Official Newspaper of Eddy County since 1883

701 Rundown: October 23, 2023

Here’s your weekly rundown of some of the most interesting headlines from newspapers across North Dakota.

Radke recovering from accident

It's a chore that's been done thousands of times, and no one would think twice of danger.

But in one traumatic moment on July 26, 2023, Merle Radke's quality of life changed for the worse.

While repairing a lawn mower, the engine suddenly ignited in flames, burning Radke severely with burns on his face, chest, arms and hands.

His son, Marc, explained what happened that day.

"We were working on it, putting gas down the carburetor, and it backfired," he said. "It just happened so fast, next thing you know, everything was on fire, including him."

That accident spurred emergency measures to save his life, including ambulance transport from CHI Carrington EMS and a life-flight to Regions Hospital Burn Center in St. Paul, Minn.

For over a month and a half, Radke was hospitalized in the intensive care unit (ICU) at the burn center, undergoing painful skin grafting surgeries in order to replace the dead and infected tissue.

There are now fund-raising efforts to help cover costs of the Radke's ordeal that aren't covered by insurance.

For instance, each ambulance ride, along with family lodging costs during Merle's recovery, are out of the reach of insurance policies.

Those who wish to contribute monetarily what they can, may deposit donations in a benefit fund set up at Gate City Bank in Carrington.

(Story by Erik Gjovik, The Foster County Independent)

Former teacher, judge changes plea to guilty

A former judge and local teacher within Emmons County had changed his plea to guilty after a judge found “sufficient probable cause” to bind his case over for trial.

Jay Schmaltz was originally being charged with one count of theft of property, a Class C felony, alleging he stole more than $2,000 in cash from a fundraiser at Linton Public School.

However, during a hearing on Oct. 9, the judge overseeing the case dropped the charge to a misdemeanor, according to State’s Attorney Joseph Hanson.

Hanson explained that after District Court Judge Bonnie Storbakken accepted Schmaltz’s guilty plea, she moved on to sentencing, where he requested Schmaltz receive a two-year sentence all suspended for two years of supervised probation, in addition to the required statutory fees and restitution of $2,335.

During the sentencing, Schmaltz requested a deferred imposition of sentence, and provided the court with a request to avoid a felony conviction.

Storbakken did not grant the deferred imposition of sentence, but did agree to close the matter as a misdemeanor disposition.

Schmaltz was sentenced to 360 days in jail, all suspended, and two years of unsupervised probation. He was also ordered to pay $2,335 in restitution and $55 in fees.

(Story by Kelly Ameling, Emmons County Record)

Complaints brought before

Wells County Commission

Unrest in the normally placid Wells County Courthouse became evident 30 minutes into the regularly scheduled meeting last week of the five-member Wells Board of County Commissioners.

Additionally, challenges to the board’s authenticity and the county’s approach replacement practice resulted at times in a contentious dialogue between commissioners Leon Klocke, Danny “Boone” Maxwell, Dennis Dockter, Bryan Lautt, chairman Stan Buxa and visitors to the Oct. 5, 2023 meeting in the Auditor’s Office at the Fessenden-based courthouse.

The commissioners at the beginning of the meeting were told that several courthouse employees were disturbed that an elected official and assistant were afforded raises when they weren’t following county policy.

All county offices and officials should be held accountable, claimed the representative of the county’s human services board, who questioned the workweek schedule maintained by State’s Attorney Kathleen Murray and deputy Holly Zink.

“That office is closed today and has not had staff in the building since the end of August,” said Janelle Pepple.

“This is unacceptable.”

The state’s attorney office is not following county policies, indicated Pepple. “Yet you’re allowing them raises.”

Pepple was reminded that the state’s attorney is an elected office, not appointed, and not scrutinized or regulated by the board of county commissioners. Pepple countered that although the state’s attorney is elected, the office employees are county employees who work for elected officials in the courthouse.

District 4 commissioner Dennis Dockter, Harvey, said Pepple had a legitimate argument.

(Story by Neil O. Nelson, The Herald-Press)

Alexander man facing attempted murder charges

David Chambers Jr., 33, of Alexander, N.D., is facing several felony and misdemeanor charges after he allegedly fired at two females inside the Tumbleweed Inn located in Alexander.

According to documents filed with the Northwest Judicial District, the McKenzie County Sheriff’s Office responded to a report that a male identified as Chambers had pointed and fired a rifle at two females inside the Tumbleweed Inn at approximately 1:31 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 2.

Both females reported to law enforcement that Chambers came into the lobby of the Tumbleweed Inn and shot at them with a long rifle.

They stated they got into a physical altercation with Chambers to get the gun away from him. After the rifle was taken from him, they put it in their vehicle and drove to a nearby business for their safety.

Video surveillance from the security camera system shows Chambers getting into an argument with the two females at the Tumbleweed Inn, and later returning with a rifle and firing towards the females.

Chamber’s bond was set at $2 million and his preliminary hearing is scheduled for Dec. 7.

(Story by Patrice Bumstead, McKenzie County Farmer)

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