Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers Hubbard County, courts and breaking news.
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Fishers and flickers have been spotted in the region. "This morning, when I opened the blinds on the picture window, something big and furry ran away from the feeder and jumped onto the big jack pine like a squirrel," e-mailed Stan Gardinich of Becida. "It was not shaped like a coon. It had shorter legs and was much sleeker. It had a smaller head. It got off the tree and ran behind the woodshed and jumped onto another tree and climbed a few feet up. I have seen marten and this was bigger than that. I do not think it was a wolverine because I do not think they climb like that.
A well-known Park Rapids surveyor and developer faces felony theft charges in a case that has elements of competitive espionage to it. Thomas Miller, 64, has been charged with downloading the proprietary database of Arro Land Surveyors LLC, his former employer, and taking it and a client list to Lindow Surveying and Mapping, where he is now employed. Miller is a fixture at Hubbard County Board of Adjustment and Planning Commission meetings, where his projects and clients are frequently presented.
Jesse Dahl's last stop before he was involved in a fatal crash in July was at a bar and grill in Becida. He said he was not driving the car from the bar that eventually veered off the road, hit an approach, rolled and killed a passenger. Dahl, formerly of Brainerd and Bemidji, said he drank about four ounces of Captain Morgan spiced rum. Leaving the bar, Dahl said 28-year-old Brooke Rosemore of Floodwood took the wheel of the 1998 Volkswagon Passat. Dahl said they stopped at a house in the county and he resumed driving.
The former treasurer of the Hubbard First Responders took the witness stand Monday and admitted embezzling more than $37,000 from the squad over a two-year period. Valerie Ione Kimball, 45, of Park Rapids, testified matter-of-factly that it was relatively easy to do and that she used the funds for personal gain. "There were checks pre-signed that I wrote to myself," she admitted. In all, 18 checks were found during an audit begun last winter.
Two families filled a Hubbard County courtroom with tears late Monday as the son of one was sentenced to a year in jail for killing the daughter of the other in an ATV crash. "I apologize for the wrong decisions I made May 1," a tearful Chad Tabaka told the family of Jessica Christopherson. "I can't take it back.
Two Park Rapids men facing a slew of charges in connection with nearly two dozen cabin break-ins last spring entered guilty pleas Monday to a handful of those charges. Mitchell Bugge, 38, and Michael Moorhouse, 30, each entered pleas to four burglary counts in exchange for the county dismissing the remaining charges. Assistant Hubbard County Attorney Erika Randall said in Bugge's case, there were 23 victims. He pled to the four counts of Second Degree Burglary and the most serious charge he faced, being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Hubbard County government will have another meager year in 2011. "Why are we growing government when we're all going broke?" asked board chair Lyle Robinson. Department heads will be given last year's figures to work with. But several factors complicate their budgeting tasks. Under a union contract employees will get 3 percent raises.
A brief but frantic search for victims in a lake accident last May resulted in a DWI conviction and a suspended sentence for a Park Rapids woman this week. Julia Christen Kujawa's car was spotted May 18 in East Crooked Lake partially submerged. Nevis firefighters, on their way to an inferno, could not stop but radioed for help.
A father of two young children was summarily fired last week during a liquor store compliance check that has left a bad taste with some Park Rapids businesses. He wasn't the only one who lost his job. Thirteen vendors were targeted in the sting operation Aug. 26 that sent a minor into each establishment to buy 3.2 beer. "Seven of 13 failed," said Hubbard County Sheriff Frank Homer, whose department conducted the checks.