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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: Search continues for the "person of interest" in homicide case

GLENWOOD, Minn. -- Multiple law enforcement agencies conducted a search of a Glenwood hotel Thursday afternoon after a public tip about a person matching the description of a “person of interest” in a killing Monday in Granite Falls.

Andrew Joseph Dikken, 28, of Granite Falls, has been sought in the homicide case and remained at large. Kara Ann Monson, 26, was shot to death Monday in her home.

A 911 call to the Yellow Medicine County Sheriff’s Office resulted in a search Thursday of the America’s Best Value Inn, a hotel on state Highway 28 in Glenwood.

No one matching Dikken’s description was found at the hotel, Glenwood Police Chief Dale Danter said. The search lasted about 45 minutes, Danter told the Pope County Tribune.

Yellow Medicine County Sheriff Bill Flaten confirmed in a message about 5 p.m. that Dikken was not in custody and that investigators were following all leads.

Christopher Panitzke, 28, of Redwood Falls, remained hospitalized with gunshot wounds suffered in the shooting Monday.


EAST GRAND FORKS, Minn. -- Workplace safety officials have been investigating what they say were several safety violations at American Crystal Sugar’s East Grand Forks factory this year.

According to online records with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, inspectors found 26 violations of safety requirements at the facility during an April 9 inspection, including 22 classified as serious.

The alleged violations have not been resolved, as American Crystal is contesting some of the citations.

“We’re in ongoing discussions with OSHA,” said American Crystal Vice President for Administration Brian Ingulsrud. “We look at them as a resource to improve safety at our factories.”

The alleged violations from the inspection included processes for handling hazardous chemicals, hazardous waste operations, air contaminants, carbon monoxide monitoring, labeling of hazardous substances, wiring standards, and requirements for machines, stairs and ladders, power tools and welding equipment, according to online records.

Fines for those alleged violations could amount to more than $49,000.


MOORHEAD, Minn. – A Vergas woman faces a felony bigamy charge after one of her husbands reported to Texas authorities that the two weren’t divorced before her recent marriage in Clay County to another man.

Penny Lynn Fick, 38, was charged Monday in Clay County District Court. Court documents state that Fick’s husband contacted the sheriff’s department in Parmer County, Texas, after hearing that Fick had married another man, Bill Carl Fick, in Clay County in April 2011.

Texas authorities contacted Clay County Detective Gabe Tweten, who determined that Penny Fick had applied for a marriage license in Otter Tail County in March 2011, on which she claimed her previous marriage was dissolved in “Ortoro” County District Court in New Mexico.

Tweten could not find a county by that name in New Mexico, but did find an “Otero” County there. But Otero County records showed no dissolution of any couple by the names of Fick and the first husband.

The first husband told Tweten that he and Fick were married in New Mexico at the Curry County Courthouse in January 2008, but Fick left him and disappeared in November 2008.

Vergas is in Otter Tail County in western Minnesota, neighboring Clay County.


DULUTH -- Two Duluth police officers have been cleared of any wrongdoing in the June shooting death of a Duluth man.

Officers Matthew Hendrickson, a seven-year veteran of the department, and Jacob Peterson, a four-year veteran, used authorized force in shooting Zachary Premo, the St. Louis County Attorney’s Office concluded.

“The officers’ reaction in protecting themselves from apparent death or great bodily harm with the use of deadly force was justified,” Gary Bjorklund, criminal division head for the attorney’s office, wrote in his report. “There is no evidence the officers had any motive to shoot Premo other than their reasonable belief of the immediate threat posed to them.”

Both officers fired at Premo when he reached for a gun as they tried to take him into custody in his parents’ backyard during the early morning hours of June 11, police said.

Both officers were placed on paid administrative leave but have since returned to work.

Reached for comment Thursday, Premo’s parents declined to comment and referred questions to their attorney, David Malban, who said the family isn’t ruling out a civil lawsuit if they are left unsatisfied by the report.


CROSBY, Minn. -- A Crosby man was arrested with more than 100 marijuana plants after he got into a fight with his neighbor, authorities said.

Jerry Dean Erickson, 50, was arrested Tuesday after the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office responded to a call of a dispute between neighbors on the 300 block of Third Avenue, the sheriff's office said. Upon arrival, deputies noticed several marijuana plants growing near Erickson's garden.

Agents with the Lakes Area Drug Investigative Division were contacted. After a search of Erickson's property and the adjacent property, 100 mature marijuana plants seized, the sheriff’s office said.

Crow Wing County Sheriff Todd Dahl said the marijuana recovered from the scene had a $10,000 to $20,000 potential street value.


DULUTH -- The Federal Railroad Administration has concluded that there would be no significant environmental impact if the Northern Lights Express passenger rail service between Duluth and the Twin Cities is built and operated.

The federal agency made a formal “Finding of No Significant Impact” for the project, setting the stage for a second, more in-depth environmental assessment that will begin later this year, said Mary McFarland Brooks, spokeswoman for the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

“It’s a big step. It’s the federal agency saying they see no reason not to proceed with the project,” McFarland Brooks said Thursday.

Public input on the next-level environmental review, which will include things such as the locations of specific train stations and the train’s impact on local communities, probably will begin this year as well, she said.

A more-detailed engineering study on the project also can begin with the federal agency’s finding. Both efforts are expected to take about two years.

The Northern Lights Express is a proposed, 155-mile high-speed passenger train to run along existing lines from Duluth to Superior, Wis., and on to Minneapolis. Trains would reach speeds of 110 mph.


MOORHEAD, Minn. – Students who worked on the Moorhead High School yearbook learned a hard lesson this week in the importance of proofreading, as hundreds of final printed copies of the 2013 yearbook arrived with the misspelling “Moorehead” on the cover.

The mistake slipped past an adviser and two classes of students who worked on the yearbook last year. They finalized it after graduation before sending it to Jostens to be printed this summer, Moorhead school officials said.

“They proofed the book and the cover, and they missed it,” district spokeswoman Pam Gibb said. “I don’t know that there’s much we can do now. It’s a mistake, and it was made.”

The district can’t afford to reprint the yearbooks, which annually cost about $20,000 to $21,000 to produce.

Moorhead High Principal Dave Lawrence said the two classes that worked on the yearbook, one during each semester, consisted of seniors, juniors and sophomores.

Lawrence said he shares the blame for not proofreading the yearbook as assistant principal last year.


FERGUS FALLS, Minn. – Copper thieves cost the Otter Tail Power Company more than $30,000 in repairs after stealing about $50 worth of copper wire from a Wahpeton, N.D.-area substation, company officials said Thursday.

A caller reported arcing wires at the electrical substation north of Wahpeton around midnight Wednesday, Otter Tail Power Company spokeswoman Cris Oehler said.

Authorities and company workers found that someone had cut the substation fence and ground wires from electrical equipment before hitting a live wire, which caused an arc flash. About 20 pounds of wire was missing, Oehler said.

“In this case, the thief, or thieves, risked severe burns or death for about $50 worth of copper, and they put emergency responders and people who rely on electricity for life support at risk,” Eric Hamm, the company’s safety services manager, said in a news release.

Hamm said several large customers had to shut down operations when the company turned off electricity to secure the scene.