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News Briefs: Weatherman Jim Rohn to retire after 67 years

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

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MINNESOTA

Weatherman Jim Rohn to retire after 67 years

ALEXANDRIA, Minn. -- After more than 67 years on the job, longtime weatherman Jim Rohn announced recently that he is retiring.

Rohn, 87, began his career in 1946 at radio station KSJB in Jamestown, N.D.

He eventually moved to Fargo, where he served as weatherman and host of several live shows.

Probably Rohn’s most popular role was that of “Captain Jim,” which entertained thousands of children in the Red River Valley in the 1950s and 1960s.

Rohn left Fargo for Alexandria in 1972 and for 18 years he worked as weatherman at KCMT-TV.

In 1990, Rohn joined the morning team at KIKV-FM Radio, where he did news and weather. He also was a regular on KB101 FM in Bemidji, where via telephone he reported the local weather every Monday through Friday.

Rohn was inducted into the Minnesota Museum of Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 1996. Throughout his life, Rohn has contributed thousands of hours to charity work and community events, including the annual KIKV-FM/KULO-FM Radiothon to End Child Abuse.

Minnesota health, ag labs damaged

ST. PAUL -- Minnesota's health and agriculture laboratories near the state Capitol building are closed after the building's heating system failed due to cold weather.

Repairs could cost at least $1 million.

Health Department officials blamed the cold weather for freezing portions of the heating system. Water then leaked into the labs.

The infectious disease and newborn screening laboratories may be able to reopen Wednesday, but the Health Department reports that it could take longer for laboratory equipment to be fully functional.

"The second-floor environmental lab, which sustained the worst damage, will take longer to recover," the department reported in a statement. "Crews there are working to recover functions as quickly as possible."

Lab officials said no samples or specimens were lost or damaged in the water leaks because they are kept in secure storage units. However, testing on them could be delayed, affecting the validity of the test results.

Health Laboratory Director Joanne Bartkus said several major pieces of equipment sustained significant damage and the cost of the total damage could exceed $1 million.

The Agriculture Department's lab sustained less damage, but it suspended routine sampling analysis.

The state Health and Agriculture departments have labs in the same building, next to where the two agencies' main offices are located just southeast of the Capitol.

Two teens found dead near Pine Island

PINE ISLAND, Minn. -- The deaths of two college students found in a rural Pine Island shed have been ruled a homicide-suicide.

Kayla Jill Koranda, 18, of Rochester, was found dead at the scene late Monday afternoon. Nicholas Bryan Roecker, 19, who lived at a home on the property, died later at a Rochester hospital. The two graduated from a Rochester high school last year.

The Olmsted County Sheriff's Office reported that a “medical call” came in at about 4:30 p.m. Monday.

Details of the incident were not released.

Rybak leaves hospital

MINNEAPOLIS -- Former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak left the hospital Tuesday, three days after a severe heart attack.

He went through two angioplasties, with the insertion of six stents, while in the hospital.

Rybak, who left office last week after opting not to seek another term, is supposed to recuperate for two weeks before starting his new job at a group established to reduce the Twin Cities education gap between whites and people of color.

Rybak suffered the heart attack after cross-country skiing.

While in the hospital, Rybak entertained his Twitter followers with several jokes.

"Why is everybody complaining about the temps?" he tweeted along with a photo of him in his hospital bed, giving a thumbs-up sign. “It’s 68 here.”

Surgeons remove parts of feet from student who spent night in cold

ST. PAUL -- The 19-year-old University of Minnesota Duluth student found outside in subzero temperatures had surgery Monday to remove parts of her feet.

Alyssa Lommel’s mother, Teri, wrote on her daughter’s CaringBridge site Monday night that the surgery at Regions Hospital in St. Paul “went well.”

“She ended up basically only losing the tips of her toes on one foot, so she has little nubs yet, which will help greatly for balance and walking, but the other foot they had to take just below the ball of her foot,” Teri Lommel wrote. “She should still be able to walk just fine with inserts in her shoes.”

But during the surgery, doctors discovered more damage to Lommel’s heels than they had earlier assessed, Teri Lommel wrote. They had to remove more skin and tissue, which could hinder her walking if they don’t heal properly, Teri wrote.

Lommel, a sophomore from St. Cloud, was found on the steps of a neighbor’s home on the morning of Dec. 7. It’s estimated she spent nearly nine hours outside on a night when the temperature dipped to minus 17 degrees.

United Arab Emirates to release Minnesota man jailed for video

WOODBURY, Minn. -- A former Woodbury man who was jailed overseas for posting a comedic YouTube video will be released this week, U.S. officials said Tuesday.

Shezanne “Shez” Cassim’s parody, “Ultimate Combat System: Deadly Satwa Gs,” landed him in a maximum security prison in Dubai for allegedly violating United Arab Emirates cyber-crimes laws and threatening national security.

Cassim, 29, was arrested in April and sentenced in December to one year in prison.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether the eight months he already served would be credited, but on Tuesday, Minnesota senators said he’s getting ready to be deported to the United States.

U.S. Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar said they’re pleased the case has been resolved.

The Cassim family sought help from both senators to speed up legal proceedings in the UAE and urge for Cassim’s release.

Cassim is a University of Minnesota alumnus who was working as a business consultant in the aviation division of PricewaterhouseCooper at the time of his arrest.

(WB)

Suspect to plead guilty in Montevideo weapons case

MINNEAPOLIS -- A man originally accused of planning to attack Montevideo, Minn., is expected to plead guilty Friday to weapons charges.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported that Buford "Bucky" Rogers plans to change his plea to guilty during a U.S. District Court hearing Friday.

Originally, the FBI accused the 25-year-old Montevideo man of terrorism after authorities decided he planned to attack a radio tower, police station and National Guard Armory in his community. However, those claims were not included in weapons charges federal prosecutors eventually filed last year.

He faces charges of having Molotov cocktails, a pipe bomb and other destructive devices and of possessing a semi-automatic rifle as a convicted felon.

The FBI and other law enforcement personnel raided Rogers' family home last May 3 and later declared he was a member of the Black Snake Militia. The militia group apparently was made up mostly of Rogers' family.

Court records indicate that Rogers was convicted of a third-degree felony burglary charge in 2011 and a petty misdemeanor in 2009 for reckless handling of a gun.

WISCONSIN

Minnesota firms pay pollution penalty

MADISON, Wis. -- Two companies have paid $80,000 to settle a Wisconsin complaint that their sand mine polluted the St. Croix River.

Twin Cities-based Tiller Corp. and Interstate Energy Partners reached an agreement with the Wisconsin attorney general's office. The companies did not admit they did anything wrong in the incident near Grantsburg, Wis.

The fines come after the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources said the companies did not properly maintain dikes around ponds on the property, allowing sediment to get into a creek, wetland and St. Croix River. The river divides Wisconsin and Minnesota and dumps into the Mississippi River at Hastings, Minn.

NORTH DAKOTA

Woman accused of having sex with underage boys

JAMESTOWN, N.D. – A 26-year-old woman faces criminal charges after allegedly having sex with a series of boys ages 14 to 17 she met by using a smartphone app.

Trisha Lynn Bliss of Jamestown pleaded not guilty in Stutsman County District Court on Thursday to two counts of gross sexual imposition, a Class AA felony. She also was charged Friday in Stutsman County with an additional charge of corruption of a minor, a Class C felony.

Jamestown police were investigating the allegations that Bliss allowed a 19-year-old man to use her daughter’s bedroom to have sex with a 14-year-old girl.

Bliss told investigators she met the man through Skout, a meet-up application for smartphones.

Court documents say Bliss later admitted to meeting and having sex with boys who were under 18, though she initially thought they were older than 18.

Mom charged with DUI after 11-year-old son seen carrying rum to car

FARGO – A Fargo mother was charged with drunken driving after a cab driver saw her 11-year-old son get into a car carrying a bottle of rum, according to police.

Lt. Joel Vettel said the cabbie called police Sunday night after spotting the boy with a bottle of Captain Morgan rum. The boy was in the car with his 5-year-old sibling, his mother, Brittney Kenyon, and a man, Vettel said.

Police found the car near South University Drive and Interstate 94 and saw it swerving. As an officer followed the car, Kenyon pulled over on her own, and a man in the passenger seat got out to talk with police, Vettel said.

Kenyon, 28, failed sobriety tests and was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence with a minor in the vehicle. A family member came to retrieve the children, Vettel said.

Kenyon later posted an $800 bond to be released from the Cass County Jail.

Duhamel pitching for N.D. Tourism

BISMARCK – Josh Duhamel is telling you to visit North Dakota.

The actor recorded a number of commercials praising his home state.

North Dakota Tourism unveiled the new campaign Tuesday.

The 41-year-old actor was born and raised in Minot.

The spots can be heard at www.ndtourism.com.

Man convicted of killing children files appeal

FARGO -- A man convicted in the killing of his young cousins on the Spirit Lake Indian Reservation is appealing the jury’s findings that he murdered them.

A jury convicted Valentino Bagola for the murders of Destiny Shaw, 9, and her 6-year-old brother, Travis DuBois Jr., at the children’s home May 21, 2011, in St. Michael, N.D. Both children were victims of multiple knife wounds.

Bagola’s attorney, Christopher Lancaster of Fargo, filed appeal papers Monday with the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, according to online court records.

The appeal comes after a jury convicted Bagola on Sept. 23 on two counts of murder. Bagola was 20 at the time of the trial late last summer.

In December, U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson sentenced Bagola to life in prison for two counts of first-degree murder.

The murders on the Spirit Lake Reservation went unsolved for more than a year, and highlighted the plight of endangered children there.

Bagola’s life sentence was mandatory. “The barbarism of the attacks is unquestionable,” Erickson said at Bagola’s sentencing hearing.

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