April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, and covers business and political stories. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family continues to raise 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 the Dickinson 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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A Belcourt, N.D., man who was sought last month in a domestic violence investigation by Grand Forks Police allegedly fled officers and drove drunk after officers tried to speak to him about a separate domestic violence call. Officers were searching Wednesday night for Dana Andrew Poitra, 51, also known as Dana Decoteau, to question him for a second domestic violence call. Police located his pickup in the 3600 block of 13th Avenue North, but he refused to stop, according to a news release.
LARIMORE, N.D.—Two Larimore residents face child neglect charges after one allegedly used a Taser to scare his children and shot at them with a BB gun. Casey Jerome Lunski, 34, and Angela Kay Lunski, 45, had initial appearances Thursday in Grand Forks District Court, where they have been charged with child neglect-parental care, a Class C felony. Casey Lunski also was charged with a Class C felony charge of child abuse.
Potholes are making for a bumpy ride through Grand Forks, and it could be several weeks before long-term patchwork and rehabilitation begins. The city has received several complaints about potholes along main traffic collectors, City Administrator Todd Feland said. There are problem areas on various streets, including Washington and Cherry streets, DeMers and University avenues and Belmont Road.
The head of Grand Forks Public Schools is set to receive positive feedback in what likely will be his last evaluation for the district. The Superintendent's Evaluation Committee for the School Board unanimously approved on Tuesday a draft of Larry Nybladh's evaluation, which will go to the School Board next week for final approval. Nybladh announced in September his retirement, which will be effective June 30.
DEVILS LAKE—A trial has begun for a Lankin, N.D., man accused of assaulting and partially paralyzing a 2-year-old child. Jury selection began Tuesday in Ramsey County District Court for Austin Lee Thorsteinson, 25, who was charged in December 2016 with child neglect or abuse, a Class A felony. He faces up to 20 years in prison.
A Minnesota man arrested last year in Grand Forks with marijuana and cocaine in his vehicle has admitted guilt in the case, prompting prosecutors to dismiss charges against his co-defendant. Ray Richard Torres, 29, of West St. Paul, Minn., pleaded guilty Monday in Grand Forks District Court to a Class B felony of possessing cocaine with intent to deliver or manufacture and was sentenced to almost month behind bars. In exchange for a plea agreement, the Class B felony charge of possessing marijuana with intent to deliver or manufacture was dismissed.
A former UND football player accused of dealing marijuana will avoid jail time if he completes the terms of his probation, despite arguments by the state that he should serve two months in jail.
A petition to decriminalize marijuana in North Dakota is seen by some as overbroad, but backers of the petition said the potential measure was made that way to force legislators to pass regulations if they want to. What that regulation will look like probably won't begin to take shape unless voters approve the ballot measure in November.
Grand Forks County has one of North Dakota's highest percentages of workers in the food services and accommodations industry, but finding help for the sector isn't easy. "I've seen the quantity of applicants rise a little bit in the short term here, but overall it's been pretty tough to find a warm body," said Matt Walkowiak, owner of the Ground Round in Grand Forks. "We probably went the better half of last year with 20 positions available."
A former UND student accused of possessing child pornography claims officers violated his Miranda rights and told him he couldn't make any calls while in custody. Attorneys for Noah Nicholas Gianfranceschi, 18, filed several motions last week to suppress his statements made to law enforcement, suppress a search warrant and evidence obtained from his electronic devices and to change the venue of his trial. The former UND student was charged Oct. 20 in Grand Forks District Court with 10 Class C felony counts of possessing certain materials prohibited.