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Moorhead Planned Parenthood visits on the rise since election

ALSO: Red River Valley potato crop down; man pleads guilty in Virginia slaying; racial slur leads to Moorhead school bus driver’s firing; and more.

In the wake of Donald Trump’s election victory, the number of women in Moorhead seeking birth-control services from Planned Parenthood has nearly tripled appointment wait times, a phenomenon seen elsewhere as well. Patrick Springer of the Fargo Forum reports that before Trump won the Nov. 8 presidential race, the wait time for an appointment was two to three days, but is now nearly one week. “People are worried that Planned Parenthood won’t be there,” said Sarah Stoesz, president of Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, adding that almost 2,800 women each year seek care at the Moorhead clinic.

Heavy rain and rising prices are wreaking havoc among Red River Valley potato farmers. The Grand Forks Herald reports that the area’s potato production is down an estimated 35 percent and the reduced output has pushed prices to about $20 per hundredweight, roughly twice what they were last year. That’s good news for farmers who saw good harvests or who did not contract at lower prices earlier this year. Farmers hit hard by this season’s heavy rain, soggy fields and hail storms will have trouble, said Chuck Gunnerson, president of the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association in East Grand Forks. According to the Herald, the Red River Valley is the country’s prime suppliers of red potatoes, and the area’s combined potato production ranks third in the nation behind Washington and Idaho.

Anthony James Isham of Nett Lake pleaded guilty Monday to second-degree murder in the April, 2014 slaying of Harley Jacka in Virginia. Tom Olsen of the Duluth News Tribune reports that Isham, 44, will face a sentence of slightly more than 30 years in prison as the result of a plea agreement in which he avoided a charge of premeditated first-degree murder in exchange for testimony that he stabbed Jacka “in concert with others.” An autopsy found that Jacka had been stabbed 15 times. In 2014, Anthony Isham, John Edward Isham and Bartholamy Jake Drift were charged with second-degree murder. In 2015, Janessa Lynn Peters confessed she arranged Jacka’s murder because she was having trouble ending a relationship with him. She asked Drift to kill him and testified the Isham cousins “probably jumped in” on the killing.

A Moorhead school bus driver has been fired after he was accused of using a racial slur and abandoning about 20 middle school students in the city’s industrial park last Tuesday. Archie Ingersoll of the Fargo Forum reports that Red River Trails, a company that provides buses and drivers for the school district, fired the driver last Friday. The company said the driver is white, in his 50s and had no previous job performance issues. Superintendent Lynne Kovash said there was apparently disruptive behavior and the driver told the students to get off the bus and used a racial slur. She said another bus was immediately dispatched to pick up the students. Kovash also said the district is investigating the students’ behavior on the bus, but that no students have been disciplined so far.

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Counties in western Minnesota saw a jump in absentee voting. Shelby Lindrud of the West Central Tribune reports that while the number of voters held steady, there was a marked increase in the number of early and mail-in absentee voting. Swift County Auditor Kim Saterbak said the county saw 324 absentee ballots in 2012 and 1,839 in 2016. Kandiyohi County saw a jump from 2,093 absentee ballots in 2012 to 3,827 in 2016; Meeker County from 849 to 1,785; and Yellow Medicine County from 381 to 865.

Several St. Cloud properties co-owned by Judge Vicki Landwehr are under scrutiny by housing and law enforcement officials due to lack of upkeep, ordinance violations and alleged criminal activity. Jenny Berg of the St. Cloud Daily Times reports that four of the nearly 20 properties owned by Landwehr and her husband, Don, have been identified as blights on neighborhoods. A police raid on one of the properties last week uncovered a suspected meth lab. The Landwehrs say they’re not responsible because they sell the houses on contracts for deed. St. Cloud housing officials say the contracts are essentially rental agreements and are investigating the properties as such.

911 services were out for about an hour and a half Monday afternoon in both Kandiyohi and Meeker counties. The West Central Tribune reports that officials say the outages were related and were the result of a telephone router problem. Emergency call service went out at about 12:40 p.m. in Kandiyohi County and at about 1 p.m. in Meeker County. Service was restored at about 2 p.m. in Kandiyohi and at about 3 p.m. in Meeker. 

The American League of Bicyclists has given Austin an honorable mention as a Bicycle Friendly Community. Deb Nicklay of the Austin Daily Herald reports that the bicycling community is very proud of the honor and plans to make improvements to earn the full Bicycle Friendly Community designation. While Austin rated high on engineering, education and encouragement, its needs to work on enforcement and evaluation/planning; officials will look at issues such as changes in speed limits and having a comprehensive bike master plan.

Cass Lake teen Jeremy Jourdain has been missing since Nov. 1. The Bemidji Pioneer reports that weekend visual and sonar searches of Lake Bemidji and Lake Irvine were unsuccessful. Jourdain was last seen in the Nymore area, according to the Bemidji Police Department. He is described as a 6-foot-4-inch, 175-pound Native American male with short, dark brown hair and brown eyes.

Zachary Patrick Roberts, a former Janesville Waldorf Pemberton coach, will spend three months in jail and a decade on probation after admitting to recording boys in locker rooms. The Mankato Free Press reports that Roberts, 28, of Janesville, was caught recording members of the JWP basketball team in a locker room at United South Central School in December 2015. Prosecutors said Roberts will not be required to register as a predatory offender because his crimes did not qualify.