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Minnesota briefs - Sept. 7 edition

Ironton man faces 35 sexual assault charges

BRAINERD, Minn. – A 30-year-old Ironton man faces 35 counts of criminal sexual conduct that allegedly took place at a Brainerd residence involving two minor children between 13 and 18 years old.

Andrew Mark Donnelly was summoned Monday and notified Tuesday, Aug. 29, of his first appearance at 8:30 a.m. Oct. 16 in a Crow Wing County District courtroom in Brainerd.

According to the probable cause document filed against Donnelly in district court, a Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office investigator was advised Feb. 17 of the sexual assault involving two minor children, who are referenced as Child 1 and Child 2 in the court document. Formal interviews with the two minor children were conducted with the Family Advocacy Center of Northern Minnesota in Bemidji on Feb. 20.

Donnelly faces 17 felony counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with penetration, with five of those counts with a victim between ages 13 and 15, and the other 12 counts with a victim under 16. The counts against the older victim include penetration, using force, having a significant relationship and multiple acts over time.

He also faces 10 felony counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct counts with the victim under 16; and four felony counts each of third- and fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct with a victim age 16-17.

Minn. tourism experiences uptick, survey says
  1. PAUL -- A post-summer survey shows an upward trend of Minnesota’s tourism business, the state’s tourism promotion office said.

Summer revenue was up for 42 percent of survey respondents and occupancy was up 35 percent, according to Explore Minnesota on Wednesday, Aug. 30. Meanwhile, 30 percent of respondents experienced a decrease in revenue and 31 percent said occupancy was down.

The hotel and motel sector reported decreased occupancy due to significant growth of new hotel rooms in the Twin Cities area, the tourism office said in its news release.

Minnesota resorts and campgrounds experienced stronger revenue and occupancy with more than 81 percent rating their current financial health as growing (27 percent) or stable, but positive (55 percent).

“Overall, it’s been a good summer and these results indicate that tourism is steady and contributes to Minnesota’s economy,” Explore Minnesota director/CEO John Edman said. “From big summer events and lakeside getaways to new hotels, there’s always something happening here. Minnesota is an appealing, close-to-home getaway for our core target markets and we continue to attract travelers from further away.”

The summer travel season in Minnesota accounts for 37 percent of annual expenditures that contribute to a $14.4 billion tourism economy.


Well-known northern Minnesota car dealer dies in motorcycle crash

HIBBING, Minn.  — A Hibbing native and well-known car dealer died when the motorcycle he was driving was struck by a car at 2:02 p.m. Tuesday in the intersection of Highway 37 and County Road 7 east of Hibbing.

Donald Hilligoss, 60, of Cohasset, was traveling westbound on Highway 37 on a 2007 Harley Davidson Touring Street Glide when a 2011 Hyundai Sonata being driven eastbound on Highway 37 by Niomi C. Boulanger, 19, of Eveleth, turned left in front of him in an attempt to go northbound on County Road 7, according to a Minnesota State Patrol (MSP) report.

Hilligoss was transported to St. Luke’s Hospital in Duluth for life-threatening injuries and later died. He was not wearing a helmet at the time of impact, according to the report.

Hilligoss II was owner of Ranger GM in Hibbing, Grand Rapids GM and Mike Motors of Minnesota based in Ely, and part-owner of Ford of Hibbing.

“He was the hardest working businessman,” said his father, Don Hilligoss. “He put in 60 to 70 hours per week on average, and was supported by 160 employees at his four dealerships.”

Boulanger was not injured. She was wearing a seatbelt and the airbag deployed in her car.

Alcohol was not involved and road conditions were dry at the time, according to the report.

MSP Public Information Officer Sgt. Neil Dickenson said Wednesday the incident is under investigation. Charges are pending, as further investigation is needed, he added.


Man dies in farming accident in Beltrami County

GRYGLA, Minn. -- A Grygla man was found dead Tuesday after a farming accident, according to the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office.

Ralph S. Lee, 80, had been cleaning the box of a farm truck used for hauling small grain when he became trapped in the truck’s chute and died, according to a news release. Deputies received a 911 call reporting Lee’s death at about 10:11 a.m. Tuesday and responded to the scene at the 43000 block of Moose River Road in Northwood Township, in the far northwest portion of Beltrami County.

The Beltrami County Coroner’s office completed an autopsy Wednesday and determined that Lee’s death was accidental.