Around the State: July 10, 2023


July 10, 2023

The counties and cities within the state of North Dakota hold many interesting news stories.

Here are just a few of the feature stories that others are reading in communities around the state.

Defendant sentences could add to 102 years

Mathew Nelson could spend the rest of his life benind bars.

Calling the evidence against Nelson “one of the most disturbing cases I’ve seen in my 10 years on the bench,” District Judge Robin Schmidt sentenced Nelson, 25, to 17 years for each of six Class A felony counts of gross sexual imposition.

Those sentences recently handed down are to run consecutively, meaning Nelson potentially faces 102 years behind bars.

“The swath of destruction you have caused is massive,” Schmidt said, referring to a number of victims’ statements read before the court by mothers of Nelson’s victims.

“You have stolen the innocence of my two little girls,” said the mother of two victims. “They will never be the same.”

Continuing, she asked Schmidt to sentence Nelson to life in prison: “He deserves a lifetime of torment.”

In another statement, the mother of John Doe said her son has become “significantly mentally damaged” as the result of being sexually molested by Nelson.

“My wonderful and adventurous little boy has gone dark,” the mother said.

During the victims’ statements, Nelson showed no emotion, laying his head in his hands while seated at the defense table.

Schmidt’s sentence was the maximum allowed under state law, 20 years on each count. The judge suspended three years from each.

In all cases, the female and one male victim were minors, ranging in age from 9 to 15. The incidents Nelson pleaded guilty to were all allegedly committed between 2016 and 2020.

(Story by Brad Nygaard, the Journal, Crosby)

Carpio woman’s forgery conviction reversed

The conviction of Susan Coons for allegedly filing a falsified deed in a county office has been overturned in a 3-2 vote by the North Dakota Supreme Court.

Charges were brought against Coons in April of 2021 for allegedly defrauding a family out of $1.04 million worth of land in Ward and Mountrail counties.

The Carpio woman was to receive 10 years in prison, but after the general questioning of the jury, three jurors indicated they may have had knowledge about the case. All parties involved were asked to join a private room to individually question the jurors.

The North Dakota Supreme Court ruled to reverse the conviction, stating it violated Coons’ right to a public trial.

(Story taken from the Kenmare News)

Flushable wipes cause city headaches

Sometimes, label claims should not be taken just at face value.

While challenges can come from clogged drains due to grease washed down kitchen sinks or washing machine detritus, the Hazen City Water and Waste Water Department said the majority of problems they see at lift stations when a plug occurs comes from wipes and other tissues being flushed down a toilet.

Mike Lemer with the Water Department said that “flushable wipes” is a misnomer. While the wipes can indeed be flushed down the toilet and into the sewer system, he said they do not actually break down and disperse, causing risk of clogging and back-flow in individual residents’ lines and of plugging up an entire sewer system if blocking the pumps at the lift stations.

“It’s mostly the flushable wipes that are causing the issues,” Lemer said.

Recently, Lemer and his fellow Hazen Water Department employee Jarid Dauenhauer responded to a flashing light at Lift Station 5, near the Anne Chase Park in west Hazen. Dauenhauer said a plug had caused the water level in that lift station to rise dramatically, prompting the alert.

(Story by Daniel Arens, the Hazen Star)

Former Max city auditor faces charges

A former Max City Auditor will have a court appearance following charges of theft and embezzlement.

Christie Narum of Douglas was formally charged with misapplication of entrusted property, a Class C Felony, and has an appearance before Judicial Officer Daniel Borgen.

Narum’s charges stem from an investigation which started in December 2021, at which time members of the Max City Council noticed unusual transactions on a statement from the City of Max’s general fund account.

Lieutenant Justin Krohmer and Detective Aaron Matties with the McLean County Sheriff’s office met with city council members Nathan Schneider and Nancy Gullickson on December 7, 2021, to review the charges, which spanned January 7 to November 30, 2021, and totaled $8,615.79. While not all the amounts were fraudulent, they were not approved by the city council at the time of the purchases, a narrative from the McLean County Sheriff’s office.

That same afternoon, Krohmer and Matties met with Narum and advised her of the situation.

Narum explained that “she has recently been diagnosed with cancer, is filing bankruptcy and has lost her house,” Krohmer noted. “Christie explained that these charges were made on items including food, gas and other expenses because she could not afford them on her own.”

“Christie explained that she knew spending these city funds was wrong, but she has been in debt and did not know what else to do,” Krohmer said.

While Christie was not placed under arrest, “charges will be filed as the city does not feel that Christie will have the means to pay the money back without the courts being involved,” Krohmer noted. Narum was then terminated from her position.

(Story by James C. Falcon, the McLean County Independent)

Crypto project told to stop

The Williams County Commission is seeking to cut power to a partially completed crypto mining data center that the county says has failed to comply with various requirements.

The county had ordered the project shut down once before, but FX Solutions and Atlas Power, the companies building the data center, appealed to commissioners, and an ensuing motion to shut it down failed on a 3-2 vote.

Kameron Hymer, Williams County development services director said the buildings in Phase 2 of the project were already in operation despite the companies having not obtained final inspections or certifications of occupancy.

(Story taken from the Mountrail County Promoter)