News Briefs: Officer cleared of stealing corkscrewEditor's note: The following is a collection of news briefs from Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota that have appeared in Forum Communications newspapers this week.
Editor's note: The following is a collection of news briefs from Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota that have appeared in Forum Communications newspapers this week.
Officer cleared of stealing corkscrew
HASTINGS, Minn. – A jury found a Hastings police officer accused of stealing a corkscrew from a restaurant not guilty Thursday.
Rene Doffing was found not guilty of two counts of theft. The jurors deliberated for just less than two hours.
Had he been convicted, he would have lost his peace officer’s license and fired by the city of Hastings. Doffing had been on paid administrative assignment while the matter worked its way through the judicial system.
Doffing's attorney, Paul Engh maintained through the trial that the corkscrew was of no value.
Doffing admitted to taking a corkscrew from a bucket behind the bar at the Green Mill in Hastings in November 2010. He was seen taking the opener by an off-duty Dakota County deputy. The deputy reported the incident to uniformed police officers who were at the restaurant. Doffing then showed the deputy and the officers the opener.
Soon after, a manager at the restaurant asked Doffing to give her the opener back, and he did.
When word spread of the incident, the Hastings police chief called for an outside investigation, which ended with Doffing being charged with theft.
Doffing, who owns a bar himself, contends he was merely interested in the opener and wanted to get some similar promotional items to have at his establishment. He knows the owner of the Green Mill in Hastings and testified that he intended to ask the owner if he could keep the opener.
Tribal college names new president
CASS LAKE, Minn. - Leech Lake Tribal College has selected the director of the American Indian Resource Center at Bemidji State University as its next president.
Donald Day will take over Aug. 13 as president at Leech Lake Tribal College, a public two-year college providing higher education grounded in Anishinaabe values.
Day will succeed Ginny Carney, who is retiring after more than a decade at the college, a news release from the LLTC’s board of trustees announced Thursday.
Day has worked more than 35 years in education, including roles in academic counseling, teaching, research, student services, curriculum development and administration. Previously, he served as president of Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, where he led an initiative to gain approval from the Higher Learning Commission for the college to offer its first ever four-year degree program.
Zebra mussel finding reported
GLENWOOD, Minn. — The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is investigating a report that a zebra mussel was found in Lake Minnewaska in Pope County near Glenwood.
A person removing trash from the lake reported finding what appears to be an adult zebra mussel, an invasion species. It was attached to the metal portion of a boat seat mount that was submerged in 4 feet of water.
A DNR snorkeling team conducted a shoreline survey Wednesday but did not find any additional zebra mussels around the site where the boat seat mount was found.
Additional searches are underway reaching outward from the site, according to the DNR.
If confirmed, it would represent the first zebra mussel infestation in Pope County. It also increases concerns in Kandiyohi County about the risks of infestation due to its proximity.
Lake Minnewaska is part of the Chippewa River watershed. Other lakes in the watershed include the Norway, Florida, Games and Andrew chain of lakes in Kandiyohi County; Emily and Reno Lakes in Pope County and Chippewa Lake in Douglas County.
Construction set on main road through Alexandria
ALEXANDRIA, Minn. -- If you’re planning on driving through Alexandria later this summer, brace yourself.
Motorists traveling on Broadway/Highway 29 in Alexandria may encounter delays when a resurfacing and intersection improvement project between 8th Avenue and 50th Avenue begins July 25.
Motorists will experience lane closures on Broadway while crews mill and resurface the roadway and make safety improvements, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
Construction crews will maintain access to all businesses during the $2 million project, which encompasses about three miles.
For statewide travel information, visit www.511mn.org, call 5-1-1 or log on to www.mndot.gov.
Two-day racism seminar set
WORTHINGTON, Minn. - A two-part series on race and racism scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday at Minnesota West Community and Technical College, Worthington campus.
The Culture Corner - a collaboration between Minnesota West Community and Technical College and the Nobles County Integration Collaborative – will focus on dealing with racism in the workplace.
Bemidji readies for major bike event
BEMIDJI – More than 1,000 visitors are expected to arrive Sunday in Bemidji as the city for the first time hosts MS TRAM, a 250-mile bicycle ride.
“We have the opportunity to wow upwards of 1,000 folks in one afternoon or evening,” said Lori Paris, president of the Bemidji Area Chamber of Commerce.
The five-day TRAM – The Ride Across Minnesota – is held annually in different parts of the state. This year’s ride goes from Bemidji to Alexandria with overnight stops in Walker, Park Rapids, Wadena and Fergus Falls.
“Bemidji’s beautiful,” said Anna Kucera, marketing and public relations director for the National MS Society Upper Midwest Chapter. “The city really is rolling out the red carpet for us. We’re happy to be there.”
More than 800 cyclists are registered for the event, which aims this year to raise more than $820,000 for funding for the battle against multiple sclerosis. Each cyclist raises $300 in donations in addition to paying a registration fee.
While the TRAM begins Monday morning, cyclists and volunteers will begin arriving Sunday afternoon in Bemidji.
Men charged with killing wolves
DULUTH -- Two Finland, Minn., men were indicted Monday on federal charges for allegedly killing two gray wolves, burying them in the Superior National Forest, and lying to federal investigators about the incident.
Vernon Lee Hoff, 54, and Kyler James Jensen, 31, are each charged with one misdemeanor count of conspiracy to violate the Endangered Species Act, one misdemeanor count of violation of the Endangered Species Act, and one felony count of making false statements to a federal officer. Jensen also is charged with a second violation of the Endangered Species Act.
According to court documents, Jensen purposely killed the wolves in February 2010 with his vehicle in the Superior National Forest buried them with the use of a bulldozer at a worksite within the forest. That night, Jensen returned to the burial site, removed the wolves’ bodies, attempted to destroy evidence that he buried the wolves at that location, and again placed the wolves in his truck.
At the time, the gray wolf was listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.
Summer enrollment up at N.D. campuses
FARGO – Many of North Dakota’s campuses are packed with students this summer, even during the traditional break from the school year.
North Dakota State University reported Thursday that 4,871 students were taking summer classes this year. That’s up about 0.4 percent compared to last summer.
The University of North Dakota reported last month that 6,020 students were on its Grand Forks campus this summer. That’s a record summer enrollment and a gain of more than 18 percent since 2010.
Mayville State University’s summer enrollment jumped nearly 20 percent to 453 students this year, the university’s largest summer headcount since 1931, according to a report released Thursday. The number of part-time students is 23 percent higher this year.
At Valley City State University, summer enrollment grew by just one student since last year to a 2012 total headcount of 552. But that’s still 39 percent higher than the school’s average summer headcount over the past decade, marketing and communications director Doug Anderson said.
Debates set for Gulleson-Cramer
FARGO – North Dakota’s U.S. House candidates are poised to face off at least four times before Election Day.
The campaigns of Democrat Pam Gulleson and Republican Kevin Cramer said Thursday they’ve accepted several invitations for formal debates and public candidate forums this fall.
Gulleson and Cramer are in agreement on four events so far:
• A North Dakota Chamber of Commerce forum on Oct. 11 in Bismarck.
• A North Dakota Medical Association forum on Oct. 12.
• A debate on KFGO AM-790 radio in Fargo.
• A debate on Prairie Public television.
Dates have not been finalized for the KFGO or Prairie Public debates.
New flights schedule, perks available
JAMESTOWN, N.D. -- The Jamestown Regional Airport has a new flight schedule and will soon be able to offer Delta Sky Miles, an incentive for frequent fliers, on its flights to Minneapolis.
Jamestown also will be listed in Delta Vacations, meaning people will be able to book vacation packages through Delta Vacation booking while departing from Jamestown on Great Lakes Airlines flights.
A new flight schedule went into effect on July 9 and during the week flights leave Jamestown at 6:10 and 9:15 a.m. and 3 p.m. bound for Minneapolis. Flights no longer connect to Williston, N.D.
No charges in daycare death
MITCHELL, S.D. - No charges will be filed in connection with the recent death of an infant at a rural Mitchell in-home daycare, authorities announced Thursday.
The announcement comes exactly one month since 3-month-old Brooklyn Howard died June 19.
South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley and Davison County State's Attorney Pat Smith announced in a news release that “a young child in the daycare contributed to the death of the infant.” No further explanation was provided.
Authorities had previously deemed the circumstances surrounding the death to be “suspicious."