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Minnesota roundup: NW Minn. man gets 37 years for sexually assaulting two kids; Jury convicts 'mastermind' of motel shootings; 7 more stories

Brett Allen Goulet

CROOKSTON, Minn.—A Crookston man found guilty of sexually assaulting two young children in Polk County several years ago was sentenced to 37 years in prison Tuesday.

A judge handed down the sentence to Brett Allen Goulet, 34, who was charged in Polk County District Court with two felony counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. He faced 30 years in prison for each charge.

A trial ensued after a social worker interviewed two children Goulet knew. The 2014 interview revealed allegations that Goulet sexually assaulted the children in 2010 or 2011 in Climax, Minn., according to court documents. At the time, both children were younger than 12 years old.

Goulet pleaded not guilty to both charges after he was charged in November 2015, but a jury found him guilty last month.

Goulet must register as a sex offender.

Jury convicts 'mastermind' of 2 fatal motel shootings

ST. PAUL—He may not have pulled the trigger, but a jury determined a St. Paul man was guilty in the fatal shootings of two men at a Snelling Avenue motel last spring.

Ronald Lee Conway was found guilty of one count of aiding and abetting intentional second-degree murder and one count of aiding and abetting second-degree murder while committing a felony in the deaths of 30-year-old Nicholas Bennett Tousley and 23-year-old Dominique Charles Moss.

The fatal shootings took place March 22 at the Midway Motel after a dispute over drugs and money.

Plan for former ammunition plant land wins key approval

ARDEN HILLS, Minn.—The development plan for the former Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant — a 427-acre site in Arden Hills — now rests in the hands of the Metropolitan Council.

On Tuesday, the plan cleared a major hurdle with approval from the Ramsey County Board. The Arden Hills City Council had given the plan its OK last week.

If ratified by the Met Council, construction of roads, sewers and water lines is expected to begin in 2017.

The plan, which passed the county board on a 6-1 vote, calls for the project to include taller buildings and a slight density increase for the site.

Developers intend to convert the once-polluted site at the junction of Interstate 35W and U.S. 10 — now known as Rice Creek Commons — into a sustainable, walkable community with three distinct neighborhoods, thousands of new jobs, retail space and a network of parks and trails.

One of 3 suspects in purse snatching of elderly woman arrested

ST. PAUL—An 18-year-old St. Paul man charged with felony robbery is accused of snatching a purse from an elderly woman outside the Target store in West St. Paul last month.

Lawrence Terrance Renfroe was arrested on a probable cause warrant about 4 p.m. Monday and booked into the Dakota County jail about an hour later. Warrants have been issued for his alleged accomplices — two boys, ages 16 and 17 — who remained at large Tuesday, West St. Paul police Lt. Brian Sturgeon said.

Enhanced store surveillance photos of the three suspects that investigators distributed to neighboring police agencies, schools and the media following the Nov. 28 incident led to "a ton of tips" about who they are, Sturgeon said.

East Grand Forks mayor who helped rebuild town after 1997 flood retires

EAST GRAND FORKS, Minn.—The city of East Grand Forks hosted an event Tuesday afternoon to honor outgoing Mayor Lynn Stauss and City Council member Craig Buckalew, who both are retiring from city government.

Stauss served as mayor for 21 years and helped the city through the devastating Flood of 1997 and the city's rebuilding efforts.

Steve Gander will replace Stauss, who announced in July he would not seek re-election due to health reasons.

Buckalew, who serves the city's Third Ward, has sat on the council since 2006 and was council president from 2011 to 2014. Tim Riopelle, who ran for the seat unopposed, will take over.

Both Buckalew and Stauss attended their final City Council meeting Tuesday evening, where they were given plaques to commemorate their service.

Woman dies after truck hits deer, swerves into her lane

THIEF RIVER FALLS, Minn.—A Marshall County woman died after a truck hit a deer, crossed over into oncoming traffic and collided head-on with her vehicle Monday night near Thief River Falls.

Alexander Schmidt, 21, Thief River Falls, was westbound in a 2004 Ford truck on Minnesota Highway 1 about 2 miles east of Thief River Falls when he hit the deer at 8:09 p.m., according to the Minnesota State Patrol. Schmidt, who suffered non-life-threatening injuries, crossed the centerline of the highway before colliding with a 1995 Chevrolet Blazer driven by Sandra Swanson, 71, Gatzke, Minn., according to the report.

Both were taken at Sanford Hospital in Thief River Falls, where Swanson died. Both vehicles were totaled. Alcohol was not involved in the crash, authorities said.

Man, 73, injured in motorcycle crash dies month later

PEQUOT LAKES, Minn. --- A 73-year-old Pequot Lakes man, who was injured in a motorcycle crash last month, has died of his injuries.

Norman L. Armstrong died Wednesday night at Regency Hospital in Golden Valley, according to the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's office.

Armstrong was driving a motorcycle that struck another motorcycle about 1:45 p.m Nov. 6 on Highway 18, east of Brainerd. The other motorcyclist was John R. Johnson, 64, of Crosby.

According to the Minnesota State Patrol, Johnson was heading east on Highway 18 on his Harley Davidson motorcycle. Johnson was attempting to turn right into the parking lot of Oak Lawn Tavern, located at Trails End Lane, when the Harley Davidson motorcycle, driven by Armstrong, rear-ended his motorcycle.

Both Armstrong and Johnson were transported to North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale, where they were in critical condition. The state patrol reported Johnson suffered non-life-threatening injuries in the crash.

The state patrol reported Armstrong was not wearing a helmet. Johnson was wearing one.

Driver dies when pickup goes off road, hits tree

DEERWOOD, Minn. —The Minnesota State Patrol reported a driver died Monday after troopers responded to a crash on Highway 6 near Deerwood in north-central Minnesota..

The crash occurred at 4:08 p.m. Monday at the intersection of Highway 6 and County Road 133, northeast of Placid Lake.

A 2001 GMC pickup truck was traveling north on Highway 6 when it went off the road into the west ditch and crashed into a tree before coming to a stop.

The identity of the driver was not released Monday night.

The Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office assisted at the scene of the crash.

Canadian Snowbirds to join Blue Angels at 2017 Duluth Airshow

 (Forum News Service file photo)

DULUTH — It'll be a one-two punch of aerial acrobatic excellence at the 2017 Duluth Air and Aviation Expo.

Airshow organizers said Tuesday that the Canadian Forces Snowbirds will join the previously announced U.S. Navy's Blue Angels for the event, to be held June 3-4 at the Duluth International Airport.

"It's great news for airshow enthusiasts — they'll get to see two of the best aerial demonstrations for the price of one admission," Ryan Kern, president of the airshow, said in a news release. "It also speaks to what we've accomplished in Duluth. Our airshow has become known as one of the best in the country and the top performers want to be a part of our show."

Having two major demonstration teams perform at the same airshow will be a first for Duluth — and possibly for any airshow in Minnesota, organizers said.

The Snowbirds last performed at the Duluth Airshow in 2012, and the Blue Angels last performed in Duluth in 2014.

Additional performers for the 2017 Duluth Airshow will be announced soon, organizers said. Tickets and more information about the airshow are available at