Your Friday News Brief: September 15

By: News Director Larissa Donovan

FEATURED PHOTO: Self-proclaimed water protectors walk with “Daughter Water Walker”–a creation by artist and songwriter Annie Humphrey, during a Minnesota Department of Commerce public hearing on Enbridge’s proposed Line 3 project in June. Photo by Larissa Donovan.

BEMIDJI—The Public Utilities Commission will hold public and evidentiary hearings on the certificate of need and route permit applications for the proposed Line 3 project. Earlier in the week, the Minnesota Department of Commerce released testimony stating that Minnesota’s future needs for oil are not expected to increase, and that Enbridge’s refineries are running near top capacity.

Marty Cobenais, board member of the NorthStar Sierra Club, says that this is just another step in the process.

Jennifer Smith, a representative of Enbridge, disagrees with the department of commerce’s testimony, and says that this project is necessary.

The next round of public hearings will begin on Tuesday, September 26 in Thief River Falls, and the meeting scheduled in Bemidji is set for Tuesday, October 17 at the Sanford Event Center.


BEMIDJI—A Bemidji woman was arrested Tuesday after months of selling drugs to a confidential informant.

LaFriniere, 44, courtesy of Beltrami County Jail.

Penny Marie LaFriniere, 44, made her first court appearance Thursday before Judge Melbye, where bail was set at $30,000 without conditions.

According to the criminal complaint, the Paul Bunyan Drug Task force used a confidential informant to make a series of controlled buys of meth amphetamine at LaFriniere’s home on the 8300 block of Thompson court in Bemidji.

From May to August, LaFriniere sold approximately 25 grams to the informant. At the end of August, LaFriniere gave a Mirandized statement to officers stating that she uses methamphetamine and sells some of it to a few people. LaFriniere is currently in custody at the Beltrami County Jail, and will make her next court appearance this Monday.


BEMIDJI—A Ponsford man was charged with a sex crime after a sting operation involving a Craigslist ad.

Lukas Devlen Fineday
Fineday, 20, courtesy of Beltrami County Jail.

According to the charges, 20-year-old Lukas Devlen Fineday is accused of having engaged in a sexually explicit conversation with a minor via electronic communications.

The criminal complaint states that Bureau of Criminal Apprehension agents responded to an ad earlier in September, which was labeled “young native” and indicated that they were “looking for any type of woman that’s down for anything.”

Agents responded to the ad, impersonating a 15-year-old girl. After a few days of online-chatting, Fineday requested that they meet for sex at the Super 8 motel in Bemidji. Fineday told the agent via text that he was stopping at Walmart prior to their meeting, and was arrested in the Walmart parking lot on September 10.

Fineday was released Tuesday on his own recognizances and cannot contact any juvenile girls under the age of 18. His next court appearance is September 25.


ITASCA COUNTY—The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has confirmed zebra mussels in North Star Lake in Itasca County. According to a release, a local resident contacted the DNR after finding zebra mussels when removing a dock and boat lift.

Zebra mussels are small, as seen in this comparison photo with an American quarter. Photo courtesy of the MN DNR.

DNR staff confirmed juvenile zebra mussels along the lakeshore and at the nearby public access. They confirmed adult zebra mussels several hundred feet south of the location of the initial report.

As boat owners begin taking boats and equipment out of the water for the season, the DNR reminds them to carefully check for aquatic invasive species and contact the DNR with any suspected new infestations. Look on the posts, wheels and underwater support bars of docks and lifts, as well as any parts of boats, pontoons and rafts that may have been submerged in water for an extended period.


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