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News Briefs: Wisconsin man killed in I-94 collision

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


Wisconsin man killed in I-94 collision

BARNESVILLE, Minn. – The driver of a pickup truck was killed in a collision with a semitrailer Monday morning near Barnesville in western Minnesota, according to the Minnesota State Patrol.

The crash happened about 4:20 a.m. in the eastbound lanes of Interstate 94, the patrol said in a statement.

The victim has been identified as Vincent O'Connor, 32, of Antigo, Wis. He died at the scene.

The pickup driven by O’Connor was going over a railroad overpass when it turned sideways, and the semitrailer broadsided it, Sgt. Jesse Grabow said.

The crash remains under investigation, but the patrol does not believe road conditions were a factor, Grabow said.

The semitrailer driver, Billy Diesem, of Dickinson, N.D., was taken to a hospital and treated for injuries that were not life-threatening, Grabow said.

All lanes of the highway were cleared and re-opened by 7:30 a.m.

Man pulled from lake after ATV falls through

SPICER, Minn. – A 74-year old Spicer man was rescued from a lake Sunday after the all-terrain vehicle he was driving plunged through the ice.

According to the Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office, officers received a call at 6:47 p.m. that an individual was in the water after the ATV he was driving had gone through the ice on Green Lake in west-central Minnesota.

The unidentified man, who was alone at the time of the incident, was rescued from the cold water and transported to Rice Memorial Hospital in Willmar, where he was treated.

The accident is being investigated by the Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office.

International Falls sets low temp record

INTERNATIONAL FALLS, Minn. -- International Falls set a record Sunday morning with a low temperature of 32 degrees below zero.

The National Weather Service reported that was 1 degree lower than the northern Minnesota city’s previous record for Dec. 15 — 31 below zero, set in 1975.

Turkey stamp deadline nears

ST. PAUL – Artists have until Dec. 27 to enter Minnesota’s turkey stamp contest.

The eastern wild turkey must be the primary focus of the design, according to the state Department of Natural Resources, which sponsors the turkey stamp to raise funds to improve wild turkey habitat and management.

The stamp contest, to be judged by a panel of experts, is open to Minnesotans and offers no prizes. However, winning artists may sell limited edition prints and keep profits.

Patrol out in force

ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota State Patrol plans to step up its efforts today in central Minnesota.

The patrol reports that every trooper, investigator and supervisor scheduled to work in Benton, Big Stone, Kandiyohi, Meeker, Pope, Sherburne, Stearns, Stevens, Swift, Todd, Traverse and Wright county will be on the road to crack down on offenses that contribute to fatal crashes such as distracted driving, seat belt use, speeding and failure to yield.

Swans may be OK

ST. PAUL -- Minnesotans should think twice before reporting swans or other waterfowl in trouble, the Department of Natural Resources says.

The DNR has received several reports of swans having problems, but the department indicates that animals behave differently during different seasons, causing some people to think an animal is in distress.

“Trumpeter swans are a classic example of this,” the DNR’s Erica Hoaglund said. “Citizens see them this time of year resting on frozen water or swimming about in small pockets of open water within ice. People assume they are trapped when most of the time they are not and move on in either a few days or a few weeks; it is frequently not the emergency it can first appear to be.”

Student suffers minor injury as bus hits ditch

NEVIS, Minn. -- A Nevis student was slightly injured Monday morning when the school bus she was riding on slid off Minnesota Highway 34.

The accident occurred as snow was flying about 8 a.m. The 12-year-old apparently hit her head on the seat in front of her when the bus bumped down into the ditch.

She was taken by ambulance to St, Joseph’s Area Health Services in Park Rapids as a precaution.

That was one of numerous crashes Monday, as a sudden snowstorm dumped 4 inches of white stuff on Hubbard County and surrounding counties in north-central Minnesota in about a two-hour period.

There were about 20 children on the bus that crashed. None of the other students, nor the driver, were injured.

Students were transferred to another bus and taken to school.

Minnesota River Board votes to disband

OLIVIA, Minn. — Nearly 20 years after a citizens advisory committee urged that a basinwide board lead efforts to clean up the Minnesota River, the board that took on that role is disbanding.

The remaining 18 dues-paying counties comprising the Minnesota River Board voted 11 to 6, with one abstaining, to disband by April the entity that represents the counties in the Minnesota River basin.

According to the board’s website, the basin contains portions or all of 38 counties.

The vote Monday morning in Olivia came with a recommendation only that the state look at creating a new entity with a stable funding source to replace it.

The Minnesota River Board is comprised of county commissioners appointed by the member counties. The original Minnesota River Citizens’ Advisory Committee appointed by then-Gov. Arne Carlson had urged that a more diverse board — a “Minnesota River Commission” — be created, with involvement by citizens, soil and water conservation districts, and non-governmental agencies to oversee basinwide cleanup efforts. The Minnesota River Board was established in law in 1995 and given that responsibility.

Winona priest list released

WINONA, Minn. -- The Winona Catholic diocese Monday released names of 14 priests, all but four of whom are dead, who may have been guilty of sex abuse.

Bishop John M. Quinn apologized for the alleged abuse.

"Over the past few decades, a number of clergy members in the Diocese of Winona sadly have been accused of violating the sacred trust placed in them by children, youth and their families and were accused of detestable crimes of sexual abuse," Quinn said in a statement. "This has caused insufferable harm to victims, their families, parishioners and the church. For this I am truly sorry."

Quinn released the names, who served in Winona and elsewhere in southeastern Minnesota, after a Ramsey County court ordered it.

The bishop said that nearly 5,000 priests, deacons, lay employees, volunteers and seminarians annually complete a course designed to prevent such abuses.

"Today, our parishes are vibrant and safer than ever before," Quinn said.

Thirteen of the priests on the list came after Catholic officials ordered a review of child sexual abuse in 2002. Another priest came under suspicion later.

Of surviving priests found in the 2002 study, all have been permanently removed from the ministry. The one discovered in 2004 is on leave pending a criminal case against him.

Monday's release was the third one in the past few days. The St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese released a similar list, as did St. John's Abbey of Collegeville.

Pine City school locked down

PINE CITY, Minn. -- Students in Pine City High School were locked in their building Monday morning after a report of a student leaving home with a rifle, shotgun and ammunition.

The lockdown ended at 1:18 p.m. when Principal Terry Anderson posted a message on the school's website and made a public address announcement indicating that the danger had passed. Authorities caught the student elsewhere.

Anderson said the school was placed in "routine lockdown" as a precaution.

The Pine City Pioneer reported that the 15-year-old boy ran away from home Friday.

Classes continued during the lockdown, but students could not leave with building without a parent.

Man indicted in Jelinek death

CENTER CITY, Minn. -- A friend of an Oakdale women has been indicted in her death.

Aaron Schnagl of Chisago Lake Township in Chisago County is charged with third-degree murder in Danielle Jelinek's 2012 death. The grand jury indictment was read in court Monday.

Jelinek's family reported her missing Dec. 9, 2012, and her body was found near Schnagl's home a half year later.

The indictment accuses Schnagl, who is in prison on drug charges, of providing Jelinek with drugs the night of her death.

Jelinek and a sister lived in Oakdale, but she planned to buy a Woodbury townhouse.


N.D. names deputy tax commissioner

BISMARCK -- North Dakota’s incoming tax commissioner, Ryan Rauschenberger, announced Monday that budget analyst Joe Morrissette will serve as his deputy tax commissioner, a position Rauschenberger has held since 2009.

Morrissette, a certified public accountant, has been a budget analyst with the state Office of Management and Budget for the past 12 years. Prior to that, he worked for the state Legislative Council.

Morrissette brings “a wealth of experience” in dealing with fiscal matters vital to North Dakota, and his budgetary and legislative backgrounds will be instrumental to the Tax Commissioner’s Office as it meets the challenges of a growing economy, Rauschenberger said in a news release.

Morrissette’s duties as deputy will include leading the department’s research and policy team, assisting Rauschenberger in areas of tax administration and working with legislative committees on tax policy.

Last month, Gov. Jack Dalrymple appointed Rauschenberger as tax commissioner effective Jan. 1 to replace outgoing Tax Commissioner Cory Fong, who is leaving for the private sector.

Mountain lion season closes in Zone 1

BISMARCK — Mountain lion hunting season in the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s Zone 1 is closed.

The zone’s late-season quota of seven was filled after five cats were taken over the weekend.

The zone includes land west of U.S. Highway 85 in Bowman, Billings and Slope counties, all of Golden Valley and McKenzie counties, land south of state Highway 1804 from the Montana border to the point where the highway lies directly across Lake Sakakawea from state Highway 8, and most of Dunn County north of state Highway 200.

The mountain lion season in Zone 2, which is the rest of the state outside Zone 1, has no quota and is open through March 31.

Man gets life sentence for Spirit Lake child slayings

FARGO – A man was sentenced Monday to life in prison for the stabbing deaths of two children -- a brother and sister -- on the Spirit Lake Reservation.

Valentino Bagola was convicted Sept. 23 of two counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of Destiny Shaw, 9, and Travis DuBois Jr., 6, who were his cousins.

The children’s bodies were found May 21, 2011, in the bedroom of the family’s home in St. Michael.

In a videotaped interview with the FBI, Bagola confessed to raping the girl and killing both children, but later recanted his confession and asserted his innocence.

Bagola, who is from Sisseton, S.D., on the Lake Traverse Reservation, did not speak at his sentencing hearing.

He faced mandatory life sentences for both murders. Prosecutors asked that the two sentences be served consecutively, but U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson said the back-to-back sentences would be symbolic, and ordered concurrent sentences.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether Bagola would appeal. His earlier motions for an acquittal and new trial were denied.