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.
- Member for
- 4 years 7 months
The biggest news of the year for the Grand Forks area included stories of triumph and success, as well as tragedy and loss. From North Dakota's twin-sister hockey stars winning the gold to a woman who took the lives of her children, the Herald looks back, in no particular order, at the biggest stories of 2018. Astra Volk kills children, then herself The death of three children at the hands of their mother shocked Grand Forks more than any other story in 2018.
A Grand Forks man has pleaded not guilty to a murder charge that alleges he killed a 5-month-old baby. Mason Matthew Kamrowski, 19, was set to appear Monday, Dec. 31, in Grand Forks District Court on a Class AA felony count of murder, which carries a maximum punishment of life in prison without parole. His attorney, Tyler Morrow, filed paperwork Friday, Dec. 27, that waived the preliminary and entered the plea on his client's behalf.
The North Dakota Department of Transporation has issued a no-travel advisory for the eastern side of the state, warning those caught on the roads may be putting their lives at risk. The state agency sent out the release at 4:12 p.m. Thursday after a day-long blizzard brought strong winds and snow to the Red River Valley. The advisory that includes Grand Forks, Jamestown, Valley City, Wahpeton and Fargo said reduced visibility and icy road conditions prompted the warning.
LANGDON, N.D.—It's hard to travel through Langdon without hearing about its famous sausage. When asking what places to visit while in town, residents will tell you to head south along the tracks to the Langdon Locker, where third-generation owner Tyler Bodnar and his crew of 12 make 3,000 to 3,500 pounds of smoked and garlic sausage on a weekly basis. They have a good following in North Dakota, but customers come from or have the meat shipped to Minnesota, South Dakota and Montana, Bodnar said.
David Jones has seen a wide range of cases in his 40-year law career. From representing soldiers and wounded veterans to leading Grand Forks County's prosecuting office, the state's attorney of four years has worked in almost every type of law. "The one thing that is always surprising is that you think you know things and you've been doing it for almost 40 years," he said. "There's not a week, and sometimes not a day, that goes by that there isn't some little twist on a question or something that comes."
Grand Forks County Sheriff Bob Rost said he has always had a soft spot for children. It's why he has spent almost 50 years not only fighting crime but implementing programs to engage youth, including dressing up as crime-fighting mascot, helping parents obtain fingerprints and photos of their children, and starting a school crossing guard program that helped him win a national title, he said. "They are very impressionable," he said. "I feel that if you can get to them at a young age and show them that law enforcement officers are their friends, it will make a difference."
The jury has the case for a former UND student accused of having child porn while he attended college there in 2017. Noah Nicholas Holden Gianfranceschi, 19, sat Friday in a Grand Forks District Courtroom as Judge Jay Knudson gave instructions to jurors. The former student who first enrolled at UND in August 2017 faces 10 Class C felony counts of possessing certain material prohibited by North Dakota Century Code. Each charge carries a maximum punishment of up to five years in prison.
ROLETTE, N.D.—A Rolette man has pleaded not guilty to murder charges related to an eight-hour standoff in July. Ronald Wayne Wootan, 49, faces life in prison without parole if convicted of killing 27-year-old James Pochant of Rugby, N.D. On Monday, Wootan denied the allegations laid out in a criminal complaint that say he fatally shot Pochant, whose body was found at 605 Third Ave. in Rolette after a late July standoff. Wootan has been charged with a Class AA felony of murder.
THIEF RIVER FALLS—Two Minnesota men face criminal charges saying were trying to lure underage teens into performing sexual acts, only to find out the people they were chatting with were officers posing as minors, according to court documents.
CROOKSTON—A Crookston man has been accused of breaking into a woman's home twice last month, allegedly strangling the woman one time and physically assaulting a child the second time, according to charging documents. Ira Edward Bailey, 29, appeared Monday in Polk County District Court on seven charges in two cases, including three first-degree counts of burglary, two counts of felony domestic assault, one felony count of domestic assault by strangulation and a felony count of threats of violence. The burglary charges each carry a maximum punishment of 20 years in prison.