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News Briefs: Man gets jail for assault with coffee cup

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


Man gets jail for assault with coffee cup

BEMIDJI, Minn. — A Cass Lake man has been sentenced to 60 days in the Beltrami County Jail for stabbing a man with a coffee mug.

Mark Daniel Cree, 28, assaulted David Richard Cole, 27, of Red Lake, on Oct. 9 in Bemidji, according to court documents.

According to a Bemidji Police Department incident report, the two men became engaged in an argument after they had thrown up Gangster Disciples gang signs.

At one point during the argument, Cree became upset and struck Cole in the head with a coffee mug. The mug shattered and Cree used the mug’s handle to stab Cole in the leg.

Bemidji police officers responded to a report of a man, Cole, seeking medical attention at the Sanford Bemidji Medical Center emergency room early on Oct. 10. Cree was located at a Bemidji residence later that day.

Cree was charged with one count of felony second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon. He pleaded guilty Monday to gross misdemeanor fifth-degree assault.

Cree was sentenced to a total of 365 days, of which he must serve 60 days. The remaining sentence is stayed for two years while he is on supervised probation. He was also ordered to pay a $1,000 fine.

Perham chamber to take over Turtle Fest

PERHAM, Minn. -- The board of the Perham Area Chamber of Commerce has agreed to bring Turtle Fest under its wing.

In addition, the chamber will be taking over leadership of Perham’s annual Parade of Lights and Rib Cook-Off, starting next year.

The Perham Lions announced in July that the club was no longer willing to act as the financial and communications hub for Turtle Fest, and no other groups have stepped forward.

To secure the future of Turtle Fest and the other events, the chamber board voted Oct. 15 to take on the extra workload that coordinating and fundraising for these events will require. 

Chamber Director Dan Schroeder said last week that the chamber’s staff, structure and budget would undergo changes due to the additional workload. Once a plan is in place, coordination of the events can begin, starting with Turtle Fest.

Board member Nick Theroux said the chamber will not be “subsidizing” events the way the Lions Club did. The size and extent of the festival will depend on how much money is raised.

Beltrami County deputy cleared in fatal shooting

BEMIDJI, Minn. — A sheriff’s deputy who shot and killed a Beltrami County man in a standoff in June has been cleared of any criminal charges.

“It is my conclusion that no criminal charges are warranted with respect to this matter,” Beltrami County Attorney Timothy Faver wrote in a letter to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

On June 26, Beltrami County sheriff’s deputies were engaged in a standoff with Miquell “Mike” Deppa, 34, north of Bemidji. Deppa was in possession of a rifle and threatening suicide, according to law enforcement.

His mother and girlfriend had taken shelter in a bathroom. They were able to leave the residence safely and after they did, Deppa shot toward the deputies, Faver’s letter said.

Deputy Jeff Roberts, a trained sniper, witnessed Deppa shooting toward the deputies, Faver said. As Deppa shouldered his rifle and aimed in the direction of other deputies, Roberts fired his rifle, striking Deppa, officials said. An autopsy revealed Deppa later died from the gunshot wound.

Peace officers are authorized by law to use deadly force to protect themselves or another individual from death or great bodily harm, Faver said.

Following a mandatory, three-day administrative leave, Roberts was reinstated to active duty.

Carlton County fires employee accused of stealing $1 million

CARLTON, Minn. -- A Carlton County transfer station employee accused of stealing upwards of $1 million has been terminated, the county announced Wednesday.

Joanne Marie Wappes, 63, of Cloquet, was fired Oct. 3 and did not file a grievance challenging the termination, according to Dennis Genereau Jr., the county’s human resources director.

“The County is reviewing its procedures for the handling of cash transactions,” Genereau said in a statement. “In addition, the County is reviewing all of its options for recovery of stolen funds and will seek restitution in the criminal proceedings.”

Wappes was charged Sept. 20 in State District Court with theft of public funds and theft by swindle.

Because she worked for Carlton County, the case has been handed over to the St. Louis County Attorney’s Office for prosecution.

The investigation began after officials were informed of potential improper financial activity at the transfer station. An investigation by her supervisors and the Carlton County Sheriff’s Office revealed that Wappes was manipulating the cash register at the transfer station, authorities said.


N.D. requests aid for blizzard damage

BISMARCK -- Some local governments and rural electric cooperatives could receive federal aid before the end of the month in response to the intense autumn blizzard that slammed parts of southern North Dakota.

North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple said he has sent a letter to President Barack Obama in request of a federal disaster declaration for the seven counties hardest hit by the storm, which dumped more than 2 feet of snow in some areas during the first week of October, according to a release Wednesday.

The announcement came on the heels of a meeting Wednesday in Mandan attended by Dalrymple, Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., state rural electric cooperative representatives, local government officials and members of the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association.

The request was made for Adams, Bowman, Grant, Hettinger, Morton, Sioux and Slope counties in southwest and south-central North Dakota, which, according to the release, sustained close to $8 million in estimated damage to power utilities and public infrastructure.

Greg Wilz, deputy director of the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services, said relief funds, which would be distributed through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, could be approved by the president in the next seven to 10 days.

Pink postpones Fargodome show

FARGO – Reportedly under doctors’ orders, pop singer Pink has postponed her concert at the Fargodome originally scheduled for Sunday night.

A statement sent out Wednesday by promoter Live Nation Entertainment said the singer needed more time on vocal rest after performing two shows in Seattle and Vancouver.

“It became clear after further consultation with her doctors today that more rest is required for her to fully recover from inflamed vocal chords and laryngitis,” the statement read. “It is under these doctors’ orders that she postpones her scheduled Fargo date.”

Pink will instead perform at the Fargodome on Jan. 11, according to the statement. All tickets purchased for her concert this month will be honored on the rescheduled date.

Fargodome General Manager Rob Sobolik said it’s a disappointing change, but local fans will still get a chance to see Pink early next year.

“I think the best thing here is that it is just postponed and not canceled,” he said.

Panel says judge should be suspended for sexual harassment

BISMARCK – A hearing panel in a sexual harassment case against a Cass County judge has recommended the judge be suspended for two months without pay as a disciplinary measure.

In its recommendations, a panel of the Judiciary Conduct Commission found that after he made a pass at a female court reporter and was turned down, Cass County District Court Judge Wickham Corwin repeatedly sexually harassed her.

After the court reporter declined his advances, Corwin tried to have her reassigned, disciplined or terminated in retaliation, the hearing panel’s findings say.

“(The court reporter) did not want to report Judge Corwin, and if anything, being involved in a public proceeding is probably her worst fear. Further, Judge’s Corwin’s conduct has subjected the judiciary to public ridicule which undermines the public‘s confidence in the judiciary,” the panel’s recommendation says.

The court reporter testified at a hearing June 24-25, at which Corwin also testified.

The panel’s recommendation was filed with the state Supreme Court, which makes the final decision on whether to enact the sanctions.

Dalrymple to chair Natural Resources Committee

BISMARCK – The National Governors Association has named North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple to be chairman of its Natural Resources Committee.

The committee has jurisdiction over issues related to agriculture, energy, the environment and natural resources, according to a news release from the governor's office.

Dalrymple said he looks forward to chairing the committee and “sharing with others the successful policies that have been implemented here in North Dakota.”

He was chosen for the position by the association’s chairwoman, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, and vice chairman, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Arson determined as cause of church fire

VALLEY CITY, N.D. -- Investigators say arson was the cause of a church fire that did more than $1 million in damage Monday morning.

Valley City Fire Chief Gary Retterath said Wednesday that with the assistance of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and state fire marshals, “We all agreed that it was a set fire at the church.”

The investigation at Faith Lutheran Church is being turned over to federal and state investigators and the Valley City Police Department, Retterath said.

The fire happened around 4 a.m. Monday, causing damage to the east side of the building.

Valley City Police Chief Fred Thompson said Monday that authorities were looking into the possibility of the fire being related to a late-September string of church burglaries in Valley City, but it was “too early to tell.”

Donation funds for Faith Lutheran Church have been set up at Dacotah Bank and Bank Forward in Valley City.


Telemark will continue to host events

CABLE, Wis. -- The American Birkebeiner cross-country ski race and other tourist draws will go on this year with the blessings of the new owners of Telemark Lodge in northern Wisconsin, the director of the Cable Area Chamber of Commerce said.

Telemark Lodge and Resort, the northern terminus of the largest cross-country ski race in North America, was sold in an auction last week to a private investment firm from Colorado. The $926,000 purchase price included 975 acres of land crisscrossed by trails, including those used by the Birkebeiner and the Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival, a mountain bike race.

James Bolen, the Cable chamber director, said the new owners met with him along with representatives of the Birkebeiner, the Fat Tire Festival, the Central Cross Country Ski Association — or CXC — and the Chequamegon Area Mountain Bike Association this week.

In addition to continuing established events, the owners gave the go-ahead for a couple of new events this winter, Bolen said. They are a junior Olympic qualifying crros-country race in January and the Wisconsin state cross-country ski championships in February.

Bolen declined to reveal the names of the new owners, but said he believed the new owners would “reveal themselves” soon.