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Bomb threat empties courthouse

Hubbard County officials closed the courthouse Monday in response to another bomb threat. The threat is the second made in three months. The courthouse received the threat at 11:19 a.m. from a pay phone located outside the Park Rapids area. Accor...

Hubbard County officials closed the courthouse Monday in response to another bomb threat.

The threat is the second made in three months.

The courthouse received the threat at 11:19 a.m. from a pay phone located outside the Park Rapids area.

According to Park Rapids Police Chief Terry Eilers, the caller mentioned specific areas where the bomb would be located.

Law enforcement officials and county department heads combed through the building early Monday afternoon before releasing county employees for the rest of the day. Park Rapids Fire Department personnel also blockaded off the courthouse and searched the perimeter.

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A bomb-sniffing dog was not called in for the search due to a disagreement with Twin Cities dog handlers following county coordinator Jack Paul's comments made in a Star Tribune article about the July 23 bomb threat.

Employees were told at an early afternoon meeting to report for work during normal business hours Tuesday.

Paul said he spoke on the phone with commissioner Dick Devine before the decision was made, as county board chairman Cal Johannsen and vicechair Lyle Robinson could not be reached.

"On his and our suggestion, we are going to close for the rest of the day," said Eilers.

Eilers reported the incident bears several similarities with the bomb threat called in July.

The conversation with the caller paralleled the previous threat, although the call was made at a different pay phone, Eilers said.

Eilers added the bomb threat created a significant inconvenience for courthouse operations.

"It interrupts a lot... it costs the county a lot of money to do this," he said.

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Law enforcement officials began investigating leads Monday afternoon after working with Unitel to trace the location of the call. Courthouse phones do not currently have caller ID.

Eilers encouraged people to be patient with the investigation.

He said, "It's a tough deal when you call from a pay phone... we're not like the CSI (crime scene investigators) on TV that can solve everything in an hour. Nobody is."

jamesb@parkrapidsenterprise.com

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