From the Forum Communications News Bureau


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Man's life sentence upheld

WILLMAR, Minn. -- The state Court of Appeals has affirmed a 53-year-old Willmar man's conviction of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and his life prison sentence for sexually assaulting a woman in July 2010 in an alley near the Willmar Eagles Club.

In an unpublished opinion issued Tuesday, the appeals court affirmed the conviction of Jose Santoya Juarez.

Juarez was indicted by a grand jury on four counts -- attempted first-degree criminal sexual conduct, second-degree criminal sexual conduct, kidnapping and third-degree assault -- for the July 27, 2010, attack. He waived his right to a jury trial and was found guilty of all four counts by District Judge Kathryn N. Smith in Kandiyohi County District Court.

Smith sentenced Juarez in October 2011 to life in prison based on Juarez's prior conviction for criminal sexual conduct in 1997 and because he removed his victim 209 feet into a small, narrow alley before assaulting her. Those two factors constituted the "heinous element" required by the state to justify a life sentence.

The appeals court ruled that Juarez's constitutional rights were not violated and that the district judge did not err.


Free stage combat class Saturday

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. -- Here's your chance to find out how actors manage to make those fight scenes look so real, yet walk away without a scratch -- through hands-on experience.

Professional actor, fight choreographer and teacher Aaron Preusse will be in Detroit Lakes on Saturday to offer a free class on Stage Combat Techniques at the Detroit Lakes Community & Cultural Center from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Hosted by the Historic Holmes Theatre, the class is being offered free of charge -- through an artist initiative grant that Preusse received from the Minnesota State Arts Board this past year.

To register for the class, e-mail Holmes Theatre director Amy Stearns, or call the theater box office at 218-844-7469.


Elevator suffers heavy fire damage

HALLOCK, Minn. -- A Minnesota fire marshal will be in Hallock today to investigate the cause of a fire that heavily damaged the Hallock Co-op Elevator.

Dozens of volunteers from seven fire departments battled the blaze for more than four hours in freezing temperatures after the fire was reported at about 10:46 a.m. Monday.

The fire was brought under control by about 3 p.m., according to Kittson County Sheriff Kenny Hultgren.

"The elevator resembles an ice castle today," Hultgren said Tuesday morning.


Concordia to host clean energy public forum

MOORHEAD, Minn. - Concordia College will host "Clean Energy, Climate and Health," a public forum with polar explorer Will Steger and Fresh Energy's J. Drake Hamilton at 7 p.m. Nov. 26 in the Centrum, Knutson Campus Center. The event is free and open to the public.

Steger will present his firsthand account of climate change along with photographs from his expeditions. Hamilton, science policy director at Fresh Energy, will describe effective clean energy and clean air solutions that benefit the economy. Light refreshments will be served.

For more information, contact the Office of Cultural Events at (218) 299-4366.


Man found pinned under tractor

DULUTH -- The body of an 81-year-old man was found Tuesday morning pinned under a tipped-over tractor near his property in Lakewood Township of St. Louis County.

About 7:15 a.m., a neighbor discovered the body of Lawrence Edwin Arnold, who apparently had been pulling trees and cutting wood across from home Monday. According to the St. Louis County Sheriff's Office, the tractor accident occurred between 2 p.m. Monday and 7:13 a.m. Tuesday on the property at 4953 Parkview Road, according to the report.

Arnold's body was found pinned under the seat of the Allis Chalmers tractor.


Fire destroys 7 buses

PIPESTONE, Minn. -- A fire that ravaged the Priester Bus Service garage in Pipestone Monday afternoon and destroyed seven of the fleet's 11 buses has left the business' owner, Jerry Priester thankful for so many things.

He's thankful that no one was injured in the blaze, he's appreciative to the firefighters for their quick response and he's glad that while six of the seven busses lost were refueled that morning, the nearby fuel tanks were completely empty. They were slated to be refilled that afternoon.

The three-alarm fire was reported at 1:21 p.m. Monday when a passerby noticed flames coming from the bus garage, located U.S. Highway 75 near the intersection of Minnesota Highway 23.

Firefighters remained on the scene for approximately four hours Monday, and the State Fire Marshal spent much of Tuesday on the scene. The preliminary investigation points to an electrical fire, but the investigation is continuing.


North Dakota

GF mall to open early for holiday shopping

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Columbia Mall in Grand Forks will open at midnight on Black Friday to accommodate early shoppers, mall management said Tuesday.

This is the first time the mall has scheduled a midnight opening for the day-after-Thanksgiving sales, General Manager Bill Reid said in a news release. "Shoppers have indicated that this is becoming a new tradition, as much a family event as Thanksgiving dinner."

Some Columbia Mall stores may have different opening times. Shoppers should visit individual store websites for Black Friday hours, the release said. Shoppers can get a free cup of coffee and a doughnut starting at 5 a.m. in the JCPenney court, while supplies last.

The mall will be open until 9 p.m. Black Friday.

Another student confirmed with TB

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- A second case of tuberculosis at Phoenix Elementary School was confirmed Tuesday as staff and students lined the school's hallway to get tested.

The child is a family member of the first Phoenix student diagnosed with tuberculosis last week. Another child, which shares the same household, has also been diagnosed with the potentially lethal infection, according to the North Dakota Department of Health.

All three children are under the age of 10 and health officials cannot say if the children are siblings or not.

The most recent student who contracted TB did not did receive it from the school, and the third child does not attend school. The total number of active cases since the October outbreak has now risen to 10.

Tuberculosis, or TB, is a bacterial infection that traditionally attacks the lungs but can spread to other parts of the body, including the kidneys and brain, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms include coughing, unexplained weight loss and night sweats.