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Security company seeks settlement in Dakota Access dispute

MANDAN, N.D. | A private security company accused of operating illegally in North Dakota during protests against the Dakota Access oil pipeline says it would be willing to pay fines to settle the legal dispute as long as it's not required to admit any wrongdoing.

North Dakota's Private Investigative and Security Board on Tuesday declined to immediately discuss the idea with an attorney and vice president for North Carolina-based TigerSwan but invited the company to submit its best settlement offer.

"I think the board would like to find a commonsense solution to this case that protects the public," board attorney Monte Rogneby said during a regular board meeting attended by TigerSwan attorney Lynn Boughey and Vice President Wesley Fricks.

The two implored the board to work toward settling the case that has dragged on for nearly a year.

"This is our company's tenth year of existence. We have never had an issue like this before," Fricks said.

Texas-based pipeline developer Energy Transfer Partners hired TigerSwan to handle security as construction crews laid pipe in North Dakota in 2016 and 2017 for the project heavily protested by environmentalists and Native American tribes.

The board sued TigerSwan last June, alleging that the company had operated without a license. TigerSwan says it provided consulting services to ETP that don't require a North Dakota license and that any investigative work occurred in North Carolina, outside the board's jurisdiction.

A judge in late April rejected the board's request to ban TigerSwan from the state but didn't rule on whether the company operated illegally, which would make it subject to fines.

Boughey on Tuesday said TigerSwan is willing pay as long as the board drops the case without requiring any admission of wrongdoing and licenses the company in the state.

"A denial here can be used against us in other states," said Boughey, noting that Louisiana regulators cited the company's problems in North Dakota in denying TigerSwan a license in that state last summer.

Rogneby declined to comment after the meeting on whether a settlement offer with no admission of wrongdoing would be acceptable to the board.

He said during the meeting that the board disagrees with the company's contention that it did not conduct any on-the-ground security work in North Dakota. He also said previous settlement offers from TigerSwan were not acceptable but did not elaborate.

Boughey expressed frustration with the board, saying he has made numerous attempts to start settlement negotiations that have gone nowhere.

"We want to be done, we want to be happy campers, we want to make peace with the state of North Dakota," he said in an interview.


Rollover crash kills 26-year-old man

MILLER | A 26-year-old man is dead after a one-vehicle crash in Hand County.

The Highway Patrol says the man's sport utility vehicle rolled in the ditch off state Highway 45, about 2 miles north of Miller.

The crash happened about 6:30 p.m. Monday. The man was later pronounced dead at a hospital in Miller. His name wasn't immediately released.

Air Force holding exercise in Northern Plains training area

BISMARCK, N.D. | The Air Force is holding another training session in the massive Powder River Training Complex over the Northern Plains.

The Combat Raider training is scheduled Tuesday through Thursday, with several types of aircraft. The military says there's the potential for loud noises associated with sonic booms.

The Federal Aviation Administration approved quadrupling the training airspace to 35,000 square miles in March 2015. The expanded complex over the Dakotas, Montana and Wyoming officially opened in September of that year, with large-scale exercises such as the one this week limited to 10 days per year.

The training complex is the largest over the continental U.S.

ICE officials arrest 78 in sweep

MINNEAPOLIS | Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have arrested 78 people in a five-state immigration sweep in the Midwest.

Officials say the arrests happened over six days. Iowa and Nebraska each saw 25 arrests, while there were 15 arrests in Minnesota, 10 in South Dakota and three in North Dakota.

ICE says the operation targeted those who have criminal records, are public safety threats or violated immigration laws.

Sixty-two of the people arrested had prior criminal convictions; 31 had illegally re-entered the United States after having been previously deported.

Most of the people arrested are from Mexico. The arrests also included people from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Kenya, the Ivory Coast and Sudan.

They will remain in ICE custody pending additional proceedings.

Man accused of sending child porn

BISMARCK, N.D. | A Bismarck man is accused of sending child pornography to 20 people.

The Bismarck Tribune reports that 50-year-old Curtis McGarvey is charged with 20 counts of promoting sexual performance by a minor, as well as one count of child neglect and one count of terrorizing. A judge on Monday set McGarvey's bond at $250,000.

The Burleigh County Sheriff's Department identified a number of social media accounts and email addresses involved in the incident and traced some of those accounts to McGarvey's residence and places of work.

Police say McGarvey is also connected to a bomb threat at a high school banquet.

Justin Vinje, McGarvey's attorney, says this client maintains his innocence. Vinje says McGarvey has lived in the community his whole life and "really has no record of any kind."

Regional Hospital earns EPA energy star award

Energy efficient practices at Rapid City Regional Hospital are getting spotlighted by the EPA.

On Tuesday, Regional Health announced its flagship hospital was awarded an energy star certification from the federal environment regulatory agency for voluntary clean energy initiatives.  

According to the EPA, "energy star" honorees use 35 percent less energy and generate 35 percent fewer greenhouse gasses than similar buildings.

Among the practices are upgrades to efficient LED power, "smart" lights activated when someone enters a room and campus-wide reductions to water consumption.

“We took these measures because we want to be good stewards of the planet, but the energy star certification is a very nice recognition of our efforts,” said Wes Paxton, Regional Health Vice President of Facilities Management.

A voluntary program started in 1992, the energy star distinction is credited with saving $430 billion on energy bills for American families and businesses, the EPA said in a statement.