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The Minot Police Department responded to investigate a suspicious fire yesterday...

    MINOT, ND - The Minot Police Department responded to investigate a suspicious fire after the scene was rendered safe by the Minot Fire Department. The call came in reporting a fire in apartment 211 at 511 36th Ave. NE in Minot, following an alarm at the apartment complex about 2pm yesterday.

    The Minot Fire Department and Fire Marshall found several items at the scene of the fire to be suspicious. Investigators from the Minot Police Department responded and investigated the incident.

    An attempt to locate was put out for a vehicle and possible suspect. A short time later, the vehicle was reported to be involved in a rollover crash in Ward County. The driver, 37-year old Janette Martin of Minot, was the person of interest in the fire and was detained by deputies.

    Martin was transported from the crash scene to Trinity Hospital for a possible medical issue. She was met by investigators and was subsequently arrested for Endangering by Fire, a class C felony.

    Officers say the residence in which the fire was set was rented by Martin and her husband.  Formal charges were not immediately filed.


     FARGO, N.D. (AP) - Federal authorities say a man accused in the November shooting death of another man on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation acted in self-defense.  U.S. Attorney Timothy Purdon says the investigation into the killing of 29-year-old Joel Sherman showed that homicide charges are not warranted.  Purdon would not say whether other charges are possible.
     Tribal prosecutors had filed reckless endangerment and assault charges against 31-year-old Justin Keplin following the November 27th shooting. The status of those charges is not clear and a Turtle Mountain tribal prosecutor was not immediately available for comment.
     Federal investigators say sworn statements from several witnesses who were at the scene show that Sherman first fired several rounds from his pistol and Keplin then returned fire.

     BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - The warden of the North Dakota State Penitentiary is quitting after managing the Bismarck prison for nearly four years.  The Bismarck Tribune reports that Robyn Schmalenberger's last day on the job is today. She submitted her resignation last Friday.
     Schmalenberger has worked in corrections for more than 20 years. She began as a probation officer and was involved in the organization of Fargo Drug Court in 2002 and the development of re-entry programs in Bismarck and Fargo in 2003.  Schmalenberger was promoted to state director of transitional facilities in 2007. She took over for Tim Schuetzle as warden in April 2010.
     Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation director Leann Bertsch says Schmalenberger guided the prison through a stressful time during a $64 million renovation project, which is mostly completed.


     FARGO, N.D. (AP) - A longtime public official in North Dakota's most populous county is facing domestic assault charges.  KFGO radio reports that Cass County Administrator Keith Berndt is charged in Moorhead, Minn., with two counts of misdemeanor domestic assault. Police say the alleged victim is a minor.  Berndt declined to comment Wednesday.
     The 53-year-old Berndt served as Cass County engineer for 19 years before he was promoted to county administrator three years ago.  Police say Berndt, who lives in Moorhead, has not been arrested. His first court appearance is scheduled for March 25th.  Berndt pleaded guilty in 2011 to a drunken driving charge. The agreement called for a suspended 90-day jail sentence and $585 in fines and fees.

     LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A judge has struck down a Nebraska law that allowed the Keystone XL oil pipeline to proceed through the state.  Lancaster County Judge Stephanie Stacy issued a ruling Wednesday that invalidated Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman's approval of the route. Stacy says the decision should have been made by the Nebraska Public Service Commission, which regulates pipelines and other utilities.
     The ruling could cause more delays in finishing the pipeline, which would carry oil from Canada to Texas refineries, but it's a win for Nebraska-based pipeline opponents. They've argued that Heineman exceeded his authority when he approved the route in January 2013.

     CROW AGENCY, Mont. (AP) - U.S. Senator Jon Tester says he'll use his new role as chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee to target wasteful spending, improve educational opportunities and promote job development on reservations.
     The Montana lawmaker visited the Crow Indian Reservation with fellow Democrat Senator John Walsh on Wednesday. The pair toured a Head Start education center after a breakfast meeting with tribal leaders.
     Tester says dysfunction within agencies overseeing the nation's 566 recognized tribes is draining money from crucial programs including health care and education. He also says too many bureaucratic roadblocks hinder tribes trying to become self-reliant, such as the Crow's attempts to increase coal mining.  But Tester says he'll tread carefully to avoid infringing on the sovereignty of West Coast tribes opposed to coal export terminals in Washington and Oregon.

     BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - The Federal Railroad Administration says inspectors in North Dakota have found more than 13,000 defects and have written 721 violations against BNSF Railway since 2006. Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp asked the agency for the data following a fiery oil train derailment in eastern North Dakota in December. Heitkamp says the area deserves increased focus due to its derailment history.

     BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - The U.S. Air Force is moving forward with its proposal to expand a bomber training site, most of which is over southeastern Montana. The Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday notified the state Department of Transportation that it was taking public comment through April 3rd on the proposed expansion of the Powder River Training Complex whose airspace would stretch about 300 miles between Billings and Bismarck.

     BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - Officials in Bismarck say load restrictions in city streets and alleys could begin within the next two to three weeks depending on weather conditions. Mark Berg with the city of Bismarck says contractors and truckers should plan on moving heavy loads before the restrictions go into effect. Berg says the restrictions will be lifted when roadbeds have stabilized enough to carry normal loads.


   (Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)


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