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News Briefs: Woman charged with stealing jewelry at open houses

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


Woman charged with stealing jewelry at open houses

WOODBURY, Minn. -- Washington County prosecutors say a Woodbury woman made off with thousands of dollars’ worth of jewelry while attending open-house showings.

Brooke Holly Menard, 19, was charged Sept. 19 with one count of felony theft.

According to a criminal complaint, police were alerted Sept. 16 that someone had been going to open houses, stealing jewelry from the homes and pawning the items at different locations. In both instances, the thefts occurred at Woodbury homes.

Investigators identified Menard as the suspect after interviewing Realtors and generating information about her vehicle.

Investigators then turned to different pawn shops, which confirmed Menard had pawned the stolen items, which were valued at a combined $5,000.

Police obtained a search warrant to access information from the GPS system in Menard’s vehicle, which indicated that she drove to open houses and then to pawn shops.

A second warrant was issued for Menard’s residence. She was home when the warrant was executed. Menard, who told police she is a heroin addict, admitted to thefts and to pawning the items, the complaint states.

Man accused in rest-stop death is ruled mentally unfit to stand trial

CARLTON, Minn. -- A man accused of running over and killing a rest-stop worker at an Interstate 35 rest area in northeast Minnesota has been civilly committed to a psychiatric hospital.

After being evaluated by a psychiatrist, Gregory Allen Scherber, 55, had a hearing Sept. 13 at Carlton County Court. County Attorney Thom Pertler said Scherber was found to be mentally incapable of standing trial and was civilly committed to Anoka Regional Treatment Center, a secure, state-run facility.

Scherber was charged June 21 with criminal vehicular homicide and fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle, both felonies, in the June 19 hit-and-run death of Mahtowa rest-stop janitor Greg “Blackie” Blackburn, who also worked as a newspaper carrier for several local newspapers.

Pertler said the criminal charges against Scherber essentially are “on hold” until the defendant is mentally competent to stand trial.

Witnesses described a vehicle accelerating toward Blackburn as he was picking up garbage and hitting the man. A vehicle matching the description was spotted on I-35, leading to a 25-mile chase and Scherber’s arrest.

Animal science conference is Tuesday at MinnWest

WILLMAR, Minn. — The third annual Animal Science Conference will be Tuesday at the MinnWest Technology Campus in Willmar.

In addition to bringing bring animal science and food industry stakeholders together for discussions on the latest industry trends, for networking and investment opportunities, the conference speakers and participants will grapple with the issues of global hunger and making a safe, affordable and abundant food a reality.

Conference organizers expect attendees from across the Midwest, according to Joanna Schrupp, project assistant at the MinnWest Technology Campus.

The event is a daylong conference featuring speakers and panel discussions.

A reception and AgTech Showcase event hosted by the University of Minnesota’s Office for Technology Commercialization will kick things off Monday afternoon and evening at the Holiday Inn and Willmar Conference Center.

Get more information at


E15 gasoline available in four N.D. cities

DICKINSON, N.D. -- E15 gasoline, which contains 15 percent ethanol, is now available in four of North Dakota’s larger cities -- at six PetroServe USA locations in Bismarck, Mandan, Fargo and West Fargo.

The blended fuel is approved for cars and light-duty vehicles with a model year of 2001 or later, and flex-fuel vehicles.

North Dakota is the ninth state to offer this fuel blend.


Hudson schools apologize for political video

HUDSON, Wis. -- The Hudson School District has issued an apology for showing a politically slanted video to all middle school students Wednesday.

The 2009 video, billed as “Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher’s I Pledge Video,” was shown to students as part of “Peace One Day.” The event is designed to motivate students to make a difference in their world, be it locally, nationally or globally.

Toward the end of the more than four-minute video, celebrities make known their strong support for Democratic President Barack Obama.

Initially those in the film pledged their support for many social issues, including the environment, preventing illness and stopping hunger. But at several points near the end of the video, participants sent strong political messages in support of Obama. Anthony Kiedis, singer with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, said, “I pledge to be of service to Barrack Obama.” Moore said she pledged “to be a ‘servant’ to our president.” Another participant wore an “Obama” shirt.

The district posted an apology letter after receiving complaints from parents. In the letter, middle school Principal Dan Koch said in part, “The video conveyed a message that people serve the presidency when in fact our elected officials serve the people.”

The letter also says that the district is nonpartisan and that it would not use the video again.


Mitchell man gets seventh DUI -- his third in 10 years

MITCHELL, S.D. -- A Mitchell man will serve jail time for his third drunken driving offense in 10 years.

Steven Rath, 55, was arrested on the charge in May. He has seven total DUI convictions and three prior felonies, Judge Tim Bjorkman said.

“At some point, the public has a right to expect they won’t have some drunk run into them when they’re driving down the highway or won’t run into their loved ones,” Bjorkman said.

Rath will serve 120 days in jail, starting with 30 days immediately, 30 days in August 2014, 30 days in August 2015 and 30 days in August 2016. Bjorkman authorized work release for him.

Bjorkman also ordered that he pay $104 in court costs, his court-appointed attorney fees and $161 for a blood test. He will serve five years on probation, enroll in the 24/7 sobriety program and wear an ankle monitor. His driver’s license will be revoked for five years. Bjorkman authorized a driving permit for sobriety program check-ins, counseling and work once all fines are paid.

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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