News Briefs: Wolf quota reached in northeast zoneEditor's note: The following is a collection of news briefs from Forum Communication Company newspapers in Minnesota and North Dakota.
Editor's note: The following is a collection of news briefs from Forum Communication Company newspapers in Minnesota and North Dakota.
Wolf quota reached in northeast zone
DULUTH -- Minnesota’s Northeast Wolf Zone will close at the end of shooting hours todayThursday because the harvest is close to the zone’s quota, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced Wednesday.
By mid-day Wednesday, hunters had killed 57 wolves in that zone, one short of the harvest quota of 58 wolves.
The East-Central zone had closed on Nov. 5 after hunters had killed eight wolves. The harvest quota for that zone is nine.
Only the Northwest Zone will remain open. Hunters there had taken 60 wolves as of Wednesday. The harvest quota for that zone is 133.
Overall, by midday Wednesday, wolf hunters had taken a total of 125 wolves in the state’s early hunting season, which runs concurrently with the firearms deer hunt in areas where rifles are permitted. The overall harvest quota for all three wolf zones is 200, but the DNR had said before the hunt that individual zones would be closed if a zone’s wolf harvest quota was reached or about to be reached.
A total of 3,600 wolf licenses were issued to hunters for the early season, which opened Nov. 3.
Duck-shaped potato heads to eBay
MENAHGA, Minn. – If you’ve never seen a potato that looks like a duck, then this spud’s for you.
Danny Haataja recently harvested a tuber from his garden that could double as a decoy.
Starting today at 10 p.m., he plans to give people a chance to own the Yellow Finn with the avian appearance by offering it in a 10-day auction on eBay.
“It’s pretty good-sized, about 6 inches long and maybe 4 inches high. It’s a really big potato,” Haataja said Wednesday. “I thought it looked like a duck even before I rubbed the dirt off. I thought that was weird.”
Haataja’s nephew, Terry Bortle convinced Haataja not to eat it.
“If they can pay $1,300 for the Illinois cornflake, who knows what’s going to happen,” Bortle said, referring to the sale of state-shaped cereal for $1,350 in May.
Drought forces city to buy water
WORTHINGTON, Minn. — Testing was underway Wednesday on the new Lincoln-Pipestone Rural Water line that will be used to supplement Worthington’s water supply as a result of the ongoing drought.
Worthington Public Utilities Manager Scott Hain said with the interconnection nearly complete, the city should be able to begin purchasing water by the end of this week or early next week.
“They feel they’ll be able to provide water for us until at least the foreseeable future,” Hain said of LPRW. “We’re very grateful that they did this expansion … it couldn’t have come at a better time.”
Water levels on Lake Bella, Worthington’s primary source of water, has been dropping after an unusually dry summer.
Child assault case heading for trial
MOORHEAD, Minn. – A 25-year-old mother charged with assaulting her 2-year-old daughter has passed on a plea deal and is heading instead for trial.
Nicole Amber Rheault appeared Wednesday in Clay County District Court with her attorney, Mara Rausch, who told Judge Lisa Borgen the case was going to trial.
The appearance had been scheduled as a plea hearing. A prosecutor said earlier that Rheault was looking to plead guilty to one of three charges pending against her.
No explanation was offered Wednesday as to why the plea agreement did not move forward.
Rheault is charged with felony third-degree assault, felony malicious punishment of a child and child neglect, a gross misdemeanor.
According to court documents, Rheault is accused of assaulting her daughter for up to 10 minutes after the girl broke her mother’s cigarettes and lost her car keys.
Rheault told investigators she was a methamphetamine user and was sleep deprived at the time of the alleged assault, court documents said.
Hugo’s add Park Rapids grocery store
GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Hugo’s Family Marketplace, a Grand Forks-based grocer, said Tuesday that it has purchased J&B Foods in Park Rapids, Minn.
This will bring the number of stores in the Hugo’s chain to 10. The company’s other Minnesota stores are in East Grand Forks, Crookston and Thief River Falls.
Hugo’s President Kristi Magnuson Nelson said in a news release that her company intends to retain all of J&B’s management team and employees, making for a seamless transition.
Jeff and Bob Hensel, who started J&B Foods in 1982, said they expected the transition to be completed by the end of the year. The current 53,000-square-foot location opened in 2009.
Convicted murderer gets life sentence
JAMESTOWN, N.D. -- A Jamestown man convicted of murder in the death of a Somali immigrant 18 months ago was sentenced to life in prison without parole Wednesday.
Leron Howard, 35, was sentenced by Judge Thomas Merrick in Southeast District Court Wednesday. A 12-person jury convicted him of murder and criminal conspiracy in August. Both are Class AA felonies, which carry a maximum punishment of life without parole.
The body of Abdi Ali Ahmed, 18, Jamestown, was found April 30, 2011, in a road ditch near Spiritwood. An autopsy determined Ahmed died from blunt force trauma to the head and had also been stabbed in the abdomen.
Howard and co-defendant Janelle Cave, 22, Jamestown, were arrested the same day Ahmed’s body was found. Cave was convicted of manslaughter and criminal conspiracy in February and is serving 11 years in prison. Cave withdrew the appeal of her convictions on Oct. 18.
Ahmed was an immigrant from Somalia who had lived in Jamestown for about a month at the time of his death.
Three plead not guilty to pimping teen
GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- The two men and a woman charged with pimping a 17-year-old girl to several men in Grand Forks in early 2011 pleaded not guilty Wednesday to the Class AA felony in state district court.
If convicted of trafficking an under-age girl, they could be sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Amanda Stewart, 22, remains free on $10,000 bond. Joshua Harry, 27, and Travis Johnson, 29, remain in the Grand Forks County jail under $50,000 bonds.
Johnson also is charged with a felony corruption of a minor for allegedly having sex with the 17-year-old.
Prosecutors say Johnson asked the girl in late 2010 if she wanted to have sex with a 60-year-old man for “like, $600,” according to the affidavit of probable cause.
She first declined, but by early 2011 told Johnson she was interested. He coerced her into having sex with him, then introduced her to Harry and Stewart, who began taking her to appointments with potential johns. Harry advertised the girl online, investigators say.
Blue Cross, Essentia agree on cost controls
FARGO – Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota has signed an agreement with Essentia Health that bases some payments on the health provider’s quality of care.
The so-called total cost of care contract with Essentia is similar to agreements signed earlier by Sanford Health and Altru Health System, based in Grand Forks, N.D.
“We are thrilled that Essentia is a partner in our collective efforts to build an affordable health system in North Dakota,” said Sharon Fletcher, a senior vice president for the North Dakota Blues.
The shift toward “pay for performance” follows a national trend among insurers and medical providers that mirrors requirements under the new health reform law for “accountable care organizations.”
The goal, for both public and private insurers in partnership with providers, is to improve the quality of care and reduce health care costs.
Innovate ND program seeks participants
FARGO – The North Dakota Department of Commerce and its partners currently are seeking participants for the 2013 Innovate ND program.
Innovate ND is a statewide initiative designed to help entrepreneurs turn innovative concepts into viable new North Dakota business ventures.
The program helps entrepreneurs in the development of their business ideas though access to coaches from entrepreneurial centers and online educational tools.
Registration is available online at www.InnovateND.com. There is no enrollment deadline. The program includes online entrepreneurial education, planning tools and coaching to participants from their enrollment date to September 2013.
Man accused of assaulting elderly woman will enter plea
DICKINSON, N.D. -- A Dickinson man accused of sexually assaulting an elderly woman earlier this year will enter a conditional plea today to three felony charges after the denial of his motion to suppress statements made due to inadequate Miranda warnings of self-incrimination.
Nick Jay Webster, 24, faced three felony charges: Class A felony gross sexual imposition, Class B burglary and Class C felony interference with a telephone during emergency call. The charges were filed after he allegedly entered an 83-year-old woman’s home March 10 and sexually assaulted her before fleeing, according to the criminal complaint.
He also allegedly grabbed the telephone from the victim when she attempted to call police.
With a conditional plea, the defendant maintains the right to appeal a number of constitutional or evidentiary issues.
Woman killed in crash with semi
DICKINSON, N.D. -- A 72-year-old Zahl woman died following an accident with a semitrailer on U.S. Highway 85 at about 10 p.m. Tuesday.
The woman, whose name has not been released, was driving a Ford Fusion north on Highway 85.
A 42-year-old North Carolina man was driving a semi across the highway at Williams County Road 10 traveling east, according to a North Dakota Highway Patrol press release.
The Ford hit the right side of the semi and the woman was pronounced dead at the scene.
Both were wearing seatbelts.