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Police arrested the alleged ringleader of a widespread Northland marijuana-growing operation last Thursday. And then they released him last Friday. Donald Foote, 40, of rural Duluth was arrested just before 10 a.m. in the 1700 block of Jefferson Street in Duluth after being stopped by a University of Minnesota Duluth officer, said Brad Wick, Duluth police information officer.
The Cloquet man who allegedly wielded a rifle in a threatening manner against a late-night snowplow driver accepted a plea agreement on Monday in Carlton County District Court. Mark David Lassila, 51, pleaded guilty to one count of terroristic threats and had one count of second-degree assault with a weapon dismissed. Although the charge of terroristic threats is a felony, Lassila will be sentenced as if it were a gross misdemeanor non-weapon offense under the plea agreement.
It may have been built as a residential home, but the home at 3757 County Road 11 in Barnum Township was uninhabitable, according to documents filed in Carlton County Court last week. "I was told the house was hollowed out and marijuana plants and growing equipment encompassed the entire home," said Michael Boese, assistant county attorney. On March 25, law enforcement officers from multiple agencies found an indoor hydroponic marijuana growing operation at the residence with 325 marijuana plants in various stages of growth and 2 pounds of the processed drug.
A very early fire season has had firefighters from all over Carlton County hopping. "We've had at least one or two fires a day for the last couple weeks," said Dan Grindy, area forestry supervisor for the Cloquet DNR office. In fact, as of Wednesday afternoon, he recorded 25 wildfires in the area between southern St. Louis and Carlton counties. One only needs to drive along Highway 210 from Carlton to Wright to see the after-effects of several of them. Burned patches can be seen alongside the road with one of the most recent fires to leave a mark along the corridor near Iverson.
A Cloquet man has taken plea agreements in two separate assault cases that occurred on the same day in late January. In the first case, Jay Jordan Houle, 20, pleaded guilty last week to third-degree felony assault and had charges of aggravated robbery and second-degree assault dismissed. In that incident, Houle was accused of assaulting someone who had come to his home to collect a debt. He allegedly wielded a knife, told the victim to give him money and ultimately hit the man over the head with a shovel, court documents said.
It takes a lot to get Cloquet resident Dave Berthiaume away from the environment where he's most comfortable. "I was born and raised in the woods," he said with a laugh this week. It was that love of the woods and his logging business, however, that got him on his first commercial plane ride to the beach in Hilton Head, S.C., last week. Berthiaume and his wife, Cindy, took the trip to be honored as the 2010 National Outstanding Logger by the Forest Resources Association. "It almost seems like [the trip] didn't happen," Dave said.
Scanlon officials came to the table last week to engage in talks that could result in their volunteer fire department joining the recently created Cloquet Area Fire District. "We are about as committed as we could be for one meeting," said Scanlon Mayor Jim Putnam last week. The meeting involved members of the Cloquet Area Fire District Board, Scanlon and Cloquet city officials and Scanlon volunteer firefighters. "We see things here that could be of immediate benefit even before we have a formal agreement," Putnam said.
A Kettle River man accused of assault after he found his wife with another man last November was sentenced Wednesday in Carlton County Court. In February, Kailo Alton Aho, 33, pleaded guilty to a reduced count of terroristic threats as part of a plea agreement. He had many charges dismissed including pistol possession without a permit, reckless handling of a firearm, carrying a pistol under the influence, fourth-degree driving while impaired, pointing a gun at a person, fifth-degree assault and fourth-degree criminal damage to property.
How in the world, or in this case, the state, has Cloquet been passed over time and time again when it comes to letting residents decide whether to establish a local city sales tax? Hermantown has a local sales tax through the Minnesota Department of Revenue, as does Proctor and Two Harbors. The city of Duluth somehow found a way to impose and administer its own local taxes. And those are just the cities in this area.
Last Wednesday Cloquet Mayor Bruce Ahlgren hand-delivered a resolution to state legislators in St. Paul seeking permission to put a city sales tax to a vote this fall during the General Election. It's an approach he, city councilors and administrators are hoping will catch the attention of legislators, who have not approved Cloquet's previous bids for the tax in the past decade. City officials actually gave up on the city sales tax several years ago after failing to get the nod from the state.