Weather Forecast


News Briefs: 5-year-old crushed after falling from bucket of loader

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


5-year-old crushed after falling from bucket of loader

CANNON FALLS, Minn. -- A 5-year-old boy died Thursday evening when he was crushed by a skid-steer loader, the Goodhue County Sheriff's Office reported.

Matthew Mallett had been riding in the bucket of the machine when he fell out and was crushed. Rescue crews were called to 29510 Sunset Trail in Cannon Falls Township at about 6:30 p.m. The boy was transported to Mayo Clinic Health System in Cannon Falls, where he was pronounced dead.

Gail Henderson, 49, was driving the skid-steer loader. Both she and Matthew's address is 29510 Sunset Trail, though it's unclear whether she was related to the boy.

Matthew was enrolled in the Cannon Falls School District and would have begun kindergarten next month, Superintendent Beth Giese said.

Giese said because the boy hadn't yet started school and made connections with teachers and students, the district won't be bringing in grief counselors once school starts.

Still, she said Matthew's death is being felt in Cannon Falls.

"It is really a loss for our community," she said. "This is not something you'd ever want to happen. I think everyone's just in shock."

Sheriff's office spokeswoman Kris Weiss said the accident is under investigation.

MPCA warns of blue-green algae potential

ST. PAUL -- With hot weather enveloping the state, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is warning of the potential for blue-green algae in Minnesota waters.

The algae thrive in hot weather and nutrient-rich waters, and it can be toxic to both animals and humans. It can cause severe illness and in some cases death.

So far this summer, the MPCA has not received any reports of dogs, other animals or humans being affected, according to a news release from the agency.

Most algae are harmless but can pose health risks under the right conditions. Blue-green algae blooms that are harmful often have a bad odor and have been described as pea soup, green paint or floating mats of scum.

Animals that ingest the toxins can have a variety of symptoms, including skin irritation; vomiting; circulatory, nervous and digestive problems; and severe skin lesions. They may also suffer convulsions and die.

Humans are rarely affected, probably because the unpleasant odor and appearance of a bloom keeps them out of the water.

There are no short-term solutions to handle a bloom. Once it occurs, the only option is to wait for significant rainfall, wind shifts or cooler temperatures to disrupt the algae growth.

Park Rapids asking residents to water trees

PARK RAPIDS, Minn. -- The city of Park Rapids is asking for a citizens' hose brigade to begin immediately.

Tinder dry conditions are leaving city trees drying and prematurely going into dormancy, city forester Steph Paulson said.

"We just don't have time to water them all," she said.

Especially berm trees. The city cares for them for the first couple of years, but residents assume the responsibility after that.

City crews have been busy watering as many trees as they can, but they only have so much manpower. Trees along Highway 71, Pleasant Avenue and Highway 34 were watered this week.

With sandy conditions and no measurable rain in the forecast, Paulson said city trees need all the moisture they can get.

It's nearly impossible to overwater a tree in these conditions. And Paulson said it's also impossible to tell if a tree is actually dying or going into dormancy, so the safe approach is to water.

Fox Sports North Girl hails from Red Wing

RED WING, Minn. -- Kendall Mark, who grew up in Red Wing, was named the next Fox Sports North Girl this week, beating out nearly 150 women from across the state.

"It was such a rigorous process," Mark said. "I was so excited when I found out."

The Fox Sports North Girls interact with fans at games and on social media, and do promotions and some charity work. Mark said the interaction gets her most excited for the job.

"I really love talking to people," said Mark, who joins the three existing Fox Sports North Girls. "Getting that back and forth from people who love Minnesota sports is an awesome thing."

Applicants sent in a one-minute video and photographs, and Mark moved on from there to the top 20. That's when she had interviews with Fox officials and did some test camera appearances, script readings and photos, Mark said.

After making it into the top 10, people were able to vote for their favorite applicants, which was part of the selection process, along with another phone interview and other factors.

Mark said she is grateful for all the people who voted for her.

"It's been so great," she said. "The amount of support from people through the whole thing was just phenomenal."

Fire at MSUM causes damage, evacuation of students

MOORHEAD, Minn. -- A fire that started in construction materials piled near Snarr Hall at Minnesota State University Moorhead caused about $15,000 to $20,000 worth of damage and an evacuation of students here early Friday, according to fire officials.

Firefighters responded to the call on the northwest side of Snarr Hall about 2:57 a.m., said firefighter Trent Amundsen.

The fire began in some pallets stacked with Styrofoam meant for the construction of Snarr Hall's new roof, Amundsen said.

The pallets were about 40 feet from the building, which wasn't threatened by the fire, Amundsen said.

MSUM officials made the decision to evacuate the students from a nearby building, he said.

Firefighters had the fire knocked down and the scene cleared at about 4:15 a.m. They didn't yet know what caused the blaze, Amundsen said. It remains under investigation.

St. Cloud State sets world record for howling

ST. CLOUD, Minn. -- St. Cloud State University has entered the Guinness World Records in the category of most people howling.

The official record states that the Department of Campus Involvement at St. Cloud State University is "officially amazing," having achieved the record with 296 participants. Previously, no record existed for the most people howling. A minimum of 250 participants was required for consideration.

The 296 students and community members gathered on Atwood Mall for the Husky Howl on April 26 to set the record, according to a release from the university. The school's teams are known as the Huskies. Guinness approved the record this week after examining videos, photos and witness statements for verification.

"As our students know, there's no pride like St. Cloud State pride anywhere else in the world," said Lindsey Rogers, marketing coordinator for the Department of Campus Involvement. "And we have the record to prove it."

This is the university's first Guinness World Record.


Wheatland dog breeder faces criminal neglect charges

FARGO - A Cass County dog breeder faces six criminal charges of animal neglect following the seizure of about 170 dogs from an apparent puppy mill operation at his home near Wheatland.

Darcy Darrell Smith, 51, was charged Aug. 15 with six counts of depriving an animal of necessary food and water, a Class A misdemeanor.

Smith waived his rights to the dogs three weeks after authorities seized 168 dogs from his rural Wheatland property July 10. Authorities said the dogs were found stacked in cages three deep, some dogs five to a cage, in piles of their own feces and urine-soaked paper.

Cass County Assistant State's Attorney Leah Viste said prosecutors didn't file a charge for each animal individually because state law requires time in each count to be served concurrently if it is in the same course of conduct.

Instead, each of the six charges covers allegations linked to different places where the dogs were held on Smith's property.

The dogs have been treated for medical issues and placed for adoption in rescue organizations. Several of the animals were pregnant when seized, and authorities estimate that more than 200 animals will be linked to the case.

Smith's next court appearance is set for Sept. 10.

Second man named in fiery I-94 semi crash

VALLEY CITY, N.D. - Authorities on Friday released the name of a second man killed in a fiery crash near here last week.

The accident happened around 9 a.m. Aug. 14 at Highways 1 and 46, about 20 miles south of Valley City.

According to the North Dakota Highway Patrol, Allan Tofsrud, 46, of Leeds, was driving a semi-truck and trailer loaded with sunflowers east on Highway 46.

Tofsrud failed to stop at a stop sign and struck a northbound semi hauling an empty flatbed trailer on Highway 1, the patrol said.

The second semi was driven by Carl Bjugstad, 64, of Sheldon.

The two semis came to rest in the northeast ditch and a fire broke out. Both trucks were destroyed, causing $200,000 in damage.

Both men were killed on scene, Highway Patrol Sgt. Tom Herzig said.

Although Tofrsud's identity was released a week ago, authorities did not release Bjugstad's name until Friday because authorities waited for official confirmation. His body was badly burned in the fire, Herzig said.