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Wednesday, December 17th 2014
Associated Press North Dakota News Summary
Latest North Dakota news, sports, business and entertainment
GRAND FORKS POLICE CHIEF

Grand Forks police captain named city's new chief

The new police chief in Grand Forks is coming from within the ranks of the city's force.

City Administrator Todd Feland says Capt. Mark Nelson has accepted the job. He was among four finalists for the position.

KNOX radio reports (http://bit.ly/16pP9XB) that Nelson has more than two decades of experience with the department. He will succeed longtime Chief John Packett, who retired at the end of February.

Other finalists were Grand Forks Lt. James Remer, Fargo Lt. Joseph Anderson and Chicago Lt. Maurice Richards.

LOTTERY-EXPIRED PRIZES

ND lotto players don't claim $464K in prizes

North Dakota lottery players didn't bother to cash in a lot of winning tickets in fiscal 2014.

Lottery director Randy Miller says gamblers didn't redeem $464,000 worth of lottery winners in the last budget year. He says that's up from $440,000 the year before and well above the long-term average of about $370,000.

Miller says the total last year includes a $22,000 2by2 ticket that the buyer didn't turn in.

Gamblers have to cash a winning lottery ticket within six months, or the money goes to the state.

FARGO-FLOOD MITIGATION

FEMA gives ND $1.2M for flood mitigation efforts

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota is receiving $1.2 million in federal funds for flood mitigation efforts and home buyouts in Cass County.

Members of the state's congressional delegation on Tuesday announced the funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The funds are to be used for the acquisition and demolition of nine flood-prone residences in the county.

U.S. Sen. John Hoeven says the funds represent "another step toward providing permanent flood protection for the Red River Valley."

The funds will cover 75 percent of the cost of removing the nine properties. The demolition will ultimately reduce public and private costs in flood response.

U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp says the funds will help Cass County continue its diligent efforts "to better prepare and plan for the unforeseeable reach of the Sheyenne River."

BLOCKED RAIL CROSSING

Eastern ND residents complain about rail crossing

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

VALLEY CITY, N.D. (AP) — Some eastern North Dakota residents who live near a railroad crossing are complaining about the length of time that a county road has been blocked.

KOVC-AM reports that the Barnes County Sheriff's Office has received complaints from residents about how long County Road 27 near the grain elevator in Peak has been obstructed.

Sheriff Randy McClaflin says his office has recently issued citations to BNSF Railway and Canadian Pacific in relation to the situation. He says the citations have gone nowhere and he is now considering presenting the matter to the state's Public Service Commission to get their opinion.

The rail crossing in along County Road 27, about two miles north of the Peak exit on Interstate 94 near a grain elevator.

MCCONNELL-KEYSTONE

Keystone pipeline to top Senate agenda next year

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell says approving the Keystone XL pipeline will top the Senate agenda in January. The issue could set up an early 2015 veto confrontation with President Barack Obama.

Congressional Republicans have been pushing for approval of the pipeline for years. Obama has resisted because of environmental concerns.

The pipeline would carry tar sands oil from Canada into the United States and eventually to the Texas Gulf Coast.

The Republican-led House has repeatedly passed legislation approving the pipeline. But the bills have died in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Republicans will take control of the Senate in January, and McConnell said approving the pipeline will be the first issue on the agenda.

McConnell said the pipeline would create jobs.

LABOR LAWSUIT

Labor Department files wage suit against Fargo hotel owner

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Labor is suing a Fargo-based hotel owner for allegedly failing to pay minimum wage and overtime rates in North Dakota and Montana.

The complaint says that Bharat "Brian" Patel owes about $100,000 in back wages and $100,000 in damages to front-desk clerks, housekeeping staff and other hotel employees. The case involves 193 workers at 13 hotels.

Authorities say Patel incorrectly classified some workers as exempt salaried employees. Hourly employees allegedly received straight-time pay for hours worked over 40 in a workweek and were not paid the legally required time and one-half.

Patel has hotels in Fargo, Jamestown, Dickinson, Valley City, Wahpeton and Glendive, Montana.

Court documents do not list an attorney for Patel, who could not be reached for comment.

JACKPOT WINNER

North Dakota man claims $328,000 lottery jackpot

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A Turtle Lake man has claimed a Wild Card 2 jackpot worth nearly $328,000.

North Dakota lottery officials say John Morris bought the winning ticket at a Minot convenience store. It won the jackpot in Saturday's drawing.

The odds of winning the Wild Card 2 jackpot are 1 in about 1.9 million. Morris says he plays the lottery regularly and has never won a prize bigger than $100.

Wild Card 2 is played in the Dakotas, Montana and Idaho. The jackpot starts over at $200,000 for the next drawing, on Wednesday.

LOTTERY SLIDE

North Dakota lottery sales down $903,000 in last fiscal year

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota's lottery director says player fatigue and smaller jackpots led to a $903,000 decrease in ticket sales during the last fiscal year.

Director Randy Miller says an unaudited financial report released Tuesday shows North Dakota gamblers wagered $26.9 million on lottery games for the fiscal year that ended June 30. That's down from $27.8 million in fiscal 2013.

Miller says lottery ticket sales set a record in 2013 because of bigger jackpots. He says there is a direct impact to ticket sales depending on the size of jackpots.


Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Tuesday, December 16th 2014
Associated Press North Dakota News Summary
Latest North Dakota news, sports, business and entertainment
MINOT INFRASTRUCTURE

Bids for Minot infrastructure project higher than expected

The city of Minot is weighing its options after bids on a major downtown infrastructure project came in more than 25 percent above the expected cost.

The Minot Daily News reports (http://bit.ly/1AzffQT) the city had estimated a $23.3 million project, but the lowest bid was $29.7 million. The city and its engineering team will be reviewing bids before bringing a recommendation to the City Council in January.

City Engineer Lance Meyer says that if the recommendation is to accept the low bid, the city will have to find a way to make up the shortfall.

The project will replace 26 blocks of water mains, sanitary sewer lines, storm sewer lines, streets, sidewalks, street lights and other city infrastructure. A large part of the downtown underground infrastructure is 80-100 years old.

PRISON ALLOCATIONS

ND prison chief wants quota system for counties

North Dakota's top prison administrator wants counties to share in state penitentiary costs.

The proposal by Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation director Leann Bertsch is being met with stiff opposition from local officials, law enforcement, judges and prosecutors.

Bertsch wants the Legislature to set a county-by-county allocation at state prison facilities using a formula based on the population of each county. Once a county exceeds the allocation, it would have to help pay prison costs.

Bertsch says some judges are sentencing people to prison when they should just be sentenced to time in county jails. She says it's being done to save money and jail space.

Judges and prosecutors say there is no evidence of that happening.

WILLISTON BEATING DEATH

Former strip club bouncer pleads not guilty to murder charge

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

WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) — A former bouncer at a Williston strip club has pleaded not guilty to murder.

The Bismarck Tribune reports that 29-year-old Kyle Siler, of McKinleyville, California, appeared Monday in in Northwest District Court in Williston.

Siler initially was charged with the aggravated assault in the August death of Dean Niederklopfer, but the charge was upgraded to murder when Niederklopfer died from his injuries.

Siler's lawyer said earlier that the state has "overcharged" the case.

Siler waived his right to a preliminary hearing. A trial date has not been scheduled.

HUMAN TRAFFICKING CHARGE

Wahpeton man arrested in Bismarck for human trafficking

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A North Dakota man is charged in South Central District Court with human trafficking.

Thirty-two-year-old Steven Ezeofor, of Wahpeton, was arrested last week at a Bismarck motel where he and a woman were staying. The woman told police she was a prostitute.

Authorities say Ezeofor had more than $13,000 in his possession and the woman had $3.

The operation was uncovered by Bismarck police who found an advertisement on an online classifieds website frequented by human traffickers and prostitutes.

Court documents do not list a lawyer for Ezeofor, who is charged with a Class A felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison. A preliminary hearing has not been scheduled.

WIFE ATTACKED

Man pleads not guilty of trying to stab, strangle his wife

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A Bismarck man accused of attempting to stab and strangle his wife in an argument over a vehicle title has pleaded not guilty.

Fifty-four-year-old Terry Link appeared in South Central District Court Monday on charges of attempted murder, interfering with an emergency call and preventing arrest.

Authorities say Link held his wife down and attempted to strangle her until she agreed to give him the title, and later threatened her with a kitchen knife. A police officer punched Link in the face when he wouldn't let go of the victim.

The attempted murder charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

Link is being held in a Bismarck jail on $250,000 cash bond.

MONTANA TEACHER KILLED

Man gets 80 years in teacher's oil-patch killing

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A Colorado man has been sentenced to 80 years in prison for killing a Montana teacher in the Northern Plains oil patch.

Court officials say Montana District Judge Richard Simonton sentenced 50-year-old Lester Van Waters Jr. on Monday in Sidney, Montana. An additional 20 years in prison was suspended.

Waters pleaded guilty last year to deliberate homicide by accountability.

Authorities said he and an accomplice killed 43-year-old Sidney High School math teacher Sherry Arnold during an attempted abduction. Her body was found more than two months later buried in a rural area of North Dakota.

The case tragically illustrated the dramatic social changes that have come with an oil boom that's boosted the region's economy.

The accomplice pleaded guilty last month to deliberate homicide. His sentencing has not been scheduled.

JACKPOT WINNER

$328,000 Wild Card 2 jackpot won in Minot, North Dakota

MINOT, N.D. (AP) — A Wild Card 2 ticket sold in North Dakota has won a jackpot worth nearly $328,000.

North Dakota lottery officials say the ticket sold in Minot matched all five white balls and the Wild Card in Saturday's drawing. The winning numbers were 9, 11, 12, 24 and 26, and the Wild Card was the ace of diamonds.

The odds of winning the Wild Card 2 jackpot are 1 in about 1.9 million. The winner has about six months to claim the prize.

Wild Card 2 is played in the Dakotas, Montana and Idaho. The jackpot starts over at $200,000 for the next drawing, on Wednesday.


Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Monday, December 15th 2014
Associated Press North Dakota News Summary
Latest North Dakota news, sports, business and entertainment
NDSU PLAYOFF TICKETS

Tickets for NDSU's semifinal football game available online

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Tickets for North Dakota State's semifinal football playoff game will be available online.

The three-time defending Football Championship Subdivision winners will play Sam Houston State Friday in a 7 p.m. game at the Fargodome. The winner earns a trip to Frisco, Texas, for next month's FCS title game.

Tickets will go on sale at 2 p.m. Sunday on GoBison.com/tickets.

Season ticket holders have until 5 p.m. Tuesday to purchase their same seats. Unclaimed season tickets will be offered to the general public at 8 a.m. Wednesday.

The Bison defeated Costal Carolina 39-32 in Saturday's quarterfinal game.

HEALTH OVERHAUL-NORTH DAKOTA

Counselors want surge in ND health care sign-ups

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Enrollment counselors in North Dakota hope for a surge in sign-ups under the Affordable Care Act so that new customers have coverage when the new year begins.

The second enrollment period to get benefits began last month and runs through Feb. 15. But Monday is the deadline for new customers to sign up if they want their coverage to begin on Jan. 1.

Monday also is the deadline for returning customers to update or change their coverage.

Neil Scharpe is in charge of the North Dakota's 18 navigators who are helping inform people of their options under the new law. He says many people could face premium or deductible increases if they don't switch plans.

FERTILIZER SALES

North Dakota farmers wait to buy fertilizer

(Information in the following story is from: KXMB-TV, http://www.kxnet.com)

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Agriculture businesses in North Dakota say farmers are buying less fertilizer this season as they wait for prices to decrease.

KXMB-TV reports Kyle Westgard with Missouri Valley Ag in Sterling says producers didn't start buying fertilizer until about two weeks ago. He says fewer producers are buying fertilizer for the year ahead as they wait to calculate spring cost projections amid growing expenses. He says fall applications were only about a third of last year's.

Clem Nelson at Mandan Fertilizer south of Mandan says he expected fertilizer prices to drop but that hasn't happened. He says his company has also seen fewer fertilizer orders as grain prices have decreased.

Westgard says dealers only expect prices to rise by the end of January or early February.

FISH HOUSES

Unoccupied fish houses in North Dakota must float

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — State wildlife officials are reminding winter anglers in North Dakota that any fish house left unoccupied on state waters must be made out of materials that will allow it to float.

The Game and Fish Department says a lot of anglers ask whether campers qualify as legal fish houses. Officials say the must-be-able-to-float rule still applies.

Any structure that doesn't float must be removed when the angler leaves the ice. Unoccupied fish houses left on the ice must have the owner's name and either address or telephone number displayed on the outside in characters at least 3 inches high.

Other fish house regulations can be found at WWW DOT GF DOT ND DOT gov.

NUTCRACKER-BISMARCK

100 performers part of ND 'Nutcracker' production

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — One hundred performers are participating in this year's production of "The Nutcracker" presented by the group Northern Plains Dance.

The last performance in Bismarck was scheduled for Sunday afternoon at the Belle Mehus City Auditorium. "The Nutcracker" tells the story of Clara and her nutcracker doll that is turned into a handsome prince.

Students from Northern Plains Dance, Bismarck and Mandan community members, and professional dancers from across the country are part of the production. Ellie Fogarty, of Bismarck, will perform the role of Clara. Maddy Peterson, a senior at Northern Plains Dance, will perform the role of Snow Queen.

UND-DRONE AWARD

UND student team earns award for drone design

GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) — A team of University of North Dakota students has earned a coveted award in an international competition for a drone they designed and built from scratch.

The engineering students won the world championship at the annual American Society of Mechanical Engineers Student Design Competition held in Montreal this year.

The UND students who participated in the competition are Christopher Borseth, of Thief River Falls, Minnesota; Aric Glaser and Alex Heyd, of East Grand Forks; Scott McDaniel, of Darlington, Wisconsin; and Daniel Smith, of Grand Forks. They're all juniors in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

During the competition, the students were asked to navigate their drone through high and low gate, complete a targeted payload drop on a simulated forest fire and return to the start through a hula hoop.

NATIONAL PARK-CONTEST

ND National Park photo contest winner selected

MEDORA, N.D. (AP) — The National Park Service has announced the winner of the third annual Theodore Roosevelt National Park photo contest.

This year's winner is Dave Bruner of Grand Forks. His scenic photo "Sunset at Wind Canyon" will be featured on the park's 2015 Annual Park Pass.

The park received 85 photo entries for this year's contest. The top 12 will be featured in a 2015 color calendar that will be sold at the visitor center. The photos will also be on display through December 24th.

The 2015 annual pass will go on sale January 1st.

RODEO-FASHION

ND designer's fashions showcased at rodeo

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A North Dakota designer's western fashions have made their debut at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The Bismarck Tribune reports Coulee Creek Designs owner Melanie Luger this week sponsored Kassidy Dennison, the first Navajo woman to compete on rodeo's big stage. Luger says she has been creating western designs for 25 years and now makes jewelry and operates the New Town store.

Dennison says she and Luger, a member of Three Affiliated Tribes, partnered to showcase their Native American and cowgirl heritage. She is also sponsored by Wrangler and paired Luger's accessories and looks with the brand's clothing.

Luger says she's happy to sponsor Dennison because she is breaking new ground and represented all tribal people at the competition.

TRAIN-LOADER FATAL

Mandan man driving loader dies in train collision

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

MANDAN, N.D. (AP) — The North Dakota State Patrol says a 77-year-old Mandan man is dead after the loader he was operating collided with a freight train.

The patrol says the man was operating the skid steer loader on a railroad crossing when he was struck by an eastbound Burlington Northern Santa Fe train about 10 miles west of Mandan.

The crash happened around 1:45 p.m. Saturday. The train was powered by three locomotives and was carrying 121 loaded coal cars. The Bismarck Tribune (http://bit.ly/1BCS9Kb ) reports all the cars stayed on the tracks.

The name of the victim was not released. An engineer and a conductor on the train were not hurt.


Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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