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News Briefs: Willmar school bus hit in four-vehicle crash

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

FCC to look into rural phones

WASHINGTON -- The Federal Communications Commission plans to take action to fix some rural telephone problems.

Several U.S. senators representing rural areas have urged the FCC to take action for months.

“Call completion problems continue to hurt small businesses and families in rural communities across Minnesota that depend on reliable phone service,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said. “This new order is a step in the right direction, and I will continue to work to make sure all Minnesotans can make calls to friends, families and customers regardless of where they live.”

Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., said that call failures are the result of some “bad actors” in the telephone industry.

“When calls fail to complete, it hurts rural small businesses and creates a serious public safety concern,” Johnson said. “These problems have gone on for far too long, and those breaking the rules need to be held accountable.”

Klobuchar’s office reported that the new rules will improve the agency’s ability to investigate call completion problems and take immediate steps to improve performance of long distance calls.


Target Center renovation detailed

MINNEAPOLIS -- Minneapolis officials announced Monday that Target Center, home of the basketball Timberwolves and Lynx, will undergo renovation beginning next year.

The $97 million project will include exterior redesign, more seats for concerts and family shows, additional meeting spaces and better pedestrian flow.

“This creative, pragmatic agreement ensures continued economic vitality in downtown Minneapolis, and breathes new life into a building with great memories and an even greater future,” Mayor R.T. Rybak said.

Design work begins later this year, with construction to be finished within two years.

Minneapolis officials said Target Center is the 22nd busiest building in the world, hosting 200 events and a million visitors each year.

An agreement also announced Monday will keep the two professional basketball teams in the facility through at least 2032.

The Lynx recently won the Women’s Basketball Association title.

Minneapolis is to pay half of the renovation cost, with the Timberwolves and Lynx adding $43 million. The operator of the facility, AEG, will pay $5.5 million.

Also, Minneapolis officials promised to pay at least $50 million through 2032 to keep the facility competitive.

Minneapolis City Council must vote on the plan. It will hold a hearing on the renovation agreement Thursday and is expected to vote on it Nov. 12.

One dies in plane crash

PRINCETON, Minn., -- One person died Monday when a small airplane crashed near the Princeton airport.

The Princeton Union-Eagle reported that a dozen emergency vehicles were on the scene as smoke billowed from the fiery crash.

The crash occurred at about 12:45 p.m. near the airport’s only runway. The airport does not have a tower.

State and federal officials were investigating the crash.

20 tax felonies charged

ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota Revenue Department has charged a Plymouth man with 20 tax felonies.

Robert Doran, 50, faces five counts of failing to file income tax returns, five counts of failing to file withholding tax returns and 10 counts of failing to pay taxes.

Court documents show Doran was the owner of Protero, Inc., a lawn equipment business, when he failed to file income tax returns and withholding tax returns for tax years 2007 through 2011. The documents claim his annual income reached $398,000.


School bus hit in four-vehicle crash

WILLMAR, Minn. – Students on a Willmar school bus escaped injury Monday afternoon when the bus they were riding home from school was involved in a four-vehicle crash.

The accident happened about 3:20 p.m. on 19th Avenue.

The Willmar Police Department said the accident happened while a bus, driven by Douglas C. Dodge, 67, of Willmar, was had its amber lights activated and was coming to a stop.

A second vehicle, a 2003 Ford Ranger driven by William P. Flickinger, 25 of St. Cloud, was following the bus and came to a stop behind it.

A third vehicle, swerved left to avoid colliding with the pickup and a fourth vehicle, a 2004 Toyota Sienna van driven by Kaitlyn M. Lindblad, 20 of Willmar, struck the pickup from behind and pushed it into the back of the school bus.

Initially no injuries were reported. Children were switched to another bus and the route was continued.


Girl dies after crash while learning snowmobile safety

OSCEOLA, Wis. -- A 13-year-old Osceola girl died Sunday, a day after the modified snowmobile she was riding as part of a safety class struck a wall in the Osceola High School parking lot Saturday morning.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources officials identified the girl as Sarah Thorsland.

She received immediate medical attention and was airlifted to Regions Hospital in St. Paul where she died Sunday afternoon.

Conservation Warden Todd Schaller, also the chief of the bureau’s Recreation Education and Enforcement Section, said she was among 42 students participating in Saturday's session and was the 20th to drive the training snowmobile -- modified for dry ground by replacing skis with wheels -- around a slow-speed course in the parking lot.

She was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash, Schaller said.

The class is required in order for anyone born after Jan. 1st, 1985, to operate a snowmobile.

The Snowmobile Safety Program began in 1972 and has 879 instructors who are trained and certified to teach by the DNR. Last year, 7,799 people completed similar courses statewide.

Saturday's accident is believed to be the first serious crash or fatality to occur during any DNR safety class, Schaller said


Saltwater spill cleanup proves to be a ‘logistical challenge’

BELFIELD, N.D. – Cleanup of last week’s saltwater spill at a disposal well in Billings County is proving to be a “logistical challenge,” a state Health Department official said Monday.

Encore Energy Partners Operating LLC reported on Wednesday the spill of an estimated 150 barrels of saltwater, which is a byproduct of drilling for oil and gas.

A pipe on the disposal well pad sprung a leak, causing the 6,300-gallon spill, said Dennis Fewless, director of the Health Department’s division of water quality.

Some of the saltwater reached Blacktail Creek about 20 miles northwest of Belfield, but Fewless said no harm to aquatic species or threat to wildlife or livestock had been observed. The creek empties into the Little Missouri River about 13 miles away, he said.

The spill happened on U.S. Forest Service land.

Idaho man killed in Highway 85 rollover

WATFORD CITY, N.D. -- An Idaho resident was killed Monday morning after losing control of a pickup on U.S. Highway 85 about 20 miles south of Watford City, according to the North Dakota Highway Patrol.

Terry R. Eckman, 48, was traveling north when he lost control of the Ford F-150 pickup he was driving while negotiating a curve. The vehicle ran off the road and into the east ditch, where it overturned.

Eckman, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was ejected and died from injuries sustained in the crash.

Man sentenced for attack

DICKINSON, N.D. -- A Dickinson man was sentenced Monday to five years in prison, with another 10 suspended, for the June 2012 assault on his then-girlfriend.

Matthew Foxworthy, 24, will get credit for the year-and-a-half he has served at the Southwest Multi-County Correctional Center. He pleaded guilty earlier this year to the two separate aggravated assault charges, the second being for assaulting a man that tried to defend victim Brenna Fahey.

She and her mother both testified in favor of a tough sentence.

Karen Fahey testified on the extent of emotional damage to the entire family. She said she was devastated to hear what happened to her daughter when she got the 3:30 a.m. phone call, and that it has traumatized their entire family.

“It’s like having your heart bruised over and over again,” she said.

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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