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Latest North Dakota News
Wednesday, October 16th 2019

Associated Press North Dakota News

TWO KILLED

2 people killed in Polk County crash

CROOKSTON, Minn. (AP) — Authorities say two people were killed when their SUV collided with a semi in Polk County.

The sheriff's office says the crash happened shortly before 1 p.m. Tuesday at an intersection on County Road 46. KFGO reports the driver of the SUV, a 36-year-old Fertile man, and his passenger, a 33-year-old woman from Winger, both died at the scene. Their names have not been released.

The Minnesota State Patrol is assisting with the investigation.

NORTH DAKOTA CLINIC-KICKBACKS

Whistleblower accuses Bismarck clinic of kickback schemes

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — A North Dakota clinic is accused of participating in kickback schemes that have cost the federal government millions of dollars in fraudulent Medicare and Medicaid claims.

A whistleblower complaint brought against Bismarck's Mid Dakota Clinic and its building partnership alleges that doctors referred patients to the clinic's surgical center, allowing them to increase their pay in the form of profits from the center. The document says Mid Dakota Clinic had a similar kickback arrangement with another physician group in Bismarck.

The suit was filed in January 2017 by former Mid Dakota CEO Jeffrey Neuberger and unsealed last month.

The federal anti-kickback law is meant to prevent abuses that occur when a person profits from a patient referral. That often includes ordering unnecessary procedures.

Lawyers for Neuberger and Mid Dakota Clinic did not immediately respond to phone messages.

REPLACEMENT LAWMAKER

UND student appointed to seat after lawmaker's resignation

GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) — A University of North Dakota political science major has been chosen to fill a Grand Forks House seat left open by the Republican incumbent who resigned to take a job in Minnesota.

Twenty-one-year-old Claire Cory was chosen by party activists Friday to fill out the remainder of Jake Blum's term, which ends next year.

Blum was first elected in 2016.

The UND junior says she has lived her entire life in House District 42, which covers northern Grand Forks. Cory says she will run to keep the seat in next year's election.

North Dakota law allows local party district organizations to choose a successor for an incumbent legislator who dies or resigns.

Activists from the departing legislator's own party are put in charge of finding a successor.

PSC BONDING-AUDIT

Audit shows lapse in PSC bonding protection

(Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com)

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A state audit shows the North Dakota Public Service Commission had a 17-month bonding lapse, which left the agency vulnerable to potential theft.

State Auditor Josh Gallion says state law requires agencies to maintain a bond that essentially acts as insurance should an employee embezzle or commit theft, while the legal case against the worker makes its way through the court.

The Bismarck Tribune says the auditor isn't aware of any unlawful activity that happened during the gap in bond coverage from January 2018 through May 2019.

The PSC regulates utilities, telecommunications, railroads and oil pipelines.

___

LOGO CONTEST-AUDIT

Audit: Agency broke law over contract for state's new logo

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The North Dakota auditor says the Commerce Department broke state law on bidding contracts for the state's new "Be Legendary" logo.

State Auditor Joshua Gallion released the audit Monday.

The logo sparked criticism earlier this year when the contract for it was awarded to a Minnesota firm headed by a woman who once worked for Gov. Doug Burgum's old Fargo software business.

The company was awarded the $9,500 job without competition because it came in below the $10,000 threshold required for additional bids.

Gallion says the audit of the agency found another contract related to the logo, bringing its total cost to more than $87,000.

The Commerce Department says it did nothing wrong.

BAYONET ATTACK

Oklahoma man charged in bayonet attack

(Information from: KFGO-AM, http://www.kfgo.com)

WAHPETON, N.D. (AP) — Police in Wahpeton are investigating after a man was attacked with a bayonet.

Police Chief Scott Thorsteinson says 31-year-old Byron Vann of Henryetta, Oklahoma, has been charged with attempted murder.

KFGO-AM reports that Vann was arrested Friday night after he returned to the scene while officers were still there.

Thorsteinson says the victim, a 30-year-old Fargo man, underwent surgery at St. Francis Medical Center in Breckenridge to repair "two significant neck wounds." He was released from the hospital the following day.

Vann was in the Richland County jail. A court official said no attorney had yet been appointed for him Monday.

Tuesday, October 15th 2019

Associated Press North Dakota News

LOGO CONTEST-AUDIT

Audit: Agency broke law over contract for state's new logo

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The North Dakota auditor says the Commerce Department broke state law on bidding contracts for the state's new "Be Legendary" logo.

State Auditor Joshua Gallion released the audit Monday.

The logo sparked criticism earlier this year when the contract for it was awarded to a Minnesota firm headed by a woman who once worked for Gov. Doug Burgum's old Fargo software business.

The company was awarded the $9,500 job without competition because it came in below the $10,000 threshold required for additional bids.

Gallion says the audit of the agency found another contract related to the logo, bringing its total cost to more than $87,000.

The Commerce Department says it did nothing wrong.

BAYONET ATTACK

Oklahoma man charged in bayonet attack

(Information from: KFGO-AM, http://www.kfgo.com)

WAHPETON, N.D. (AP) — Police in Wahpeton are investigating after a man was attacked with a bayonet.

Police Chief Scott Thorsteinson says 31-year-old Byron Vann of Henryetta, Oklahoma, has been charged with attempted murder.

KFGO-AM reports that Vann was arrested Friday night after he returned to the scene while officers were still there.

Thorsteinson says the victim, a 30-year-old Fargo man, underwent surgery at St. Francis Medical Center in Breckenridge to repair "two significant neck wounds." He was released from the hospital the following day.

Vann was in the Richland County jail. A court official said no attorney had yet been appointed for him Monday.

WINTRY WEATHER

Warmup on the way to melt record snowfall

(Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com)

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Record-breaking snow that fell for four days in North Dakota is finally in the rearview mirror.

Some communities in North Dakota received more than two feet of snow with the city of Harvey in Wells County getting 30 inches. The storm came in two waves. The initial system arrived from the Pacific and the second was out of the Rockies.

The storms shut down highways, including Interstate 94 between Bismarck and Fargo, canceled school, snarled air traffic and caused power outages.

All highways have reopened, school is back in session and a warm-up is on the way. The Bismarck Tribune says high temperatures later in the week could hit the 60s to the west and 40s in central North Dakota.

RIVER RESCUE

2 men rescued after driving pickup into North Dakota river

(Information from: KFGO-AM, http://www.kfgo.com)

GRANDIN, N.D. (AP) — Authorities say two men in a pickup were rescued after driving into a river near Grandin in the middle of the night.

Traill County Sheriff Steve Hunt tells KFGO radio that the men believed their truck entered the Elm River about 2 a.m. Saturday. The men told authorities they didn't realize the water had overlapped the roadway until it was too late, and they were being swept downstream. Dispatch received a call about 5 a.m.

Officials say the Cass County Sheriff's Department used two airboats to rescue 34-year-old Eric Kent and 33-year-old Chad Erickson, both of Grandin, from the truck. They were treated and released on scene. A tow truck was able to remove their pickup from the river by winching it out.

The incident remains under investigation.

MISSING PLANE

Air search expected to resume for missing plane in Dakotas

(Information from: Aberdeen American News, http://www.aberdeennews.com)

ABERDEEN, S.D. (AP) — Air Force helicopters brought in to help search for a missing plane and its pilot between South Dakota and North Dakota are scheduled to resume operations.

The American News reports that aerial crews including the North Dakota and South Dakota wings of the Civil Air Patrol and U.S. Air Force were grounded by bad weather on Saturday.

The blue and white single-engine Cessna went missing Thursday between Aberdeen, South Dakota, and Oakes, North Dakota. The plane never arrived at its destination in Oakes.

Brown County Emergency Management officials say ground crews have been searching since Thursday, even though the snowstorm.

PHEASANT OPENER

North Dakota pheasant season opens with bump in bird numbers

(Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com)

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota's pheasant season is open to hunters.

The season opened Saturday and continues through Jan. 5.

The state Game and Fish Department says a brood survey released last month shows that total pheasants are up 10% from last year.

The Bismarck Tribune reports about 37,500 nonresidents and nearly 40,000 residents hunted pheasants in North Dakota last year, bagging about 350,000 roosters.

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