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News Briefs: Six from party bus arrested in convenience store brawl

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


Six from party bus arrested in convenience store brawl

MOORHEAD, Minn. -- Police arrested six people early Wednesday at a convenience store after riders from a party bus got into a brawl inside the store, toppling product displays.

Moorhead police, along with Dilworth and Clay County officers, were called about 12:30 a.m. to deal with the fight in Moorhead, police said in a statement.

Officers found 24 people at the store or a short distance away. One man received minor injuries to his face, but he declined medical treatment, police said.

Based on witness accounts and store surveillance video, officers arrested six people on suspicion of disorderly conduct and booked them into the Clay County Jail. They are: Andrew Stevens, 24, of Fargo; John Farr, 35, of Fargo; Sedne Williams, 24, of Fargo; Matthew Caldera, 23, of Moorhead; Willie Lampkin, 25, of St. Cloud; and April Stevens, 22, of Moorhead.

Police cited a woman for disorderly conduct, but she was released at the scene. Four people, including two juveniles, were cited for underage drinking.

About 8 a.m., store manager Cory Hoeper said the mess created by the melee had been cleaned up.

"A couple of chip racks were knocked over, but no damage to them," he said.

Dayton expects quick decision on running mate

ST. PAUL -- Gov. Mark Dayton told reporters Wednesday that he wants to make a decision soon about who will replace Lt. Gov. Yvonne Prettner Solon as his running mate.

But he gave no hint as to who he might be considering to replace the former state senator from Duluth.

Dayton said gender and geography are important considerations. Lieutenant governors have been male for years, and most of Dayton's key advisers are women, but he would not indicate whether he leans toward picking another woman as the No. 2 person in the administration.

He said little new about Prettner Solon, who complained last summer about Dayton not talking to her often and that she did not have a strong role in the administration. When pressed on the issue Wednesday, Dayton generally stuck to repeating what he said in a prepared statement Tuesday that highly complimented Prettner Solon.

The Democratic governor refused to say why he did not ask Prettner Solon to stay with him as he runs for re-election this year.

Dayton said he has "talked informally to a couple of people" he may consider naming as his running mate. He would not say who they are.

Peterson asks EPA to keep renewable fuel requirements

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson asked the federal Environmental Protection Agency chief Wednesday to change her mind and retain current requirements of renewable fuel content.

The EPA under Administrator Gina McCarthy has proposed significant reductions in the amount of renewable fuels, such as ethanol, that are used in the country. Peterson, the ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, hosted a meeting Wednesday with McCarthy and others.

“I appreciate Administrator McCarthy’s willingness to meet with us and hope the agency’s final rule will take the concerns of our constituents into account," Peterson, who represents western Minnesota, said after the meeting. "The rural economy has been one of the few bright spots in recent years, due in large part to the RFS (Renewable Fuel Standards rule). Reducing the RFS would not only have a negative impact on jobs and the rural economy, it would also halt advances in the next generation of renewable fuels."

Autopsy shows Babbitt death was from strangulation

BABBITT, Minn. -- An autopsy performed Tuesday showed the victim of an apparent homicide in Babbitt was strangled.

Babbitt police and Babbitt Ambulance responded Monday morning to reports of a wounded man lying on a street.

The man, Paul John Bulen, 55, of Mahtomedi, was taken to Ely Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

A 24-year-old male suspect from Babbitt has been arrested and was being held in the St. Louis County Jail in Virginia on suspicion of second-degree intentional homicide.

“The suspect was a guest in the home for a few days,” Babbitt Police Chief Chad Loewen said. “We are working to get more information.”

An autopsy was performed Tuesday by the St. Louis County Medical Examiner’s Office in Hibbing. The results show the cause of death was manual strangulation resulting in suffocation.

Charges are expected this week from the St. Louis County Attorney’s Office.

Trampled by Turtles to play Bemidji in March

BEMIDJI -- Trampled by Turtles is set to perform March 28 at the Sanford Center Ballroom in Bemidji.

Trampled by Turtles was formed in Duluth in 2003 and employs many of the same traditional techniques of the bluegrass genre, but the band differs in influences, attitude and attack.

The Lowest Pair also will perform.

Pre-sale tickets will be available at 10 a.m. today, and regular tickets will be available at 10 a.m. Friday. Tickets are available at, the Sanford Center box office, all Ticketmaster locations or by calling (800) 745-3000.

Great Lakes shipping season comes to a close

DULUTH -- The Cason J. Callaway was the first of three last ships expected to enter the Port of Duluth-Superior on Wednesday as the closing of the Soo Locks at midnight marks the official end to the Great Lakes shipping season.

The Callaway was preparing to go into dock for layup at 10 a.m., said Mike Ojard, owner of Heritage Marine. His tugs have been breaking ice in the harbor for most of the late season and escorting ships that have come and gone through several weeks of subzero temperatures this winter.

The Mesabi Miner was expected for layup Wednesday evening and the Kaye E. Barker early today after a run to Silver Bay for iron ore pellets. The Presque Isle came in Tuesday.

Ten Great Lakes freighters will be wintering in Duluth-Superior this year, including two that didn’t go out for the past shipping season.

The shipping end means things ramp up for the hundreds of engineers, welders, pipefitters, mechanics, electricians and others who will spend the next eight weeks doing heavy-duty repair and maintenance work at places like the Fraser Shipyards in Duluth. On average, $500,000 to $1 million of work is done on each ship during the offseason.

The locks are set to open March 25.

Arrests follow ‘suspicious’ death of Woodbury teen

WOODBURY, Minn. -- Woodbury police are investigating the death of a 17-year-old Woodbury girl.

Woodbury Public Safety spokeswoman Michelle Okada said the girl was found unresponsive at a home Saturday morning and was taken to Regions Hospital in St. Paul, where she was pronounced dead.

Multiple sources confirmed the girl was Tara E. Fitzgerald, a Woodbury High School student.

Three males – two juveniles and an adult – were arrested on suspicion of murder but were subsequently released. No information was available on the juveniles arrested; the adult suspect, an 18-year-old from Woodbury, was booked into the Washington County jail on suspicion of third-degree murder and two drug possession charges.

Okada said the three suspects were released from custody “pending further investigation.” She didn’t know whether they were cooperating with authorities in the investigation; it was unclear whether formal charges were pending.

Okada added that there is no concern for public safety.

An autopsy is underway. Okada said police are awaiting toxicology results, which could take up to two months.


Man accused of luring girls for sex

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- A Grand Forks man has been arrested on suspicion that he had lured juvenile girls online and had sex with several of the victims, ranging from 13 to 17 years old, according to police.

Eric Scott Sansburn, 29, was identified by investigators as the person behind several of online accounts. He has been arrested and charged with two counts of gross sexual imposition, one of sexual assault, five counts of luring minors by computer or other electronic means and 10 counts of possession of child pornography, according to court records.

Gross sexual imposition, the most serious of the charges, carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Katy Perry to play Fargodome

FARGO – The Fargodome will hear Katy Perry’s “Roar” when the pop singer plays the venue Aug. 23.

“It’s another great show,” says Fargodome General Manager Rob Sobolik. “We continue to build off of the success of Taylor Swift and it solidifies our point that agents and artists are taking notice.”

Sobolik said no production information such as seating arrangement or ticketing has been announced.

He said the Fargodome would look at the issue of bathrooms after some women used men’s rooms during the Pink concert Saturday night.

Perry is touring behind last year’s album, “Prism,” and the smash single, “Roar.”

Her previous hits include “Part of Me,” “Firework,” “Teenage Dream” and “I Kissed a Girl.”

UND vice president stepping down from research post

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- The University of North Dakota’s vice president for research and economic development plans to retire in June.

The announcement by Phyllis Johnson was posted Wednesday on UND’s website. A news release said Johnson, who joined UND in 2009, plans to retire at the end of June.

A North Dakota native, Johnson has bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from UND.

According to the release, Johnson served more than 25 years in various administrative and management positions in research and development, and previously held the position of director for the U.S. Agriculture Department’s Beltsville Area Agricultural Research Service in Washington, D.C. President Bill Clinton also recognized her as being in the top 5 percent of senior executives across the federal government.

The release said Johnson plans to continue living in Grand Forks, where she’ll remain active in the community.

Tom DiLorenzo, UND provost and vice president for academic affairs, will oversee a national search for a new research officer. The release said UND plans to form a search committee to aid in finding Johnson’s successor.

Income growth in Grand Forks among nation’s best

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Personal income growth in the Grand Forks area was among the largest in the nation in 2012.

A November report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis at the U.S. Department of Commerce shows total personal income grew by 10.5 percent from 2011 to 2012 in the Grand Forks metropolitan statistical area. That’s good enough for third place among the country’s 381 MSAs.

The MSA with the biggest growth spurt was Midland, Texas, which saw personal income grow by 12.1 percent between 2011 and 2012. Nationally, that rate was 4.2 percent.

Barry Wilfahrt, president and CEO of the Chamber of Grand Forks and East Grand Forks, attributed the growth to a strong agricultural sector locally over the past five to seven years and the influence of the oil boom in western North Dakota.

Bismarck and Fargo, the state’s other two MSAs, also saw some of the highest personal income growth rates in the nation at 10.1 percent and 8.3 percent, respectively. In the nonmetropolitan region of North Dakota, total personal income grew by 26.3 percent.