Helmut Schmidt was born in Germany, but grew up in the Twin Cities area, graduating from Park High School of Cottage Grove. After serving a tour in the U.S. Army, he attended the University of St. Thomas in St Paul, Minn., graduating in 1984 with a degree in journalism. He then worked at the Albert Lea (Minn.) Tribune and served as managing editor there for three years. He joined The Forum in October 1989, working as a copy editor until 2000. Since then, he has worked as a reporter on several beats, including education, Fargo city government, business and military affairs. He is currently The Forum's K-12 education reporter.
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FERGUS FALLS, Minn. — The superintendent of the Hawley School District has been charged with two misdemeanors after a vehicle went through the ice on Otter Tail Lake last month and concerns arose that another man would be arrested for drunken driving. Superintendent Philip Leroy Jensen, 56, of Ottertail, Minn., faces two counts of obstructing the legal process. Facing the same charges in the incident are Michelle Renae Jensen, 51, of Ottertail, and Zachary Anthony Jensen, 32, of Fargo.
MOORHEAD, Minn. — A Moorhead man pleaded guilty Thursday, March 15, to murdering a man he once supervised, then fired and yet allowed him to live in his garage. Neil James Johnson, 26, entered a guilty plea in Clay County District Court to a charge of second-degree murder without intent in the shooting death of Jacob Glover, 28, of West Fargo. Johnson remains in the Clay County Jail, where he has been held since the April 6 shooting.
WILLISTON, N.D. — A federal judge has ordered a drilling rig service company working in North Dakota's Oil Patch to pay a former worker $70,000 as part of an agreement to settle a lawsuit that alleged he was harassed because he is gay.
MOORHEAD, Minn.—The woman accused of trying to shoot a Minnesota State Patrol trooper in the head after he stopped to help her and a companion at the scene of a crash just east of Moorhead, Minn., made her first appearance in Clay County District Court on Friday, March 9. Melody Gray, who was wounded by a round from the trooper's weapon, appeared before Judge Peter Irvine with her right forearm heavily bandaged and supported by a black sling.
MOORHEAD, Minn. — A woman accused of trying to shoot a Minnesota State Patrol trooper in the head near Moorhead faces felony charges of attempted murder, receiving stolen property and being a felon in possession of a firearm, according to a Clay County District Court filing made Thursday, March 8. Melody Victoria Gray, 30, of Milwaukee, Wis., who was shot in the arm by Trooper Mark Peterson during the incident Monday, March 5, was hospitalized at Essentia Health in Fargo for treatment of her wound. Clay County Jail staff said Gray was still at Essentia Thursday afternoon.
BISMARCK—17 school districts have been given the go-ahead to use the ACT exam in place of a required state math and English achievement test for high school students, Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler announced Wednesday, March 7. North Dakota is the first state in the nation to obtain permission to use the ACT, instead of a separate state test, as a locally selected measurement of student math and English proficiency, Baesler said.
WISHEK, N.D. — The Wishek School Board and the school district's superintendent are denying allegations that they acted improperly by restricting a mother's access to the elementary school. In a response to a federal lawsuit filed last month by the mother, Kathryn Pinke, attorneys for the board and superintendent requested the suit be dismissed and the board be granted attorneys' fees.
WAHPETON, N.D. — As a school district superintendent you wear a lot of hats: finance expert, manager, leader, teacher, coach. In Wahpeton, don't forget to add bus driver to the list. Superintendent Rick Jacobson has been driving morning and afternoon bus routes since October, when the district's transportation director quit and they lost a driver, too. "It just seemed to be a perfect storm lined up. We were in a terrible spot," Jacobson said. "I had to learn all the routes real quick." Jacobson figured it would be just a substitute gig. Not so.
MOORHEAD, Minn.—A Sabin, Minnesota, man, who authorities say was driving despite having his Minnesota driver's license cancelled, has been charged with criminal vehicular homicide and second-degree manslaughter in the death of a 2-year-old boy in a Jan. 6 crash, according to Clay County District Court documents. Jeremy James Sagvold, 42, was charged Friday, March 2. The two felony charges each carry a maximum prison sentence of 10 years, court documents said.
VALLEY CITY, N.D. — A former correctional officer at the Barnes County Correctional Facility is facing felony charges, stemming from an incident in which he's accused of firing four rounds from a handgun at a vehicle on state Highway 1 in Barnes County earlier this month. Sean Blaskowski, 20, of Valley City, is charged with terrorizing, reckless endangerment and aggravated assault in the Feb. 18 incident, according to Barnes County District Court records.