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OUT WEST ROUNDUP | Smallest North Dakota city to double in population — to 4

Author: Associated Press - September 14, 2018 - Updated: September 27, 2018

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This undated photo shows the old jail at the center of Ruso, North Dakota. The state’s smallest incorporated city is rebounding after the death of its longtime mayor. On the verge of collapse, the community expects to soon experience a doubling of its population, from two residents to four. (Kim Fundingsland/Minot Daily News via AP)

NORTH DAKOTA

State’s smallest city to double in population — to 4

RUSO, N.D. — North Dakota’s smallest incorporated city was on the verge of dissolving after the death of its longtime mayor. But now it’s rebounding, with expectations to double its population — from two residents to four.

The McLean County community of Ruso was on the verge of disincorporation when its population dropped following the July death of 86-year-old Bruce Lorenz. It takes a minimum of three residents for a community to be incorporated, according to the North Dakota Century Code.

“We want to keep it going for Bruce’s sake,” Laurinda Roloson, the city’s auditor and one of Ruso’s two remaining residents, told the Minot Daily News. Her husband, Terry Roloson, is the other Ruso resident.

The city discovered that Greg Schmaltz qualifies as a resident because he has a Ruso mailbox and makes daily checks on his horses and chickens on land within city limits. Schmaltz and his wife, Michelle, currently live in Velva but plan to move later this year to Ruso, where they have a residence under construction.

Ruso was first incorporated in 1909, and it had a population of 141 a year later. The city’s population dwindled when its last remaining business, the grain elevator, took its last load in 1956.

Schmaltz hopes others will follow him to Ruso.

“Other people have expressed interest in moving out there. We don’t want things to slow down,” he said. “I’m about preserving what little is left of Ruso. I’m proud of being out there.”

WYOMING

Friess decides against governor write-in campaign

CHEYENNE — A wealthy national Republican donor has decided not to run a write-in campaign for Wyoming governor after waging a hard-fought primary battle and finishing runner-up to a candidate with deeper roots in state politics.

Top state Republicans, including one who once lost a governor’s race to a Democrat, talked him out of the idea, Foster Friess said after a GOP unity breakfast.

“I was kind of moving in that direction, but I think they kind of sealed the bid,” Friess said.

In an email to state Republican officials the day after losing to State Treasurer Mark Gordon, Friess complained that Democrats registering as Republicans influenced the outcome of the Republican gubernatorial primary. Friess copied in four of the five other Republican candidates but not Gordon, suggesting whom he thought benefited from Democratic crossover.

Voters may register at the polls in Wyoming, an allowance that encourages Democrats to register at the last minute as Republicans when a GOP primary is more hotly contested than the Democratic one. That was very much the case in the primary, when four of the six GOP candidates were serious contenders, but just one of four candidates in the Democratic primary, Mary Throne, ran a statewide campaign.

A write-in campaign by Friess would have siphoned votes away from Gordon and boosted Throne’s chances in the November general election. As was the case in the primary, money would have been no object for Friess, a multimillionaire investor who over the years has backed dozens of GOP candidates including Rick Santorum for president.

Friess and Gordon appeared to have made amends, embracing and chatting amiably in front of reporters.

Throne, an energy industry attorney and former Wyoming House minority leader, faces tough odds in one of the reddest states, but Democrats have held Wyoming’s top office more often than not over the past 60 years.

IDAHO

Feds deny liability after boy is sprayed by cyanide trap

BOISE — The U.S. government said an Idaho family is to blame for any injuries it alleges a boy received after he was doused with cyanide by a predator-killing trap that a federal worker mistakenly placed near their home.

Any injuries were caused by the negligence of the parents and child, the U.S. Department of Justice said in documents filed in U.S. District Court, and asked for the family’s lawsuit to be dismissed.

Mark and Theresa Mansfield of Pocatello sued in June seeking more than $75,000 in damages and more than $75,000 for pain and suffering.

They say their son, Canyon Mansfield, was playing with his dog in March 2017 when the then-14-year-old triggered the trap that the U.S. Department of Agriculture placed to kill coyotes. The dog died, and the teen still has headaches from the poison, the lawsuit said.

The devices, called M-44s, are embedded in the ground and look like lawn sprinklers but spray cyanide when they are set off. They are meant to protect livestock but sometimes kill pets and injure people.

The lawsuit describes the boy encountering the device and says he thought it looked like a sprinkler head.

“When he reached down and touched the pipe, it exploded with a loud bang, knocking CM to the ground and spewing an orange powdery substance,” the lawsuit says.

The Justice Department throughout its response disputes that there was an explosion, noting that M-44s are spring-activated and contain no explosive material.

Reed Larsen, an attorney for the Mansfields, didn’t return calls left his office and his cellphone.

In a separate but related lawsuit by environmental and animal welfare groups, U.S. officials in March agreed to complete a study on how two predator-killing poisons could be affecting federally protected species.

NEW MEXICO

State wants to review church files for sex abuse

LAS CRUCES, N.M. — The New Mexico attorney general’s office wants Roman Catholic church officials around the state to allow it to review personnel records for any material that might be related to past or present allegations of sexual abuse.

The Diocese of Las Cruces said it received a letter from the office requesting the review and will cooperate.

“Having an independent authority reviewing our files can foster greater confidence in the transparency and accountability of the Diocese of Las Cruces,” Bishop Oscar Cantu said in a statement.

Letters were also sent to the Santa Fe Archdiocese and the diocese in Gallup requesting “full disclosure and transparency,” agency spokesman David Carl said.

“The Catholic Church in New Mexico needs to fully reconcile and support survivors by revealing the magnitude of sexual abuse and subsequent cover-up by church leaders in order to restore faith and trust in the community,” Carl said.

The move to review the documents in New Mexico follows a recent grand jury report that said more than 300 Catholic priests abused at least 1,000 children over the past seven decades in six Pennsylvania dioceses. The report said senior figures in the church hierarchy systematically covered up complaints.

An Albuquerque law firm that has represented survivors of clerical sexual abuse requested that Attorney General Hector Balderas follow the lead of prosecutors in Pennsylvania and impanel a grand jury to investigate possible child sexual abuse by clergy in New Mexico.

The Pennsylvania grand jury report determined that Roman Catholic bishops in that state for decades sent clergymen accused of sexual abuse to Servants of the Paraclete, a treatment center in New Mexico, using it as a “laundry” to recycle priests so they could return to their home parishes.

Many of the priests who came to New Mexico for treatment were later assigned to parishes across New Mexico and Arizona where they continued to abuse children, according to various lawsuits. The treatment center closed in 1995.

New Mexico has a plan for re-establishing bighorn sheep

ALAMOGORDO, N.M. — New Mexico wildlife managers are considering a proposal to re-establish desert bighorn sheep in another mountain range in southern New Mexico.

The plan calls for translocating sheep in the Sacramento Mountains in the fall. The state Department of Game and Fish is seeking public comment on the proposal and has scheduled a public meeting in Alamogordo.

The agency says the species has been absent from the Sacramento Mountains for nearly a century.

Desert bighorn sheep were placed on New Mexico’s endangered species list in 1980. Numerous agencies, private landowners, sportsmen’s groups and others worked for three decades to recover the species and it was removed from the list in 2011.

Department estimates put the population at roughly 1,000 to 1,200 statewide.

Associated Press

Associated Press