1. Brenda Kartes' boss, ex sheds light on relationship

Fargo police have interviewed dozens of people in the ongoing death investigation of Brenda Kay Kartes who disappeared last summer.

One of the people interviewed is Steven Floyd Helm, a Minot, N.D., native living in Fargo, according to Detective Mike Lovejoy.

Helm, 41, told The Forum he met Kartes about a year before she went missing. Helm maintains he had nothing to do with her disappearance and death.

Helm owns an adult entertainment and exotic dancer business, Sinful Desires. He said someone referred Kartes to him for work and she first reached out to him on Facebook, where he recruits women for escort services, private events and parties.

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More from The Forum's Kim Hyatt and April Baumgarten

2. Largest oil companies in ND battle state over emissions

Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm, left, speaks on the global market impact of American Energy Renaissance with Edward Lewis Moore of Citigroup Inc. in May 2018 at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference. Tom Stromme / Bismarck Tribune
Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm, left, speaks on the global market impact of American Energy Renaissance with Edward Lewis Moore of Citigroup Inc. in May 2018 at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference. Tom Stromme / Bismarck Tribune

North Dakota's largest oil producer is fighting state regulators in court over what it sees as an overly strict reading of air pollution rules, which the state described as an effort to "weaken" those regulations.

Attorneys for the state and Oklahoma-based Continental Resources are scheduled to butt heads before the state Supreme Court Thursday, Sept. 5. The company is seeking to reverse a lower court decision dismissing its lawsuit against the North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality and is asking the justices to send the case back for further proceedings.

The legal spat pits the state against one of the flagship companies operating in North Dakota's oil patch. Continental Chairman and CEO Harold Hamm is seen as a pioneer of drilling technology that made North Dakota the country's No. 2 oil producer.

More from Forum News Service's John Hageman

3. Hundreds stay home after possible shooting threat

Empty spaces in a parking lot outside Fargo North High School Wednesday, Sept. 4, after nearly 300 students stayed home the day following an investigation into a report of a possible school shooting. Jordan Ryan / WDAY
Empty spaces in a parking lot outside Fargo North High School Wednesday, Sept. 4, after nearly 300 students stayed home the day following an investigation into a report of a possible school shooting. Jordan Ryan / WDAY


Nearly a third of the student body of Fargo North High School was absent Wednesday, Sept. 4, after parents received a warning from Fargo Public Schools about a possible school shooting threat.

According to the school district and police, administrators started to investigate a possible shooting threat Tuesday afternoon after a student reported a suspicious message carved into a desk that read “want to run away ... school shooting” followed by the date Sept. 4.

The school’s administration determined the threat was not credible after speaking with teachers and students, according to Fargo Public Schools spokesperson AnnMarie Campbell, who said the district was not able to share information on specific disciplinary action for any students.

Superintendent Rupak Gandhi said student interviews and locker searches were part of the investigation that helped officials rule out a credible threat.

More from WDAY's Hannah Schlosser

4. Bison QB on ESPN's Heisman watch list

North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance fires a pass over offensive lineman Karson Schoening against Butler at Target Field in Minneapolis on Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019. David Samson / The Forum
North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance fires a pass over offensive lineman Karson Schoening against Butler at Target Field in Minneapolis on Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019. David Samson / The Forum

For a football program that seemingly has accomplished everything at its level, North Dakota State keeps checking off "firsts."

The latest is one that is likely temporary, but noteworthy nevertheless.

Bison redshirt freshman Trey Lance is No. 10 on ESPN's initial Heisman Trophy Watch List for the 2019 season. Released Tuesday, Sept. 3, Lance is mentioned in the same stratosphere as Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts, Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence.

It's believed to be the first time a Bison player has made a watch list for the Heisman Trophy, awarded annually to the best player in college football. It is rare that a player from the Football Championship Subdivision is mentioned in connection with the Heisman.

More from The Forum's Mike McFeely

5. Region's first case in vaping-linked illness

These are just a few of the vaping devices confiscated from students at Duluth East High School in the fall of 2018. Photo / News Tribune
These are just a few of the vaping devices confiscated from students at Duluth East High School in the fall of 2018. Photo / News Tribune

Health officials across the Midwest and the nation are on alert to more evidence of what federal and state officials are calling an outbreak of a lung illness possibly linked to vaping.

North Dakota officials on Wednesday, Sept. 4, said they received a report of someone falling sick with breathing issues, potentially in connection with vaping. They're asking health care workers to be on the lookout for more cases.

The North Dakota case the latest in a raft of reports from 25 states, including Minnesota, that have reported more than 200 potential cases of severe respiratory illness possibly linked to the use of e-cigarettes. South Dakota has issued updates about the matter to its health care providers, but has yet to report a case in the state.

“As people call in with these reports, we will continue to gather data in an effort to find answers and linkages,” said Dr. Tracy Miller, state epidemiologist with the North Dakota Department of Health, in a Wednesday news release. “We’re working closely with the CDC on the national outbreak.”

More from Forum News Service's Jeremy Fugleberg