1. Park severance

While former Fargo Park District Executive Director Joel Vettel received a severance package earlier this month after he resigned, another top park district official received a similar agreement last November.

Jennifer Satter, of Briarwood, who served as human resources director for the district, was given three months of severance pay and 79 hours of earned vacation time by the park board. She also received health insurance for the three months.

In documents obtained through an open records request, the six-page agreement she signed on Nov. 20 was meant to be "confidential," similar to what was in Vettel's severance package.

More from The Forum's Barry Amundson

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live

2. Abuse lawsuit

At a news conference Thursday, July 11, in Fargo, attorney Michael Bryant, left, holds up a photo of Father Michael Wight, who is accused of sexually abusing Kateri Marion of Belcourt, N.D., in 2016 while he was a priest at St. Ann's Catholic Church. Meagan Deanne / The Forum
At a news conference Thursday, July 11, in Fargo, attorney Michael Bryant, left, holds up a photo of Father Michael Wight, who is accused of sexually abusing Kateri Marion of Belcourt, N.D., in 2016 while he was a priest at St. Ann's Catholic Church. Meagan Deanne / The Forum

Kateri Marion said she felt abandoned by Catholic leaders when she reported that a priest at her church in Belcourt, N.D., sexually abused her three years ago.

"I can't tell you how scared I was when I came forward," she said Thursday during a news conference held at the law offices of O'Keeffe O'Brien Lyson Foss in Fargo. "When I came forward, they left me in despair to pick up the pieces myself."

The 33-year-old Belcourt woman has filed a civil suit in Cass County District Court against the priest, the Rev. Michael Wight, as well as the Catholic Diocese of Fargo and the Texas-based Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT), an order connected to the Diocese of Corpus Christi that lists Wight as a member.

Marion, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, said she was 30 years old when the alleged abuse happened. With attorneys at her side, Marion held back tears as she told her story, hoping she can inspire other victims to come forward with their stories.

More from The Forum's April Baumgarten

3. Fargo school boundary changes

The Fargo School District may need to adjust school boundary lines in coming years. A task force that will make recommendations to the school board has its last meeting Tuesday, June 4. Barry Amundson / The Forum
The Fargo School District may need to adjust school boundary lines in coming years. A task force that will make recommendations to the school board has its last meeting Tuesday, June 4. Barry Amundson / The Forum

Fargo School Board members came up with three possible options to address overcapacity issues in south Fargo during Thursday's board meeting: year-round schools, a creative space plan, or one of the proposed boundary changes.

Several solutions were taken off the table during the meeting, including using portable classrooms, expanding class and graduation sizes, adding on to existing schools as well as schools with two "shifts."

Due to increased growth in south Fargo, Discovery Middle School and Davies High School are expected to be at capacity in the next few years.

In June, a task force recommended choices for redrawing school boundaries; however, the board may adopt a different approach instead of voting on school boundaries. The board asked the administration to present general information about each option at the board's Aug. 13 meeting.

More from education reporter Emma Beyer, a Report For America corps member

4. Cats rescued from hot van

Fargo police community service officers rescue one of about 30 cats from inside a van parked in downtown Fargo on Thursday, July 11. Robin Huebner / The Forum
Fargo police community service officers rescue one of about 30 cats from inside a van parked in downtown Fargo on Thursday, July 11. Robin Huebner / The Forum

Police pulled about 30 cats and kittens out of a minivan in downtown Fargo Thursday and will be taking the animals to a local shelter.

Fargo police were called at 1:40 p.m. to deal with the cats left in a white Chrysler van in the parking lot of Romantix, 417 NP Ave., when it was over 80 degrees outside.

Sgt. Mike Bernier said the cats were removed for the sake of their welfare. He said the cats were panting and in distress in the 80-degree heat. A window of the van was slightly cracked, and it smelled heavily of cat urine.

Read more, plus video of the rescue

5. Life on the road

The Red River Valley Fair is a summer tradition for many, but for one Texas man, working fairs around the world is life.

Robert Benham — known to most as Smokey — has been traveling with the fair since he was 15. Now 80, he still remembers his first role 65 years ago, setting up milk bottles in concessions. Back then, he was paid $15 a week.

The entertainment circuit has taken the Georgia native around the globe. He spends most of the year on the road, away from his wife and two kids.

What's gotten him through the years on the road? "Seeing the kids smile," Smokey said.

Watch the story from WDAY's Matt Henson