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News Briefs: One dead in car-truck crash near Pipestone

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


1 dead in car-truck crash

PIPESTONE, Minn. — A Pipestone woman died Tuesday after her car was hit by a truck in southwest Minnesota.

According to the Minnesota State Patrol, 26-year-old Amy L. Redenius was

broadsided by the truck at 5:37 p.m. Tuesday on Minnesota 23 in Pipestone County. She was transported to the Pipestone County Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.

The 1999 Freightliner truck was driven by Joshua D. VanHill, 26, of Sioux Falls, S.D.

VanHill had no apparent injuries.

Redenius was driving a 2007 Ford Focus.

Woman killed in crash

REDWOOD FALLS, Minn. — A 57-year-old New Ulm woman was killed Monday in a car-truck crash in west-central Minnesota.

According to the Redwood County Sheriff’s Office, Susan Kay Achman was driving a 2003 Ford Taurus on a county road east of Redwood Falls just before 4 p.m. Monday when the accident with the semi-tractor occurred.

Achman died at the scene and the driver of the truck, Steven Gieseke, 42, of New Ulm, suffered minor injuries. The 2008 Peterbilt was registered to MR Paving & Excavating Inc.

Two charged in Rosemount man’s overdose death

HASTINGS, Minn. -- A night of drinking and drugs ended in death last September for a Rosemount man and now has resulted in murder charges against a 22-year-old Morton resident and the deceased man’s girlfriend.

The Dakota County Attorney’s Office has charged Timothy Patrick Bednarchuk and Jennifer Lynn Spicer with third-degree murder after they allegedly helped supply the heroin Robert Trentman used the night he died.

Rosemount police were called Sept. 8 about a man who wasn’t breathing. They found Trentman, who according to the Hennepin County medical examiner died from a mix of heroin and alcohol toxicity.

According to the charges, Spicer and Bednarchuk dropped Trentman off at a Rosemount bar the night of Sept. 7, then drove to Brooklyn Center, where Bednarchuk bought two baggies of heroin. He gave Spicer one and injected the contents of the other himself, then drove her back to Rosemount, authorities say.

According to the complaint, Spicer met Trentman at the bar, where she found him apparently drunk, and they went back to her home and snorted heroin.

If convicted of third-degree murder, Bednarchuk and Spicer each could face up to 25 years in prison and fines of up to $40,000.

Hodges leads as ballots are counted in Minneapolis

MINNEAPOLIS -- A Minneapolis City Council member emerged from a mayoral field crowded with 35 candidates in an election featuring a new, and to some confusing, form of voting.

Betsy Hodges maintained a convincing lead, with 36 percent of Tuesday’s vote, through a complicated ballot-counting process Wednesday.

It was the biggest test yet for ranked-choice voting, in which ballots are cast for voters’ first, second and third choices. The system was designed to eliminate primary elections.

Because the system is complex, election officials never expected quick returns. They were right; after four hours of work beginning at noon Wednesday, they had eliminated just one candidate from the long list.

Most observers predicted Hodges would survive the lengthy count and expect her to replace three-term Mayor R.T. Rybak, who did not seek re-election.

Hodges’ apparent win was a bit of a blow to the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party establishment. Most of its powerful members who took a side in the race backed Mark Andrew, who was in second place.

Ranked-choice voting also was delaying returns for some Minneapolis City Council seats, although Abdi Warsame became the highest-ranking Somali-American in the country when he won a council seat.

In St. Paul, Mayor Chris Coleman had no problem winning his third term as the capital city leader.

MNsure numbers up

Almost 11,000 people have bought health insurance policies through the new state MNsure program.

The politically sensitive program is picking up steam after its Oct. 1 launch. More activity is expected as a Dec. 15 deadline nears to have policies in place by Jan. 1.

Minnesotans may buy policies through through the end of March. They also may call (855) 366-7873 to arrange for in-person help to buy insurance.

Information MNsure released Wednesday shows 42,000 people have visited its website and 28,000 created accounts, a precursor to buying insurance.

People who have created more than half of the accounts would be eligible for some form of federal financial assistance, up to Washington paying the entire bill.

Those on the federal Medicare program cannot use MNsure, but MNsure will be the only way for those on MinnesotaCare and Medical Assistance to continue receiving free or low-cost coverage.

In the meantime, just 17 small businesses have completed buying their health care plans. Large businesses are not eligible to use MNsure.

Voters back 50 of 57 school levy requests

Minnesota voters passed a record 88 percent of school operating levies in Tuesday’s election, the Minnesota School Boards Association reports.

Unofficial returns indicate that 50 of 57 levy requests passed, the best percentage since 1980, when the association began tracking the passage rate. The levies raise taxes to help pay school operating expenses.

The association also reports that 23 of 26 requests for construction or capital lease projects passed.

Dayton extends deliveries to farmers

ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton signed an executive order Wednesday allowing trucks hauling propane and anhydrous ammonia to deliver to farmers beyond normal operating times allowed by the state.

Dayton said late maturing corn in the Upper Midwest means farmers are working long hours later in the year, opening the need for supplies to be delivered past normal hours of service.

Tanker rolls near refinery, leaks fluid

ST. PAUL PARK, Minn. -- A tanker truck rolled near the St. Paul Park refinery Wednesday morning, leaking fluid into a nearby holding pond and forcing a temporary road closure, St. Paul Park Mayor Keith Franke said.

The semitrailer rolled on St. Paul Park Road near the Northern Tier Energy refinery and the Summit Avenue exit along Highway 61, according to Cottage Grove police, among public safety officials at the scene.

"There was some spill of either crude (oil) or kerosene," Franke said. The liquid spilled into a holding pond, which had to be drained, he said.

The tanker had to be emptied before being turned upright, Franke said, adding that he didn't believe the public was ever at risk.

St. Paul Park public safety officials could not be reached immediately for comment.

Bemidji Blockbuster to be last in Minnesota

BEMIDJI, Minn. -- Bemidji’s Blockbuster video store will be the last location in Minnesota early next year as hundreds of Blockbusters close across the country, officials confirmed Wednesday.

The store, owned and operated by North Central Management Group, is a franchise location, saving it from the fate of 300 corporate-owned Blockbusters in the U.S. that parent company Dish Network will close.

“There is no plan at this point to close or do anything different than what we’ve been doing,” said Kevin Seeger, North Central general manager.

The Bemidji location will be the last remaining Blockbuster store in Minnesota after the January closings, Dish spokesman John Hall said.

Dish Network announced Wednesday that it would end its by-mail video distribution service as well as shutter its retail stores and distribution centers. Dish plans to lay off as many as 2,800 employees.

But Seeger said North Central’s store operations in Bemidji and Grand Forks, N.D., are relatively independent, except for software and other support services.


300-barrel saltwater spill reported near Grenora

GRENORA, N.D. – A valve that was inadvertently left open caused a spill of about 300 barrels of saltwater at a Williams County oil well site, the North Dakota Department of Health said Wednesday.

After a tanker truck filled up at a well site about 13 miles southeast of Grenora, a valve on a tank was left open and brine, or saltwater, spilled at the site until it was discovered late Tuesday, said Dennis Fewless, director of the department’s Division of Water Quality.

The spill, reported to the Health Department on Wednesday morning, was contained on the well pad location and did not threaten any water sources, Fewless said.

About 200 barrels of liquid had been recovered as of Wednesday and about 100 barrels soaked into the soil, he said. The Health Department was on site Wednesday and is overseeing the cleanup, which involves disposing the contaminated soil, Fewless said.

The well is operated by HRC Operating LLC, and the trucking company listed on the spill report is Justice Trucking, Fewless said.

3 arrested near school on drug, endangerment charges

FARGO – Three people were arrested Wednesday morning on suspicion of drug dealing and child endangerment after a search warrant uncovered a baby lying within arm’s reach of illicit prescription drugs, and methamphetamines in a nearby pile of children’s clothing next to a bag of Halloween candy.

Fargo police Lt. Joel Vettel said two of the three children in the home, all under 7 years old, were placed in immediate protective custody.

The apartment where the search warrant was executed is within 500 feet of Jefferson Elementary School, Vettel said.

Brandon Wahl, 29, and Tawni Johnson, 26, both of Fargo, were being held on suspicion of child neglect or endangerment, and several drug charges, including dealing methamphetamines within 1,000 feet of a school. Brady Swanson, 29, of Fargo, was being held on suspicion of possession of drug paraphernalia.

Woman given 30 years for granddaughter’s death

FARGO -- A St. Michael woman was ordered Wednesday to spend 30 years in prison for her role in the death of her step-granddaughter and witness tampering.

Hope Louise Tomahawk Whiteshield, 32, received consecutive sentences – 20 years for felony child abuse, which caused the death of 2-year-old Laurynn Whiteshield, and 10 years for witness tampering.

U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson levied the maximum prison term on the felony child abuse charge.

Previously, Whiteshield pleaded guilty to both charges. Whiteshield was accused of the throwing the child down an embankment near her home on the Spirit Lake Reservation.

In addition to prison time – there is no early parole in the federal system – Whiteshield was ordered to pay $6,952 restitution and serve three years of supervised release following her release from prison.

“The 30 year sentence imposed today cannot undue this horrible situation. It does however, provide some measure of justice to the victim and her family,” U.S. Attorney Timothy Purdon said in a news release.


Prescott police allege major indoor marijuana operation

PRESCOTT, Wis. -- What originally was a call for a parking complaint turned into a marijuana bust for Prescott police Tuesday afternoon.

An officer went to a residence for a parking complaint on Nicole Margaret Hoffer, 42. It was discovered that Hoffer also had an outstanding warrant from St. Croix County and was taken into custody. While making the arrest, the officer noticed marijuana in the residence, police said.

It was later discovered that marijuana was being grown in two closets, said Police Chief Mike R. Bondarenko. Police seized 43 marijuana plants, about 120 grams of harvested marijuana and growing equipment, including lights, potting soil and pots.

Kip Harris Rieder, 40, who also lives at the address but wasn’t present at the time of the seizure, was arrested when he returned Tuesday evening.

Hoffer and Rieder were taken to the Pierce County Jail in Ellsworth on charges of manufacturing and delivering marijuana. Charges were pending with the Pierce County District Attorney's Office.