed he may have broken his jaw by falling to the jail floor. He later recanted that remark and told medical staff he had been assaulted but did not want to report that information to the jail.

Stai was initially examined by Dr. Charles Chmelewski and then by Dr. Tim Tinius. Both licensed psychologists, they agreed Stai is mentally ill.

Detroit Lakes man charged with abusing girl

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. -- A Detroit Lakes man accused of sexually abusing a girl faces three felony counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct

Samuel Charles Baxa, 27, appeared Tuesday in Becker County District Court. He is accused of sexually abusing a girl under the age of 12 on several occasions between Jan. 30 and Aug. 2. According to the criminal complaint, the abuse stopped only after the girl moved away.

Baxa was in custody at the Becker County Jail awaiting his next court appearance Monday. His bail was set at $100,000 with conditions or $300,000 without conditions.

Burglary ring hit a dozen northeast Minn. homes, police say

DULUTH -- Police are investigating about 10 suspects who they say are responsible for a ring of at least a dozen residential burglaries spanning from Carlton County to Duluth Township over the past several months.

Five suspects have been taken into custody as officers from several law enforcement agencies investigate, Hermantown police reported Wednesday.

The suspects appear to have been committing the burglaries to support drug habits, police said. During a Nov. 12 search warrant executed at the home of one suspect, Hermantown investigators found what they described as a large amount of property stolen from homes in the region. Police said they also seized items from pawn shops that they believe were purchased from the suspects.

Four adults were taken into custody while committing a burglary at a Rice Lake Township home Tuesday, police said. The two men and two women, all Duluth residents, were awaiting formal charges, which should include second-degree burglary, police said.

Sara Jean Peterson, 31, of Duluth, was previously taken into custody and charged with second-degree burglary.

The burglars were responsible for at least 12 home invasions in the cities of Duluth, Hermantown and Cloquet and the townships of Midway, Rice Lake, Canosia, Duluth and Lakewood over the past several months, police said.


Cobb being taken to State Hospital for evaluation

STANTON, N.D. -- Craig Cobb, the white supremacist trying to create an all-white enclave in the town of Leith, is heading to the North Dakota State Hospital in Jamestown for an evaluation.

KXMB-TV in Bismarck reported Friday that according to Mercer County Sheriff Dean Danzeisen, Cobb has not eaten since he arrived at the Mercer County Jail nine days ago. He was arrested Nov. 17 on felony terrorizing charges for approaching Leith residents with loaded firearms.

Danzeisen told KXMB that Cobb was taken to a clinic in Beulah on Friday to be evaluated and that medical professionals referred him to the State Hospital.

Cobb has been treated like every other inmate and given three meals a day, Danzeisen told the station. But Cobb has refused to eat.

Cobb and Kynan Dutton, another white supremacist, are charged in Grant County with terrorizing and are being held in the Mercer County Jail without bond.

Three places added to historic register

BISMARCK -- Three North Dakota properties have been listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Vikur Lutheran Church in Mountain in Pembina County was constructed in 1884. The church is recognized as the first and oldest Icelandic church in the United States. “These old churches look so cool and they show the detail and emotion that people put into them,” said Lorna Meidinger, Architectural Historian with the State Historical Society of North Dakota.

White Stone Hill near Kulm in Dickey County, is one of many historic sites to make the list. In early September 1863, a conflict arose between General Alfred Sully’s soldiers and a buffalo hunting camp of Dakota. “This was one of the first mass events of its type,” said Meidinger. Also included in White Stone Hill’s nomination is stone buildings and structures built by the Works Progress Administration.

The third property, another WPA project, is the Edinburg WPA Auditorium in Walsh County. The auditorium, which was built in 1938, hosted community events through the 1970s until a hardware store moved into the building in the early 1990s.

The National Register of Historic Places is a list compiled by the federal government. The register is comprised of properties the government considers worthy of recognition and preservation.

Suspect sought after attempted bank robbery

NEW TOWN, N.D. – Some businesses here went on lockdown today after a man attempted to rob a New Town bank this morning.

A suspect entered Lakeside State Bank about 8:35 a.m. today and demanded cash from the teller, New Town Police Chief Arthur Walgren said in a news release.

Before getting any money, the suspect fled on foot. No weapons were displayed or seen, Walgren said.

Officers from New Town police, Three Affiliated Tribes police, Mountrail County Sheriff’s Office and Three Affiliated Tribes Fish and Game Department conducted a search for the suspect, but he remains at large.

Some area businesses went on lockdown as a precaution during the search but have returned to normal operations, Walgren said.

The suspect is described as a light-skinned male, possibly white, about 30 years old and about 6 feet tall. He was wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt, ski mask and gloves.

The FBI has been notified and will conduct a joint investigation, Walgren said.

Anyone with information is asked to call New Town police at (701) 627-5222, tribal dispatch at (701) 627-3617, the Mountrail County Sheriff at (701) 628-2975 or your local office of the FBI.


Fundraising for memorial playground tops $100,000

RIVER FALLS, Wis. -- Money to build a playground to memorialize three girls murdered by their father has surpassed $100,000.

That amount will need to multiply fivefold before Tri Angels Playground in River Falls becomes a reality.

Amara, Cecilia and Sophie Schaffhausen were killed by their father, Aaron Schaffhausen, in July 2012. He is serving a life sentence for the crimes.

Becky Stotz, grandmother of the three girls, said collections for the playground remain steady. Stotz’s daughter and the girls’ mother, Jessica, remarried Nov. 16 and moved to a new house in River Falls.

As of last week, the playground fundraising total was $108,885. The aim is to raise at least $550,000.

Stotz, who lives in Springfield, Ill., said a fundraising committee has applied for a $100,000 grant for the project from Bremer Bank and a $50,000 grant from an unnamed local business.

To donate, visit or mail a check to Unlimited Play/Tri-Angels Playground/4140 Old Mill Parkway/St. Peters, MO 63376.

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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