April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, and covers crime and education. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family raises registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college, she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as a city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.
Have a story idea? Contact Baumgarten at 701-780-1248.
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The two sheriff candidates in Grand Forks County have spent the last several months trying to meet as many people as possible and get their names on voters' minds. "I've been just staying steady and and working hard," Sheriff's Sgt. Andy Schneider said. "I don't know any different than hard work, so that's what I've been doing." "We're out working hard," Sheriff's Lt. B.J. Maxson said of his campaign. "We've been busy. ... Anytime I can stop and talk with someone, I talk with them."
RURAL MANVEL, N.D.—October rains had stalled farmers in the Red River Valley trying to get their crops off the field, and this week's early snowstorm has pushed the finish line back even further. Still, sugar beet and soybean farmer Scott Johnson is optimistic about the harvest. "We're just hoping for some sunshine and warm weather," said Johnson, who has crops near Manvel. As of Tuesday, the National Weather Service in Grand Forks reported 1.82 inches of rain for October, more than an inch above the average for the month to that date.
The world's largest group for police leaders has recognized the U.S. Attorney's Office in North Dakota for its work in prosecuting suspects in an international drug ring that led to several fentanyl overdose deaths.
THIEF RIVER FALLS—A Thief River Falls woman has been accused of stealing more than $11,000 from a man with dementia. Peggy Lynn Mehrkens, 53, appeared Monday in Pennington County District Court on five charges of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult, three of which are felony counts that each carry a maximum punishment of five years in prison.
Residents are getting an inside look into the life of police officers in Grand Forks. The Grand Forks Police Department is hosting a nine-week citizens academy for almost 30 residents, who meet every Tuesday for three hours at the Public Safety Center in the city's industrial park. Last week was the fifth time during the program officers showed their students what police do on a daily basis. "The biggest deal about the citizens academy is we want to engage citizens in what we do in our police department," Cpl. Justin O'Neill said.
Grand Forks Public School leaders on Monday voted against a proposed mill levy increase that would have allowed the district to create a fund for emergency spending. School Board members unanimously voted to pass the property tax levy rate of 98 mills, which could generate about $23.3 million. That's slightly up from the 97.36 mills budgeted for the 2017-18 year.
The voice of a former UND student shook Monday in Grand Forks District Court as he apologized for stealing thousands of dollars from his fraternity. Grand Forks Judge Jay Knudson sentenced Chase Alexander Johnson, 23, to 150 hours of community service in lieu of 15 days in jail for a Class B felony of theft. The former treasurer of Phi Delta Theta was emotional, describing how the impact of his actions on others will haunt him. "The hardest part about this for me isn't about what happens to me or not," he said. "It's about how it has affected others."
THOMPSON, N.D.—Kerri-Lynn Larimer said she always wanted wood floors for her dream home, said her husband, Dean. Between 75 and 100 volunteers spent eight days giving the 44-year-old mother of two boys from Thompson that dream house while she was away at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., receiving care for metastatic melanoma. The cancer patient had no idea what was happening at her house, but Dean said her face glowed with happiness during the reveal Sept. 30.
A Grand Forks Public Schools committee tasked with forming a group to help guide leaders in finalizing a long-term master facilities plan has dropped the phrase "21st century learning" and will focus on innovation, relevance and community input. It's a move a representative of a group hoping to protect neighborhood schools said was a step in the right direction. "I think the current direction is the right one, and I am very encouraged by what's happening so far," said Whitney Berry of the Grand Forks Neighborhood Schools Alliance.
The next North Dakotan to take a seat in U.S. House after Rep. Kevin Cramer leaves office will be the lone representative for the state in the chamber. Republican-endorsed candidate Kelly Armstrong of Dickinson, Democrat Mac Schneider of Grand Forks and Independent candidate Charles Tuttle of Minot will appear on the November ballot for Cramer's seat, which he has held since 2013.