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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LARIMORE, N.D.—A Larimore man accused of driving drunk and causing a crash last year that killed a motorcyclist plans to change his plea. A Thursday hearing for Paul Albert Lilja, 44, was canceled, but court records show he is scheduled to appear June 11 for a change of plea hearing. He was charged Sept. 19 in Grand Forks District Court with a Class A felony of criminal vehicular homicide and a Class C felony of negligent homicide. He initially pleaded not guilty in the case.
A Grand Forks business owner plans to change his plea after being accused of punching a man outside a bar in January. On Thursday, Grand Forks District Judge Lolita Romanick set a change of plea hearing on July 2 for Patrick Wayne Novak, 39, who faces a Class C felony of aggravated assault. Novak was accused of hitting Chris Koppang from behind, knocking the accuser to the ground on Jan. 6 outside the bar at 1708 Mill Road, according to a criminal complaint. Novak continued to punch Koppang as he lay face down on the ground, police said.
Police are trying to piece together the events that led to a pedestrian’s death after he was hit by a vehicle Wednesday evening in Grand Forks. Jason Lee Longie, 42, of Grand Forks died from his injuries Thursday at Altru Hospital. He was hit by a pickup Wednesday evening while crossing 32nd Avenue South at South 20th Street.
Social services has cited a UND child care center for not reporting suspected child abuse after a teacher reportedly gave a reverse bear hug to a child and used a leg to pin the child to a mat. The University Children's Learning Center was written up by Grand Fork County Social Services for five violations during a March 27 visit, according to a Tuesday letter sent to the center from the government agency. The suspected child abuse happened on or about March 25, said Carolyn Kueber, an early childhood services licenser with Grand Forks County.
Grand Forks Public Schools administrators hope changes in curriculum for middle schoolers will better prepare them for problem-solving and innovative thinking as they prepare to enter an ever-changing world. Sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders will notice a new structure in classes this fall. It's the first time in nearly two decades the district has made major changes to its middle school curriculum, said Eric Ripley, director of career and technical education for the district.
A Grand Forks airman was convicted Friday of sexaully assaulting an intoxcated woman at his apartment last year. Karim Sabur Kabir Muhammad, 23, was convicted in Grand Forks District Court on a Class A felony charge of gross sexual imposition, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Jurors were handed the case Thursday before returning a guilty verdict Friday.
A small group of partners plans to buy the Grand Forks Herald’s downtown building with the hope of attracting businesses and entities in the communications and professional sectors.
LAKOTA, N.D.—The U.S. Supreme Court will not hear the case of a North Dakota rancher who claims law enforcement used excessive force on him when they struck him multiple times with a Taser. Tim Lamb, an attorney representing Rodney Brossart in the civil case, received a letter Monday saying a writ of certiorari has been denied, effectively ending the review of the lawsuit by Supreme Court officials.
THOMPSON, N.D. -- A 57-year-old man who died Wednesday night, May 23, in a fiery crash that shut down southbound traffic on Interstate 29 Wednesday near Grand Forks has been identified and the driver of the other vehicle faces possible charges. Wayne O’Connell of Shelly in far western Minnesota died at the scene after he was ejected from his 1953 Ford pickup. Emergency crews responded at 6:35 p.m. Wednesday to the crash about 3 miles north of Thompson. A 2000 Peterbilt semi hauling cattle rear-ended the pickup’s trailer, according to a news release issued late Thursday night.
A Grand Forks woman who shot and killed three of her children before killing herself legally bought the gun a day before the shooting, police confirmed Thursday. Astra Volk, 35, purchased a handgun from Super Pawn in Grand Forks the day before she used it in the May 3 murder-suicide, Grand Forks Police Lt. Derik Zimmel said.