BELTRAMI COUNTY SHOOTING
County Sheriff's Deputies are investigating the fatal shooting of 27-year old Dominic Needham of Red Lake. Deputies were told that neighbors heard gunshots at a Grant Valley Township home around 12:45am Friday morning. Needham was found on the deck of the residence, taken to a Bemidji hospital where he died. Authorities say that everyone involved in the shooting are in custody.
BAXTER GROUP PULLS DOWN $1,000,000 PRIZE
40 Consolidated Telecommunications Company employees regularly pool some money and buy lottery tickets but last fall they decided to go for a big prize, the Minnesota Millionaire Raffle. Two million-dollar prizes are given and only a half-million $10 tickets are sold. The CTC group bought ten tickets and one of them paid off. Marketing and Advertising Manager Andy Issackson said each of the 40 had to fill out tax forms so each will get a check for their share, $25,000 less state and federal withholding. Issackson said a small group has been chosen to go to Lottery HQ in St. Paul to pick up the checks. A lottery official said once the prize has been claimed, a team would be sent to Baxter for an official presentation ceremony to the group. This was the second year for the Minnesota Millionaire Raffle. Issackson said he's not a part of the group and usually doesn't buy lottery tickets but "who knows what will happen in the future."
MINNESOTA PRECINCT CAUCUSES A MONTH AWAY
Minnesota Democrats, Republicans and Independents are getting ready for precinct caucuses on Tuesday, February 5th. Crow Wing County Republican Chair Dale Walz said this is the month to make final preparations, the nuts and bolts of the event. Walz said the party expects to have caucuses in four or five central locations this year. House District 12 Chair Yvonne Leiser said this is a very important day in Minnesota's political process. Democrat Party caucuses will be held at Brainerd High School, Republicans are considering CLC, Crosby-Ironton High School, Crosslake Community Center and Nisswa Elementary School. The Indpendents are still putting their list of locations together. Leiser said promoting precinct caucuses should be fairly easy because the Presidential and Senatorial campaigns will be contacting voters to urge them to attend.
FOLEY MOTHER ACCUSED OF ARSON
Benton County authorities have charged Karen Koetter with looting and burning the home of former Minnesota National Guardsman Brian Skold, the woman's biological son. Skold was shot by members of the Douglas County SWAT Team last May after he'd threatened them with a shotgun. Koetter and four others allegedly broke into Skold's house a few days after he was killed and stole a computer, television set, stereo and DVD player and then tried to set the house on fire. Koetter gave Skold up for adoption when she was 15 but connected with him years later and lived next door to him in Sauk Rapids.
12TH NIGHT CELEBRATION SUNDAY
Singers and performers from the First Congregational United Church of Christ will help celebrate the 12th Night of Christmas on Sunday, January 6th, Epiphany Sunday. Music Committee Chairman Joe Stattine said the evening includes a wide variety of music from soprano Sarah Aamot Lundin and bass Michael Lundin, flutist Jenny Gunsberry and the Central Lakes College Brass Choir. Stattine said the celebration starts at 7pm at near Gregory Park at 415 Juniper in Brainerd. There's no charge for the event and refreshments will be served afterward.
TEEN DRIVING SEMINAR SPEAKER ANNIE BAHR
22-year old Augsburg College student Annie Bahr has gone a long way in the last two years. In the spring of 2006, she was sentenced to six months in jail for criminal vehicular homicide. Her friend, Jackie Saddler of Baxter died in an alcohol-related crash. Annie was driving the car. She'll share her thoughts next Tuesday night at the second annual Teen Driver Safety Seminar. She said what she tells young drivers and their parents that they should not believe what happened to her could not happen to anyone, that they're not invincible, and that actions have consequences, sometimes tough to pay. There's no charge for the seminar at Northland Arboretum on Tuesday, January 8th. Registration is from 5-5:30pm and the program runs until 7pm. To pre-register, call Sara at 218-829-3558.
IOWA VOTERS CAUCUS TONIGHT
Iowa voters will caucus tonight and vote for their choice for President of the United States. Between 7-10% of Iowa voters have shown up for caucuses in the past and workers for candidates have been doing what they can to increase that number. Voters have been contacted, many more than once. State Center, Iowa teacher Aileen McKinney said she's a registered Independent so she's gotten lots of calls. McKinney said mainstream media is filled with political stories and her phone keeps ringing and ringing. She said she's either being polled or being encouraged to go to the caucuses and callers want to know who she's going to support. And the nearly-retired teacher said she probably won't go to her caucus because so far, she hasn't been able to make up her mind about anybody to support. McKinney said candidates are filled with promises and when "you live as long as I have, you realize most of what they promise, they can't deliver." The Iowa caucuses meet tonight at 7pm and one of the first items on the agenda is voting for their candidate of choice.
BRAINERD SCHOOL DISTRICT COULD TRIM 90 JOBS
Brainerd Superintendent Jerry Walseth told the board yesterday that trimming the budget for next school year by $5.5-Million could mean as many as 90 district employees will have to be laid off. The board curriculum committee approved his report for budget reductions at Wednesday's meeting. Layoffs could include 22 elementary teachers and 12 teaching assistants as well as a non-specified number of secretaries, custodians and administrators. Board member Bob Nystrom told the Brainerd Dispatch that Walseth had put a lot of time and thought into the reductions and administration was doing the best it could with limited resources.
REED CAMPBELL NEW BRAINERD SCHOOL BOARD CHAIR
Banker Reed Campbell was elected Brainerd School District board chairman at Wednesday's meeting. Campbell was the board vice chair last year and was re-elected to his second term last fall. Board member Ruth Gmeinder was elected this year's board vice chair. Campbell told the Brainerd Dispatch there are tough decisions to make in the coming year. The board has to trim next year's budget by roughly $5.5-Million by the end of June.
CTC EMPLOYEES WIN $1,000,000
One of the two top million dollar prize tickets in the Minnesota Millionaire Raffle was sold in Crow Wing County and yesterday, a number of Consolidated Telecommunications Company employees fessed up; 40 of them had pooled their money to buy that ticket. After taxes, each of the 40 will get around $17,000, not a bad return on their money. This was the second year for the raffle and the limited number of tickets sold out by Christmas Eve.
NISSWA LIONS NATIONALLY RECOGNIZED
Two Nisswa Lion members were given the Lions Clubs International Melvin Jones award in December. The award is named for the founder of the Lions and is the organization's highest award. Tom Beaver and Bob Reichenbach receved the awards at the Nisswa Lions Christmas Party at Grand View Lodge in mid-December.
PL GIRLS 'LYNX TEAM OF THE WEEK'
The Pequot Lakes High School Girl's basketball team was named a Minnesota Lynx Team of the Week on New Year's Day. The Lady Patriots are 9-0 after running up wins in December against Pillager, Sebeka, Badger/Greenbush-Middle River and Park Rapids and then winning the Walker-Hackensack-Akeley Holiday Tournament on December 28th. The Lynx Team of the Week program recognizes one girls and one boys team in each of the state's four classes. The 104 teams will be invited to a Lynx game during their 10th Anniversary season next summer.
MINNESOTA COULD LOSE US HOUSE SEAT
Minnesota population continues to grow but not as fast as sunbelt states and that means representation in the US House could drop from 8 seats to 7. State Demographer Tom Gillespie said it seems to be a race between Minnesota and Washington as to which state loses one congressional seat. Wisconsin went from 9 House seats to 8 in 2000 and Iowa may lose one seat after the 2010 census. Minnesota had 9 seats until the 1960 census and if none of the current lawmakers retires in 2010 and the delegation drops to 7, two incumbents would face each other in a combined district.
NEW DNR WEB SITE, UNDER CONSTRUCTION
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is building a new web site and they'd like your feedback. Public Information Officer Jean Goad said the new site is easier to look at and has the most popular features up front, on the first page. Check it out at the short cut, www.mndnr.gov or use the old address and click through on the button marked "Coming Soon".
FORMER JANITOR CHARGED WITH ELECTRONIC PEEPING
31-year old Steven J. Sopko of Dilworth was charged Monday for allegedly aiming a hidden camera at a women's shower on the Concordia College campus in Moorhead. Sopko was charged with seven counts of gross misdemeanor interference with privacy. Female athletes found the video camera late last month. College officials fired Sopko last Friday. He could spend 7 years in jail and pay a $21,000 fine for the infraction.
MINNESOTA LAWMAKERS WANT NCLB TO BE HISTORY
Several Minnesota Republican lawmakers want this to be the year of no more No Child Left Behind. Princeton State Senator Betsy Wergin said the federal education program doesn't work and she wants Minnesota out of it. The program attempts to get students to perform better on tests and punishes schools when they don't. Wergin said Minnesota has tough education standards already and there are a lot of things about the federal program that don't work. The Princeton lawmaker said educators want to prepare students for work or college in relevant ways and too many times, No Child Left Behind doesn't allow that. Minnesota could lose $250-Million a year if it leaves NCLB behind. Wergin said the school administrators she's talked to think they would be better off and financially ahead without the federal money. Wergin and others intend to introduce legislation in this year's session to get the state out of the program.
BAXTER MAN ACCUSED OF ATTEMPTED MURDER
37-year old Steven John Janousek remains in the Crow Wing County Jail after allegedly trying to kill his wife on Christmas Eve. Attempted murder victim Tricia Janousek told the Brainerd Dispatch she believes her 16-year old son saved her. The accused Janousek broke a window and entered his wife's home the night of December 24th. He began to beat the woman when son Devin stabbed his father in the chest to try to get him to stop. Tricia Janousek spent three days in intensive care and told police she believed she was going to die. Steven Janousek was charged in Crow Wing County District Court for second degree attempted murder, third degree assault and domestic assault by strangulation and waits there for his next court appearance.
BRAINERD MAN ACCUSED OF KIDNAPPING, ATTEMPTED MURDER
19-year old William Robert Fearing remains in the Crow Wing County Jail after his arrest on Friday after allegedly trying to kill his ex-girlfriend and her child by intentionally crashing the car in which all three were riding. Fearing was accused of grabbing Catherine Ocel's car keys, pushing her into the passenger seat, then driving up to 120 miles per hour on area county roads. Fearing eventually rolled the car into a ditch. Ocel escaped with her child and called police. The accused is being held on $1,000,000 bail.
PILLAGER MAN ARRESTED ON DRUG CHARGE
52-year old Gordon Ausland appeared in court this week charged with one count of 5th Degree Possession of a Controlled Substance. Bail was set at $3,000. Ausland was arrested last Friday as a result of a Cass County Sheriff's Department investigation. He remains in the county jail.
ST. LOUIS COUNTY MAN DIES IN CRASH
A 27-year old Meadowlands man died Saturday night in a two-car crash near Duluth. The man failed to yield to another vehicle on Highway 53 just before 7:30pm. Three others sustained non-life threatening injuries. The deceased was not wearing a seat belt and alcohol was detected in his system. The state patrol has not identified any of the people in the crash yet.
THIEF RIVER MAN DIES IN CRASH
A 23-year old Thief River Falls man lost control of his Mercury Sable on a curve, went into the ditch and rolled. The driver was thrown from the vehicle just before 2am Sunday morning. He died at the scene of the crash. The state patrol has not released the man's name yet. He was not wearing a seat belt.
RODRIGUEZ APPEAL MAY BE HEARD IN '08
Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. was found guilty of Pequot Lakes woman Dru Sjodin's kidnapping and murder roughly sixteen months ago. Federal attorney Drew Wrigley said he's hopeful that the death penalty appeal will be heard next year. Defense attorneys have asked for four extensions to begin their appeal to the 8th Circuit Court. The latest reqest moved the argument date to February 4th. Rodriguez was sentenced on February 8th, 2007. The Death Penalty Resource Counsel said most defense attorneys file opening appeal briefs in about eight months and most appeals last between six and eight years. Wrigley told the Fargo Forum that if the plan is to wear down the United States, that's not going to happen.