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Friday, May 22nd 2015
Associated Press North Dakota News Summary
Latest North Dakota news, sports, business and entertainment

North Dakota seeking input on education 'equity plan'

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The Department of Public Instruction is seeking public comment plan meant to ensure that all North Dakota students are taught by excellent educators.

The U.S. Department of Education has required states to submit their plans by June 1. North Dakota's draft plan has been posted on DPI's website for public review and comment.

One of the goals is to make sure that poor and minority children are taught by experienced and qualified teachers.

North Dakota's draft plan suggests using signing bonuses, student loan forgiveness, housing programs, improved professional development, and incentives for training teachers' aides to become licensed teachers as ways to increase the supply of highly qualified teachers in high-poverty schools. Retired teachers also could be recruited and offered training to return to the classroom.


Ring levee manager says delay could cost taxpayers millions

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — The manager of a ring levee project south of Fargo says a judge's decision to halt construction could cost taxpayers millions of dollars.

U.S. District Judge John Tunheim last week put the project on hold when he ruled that the Fargo-Moorhead Diversion Authority should wait for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to complete an environmental study on the planned $2 billion Red River diversion.

The levee would protect structures where floodwaters would be staged when the diversion is in operation.

Project manager Bruce Spiller says in court documents that the loss of the 2015 construction season would result in nearly $1.2 million in additional costs. He says the delay would cost at least another $1 million if it stretches into 2016.

The diversion authority is appealing Tunheim's order.


Economy remains weak in rural parts of Midwest

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A new survey suggests the economy will remain weak in rural parts of 10 Western and Plains states because the strong U.S. dollar is hurting exports and the bird flu is hitting poultry farms hard.

The overall Rural Mainstreet index improved to 49 in May from April's 46, but the index remained in negative territory below 50.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says agriculture and energy exports are suffering.

The survey indexes range from 0 to 100. Any score below 50 suggests decline in that factor in the months ahead.

Sales of farmland and farm equipment are slowing, and the bankers surveyed are less confident about the next few months.

Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Wyoming and the Dakotas were surveyed.


Bird flu crisis slows in Minnesota, focus now on recovery

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota has notched six straight days without a new bird flu case. And though state officials aren't ready to say the outbreak is over, they're beginning to stand down.

The first case in the Midwest was confirmed in March at a Minnesota turkey farm, and the virus then spread to 88 farms in the top turkey producing state. But new cases have fallen off sharply and the focus is turning toward getting farms back into production.

To be sure, the disease remains a threat. Iowa, the chief egg producer in the U.S., has reported several new probable cases this week.

But things have settled down enough that Minnesota's Board of Animal Health stopped issuing daily updates unless it has new cases. And federal personnel assigned to the state have fallen.


Justice Department eyes voting reforms for American Indians

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Justice wants to improve access to voting for American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Justice Department officials said Thursday the department would seek legislation requiring states with Native American reservations or other tribal lands to locate at least one polling place in a venue selected by tribal governments.

The department sent a letter to Congress with a legislative proposal that also would require states to make voting machines, ballots, and other voting materials and equipment available at these tribally located polling places as they are at other polling places.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch says the changes are needed because "significant and unnecessary barriers" for American Indians and Alaska Natives who seek to cast ballots.


Fort Stevenson State Park holding kite festival this weekend

GARRISON, N.D. (AP) — Fort Stevenson State Park is holding its annual kite festival over the long Memorial Day holiday weekend.

"Sky Fest over Fort Stevenson" is a kite-flying festival for people of all ages. It will run Saturday through Monday at the park south of Garrison.

Kites will fly from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day, weather permitting. There also will be opportunities for people to build and fly their own kites.


Bismarck man sentenced to 25 years on child porn charge

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A North Dakota man has been sentenced to 25 years in prison on a child pornography charge.

A jury last year found 39-year-old Garron Gonzalez, of Bismarck, guilty of attempted sexual exploitation of minors. Authorities say Gonzalez tried to persuade a 15-year-old person to send him sexually explicit visual depictions using a cell phone.

Investigators say Gonzales met the victim while playing an online video game.

U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland sentenced Gonzalez to the maximum term allowed under federal sentencing guidelines.

A federal public defender could not be reached for comment.


North Dakota penitentiary inmate sentenced to 25 more years

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A registered sex offender already serving time in the state penitentiary has been sentenced to an additional 25 years after pleading guilty to attempted exploitation of a minor.

The Bismarck Tribune reports 38-year-old Garron Gonzalez was sentenced this week to 25 years in prison and 20 years of supervised release. He will start the sentence in 2025, when his term for gross sexual imposition is scheduled to end.

In 2010, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security investigated Gonzalez for a probation violation and seized two cellphones which revealed Gonzalez had been in contact with several underage girls through social media and text messaging.

The U.S. Attorney's office says during the investigation authorities found nude images of a 15-year-old girl on Gonzalez's phone along with sexually explicit messages.


Tioga truck driver sentenced to 5 years for child porn

(Information in the following story is from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com)

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A Tioga truck driver has been sentenced to five years in prison for possession of child pornography and attempting to arrange sex with underage girls.

Aaron Collins previously pleaded guilty to both charges. U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Hovland sentenced Collins on Thursday. He will have to register as a sex offender and serve 10 years of supervised release.

The Bismarck Triune reports Collins told the judge he had been hanging out some "very bad people" in Tioga.

Hovland said one can hang around unsavory people without downloading hundreds of photos and dozens of videos depicting underage girls committing sexual acts.

A scan of a computer and phone belonging to Collins revealed more than 250 photos and about 40 videos of girls who were 12-year-old and younger.

Thursday, May 21st 2015
Associated Press North Dakota News Summary
Latest North Dakota news, sports, business and entertainment

Corps: Possible damage to cemeteries doesn't call for levees

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — A study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on cemeteries that would be flooded by a Red River diversion project shows that the potential damage to the gravesites would not be enough to justify protective measures.

The corps says there would be minor damage to the seven cemeteries in the staging area that would be flooded when the $2 billion channel is in operation. The federal mitigation plan calls for an easement that would compensate the cemeteries for the right to temporarily store water on their land.

The Fargo-Moorhead Diversion Authority also says it would pay for clean-up and repairs for the cemeteries.

Mark Anderson, who represents two cemeteries that would be in the staging area, says many family members are upset but haven't decided what to do next.


Work beginning on $83 million Watford City Event Center

(Information in the following story is from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com)

WATFORD CITY, N.D. (AP) — Work is starting on an $83 million event center in Watford City.

Mayor Brent Sanford said Wednesday's ground-breaking ceremony for the project was "pretty monumental" for the oil patch city.

Residents last June voted to increase the city sales tax to fund the center and other projects, including a new hospital.

The Bismarck Tribune reports that the Watford City Event Center will house sports arenas, a convention center, swimming areas and a 3,000-seat auditorium. It will connect to a new high school and also serve as an off-campus venue for the University of Mary in Bismarck.


Survey: Homelessness increases slightly in North Dakota

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A new survey says the number of homeless people in oil-rich North Dakota increased slightly in the past year but it's down dramatically from the record set in 2013.

Volunteers counted 1,305 homeless people during a "point in time" survey on January 28th. That's up from 1,258 homeless people counted on a single day in January 2014.

In 2013, volunteers counted a record 2,069 homeless people.

Michael Carbone is the executive director of the North Dakota Coalition for Homeless People. He attributes the drop in the past two years to more housing options and improving economies in other states.

Half of the unsheltered homeless people counted this year had jobs and most were found in western North Dakota's oil-producing region.


ND man accused in throat slashing case appears in court

(Information in the following story is from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com)

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A Bismarck man accused of slashing his daughter's boyfriend's throat has made his first court appearance.

The Bismarck Tribune reports that 55-year-old Don Kevin White appeared in court Wednesday. White is charged with felony aggravated assault.

Authorities accuse White of using a box-cutter knife to slash his daughter's boyfriend's throat on March 19th. The victim, who sustained a cut several inches long, told police that he and his girlfriend had been arguing before the incident happened.

White was charged in April.

Judge Bruce Haskell on Wednesday allowed White to remain out of custody on a promise to appear in future hearings, not leave the state and not make contact with the man he is accused of injuring.

Court records don't list an attorney for White.


Bismarck man sentenced for using extension cord on children

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A Bismarck man accused of beating his girlfriend's two children with an extension cord will spend 1 ½ years on probation.

Thirty-seven-year-old Lekemia Caster earlier this month changed his plea to guilty on two felony child abuse counts. Court documents show he was given credit for the 12 days he'd already spent in jail, ordered to pay $525 in fees and put on probation for 18 months.

Authorities say Caster whipped a 6-year-old child and a 12-year-old with the extension cord in October 2014, creating welts.


New Zealand man on cross-country bike trip reaches ND

(Information in the following story is from: KFGO-AM, http://www.kfgo.com)

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — A New Zealand man who's biking across America has made it to North Dakota.

Adam Glover made it to Fargo on Wednesday the 76th day of his journey. Glover tells KFGO-AM that he is crossing the country on his bike to raise awareness of asthma, which he's had since he was a child.

He began the trip in New Zealand aboard a cargo ship and hopped on his bike in Philadelphia. He's en route to Alaska.

Glover rides about 60 miles a day, carrying spare parts for his bike, a tent and cooking utensils.

He plans to cross Argentina in 2017.

Wednesday, May 20th 2015
Associated Press North Dakota News Summary
Latest North Dakota news, sports, business and entertainment

New North Dakota oil tax law may threaten accord with tribes

A revenue sharing agreement that the state has had with the Three Affiliated Tribes since 2008 may be threatened by a new North Dakota law that restructures oil taxes.

The Legislature last month passed a measure that shaves the state's overall oil tax rate. Three Affiliated Tribes officials haven't been thrilled by the tax cut and have hinted that they may pull out of the revenue-sharing agreement with the state because of it.

The agreement limits oil tax rates on tribal land, and spells out how oil revenues are shared with the state.

Tax commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger says he's hopeful a new agreement can be reached soon.

Data show that since the agreement was adopted, the state has collected $789 million in oil revenue, with the tribe getting $659 million.


Concert tickets on sale for 38th Norsk Hostfest in Minot

Ticket sales have begun for concerts at this year's Norsk Hostfest in Minot.

Headline entertainers lined up include The Band Perry and The Beach Boys, singers Ronnie Milsap, Martina McBride and Marty Stuart, the Celtic Thunder musical group, comedian Jeff Foxworthy and the ABBA tribute band Abbacadabra, which will perform with the Minot Symphony Orchestra.

The annual Hostfest is billed as the largest Scandinavian heritage festival in North America. Each year it draws about 60,000 people from around the world for food, music and other entertainment celebrating the culture of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.

This will be the event's 38th year. It will run from Sept. 29 through Oct. 3. Tickets went on sale Monday.


ND couple accused of keeping children in filthy conditions

(Information in the following story is from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com)

MANDAN, N.D. (AP) — A North Dakota couple accused of keeping their children in filthy conditions at their home have been charged with felony child neglect.

Thirty-three-year-old Amber Wilkie and 34-year-old Ronald Wilkie were charged Tuesday. Amber Wilkie also faces one count of making a false report to law enforcement.

Authorities say police officers visiting the Mandan home of the Wilkies Monday to enforce a child custody order reported filthy conditions, including animal feces on the floor in the children's bedrooms, soiled and torn mattresses, and kitchen counters and a sink stacked with dirty dishes.

Authorities say Amber Wilkie also originally denied that the child officers were looking for was at the home.

The child name in the custody order was released to relatives. The rest of the children were turned over to the Morton County Child Protective Services.


Diversion group appealing decision to halt dike construction

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — The Fargo-Moorhead Diversion Authority is appealing a judge's order to stop construction on a levee south of Fargo until an environmental review is completed.

U.S. District Judge John Tunheim of Minnesota issued the order last week after opponents of a Red River diversion argued that the dike should not be built until the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources completes its study.

A notice of appeal was filed Tuesday.

A group representing about 20 cities and townships in North Dakota and Minnesota filed a lawsuit in August 2013 against the diversion and added a motion to stop construction of the dike meant to protect structures in Oxbow, Hickson and Bakke.

Those three North Dakota communities are located upstream in an area that would be intentionally flooded in times of high water.


Lawyer says sex offenders deserve access to court documents

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — A lawyer representing more than two-dozen sex offenders who have filed a civil lawsuit over treatment at the North Dakota State Hospital says the hospital is retaliating against the plaintiffs by limiting their participation in the suit.

The original complaint filed in February 2013 by three men incarcerated at the hospital and classified as sexually dangerous individuals accuses the facility of favoring unnecessary punishment over treatment.

Christopher Brancart, the attorney for the plaintiffs, has asked for a preliminary injunction that would allow his clients more access to court papers. He says some of the documents have been confiscated as contraband.

The state says the claims are vague and any changes in hospital policy would jeopardize public safety.

Lawyers have declined to talk about the case while it's still open.


UND committee trims potential nickname possibilities to 63

GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) — A University of North Dakota committee has narrowed the list of potential nicknames for the school to 63.

The group went through about 1,200 nickname ideas that were approved by a consultant after a month-long campaign to solicit suggestions from the public. The committee plans to release a short list of finalists for another public vote.

State residents voted overwhelmingly in 2012 to dump UND's "Fighting Sioux" nickname, which had been in place since the 1930s. The NCAA considered it hostile and abusive, and it failed to get the endorsement of one of the state's two namesake tribes.

The next committee meeting has not been scheduled.


North Dakota Guard to have female general for first time

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The North Dakota National Guard will have a female general for the first time in its history.

Col. Giselle "Gigi" Wilz, of Bismarck, is being promoted to brigadier general during a Wednesday afternoon ceremony at the North Dakota Heritage Center.

Wilz has served in the state Guard for 32 years. She enlisted in 1983 as a military police officer with the 191st Military Policy Company. Throughout her career, she has held various leadership positions, most recently as the Guard's chief of staff.

She will leave this month for a one-year tour in Bosnia, where she will command NATO forces operating in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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