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Tuesday was the defense's turn to call witnesses, mainly trying to prove the alleged victim's lack of trustworthiness. The defense called two of Robert Briard's sons and three daughters-in-law to testify to the victim's need for attention, overactive thoughts and ability to lie. Ashley Briard, Robert Briard's son, testified that the Briards were a close family growing up, and described the victim as "outgoing. She always had to be in the front of everything.
After roughly nine hours of deliberation, the jury came back Wednesday afternoon to find Robert Briard not guilty of all criminal sexual conduct charges. Before the verdict was read, Judge Peter Irvine instructed the audience that this was "an emotional case for everyone but behave yourselves when the verdict is read. I expect you to act like adults." The courtroom was split with prosecution supporters on one side and the Briard family on the other. After the verdict was read, there were tears and hugging on both sides of the aisle.
During his tour of rural Minnesota cities, Sen. Tom Bakk stopped in Detroit Lakes Tuesday afternoon to speak to the city council. "He has been a true friend to rural Minnesota cities," Mayor Larry Buboltz said. Bakk, who chairs the senate tax committee, said that economic development and jobs happen to be his passion. The only way to get out a recession, he continued, is to give people jobs. Detroit Lakes is fortunate to have a good school system and have the Minnesota State Community and Technical College in town.
The Association of Minnesota Counties isn't happy. To right that, the organization is working to raise awareness and hopefully make some changes in legislation. Three years ago, the group redesigned the way state business should run.
Following suit with schools in the area, the city of Detroit Lakes has agreed to sign a three-year contract with Honeywell for the Instant Alert Plus System. "It got good references, and I think it's a good product," Police Chief Kel Keena said. The yearly $18,000 contract figures out to about $1.27 per person, for which the city will be footing the bill. Fire Chief Jeff Swanson said he is also talking to the three townships -- Detroit, Lake View and Erie -- the city covers for fire protection. "I think we'll find over time we will use it for more than just emergencies," Keena said.
Everyone knows recycling is good for the environment. That doesn't mean everyone takes part though. The county, and now the city, is trying to make it even easier to do so. "One of our goals as a county is to expand our recycling," Becker County Assessor Steve Skoog said. Skoog has taken on the duties of administrative head of environmental services, too. The county has 47 sheds scattered throughout the county and contracts with MinnKota to pick up recyclables at the sheds and take them to the facility on Highway 59 North.
Wanting to show off their new chef, The ClubHouse Hotel has teamed with the Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce to host the first Community Holiday Extravaganza. The extravaganza, which takes this place Tuesday, Dec. 16, will include music, drawings and food. "They (The ClubHouse) want to showcase their new Chef Nick and some of the foods and menu items," Chamber of Commerce President Kris Tovson said. Social hour with entertainment begins at 5:30 p.m., followed by hors d'oeuvres and drawings at 6:30.
Monday evening was an evening of celebration and recognition at the Frazee-Vergas School. First, Teachers of the Year Jason Reierson and Heidi Graham were recognized for their accomplishment. Then, board members LaRaye Anderson and Mike Heimenz were given gifts and plaques for their time served on the board. Both chose not to run for re-election this fall. Another note for the board to celebrate was the good news that the district insurance policy premiums have been reduced 14 percent, or $8,7000.
Becker County's snowmobile trail system is a good one, and staff is looking to incorporate more people into it. Chip Lohmeier, Becker County parks and recreation, met with the Public Works Committee Monday afternoon to request the use of land near the scenic overlook to get snowmobilers from Country Inn & Suites and Petro Plus onto the trail and Detroit Lake. "Our intension is to use it from East Shore Drive to just past the Lodge on the Lake parking lot and follow onto the lake," he said.
Of the nine applicants for the open alderman at large seat on the Detroit Lakes City Council, five will be going through the interview process next week. Madalyn Sukke, Doug Friendshuh and Dan Holzgrove, who all ran for city council positions in the November election, and Steve Przybilla and Terry Stallman have been selected. After resumes were submitted to the city, council members ranked the applicants and Mayor Larry Buboltz and City Administrator Bob Louiseau determined who the top candidates were. The candidates will now go through the interview process Dec.