Andrew Haffner covers higher education and general assignment stories for the Grand Forks Herald. He attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where he studied journalism, political science and international studies. He previously worked at the Dickinson Press.
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Authorities confirmed Monday that three children found dead last week were killed by their mother, who then committed suicide. Astra Volks, 35, and her children Arianna Talmage, 6, Aidan Talmage, 10, and Tyler Talmage, 14, were found dead Thursday morning, May 3, by a school resource officer dispatched on a welfare check when the children didn't arrive at school in the morning. Police said the family members appeared to have died from gunshot wounds.
The deaths of four people in an apparent murder-suicide Thursday has left a community wondering if more could have been done. Longtime social services and domestic violence experts Kate Kenna and Kristi Hall-Jiran weighed in this week on what individuals can do to spot potential crises early on. The insight comes after the bodies of Astra Volk, 35, and three of her children—Adrianna Talmage, 6, Aidan Talmage, 10, and Tyler Talmage, 14—were found dead in their home on the 1000 block of South 12th Street.
GRAND FORKS - A community is grappling with the specters of mental illness and self-harm in the wake of an apparent murder-suicide that left a Grand Forks mother and three children dead.
UND's business school, entrepreneurship center and Native American medical student program are now under new management. After a year with no permanent leadership, the College of Business and Public Affairs has a new dean in Amy B. Henley, the current executive director of MBA programs at Kennesaw State University in Georgia. Henley will be taking over for interim college head Steven Light, who has overseen the school since the 2017 departure of Margaret Williams, the previous dean. Henley starts her new role Aug. 1.
A Grand Forks woman and her three children were found dead in their home Thursday morning, police say. Astra Volk, 35, and children Arianna Talmage, 6, Aidan Talmage, 10, and Tyler Talmage, 14, were found dead in their home on the 1000 block of South 12th Street after a welfare check called in by Lewis and Clark Elementary School, where Arianna was a student. The school asked its campus liaison officer to conduct the check when Arianna didn’t appear to school.
UND students have selected their champion. More than 2,300 campus voters cast digital ballots earlier this week to choose the look for their new university mascot, a costumed character based on the Fighting Hawk athletic logo. The option "Z" Hawk, a serious-looking bird with a head of ruffled feathers, won the day with 843 votes. Option "X," the next runner-up, received 775 votes and option "Y" finished with 684.
UND's longtime spokesman Peter Johnson, once set to retire at the start of this year, will be around a while longer yet. That's because the second round of searching for a new UND communications chief has closed out without a hire less than a month after three finalists for the job were brought to campus for interviews and public forum events. UND President Mark Kennedy announced the development Wednesday in his biannual University Council address, chalking up the outcome to a lack of fit between campus and candidate.
As UND President Mark Kennedy rounds out his second year in office, he does so with a unpleasantly familiar prospect—the possibility of future budget cuts. The university is still about a year away from meeting its next state-appropriated budget, but Kennedy began his presentation at Wednesday's biannual University Council meeting by directly addressing early funding concerns now floating through North Dakota higher education. "We're at the start of a long road to whatever the budget conclusion is and there's going to be many turns along that road," Kennedy said.
UND President Mark Kennedy declined to answer Tuesday when asked if the university plans to fill open leadership roles, including the dean's office at the university business college. "We have no announcement for anything definitive," Kennedy said, adding that he wasn't yet ready to announce "where we're going on that." The president was responding to a question regarding the status of a search to fill UND's top communications post, the position of vice president for university relations.
Concepts for the Fighting Hawk mascot have officially landed on the UND campus. Three designs for the Hawk's life-size rendering were unveiled for student voting Monday morning, bringing the costumed character one step closer to life. The student body now has the chance to vote online for their favorite of three designs. Polls opened Monday morning and close 9 p.m. Wednesday.