Three men were charged with Conspiracy to Commit Murder in the Walsh County District Court yesterday. The charge is a AA felony which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Henry H. Howe of Grand Forks, Paul Lysengen of Warsaw and Wesely Smith of St. Thomas each face the charge of conspiring to murder a confidential informant. Howe and Lysengen were arrested without incident yesterday morning when they appeared for a preliminary hearing in a case filed against Lysengen last year accusing him of dealing methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana out of a home in Warsaw on two occasions in May. Howe was appearing as counsel for Lysengen in the proceeding. Smith was arrested shortly after along Highway 81. The alleged conspiracy among the three involves discussions on how to kill a confidential informant int the two cases against Lysengen. The charge says Lysengen and Smith met to discuss "available options for luring" the female informant to a location to drug her and make her death "appear as accidental asphyxiation." The charge also includes allegations that Howe discussed with Lysengen that the informant "needed to be gone more that five days prior to trial or else it would look suspicious." Howe has been a well-known criminal defense attorney in Grand Forks for more than three decades. The three men appeared before Judge Richard Geiger yesterday afternoon for bond hearings. Bond was set at $100,000 for Howe, requiring him to post ten percent in cash in order to be released. Howe has no criminal history. Bond was set at $200,000 for Lysengen and Smith which can be posted in either cash or surety. The case against the three men arose from a joint investigation conducted over the past several weeks. The investigation was headed by the Grand Forks Narcotics Task Force, working with the Walsh County Sheriff's Department, the Grafton PD and the Highway Patrol. At the time of the press release, all three men remained in custody at the Walsh County Jail pending the posting of bond. No further Court dates have been scheduled at this time.
The next meeting of the Walsh County Commission will be held on Monday February 3rd at 9:00 a.m. The change comes after commissioners voted at their regular meeting on January 7th to move the first meeting each month to Monday. First meetings were previously held on the first Tuesday. Commissioners voted for the day change after commissioner Luther Meberg requested the swap. Meberg also serves on the Nodak Rural Electric Board and said having the first meetings on Tuesdays conflicted with his commitments with the Nodak Board. The County Commissions second monthly meeting remains on the third Tuesday of the month at 9:00 a.m.
The City of Grafton will be hosting its annual youth basketball tournament this weekend. The games will start tomorrow morning at 8:00 a.m. with the final game wrapping up around 7:00 p.m. The tournament will consist of 3 on 3 match-ups for 3rd grade boys and girls with teams playing 5 on 5 in grades 4-6. Games will be played at the Grafton Armory along with High School and Century gymnasiums with brackets and schedules posted at each location. Over 35 teams have signed up for this years event and tournament organizer Ed Sevigny says the teams are coming from all over the area. He says it should be a fun day and great way for the kids to get some valuable basketball experience.
American Crystal Sugar Co. officials say they're worried that a slowdown in rail service could cost the company millions of dollars if it continues to disrupt production. The cooperative says it plans to scale back on output at three of its plants because it's running out of storage space waiting for rail cars. BNSF spokeswoman Amy McBeth says service is being impacted by "extreme cold and winter weather conditions" in the Midwest, and the railway has put a priority on serving Crystal Sugar. Crystal CEO David Berg says he understands that weather can be a problem but adds that it's not a "new phenomenon" in the Northern Plains and increased oil traffic has made it a "bigger pinch." Berg says Crystal does not have another viable transportation option.
The Pembina County & Area Sportsman's Club is sponsoring an ice fishing derby on Lake Renwick in Icelandic State Park on Saturday. The Derby runs from 10:00 a.m to 1:00 p.m. Prizes will be awarded for the largest northern and perch caught. Kids and the oldest fisherman to catch a fish will also compete for prizes. Entry fee is $10.00 a person, it's free for children 12 and under. Icelandic Park is located five miles West of Cavalier on Highway 5, follow the detour signs to enter. Registration is near the boat ramp. Participants must have a valid North Dakota fishing license to compete. For more information call 701-265-4561
Senator John Hoeven announced the U.S. Senate voted Monday afternoon to bring the bipartisan Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act to the floor for debate, moving it one step closer to becoming law. Hoeven has pushed for passage of the legislation, which will prevent the Federal Emergency Management Agency from unfairly raising flood insurance rates and help ensure affordable premiums for millions of Americans. The legislation includes the Hoeven-Heitkamp Flood Safe Basements provision, which enables homeowners to receive credit for flood proofed basements when determining flood insurance rates. Hoeven says the legislation is about fairness and affordability. On October 1, over four million home and business owners in the U.S., including many in North Dakota, saw their flood insurance rates significantly increase because of reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program. This bipartisan, bicameral bill would fix this issue and prevent flood insurance rate increases un!
!til FEMA completes an affordability study to ensure that premiums are affordable for American families and businesses. After the study, the bill mandates that FEMA propose rules to address affordability and give Congress adequate time to review the proposals.
The Grafton Volunteer Fire Department held its annual meeting recently where it elected its officers for 2014. Members elected Dean Woinarowicz as President, John Maxwell Vice President, Leroy Nelson as Secretary Treasurer and Paul Krause as Director. Ken Popiel was elected as Fire Chief, Jeff Moe as 1st Assistant Chief and Dean Woinarowicz was also elected as 2nd Assistant Chief. All positions were re-elected from last year.
Grafton mayor Chris West and his family were involved in an accident near Oakwood around 8:30 Friday evening. According to a Highway Patrol press release, 36 year old Oliver Kenneth of Grand Forks lost control of his 2000 Dodge Van due to ice. Kenneth slid into the Eastbound lane where he struck Mayor West, his wife Ann and 2 juvenile females who were riding in a 2012 GMC pickup. West's pickup started on fire shortly after all the occupants exited to safety. The drivers of both vehicles and all occupants were injured and taken to Unity Hospital of Grafton. The crash remains under investigation by the North Dakota Highway Patrol.
The Grafton Volunteer Fire Department has released its yearly fire report for 2013. The department responded to a total of 35 city fire calls last year, up one from 2012. There were 33 rural fire calls in 2013, up 3 from the previous year. City fires caused a total of $66,000 in damages in 2013 up from $20,600 the previous year. Damage totals from rural fires changed little from 2012 to 2013. Last year rural fires caused a total $100,900 in damages; while damages in 2012 totaled $101,500. The fire department reported 1 vehicle accident fatality in both 2012 and 2013.
Forecasters in Grand Forks say the risk for substantial spring flooding is low along the Red River and Devils Lake Basin. But they say winter is far from over and an early thaw is less likely. Greg Gust and Mike Lukes with the National Weather Service say most Minnesota and North Dakota tributaries will likely have minor to moderate flooding. A moderate flood potential is possible for most of the Red River main stem. And a rise of 1 to 1 1/2 feet is expected on Devils Lake. They say soils and streams are a bit "wet" in the far southern basin but otherwise near normal. The water content is generally running a bit low. And the rest of winter is likely to be near to colder than normal. As of now the weather service estimates there's about a 10% chance of major flooding to occur on the Park River in Grafton this spring, while they estimate a 10 percent chance of moderate flooding on the Forest River at Minto this year.