Mourners in Sartell remember slain NDSU student; Duluth to restore its city hall

Well more than 1,000 mourners gathered in Sartell Monday to remember Thomas Bearson, the 18-year-old North Dakota State student whose body was found Sept. 23 in Moorhead. The report in the St. Cloud Daily Times quotes the coroner’s report that Bearson died as the “result of homicidal violence.” But forget all that. Mourners Monday remembered Bearson’s love of basketball and his easy way with people. His mother, Debbie Bearson, recalled Thomas’ blue eyes: “Most parents can’t wait for their newborns to sleep, but I couldn’t wait for him to wake up.” She also recounted how, once as a child, he refused to eat Reese’s Pieces so he could still give his mother kisses despite her peanut allergy. “Tom had a heart of gold,” Debbie said.

The City of Duluth had a few extra dollars lying around after the new $17 million law enforcement center came in under budget, so it will spend $2 million on renovations to the 89-year-old city hallwrites Peter Passi of the News Tribune. Erik Birkeland, Duluth’s property and facilities manager, said each of the four floors will be tackled one at a time, so work will likely in 2016. When done, the finance department will share the first floor with the information technology department. The biggest change is to the city attorney’s office on the fourth floor where currently, the only way out back through the lobby area. The city will build an alternate back-door route that could be used in the event of a violent intrusion.

There are big fish and there are big fish. David Ramm may have broken a state record when he pulled a massive muskie out of Crane Lake on Sept. 11, reports Sam Cook in the Duluth News Tribune. Ramm, of Blue Grass, Iowa, was fishing with his father, Gary, when he caught and released a 58½-inch long muskie with a 28-inch girth and a likely weight of 57 to 58 pounds. The state-record muskie, caught on Lake Winnibigoshish in 1957, weighed 54 pounds and was 56 inches long with a 27¾-inch girth. Ramm was using a St. Croix muskie rod with 80-pound-test line and a 130-pound-test fluorocarbon leader. He was casting a black fire Double Cowgirl bucktail spinner in about 5 feet of water. Ramm said he had no intention of keeping the fish: “I don’t want to be the guy who’s got his name down for a state record and for killing that fish.”

Rochester police are continuing their investigation into a riot that occurred at 1:40 a.m. Sunday in the 300 block of First Avenue Southwest involving between 40 and 60 people, reports Derek Sullvan of the Rochester Post-Bulletin. Capt. John Sherwin says the riot encompassed the entire block and involved both men and women. She said the participants were mostly Asians and blacks. The Rochester Police Department responded along with the Olmstead County Sheriff’s Office and the state Highway Patrol. Officers were struck but the worst that happened was one officer had his glasses broken. When officers finally got the upper hand in the melee, the crowd dispersed quickly and only two arrests were made: Tony Sengphet Banloungghong, 22, and Tishea Kay Hook, 24, both from Rochester. In an earlier report on the riot, Sherwin said police didn’t know what caused the riot although officers reported hearing that one group “disrespected” the other. “I think it’s just a chance encounter,” Sherwin said. “Egos and alcohol.”

A Mankato couple has had their solar panels installed and they plan to be off the grid soon, writes Tim Krohn of the Mankato Free Press. Gene Biewen and Noel Van Tol hired Tim Zinniel of Sleepy Eye solar to put in the system. Using federal and state tax credits and rebates, the solar system should pay for itself within six years. Zinniel said a residential solar system costs $15,000 to $20,000 with no incentives and $5,000 to $12,000 with the incentives. He said good systems have a 25-year warranty. Biewen said they don’t run their air conditioner much unless it’s very hot outside, so they are hoping they will be able to generate extra electricity, which will go back out on the grid and Xcel will pay them for it. 

Industrial and health care jobs are going wanting because of the lack of qualified workers, Moorhead businessmen told Sen. Al Franken on Monday. According to a story by Josh Francis in the Fargo Forum, employers are worried about filling the demand for labor. Employers such as Sanford Health, D&M Industries and American Crystal Sugar said many of their employees are nearing retirement and there’s no influx of younger workers looking for the jobs. Tom Boyle, president of Moorhead-based D&M Industries, said employers are competing with each other for skilled workers and the workers they do find are new to the area. The employers agreed technical education is a solution to their problem, and Franken announced that $2.47 million in grant funding will be put toward job training programs in the Minnesota State University System.

Bemidji cops have put an APB out for anyone using a large number of quarters to make a purchase, according to a report in the Bemidji Pioneer.  Just after 6 a.m. Monday, approximately $600 in quarters was taken along with their container, a five-gallon bucket that says “Ridgeway 2” on it, police said. Local businesses are asked to call the police if someone tries to make a large purchase using only quarters.

Giving a new meaning to the term “turkey trot,” northbound traffic at Interstate 35 and Highway 60 in Faribault was delayed Monday afternoon while authorities took care of an overturned truck carrying live turkeys, reports the Post-Bulletin. The crash was reported to the State Patrol at approximately 3:10 p.m. as the truck overturned on the northbound I-35 on-ramp from Highway 60. 

A Sewartville dad is in hot water after bringing a gun onto school grounds, according to the Associated Press. A 29-year-old man was escorted off the grounds of Bonner Elementary after a bus driver noticed he was carrying a concealed weapon. The driver notified school officials who then notified county deputies.  Olmsted County Sheriff’s Sgt. Tom Claymon said the man had a permit for the handgun, but all guns are prohibited on school property.

Well, this is unfortunate. An 18-year-old man from Wayzata had to be forcibly ejected from the Willmar homecoming game Friday, reports the West Central Tribune. The boor, who appeared to be intoxicated, was “reportedly engaging in obnoxious behavior and making advances on female students,” the Tribune says. The chap first refused to cooperate with directions to get out of the stands, then attempted to evade officers when they came to remove him. One officer was hit in the face and police finally used a Taser to stop the kid from fighting officers. The suspect now faces charges of disorderly conduct, underage consumption, obstruction of the legal process and fourth-degree assault on a peace officer. Score!

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