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5 things to know today: Seeking answers, New mayor, Oil royalties, Overdose deaths, Pipeline dispute

A rundown of some of the best stories found on Inforum.

Diana DeCoteau of Belcourt, N.D., talks Friday, Feb. 5, in Fargo about her brother Luke LaDucer who died in the Cass County Jail. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

1. Family of man who died in Cass County Jail cell seeks answers

Ever since Luke Michael Laducer died last year in a cell at the Cass County Jail, his family has been asking a lot of questions, including why medical staff cleared him to go to jail after he told 911 dispatchers he was suicidal before he was found by police intoxicated in his blood-smeared apartment.

His sisters feel those questions have not been answered.

“Somebody dropped the ball,” Laducer’s sister, Diana DeCoteau, said in a recent interview with The Forum. “Nobody should die like that.”

Read more from The Forum's April Baumgarten

2. Moorhead City Council member Shelly Carlson sworn in as mayor


Shelly Carlson tearfully accepts the appointment of Mayor Pro Tem on Monday, Feb. 8, during the Moorhead City Council meeting. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

Moorhead Mayor Johnathan Judd is resigning to take up his new job as a Minnesota District Court judge.

The Moorhead City Council unanimously voted to appoint one of its members, Shelly Carlson, as Judd's replacement Monday evening, Feb. 8.

On Jan. 25, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced Judd's appointment as a judge in the Seventh Judicial District to replace Judge Barbara Hanson, who retired. Like Hanson, Judd will be chambered in Fergus Falls in Otter Tail County.

Read more from The Forum's Dave Olson

3. Bill takes aim at disputes between North Dakota royalty owners and oil companies

An oil well pumps at sunrise in western North Dakota's Bakken Formation. Forum News Service file photo

A group of North Dakota Republicans has proposed a bill that would force oil companies to pony up millions of dollars to royalty owners who believe they've been hoodwinked.


At the heart of Senate Bill 2217 lies a longstanding and oft-litigated conflict over the way oil firms pay out royalties. The companies say they're allowed to deduct from royalty checks the costs of removing impurities and transporting oil and gas, but mineral owners argue they never agreed to that practice in the contracts they signed.

The bill, brought by Williston Republican Sen. Brad Bekkedahl, would prohibit companies from subtracting the post-production costs unless the deduction is explicitly mentioned in the contract. The proposal also would prevent firms from passing financial losses on the natural gas side of the ledger to the mineral owners.

Read more from Forum News Service's Jeremy Turley

4. Meth outpaces opioids as leading cause of overdose deaths in Fargo area

city commission meeting Feb. 8 2021
Robyn Litke Sall, substance abuse prevention coordinator for Fargo Cass Public Health, speaks to the Fargo City Commission on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. David Olson/The Forum

Drug overdose deaths in Cass County have been on the rise since 2018, and the total number of fatal meth overdoses in 2020 eclipsed the total number of fatal opioid overdoses in 2016, a year notorious for the number of lives lost to opioid addiction.

Comparing the 42 fatal meth overdoses in 2020 to the 31 fatal opioid overdoses in 2016, Robyn Litke Sall, substance abuse prevention coordinator for Fargo Cass Public Health, said she believes the community is "on the cusp" of an even greater fatal drug problem for which there are very few solutions.

She said that is because, unlike opioids, there is no chemical antidote people can use to reverse a meth overdose.


Read more

5. Celebrities, activists urge Biden to shut down Dakota Access pipeline

Protests over the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline grabbed the world's attention in late 2016. File photo / Forum News Service

Aaron Rodgers. Jane Fonda. Don Cheadle. Kerry Washington. Dave Matthews. Robert Downey Jr.

What do these people have in common? They all are calling on President Joe Biden to shut down the Dakota Access pipeline.

In a letter released Monday, Feb. 8, more than 200 climate activists, Indigenous leaders and celebrities urged the Biden administration to shut down the Dakota Access pipeline during a court-ordered environmental review of its effects on the land near the Standing Rock Reservation.

Read more from Forum News Service's Michelle Griffith

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