Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.
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Little Blake Leritz sat quietly through the lengthy court proceedings Monday, occasionally swinging his legs in his wheelchair. The severely disabled boy was drooping by the time his case was called. He couldn't comprehend the anger his grandmother felt as she was denied the right to speak up in court. Blake's former nurse was sentenced to 30 days in jail and five years probation for possessing his seizure medication. Pills keep Blake alive.
A 35-year-old Sebeka man was killed Thursday after he was struck by a tree that he was apparently cutting down in the Pillsbury Forest in Pillager. The Cass County Sheriff's Department said Daren Rathcke was killed when the tree he was cutting toppled on him. The accident occurred around 9:30 a.m. First Responders and firefighters on the scene said the man was in grave condition when they arrived to lift the tree off him. He later died, reported the Cass County Sheriff's Office. The victim was taken to Ramsey County Medical Examiner's Office for an autopsy.
A 25-year-old man was transported to the Park Rapids hospital following a Christmas day shooting in Wadena County. The man apparently suffered multiple BB injuries to the face from a rifle shot, Wadena County authorities said. None of the estimated 10 BBs struck the man's eyes. The man's father dialed 911 to alert authorities. Wadena County and Sebeka First Responders were on the scene. The victim was conscious and able to walk to the ambulance. The shooting occurred at 12:30 p.m. No other information was immediately available
The Helga Township board voted Tuesday to approve a new Land Use Ordinance, ending a two-year moratorium on commercial development along the busy U.S.
The star of the annual Christmas Bird Count was appropriately one well represented in holiday décor. "A cardinal!" exclaimed the dozen volunteers who came to Itasca State Park Sunday for the annual National Audubon Society's 111th census that tracks bird populations and trends throughout the United States. The count runs from midnight to midnight on that single day.
A half-foot blanket of new snow will put the Park Rapids area back into the running for tourists on sleds. "Well it looks as if we are going to have a very nice white Christmas," stated the Forest Riders Snowmobile Club's first trail report of the year. "The groomers have been out at least once through the trail system and have started again today with the additional new 5-8 inches of snow that we have received," wrote Lou Eischens.
In the transition to a new Hubbard County law enforcement regime, Frank Homer has essentially become an enigma. But his staff insists things are running well in a team effort, the department is responding to the citizens' needs and the new administration is poised to take over. Aukes transition Sheriff-elect Cory Aukes, who takes office Jan. 3, said getting through the holidays would be a challenge. He and Scott Parks, his choice for new chief deputy, already have the January schedules out for dispatchers, deputies and jailers. "We're down a person even now," he said of the road staff.
Park Rapids and Nevis schools will close at the regular time today, but all after-school activities have been canceled. Tonight's Park Rapids choir and band concert has been rescheduled for Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. Menahga School has canceled the junior high girls basketball game at New York Mills and the elementary boys wrestling practice. All other activities will still be held.
Thirty firefighters and ten trucks from Nevis, Akeley and Park Rapids fought a blaze that gutted much of the Whitetail Tavern and Velvet Antler Restaurant/ lounge on Highway 34 late Tuesday night. Nevis Fire Chief Kerry Swenson said the efforts saved the building from total loss. The fire is believed to have started in the kitchen area around 10 p.m.
Hubbard County officials finalized a lean and mean budget Wednesday that will result in a 2.6 percent levy increase. But because the county's tax base has seen an overall reduction of 5 percent, most Hubbard County residents were not happy when they got their 2011 tax notices in the mail. For many, taxes went up 10 percent and more.