News Briefs: No more 'Asian' carp
The following is a collection of news briefs from Forum Communication Company newspapers in Minnesota and north Dakota.
No more 'Asian' carp
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota legislators have been trying to get rid of Asian carp for years and on Monday senators got rid of the 'Asian' part of the name.
On a split voice vote, senators approved dropping "Asian" from the invasive carp name.
"Words matter," Sen. John Hoffman, D-Champlin, said in urging the change.
"We may not be able to stop others from using the terminology," he said, but the state does not need to use the term "Asian."
Sen. Foung Hawj, D-St. Paul, said the state needs to do a better job of being sensitive.
The provision was included in a larger bill.
Women vet plates OK'd
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota representatives Monday gave unanimous approval to establishing a vehicle license plate available to women military veterans.
With a 110-0 vote and no debate, the House answered requests made by women veterans in numerous legislative committee meetings during the past two months.
Rep. Jerry Newton, D-Coon Rapids, said that he has heard from many women veterans who say "they are tired of driving their cars" with veterans' license plates, only to have people come up and tell them "thank your husband for his service to the country."
A similar bill awaits a Senate vote.
Beach lifeguard rule passes
ST. PAUL -- Lifeguards at government-run Minnesota beaches will be required to know CPR and otherwise be certified if Gov. Mark Dayton signs a bill headed his way.
The House Monday voted 110-10 to require that beaches run by governments such as cities hire only certified lifeguards, if they have lifeguards. The law does not require governments to hire lifeguards.
Some Republicans said the bill could lead to more danger.
Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, called the bill: "A false sense of security of another law, another mandate, placed on our communities in the state of Minnesota."
He said that he feared that many public entities would just post "swim at your own risk" signs rather than pay for lifeguards with proper training and certification.
Propane shortage to be probed
WASHINGTON -- A Northfield, Minn., farmer will be among those testifying to the Senate Energy Committee Thursday about this winter's propane shortage and high prices.
John Zimmerman, Minnesota Turkey Growers' Association past president, is to testify at the invitation of U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn.
"The recent propane crisis happened during one of the coldest winters in years, hitting thousands vulnerable Minnesota households, businesses and farm operations with high prices and low supplies," Franken said. "We can't let the same things that caused this winter's shortage -- and the price shocks that came with it -- happen again."
Franken asked the committee to investigate the shortage.
Senate approves outdoor funds
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota senators Monday approved spending $109.3 million on a variety of outdoors projects.
The spending follows the 12-member Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council recommendations that include programs such as $4 million to establish an aquatic invasive species research center at the University of Minnesota and $9.7 million for easements and restoration of wetlands with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Ducks Unlimited.
Another $4.6 million would go to the Department of Natural Resources for competitive grants of up to $400,000 each to smaller organizations for enhancing, restoring or protecting forests, wetlands, prairies and habitats.
“I feel confident this bill takes into consideration the environmental needs of our state," sponsor Sen. Tom Saxhaug, D-Grand Rapids, said. "This is a unique opportunity that our state has to take advantage of this dedicated fund to ensure we are properly preserving and enhancing our state’s natural wonders."
Lessard-Sams money comes from a sales tax increase voters approved in 2008.
Man convicted of homemade bombs sentenced
MINNEAPOLIS -- A man arrested a year ago in west-central Minnesota and accused of terrorism was sentenced Monday on weapons and explosives charges.
Buford “Bucky” Rogers, of Montevideo, was sentenced in federal court to three years and four months for illegal possession of a firearm and two small, unregistered explosive devices, the Star-Tribune of Minneapolis reported.
In January, Rogers, 25, admitted he possessed a gun, which as a convicted felon, he wasn’t supposed to have and also admitted he built and possessed two black powder-and-nails bombs.
In return for his guilty plea, federal prosecutors will drop two counts accusing him of possessing three other bombs that he’d not bothered to register with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The FBI claimed Rogers had schemed to raid the National Guard Armory in Montevideo. Agents also claimed he had discussed blowing up the city’s police station and toppling a communications tower.
A raid on his home involved almost 50 officers from several law enforcement agencies.
Closing arguments today in Smith trial
LITTLE FALLS, Minn. — As the defense rested Monday, defense attorney Steven Meshbesher told reporters it was his decision to not have Byron Smith testify.
Smith is on trial in Morrison County for two first-degree murder indictments in the Thanksgiving Day 2012 shooting deaths of Nick Brady and Haile Kifer after the teenagers entered Smith’s rural Little Falls home without permission.
Closing arguments are set for today.
Meshbesher said Smith was willing to take the stand. “He was wanting to do anything,” Meshbesher said. “He was taking my advice.”
In his instructions to jurors, Judge Douglas Anderson explained that returning a guilty verdict in the first-degree indictments would require the jury to conclude Smith’s actions were premeditated. A guilty verdict of second-degree murder still requires the jury to conclude that intentionally causing death, but without premeditation.
According to Minnesota law, a crime is not committed when action is taken by a person to prevent the commission of a felony in his own home. It is alleged that Brady and Kifer were intending to commit a burglary in Smith’s home.
Woman reportedly jumped in river
BRECKENRIDGE, Minn. – Authorities were looking for a person who reportedly jumped off a bridge and into the Otter Tail River in western Minnesota early Monday.
Breckenridge police Chief Nate Harder said one of his officers was flagged down about 2:15 a.m. by a driver flashing her headlights by the Main Street bridge in Breckenridge.
The driver told the officer she had just crossed the bridge and had seen a white female with blond hair possibly jump into the river below, while apparently holding a piece of paper, Harder said.
The officer told the driver to wait in a nearby parking lot while he checked the river, but as he was searching, she drove off. The officer described the driver who made the report as credible and not intoxicated, Harder said.
“This could be very credible, or it could be nothing,” the chief said. “We are treating it like somebody did go in the water.”
Harder said police would like to re-interview the driver who made the report, but they don’t know who she is.
Along with Breckenridge police, Wilkin County sheriff’s deputies, Wahpeton, N.D., police and Breckenridge firefighters were looking for the person who may have jumped.
Palin to speak in Williston in October
WILLISTON, N.D. – Sarah Palin, former governor of Alaska and vice presidential candidate, will be in Williston in October to be the keynote speaker for a Trinity Christian School fundraiser.
Palin will speak Oct. 13 at The Well at Williston State College for the school’s annual fundraising banquet. The theme of the banquet is the oil industry and Christian education, according to the school’s website.
Tickets go on sale to the general public on May 5 and cost $50. A link to purchase tickets will be available at www.tcsnd.org.
David Barton, president at CEO of WallBuilders, also is lined up to speak at the event.
Alcohol saturation planned for Williams, McKenzie
WILLISTON, N.D. – The North Dakota Highway Patrol will conduct an alcohol enforcement saturation in Williams and McKenzie counties May 1-11 to deter drunk driving.
So far in 2014, 29 people have died in traffic crashes in North Dakota, and 24 percent of the deaths were from alcohol-related crashes, the patrol said.
Counties close gravel roads to truck traffic
WATFORD CITY, N.D. – Snow and rain prompted several Oil Patch counties to close gravel roads Monday to heavy trucks.
McKenzie, Mountrail, Williams, Stark and Dunn counties closed non-paved roads to trucks heavier than 12,000 pounds due to safety concerns. Officials in McKenzie County said they will reevaluate road conditions on Wednesday.
Divide County closed all county and township roads to trucks until further notice.
Willful damage of public roads is a Class B misdemeanor.
Active road restrictions can be viewed at http://ndenergy.org/Restrictions.
Southwest N.D. hit by late April snowstorm
DICKINSON, N.D. -- A late April snowstorm swirled into southwest North Dakota on Monday morning, leaving 2 to 6 inches in Stark County and annoying commuters.
The snow caused no major trouble for local law enforcement. A few minor accidents occurred on Interstate 94 and some vehicles slid off the road in Dickinson, said Capt. Dean Franchuk of the Stark County Sheriff’s Office.
Stark County Emergency Services issued a no-travel advisory for vehicles to stay off the roads between 2 a.m. and 8:30 a.m., when snow fell hardest. Light flakes fell through the afternoon, even as snow on the ground began to melt with rising temperatures.
Residents in Grassy Butte in McKenzie County reported 7 inches, while those in Adams County reported about 5, National Weather Service meteorologist Bill Abeling said.