1. New owners have plans of reopening ND ski resort closed for years

As a little boy, Bob Billing would go skiing at Fort Ransom's Bears Den Mountain, which was conveniently located next door to his grandparents' home, making pit stops for things like snacks and bathroom breaks a breeze.

The Bears Den closed several years ago when the family who owned it quit the business and no one could be found to take it on.

When it appeared this past fall that the property would be sold and turned into something other than a ski resort, Billing and his wife, Kara, joined with business partners Heidi and Mitch Hoenhause to buy it.

Mitch Hoenhause farms near Fort Ransom, a town about 85 miles southwest of Fargo. He said he learned to ski at the resort when he was 2 years old, and couldn't bear the thought of it going away.

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2. Sheriffs: Man impersonating officer stopped drivers near Hawley, Lake Park Minn.

Authorities are investigating two incidents on Monday night, Jan. 13, in which a man impersonating a law enforcement officer reportedly forced vehicles to pull over on rural roads in Becker and Clay counties.

According to Clay County Sheriff Mark Empting, a man claiming to be an officer pulled over a person near the intersection of 290th Street North and Junction Avenue about 5 miles east of Hawley Monday night .

It’s the second such incident reported on the same night, and on Tuesday, Empting had a message for the alleged cop impersonator.

"Stop doing it. Come and talk to us. ... We've got to get those lights out of the vehicle,” he said. "We don't want that person out there doing this. It's dangerous for our public and it's dangerous for that person, too."

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3. Crookston Diocese places Bemidji priest on administrative leave

Bryan Kujawa
Bryan Kujawa

A Bemidji priest has been placed on administrative leave for his conduct, including "boundary violations," the Catholic Diocese of Crookston announced in a statement.

Bishop Michael Hoeppner placed Father Bryan Kujawa on leave effective Tuesday, Jan. 14, after his fitness to be a priest was repeatedly called into question, the statement said.

Kujawa will remain on leave until the diocese has completed its investigation, conducted a professional assessment and gotten recommendations from its review board.

The move comes as Hoeppner faces a "vos estis lux mundi" investigation by the Vatican, a new church protocol instituted by Pope Francis in 2019 to address allegations of sexual misconduct. The bishop is the first to be investigated under the protocol for his alleged interference with an investigation into clerical sexual misconduct in the Crookston Diocese.

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4. Retired general: Soleimani's death 'justice' for slain ND soldiers

American Legion members Larry Lein, left, Major Gen. (retired) Mike Haugen and David Johnston fold the flag after removing it from a pole during a ceremony Wednesday, Jan 4, 2017, at the American Legion post building in downtown Fargo. Forum file photo.
American Legion members Larry Lein, left, Major Gen. (retired) Mike Haugen and David Johnston fold the flag after removing it from a pole during a ceremony Wednesday, Jan 4, 2017, at the American Legion post building in downtown Fargo. Forum file photo.

Mike Haugen, a retired major general who commanded North Dakota Air and Army National Guard forces in the early 2000s, said Tuesday, Jan. 14, that the death of Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, was an act of justice, not revenge.

Haugen said that based on Army intelligence he was privy to, at least four overseas deaths of North Dakota Guard members could be tied to Soleimani's involvement in supporting covert military actions in places like Iraq.

He said he remembers one soldier in particular who died from wounds caused by an improvised explosive device that detonated under an armored vehicle he was riding in.

Haugen said the soldier had taken added precautions, including outfitting the vehicle's floor with sandbags to help absorb any explosions they might encounter.

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5. Fargo-Moorhead Community Theatre plans to repair building

Fargo-Moorhead Community Theatre's building, The Stage at Island Park, was closed due to structural damage in December. C.S. Hagen / The Forum
Fargo-Moorhead Community Theatre's building, The Stage at Island Park, was closed due to structural damage in December. C.S. Hagen / The Forum

Despite structural issues that led the city of Fargo to deem The Stage at Island Park 'unsafe' in December, Fargo-Moorhead Community Theatre's home will remain standing.

“Please understand that we are not tearing down the building nor are we moving to a different location,” FMCT Executive Director Eloise Breikjern said in a press release, quelling rumors that the building would be torn down or abandoned. “The building is standing and we will be replacing the roof, trusses, and rafters, along with the catwalks. Our plan is to make improvements to the theatre building that will benefit the production value and your experience at the theatre.”

The Stage at Island Park, 333 Fourth St. S., suffered damage on Dec. 13 when a beam in the roof cracked. One day after the discovery, the city of Fargo deemed the building dangerous, requiring staff and all productions to vacate the building immediately.

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