Thursday, August 20, 2015

What do you think of SA Murphy's advice to the Foster County commissioners?

Foster County, ND State's Attorney Paul Murphy


The letter below is another example of State’s Attorney Paul Murphy's illegal advice, costing Foster County money once again.
Please understand that it was Mr. Murphy’s advice to former Commissioner Bill Bauer and the other commissioners that they proceed on the shop -- notwithstanding the law. He then repeated this advice to the current commissioners at the August 4, 2015, commission meeting.
Read the letter from Kelly Hagel's attorney and judge for yourself if Mr. Hagel has a case against Foster County.

If this case is filed and Mr. Hagel prevails (which we believe he shall), he will most likely be awarded attorney’s fees. Our question to you, the taxpayers of Foster County, is who should be responsible for these attorney’s fees?
Is it Foster County's insurance policy once again? Is it the commissioners, themselves? Is it the taxpayers of Foster County? Or, is it the person who seems the most responsible, the person behind the bad legal advice, who encouraged the commissioners to break the law – our very own State’s Attorney Paul Murphy.
We invite any and all comments regarding Mr. Hagel's claim. Agreeably, shortcuts in the law on the surface make for a less expensive process. In the long run, however, they may be the paved road to Hell for a small county’s finances.
We ask the community what you think of this claim, and do you agree that this problem rests solely on State’s Attorney Paul Murphy’s bad advice to go ahead and violate the law?!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Coffee with Dolly Footitt (A Centenarian)

Dolly Footitt is one of my favorite people in the world... a very dear friend who will turn 101 years old on October 4, 2015. No one can ever believe that Dolly is that age... and you can see why when you listen to her on this tape. The sparkle in her eye and her quick, funny comments let you know that you're dealing with someone whose mind is sharp and ready to have fun with you.
This spur-of-the-moment tape came about one day when I was having coffee with Dolly. She is well-known in our Carrington community for sharing her wonderful pies, cookies and doughnuts with friends who come to her house for coffee. She also shares her goodies with her church, the hospital, the fair, the neighborhood and various fundraisers in the community.

Lucky for me, Dolly and I became great friends, so I often go to her house for coffee, and we chat about all kinds of subjects that are interesting to us. I've often thought about recording some of our conversations and sharing them with our community, because I think people are really missing out if they don't know Dolly. In addition to enjoying her personality, you can imagine the great storehouse of knowledge about our area that she has to offer.
After Dolly got such a kick out of this spur-of-the-moment recording, I've decided (with her permission) to record more coffee visits with her to share with everyone. If you have any special questions that you would like to ask Dolly, please let me know, and I'll record her answers for you.
So, here's to having fun with Dolly and hearing the opinion of someone who has lived for over a century!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Result of Death Threats toward Foster County Recorder Lynelle Hoppe

Result of Death Threats toward Recorder Lynelle Hoppe

I personally appeared before the Foster County Commission on Tuesday, August 4, 2015, to discuss the death threats which were texted to a county cell phone about Recorder Lynelle Hoppe on June 4, 2015.   I was, and still am, concerned about what is being done to address this situation.

The seven or eight ex-employees, who were discussing or "joking" about ways to kill Recorder Hoppe, no longer work for Foster County.  However,  one of the texters still works at the courthouse in an office located on the floor above Recorder Hoppe.

One would think that the employee would have been disciplined in some way right after the messages with death threats were discovered.   However, after Sheriff Mattice made his report to State's Attorney Paul Murphy, nothing seemed to happen.  It was as if the event did not take place.

However, since the issue of texted death threats was  published in the Foster County Independent, and published on, I had had numerous inquiries from the public wanting to know the status of this investigation and/or prosecution.  

So, on July 8, 2015, I decided to write some letters to find out what was going on and to shed some light on this situation.

I had already written a letter to Joel Lemer, since Ms. Hesch is his secretary, and sent a copy to the North Dakota State University Extension Office, his employer, but had received no response from them.  Since I had been led to believe that Ms. Hesch was also an employee of North Dakota State University,  I wrote a letter to the legal counsel of NDSU.  I enclosed copies of the texted death threats, as well as a copy of my letter to Joel Lemer and the NDSU Extension office.

That letter eventually ended up in the office of the North Dakota State Attorney General who replied (on July 27, 2015) that Melanie Hesch was NOT an employee of NDSU, that she was an employee of Foster County.  Therefore, NDSU's policies have nothing to do with this situation and  that it needed to be taken care of locally. 

I also received a phone call from Governor Dalrymple's office and a letter from Representative Chet Pollert who expressed the same opinion as the Attorney General -- that the issue needed to be handled by the appropriate personnel in Foster County.

Then I received another letter from the State Attorney General's office.  This time they enclosed a "Letter of Concern" which had been written by Joel Lemer to Melanie Hesch on July 21, 2015 - over a month and a half since the death threats took place and almost two weeks after I wrote a letter to his boss, NDSU.  Mr. Lemer basically told Ms. Hesch that she could no longer text personal messages or use Facebook during office hours, that she would have to do that during her breaks.

Does anyone besides me think that is a rather weak consequence for texting death threats during office hours, or during any time, for that matter?!!

Since I did not receive any kind of response from the letters I wrote to State's Attorney Paul Murphy or the state's attorney to whom he had given the case, I decided to appear before the Foster County Commission to find out if the County was going to do anything at all about the death threats. 

After all, I think the public has every right to know the facts about this situation.  As county taxpayers, we are paying the salary of Melanie Hesch, an employee who was texting death threats during her office hours when she was supposedly working on county business for us.

Watch the video to see the reactions of the commissioners and State's Attorney Paul Murphy.  Also, the meeting was taped by DakTel, so you can see the entire meeting on Channel 17 at various times during this week.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Trees snapped and uprooted during last night's winds...

July 29, 2015 -- Trees snapped and uprooted during last night's winds... Fallen branches and debris along the streets of Carrington, ND....

We didn't have to go far this morning to see some intense damage from last night's high winds. Just across the street in Kelly Hagel's yard a tree was literally snapped in two. Luckily it landed away from his house! Down the street a large tree fell completely across the road, completely blocking traffic. By the time we drove by for a second look, a crew was already there with equipment to assess the situation and remove the tree. Foster County Emergency Manager Jess Earle tells me that she is out taking pictures and assessing damage all around the county. She will share those photos with us later.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Case Closes on State vs. Roger Schlotmann

After almost two years, (complaint filed October 31, 2013) the State and Roger Schlotman entered into  a plea agreement.  Former County Auditor Schlotman was formally charged after a preliminary hearing with three counts of misapplicaiton of entrusted property and two counts of criminal conspiracy. In the end Mr. Schlotman plead guilty to one count of a public servant refusing/failing to perform his duty --  with no fine and a reimbursement of the $900 in question plus $100 court costs. 

This case is a testament to prosecutorial misconduct.   Prosecutor Murray stalled and delayed this case for almost two years.  On the eve of trial, August 3, 2015, she played "Let's make a deal with Mr. Schlotman."  One's examination of the file shows that all the delays were caused by Ms. Murray's incompetence.  

Why the delay of bringing this case to trial? One can only speculate that Ms. Murray felt that  the lack of any hard evidence would be apparent to a Foster County jury.  

The best example of Ms. Murray's dilatory tactics can be found in HER motion for a change of venue.  She requested that the Court move the trial to Ramsey County because of the pretrial publicity (almost exclusively from this website).  Apparently, Ms. Murray failed to take any type of Constitutional law classes while attending law school.  Her motion for change of venue lacked any real legal authority since the 6th Amendment to the United States Constitution requires all criminal trials to occur in the district in which the offense is alleged to have occurred.

Ms. Murray engaged in a battle of attrition. Her numerous frivolous motions for continuances and her unsuccessful motion for change of venue and joinder of Commissioner Carr's case obviously cost Mr. Schlotman tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees.  

What was the final result?  As mentioned above, Former Auditor Schlottman has to repay the $900 that was authorized for payment by the commission and $100 in Court fees.

This website has repeatedly demanded that Ms. Murray disclose to the public her billable hours in this case and in the case of State vs. Carr.  To this date no such response has been provided by her.  Now that the case is closed, we intend to demand that Ms. Murray provide all of the billing records regarding this case.  Once those records are revealed, we believe that it will show the incompetence of the Foster County State's Attorney's office.

This entire case was initiated by our own State's Attorney Paul Murphy.  We taxpayers can thank Mr. Murphy for wasting all the taxpayers' money in this case.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Old Time Tractor Trek from Carrington to Bordulac

What a great idea... an old time tractor trek!  All kinds of awesome old tractors and their owners gathered at the City Park in Carrington, North Dakota.  Their destination?   To have a nice meal at the Bordulac Bar & Grill about 10 miles away...   

Trekking along a  pleasant country road on a beautiful sunny day with the goal of visiting with friends over a great meal...  What an outstanding way to spend the evening!  Simply delightful!

Although I didn't go on the trek, I had a huge amount of fun with my friend, Dolly Footitt.  We tried to park far enough away from the park so we could film everyone who drove by on the way to Bordulac.  Dolly was thrilled to see everyone waving at the camera.  For someone who is over a hundred years old, she gets the biggest kick out of such small pleasantries. That's probably why she is the wonderfully positive person that she is!  I hope all the trekkers saw Dolly waving back at them!

I wish the faces of all the trekkers showed up better on the video.  However, because of the evening shadows, the twilight, the position of the camera, etc., most of them aren't that recognizable.  I'll try to do better next year!

Putnam House Summer Concerts

Alison Schumann Singing "Black Horse in a Cherry Tree"

This summer the Putnam House is featuring local singers in a Summer Concert Series. The first performance took place on June 30, 2015, with singers Brian Duursma, Dillon Boehmer and Alison Schumann. Although the skies were overcast, and it even sprinkled a little, the community brought out lawn chairs, blankets, kids and dogs to enjoy the show.

We're looking forward to more concerts at Putnam House this summer!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

CONGRATULATIONS to Josh Dreher! Our New Foster County Commissioner

Foster County Commissioner Josh Dreher and Commission Chairman Jim Carr

CONGRATULATIONS to Josh Dreher! Our New Foster County Commissioner
The Foster County Commission had a special meeting today, July 9, 2015, at the Carrington Courthouse to appoint a new commissioner to the seat vacated by Bill Bauer. Chairman Jim Carr officiated at the meeting and Commissioner Pat Copenhaven attended telephonically. Carr moved to appoint Josh Dreher as the new commissioner, and Copenhaven seconded the motion. 

Commissioner Dreher will be seated at the Commissioner's table at the next meeting of the commission on July 21, 2015. Congratulations, Josh! We look forward to having you as a commissioner!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Retirement Party for Foster County Commissioner Bill Bauer

On Thursday, June 25, 2015, well-wishers gathered at the Foster County Courthouse for Commission Chairman Bill Bauer's retirement party. While people took pictures for keepsakes, I decided to take pictures for the Foster County community and Carrington News viewers. I think it's important to recognize and appreciate the people who serve us at the courthouse, so this was a great time to get their pictures.
Before the party started, Bill was having what I would call a "policy" meeting with some of the personnel who work at the courthouse. It was a privilege to witness the positive way they focused on items that needed to be addressed. One could see from Bill's leadership at this meeting, why he is considered to have been such a good commission chairman and why he is going to be missed.
We want Bill to know how much we have appreciated his service and leadership, and that we wish him a happy and healthy retirement from the commission.

Thursday, June 18, 2015


Bill Bauer Submitted His Resignation to the Foster County Commission
At the June 16, 2015, Foster County Commissioners Meeting, the current commissioners voted to give all qualified Foster County residents a chance to become the next commissioner.

As you know, and sad to report, Chairman Bill Bauer has recently had to resign his position because of serious health issues, The community is lucky that Bauer has served this long, because since his election in Novermber, 2014, Commissioner Bauer has managed to help straighten out many of the problems which were taking place at the Courthouse. Commissioner Jim Carr expressed his appreciation for Bauer's exceptional service and asked if he could possibly stay until November. Bauer explained that he would like to stay on, but his doctor has encouraged him to resign because of recent health issues, and his family agrees that he should resign and focus on getting well.

After some discussion about how to choose the next Foster County commissioner, Jim Carr and Pat Copenhaver voted to let community members who are interested and qualified have a chance to serve as commissioner until the next election. All a person has to do is submit an up-to-date resume giving their qualifications for the position and turn it in to Auditor Casey Cables' office at the courthouse. The commissioners will review the resumes, make a decision, and announce the person of their choice as soon as possible.

As Jim Carr expressed, this method takes away the stress of the present commissioners trying to find a qualified candidate,and talk them into taking the job. This way, they will know that the applicants are truly interested in being a commissioner.... without someone pressing them take the position.

So, if you are truly interested in becoming a Foster County commissoner, here's your chance! More details about how to apply for this position will be posted in the next Foster County Independent.

NOTE: As someone who has applied for professional jobs and has served on hiring committees, I would like to suggest that you attach a personal letter to your resume, explaining why you would like to be a Foster County Commissioner. I don't know if the commission will ask for that, but it's an excellent thing to do. (Just be sure to have someone proofread it for you.) Express some of your personal values and tell what you would like to accomplish for the community. And... best wishes to you! ~Judy Keller