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Port: Court filings allege years of domestic violence by expelled former ND lawmaker

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Port: Court filings allege years of domestic violence by expelled former ND lawmaker


MINOT — On March 4, 2021, the North Dakota House of Representatives stopped its busy legislative schedule to consider harassment accusations against state Rep. Luke Simons of Dickinson.

The claims against Simons spanned years and included not just staff at the Bismarck Capitol and news media members but also some of his fellow lawmakers, such as Grand Forks Rep. Emily O’Brien and Casselton Rep. Brandy Pyle, both Republicans. Ultimately, the House made the unprecedented move of

voting to expel Simons,

something that had never happened before in state history.

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That expulsion has become one of the fault lines in the North Dakota Republican Party, dividing traditional conservatives from an ascendant faction of MAGA populists closely aligned with former President Donald Trump.

Many outspoken members of the populist faction — including former lawmaker Rick Becker, who is currently seeking election to the U.S. House of Representatives and opposed Simons’ expulsion during floor debate in 2021 — have claimed that Simons was removed improperly and wasn’t afforded due process.

Now Simons, who has stayed active in politics, including providing

a recent defense of a Williston-area Republican lawmaker

who has refused to resign after berating law enforcement officers with homophobic slurs during a DUI arrest, is accused of a years-long history of mental and physical abuse against his wife and children. That’s according to court documents in a divorce proceeding his wife filed in June 2023. The filings, in which she is the plaintiff, indicate that the two have been separated since October 2021.

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Forum Communications Company does not typically name the survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence.

“Throughout our marriage, Luke has a history of assaulting myself and our children,” states a declaration filed in the case by the plaintiff on March 1, 2024. “Social service reports exist that document Luke has beat our children with a 2×4, extension cords, and also used a crowbar for spankings. He has run into me with a 4 wheeler, attacked me until I was on the floor, punched my nose and broke my glasses and phone.”

“Luke punched the walls of our home and choked me until I passed out,” the declaration continues. “We have been separated following a significant domestic violence incident in October 2021, in which Luke assaulted me and bit one of our daughters, requiring the intervention of Luke’s father and our church.”

The filing includes photos of the bite wound. The plaintiff alleges that Simons bit another of their children after becoming frustrated while teaching that child to drive.

One exhibit in the case is a testimonial from Simons’ wife dated November 2021, just months after Luke Simons’ expulsion from the Legislature. Titled “My Story,” it contains allegations of abuse by Luke Simons against his wife dating back to their wedding night in 1999.

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Describing it as “such a happy, scary, time for a young lady,” the plaintiff indicates that she “did something wrong or said something wrong and made him upset” at which point “he pushed me out of bed and I slept on the floor” with “no clothes and no blankets.”

She also alleges that Luke raped her in the basement of his parent’s home after a Wednesday church meeting, and that he perpetrated physical abuse against her — everything from kicks to punches to choking and slaps — during the more than 18 years they lived together on their ranch. “I found out that chains really hurt and even leave chain shaped bruises,” she wrote.

She claims that Luke accused her of being deficient in her “Bible studies” because she was “missing the part about wives being submissive to their husbands.” She says Luke claims she was talking “with a bad attitude just like liberal Democrats.”

Under a section of the document titled “Reasons to get away,” the plaintiff wrote, “I don’t remember the last time I felt 100% safe and secure in my own home.” She also wrote that she wants to “get away from Luke and his weird ideas about women and girls and their proper place.”

In his own court filings, Luke Simons doesn’t dispute that abuse occurred in the marriage.

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“Plaintiff alleges Defendant was abusive throughout the parties’ entire relationship,” a pre-trial brief filed by Luke Simons’s legal counsel states. “Defendant does not deny that abuse occurred but does deny that it occurred to the extent Plaintiff claims. He admits that he has made mistakes in the past and has sought counseling to overcome his issues.”

At least one member of Simons’ own family also acknowledges that abuse occurred in the relationship. One of the exhibits in the plaintiff’s filings is a text message sent by Ben Simons, brother to Luke Simons, to the couple’s children in which he refers to “wrong” perpetrated by his brother even as he opposes the divorce.

“Your mom is still proceeding with divorcing your dad,” he wrote in the Aug. 10, 2023, text. “There is not one spiritual leader in her life that has condoned this. Your mom is being wrong. I know your dad has been very wrong for a lot of your growing up years but now it’s your mom that is in the wrong.”

“I wished so bad that your whole family would’ve not covered up the wrong that your dad did and maybe your family could’ve been helped sooner,” Ben Simons, a former Republican candidate for the Legislature, continued. “I was so mad at your dad when I found out, I couldn’t even talk to him. Now I don’t want to cover up what wrong your mom is doing.”

I sent a list of questions to Jamie Haynes, attorney for Luke Simons in this proceeding. I asked him which specific allegations of abuse Luke Simons denies.

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Haynes told me his client declined to answer. “This is a private family matter that involves children. Luke won’t defend himself. He loves his family and hopes that this can be reconciled in the future.”

Sandra Kuntz, an attorney who is representing the plaintiff in these proceedings, declined to comment on behalf of her client.





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North Dakota Outdoors: Chronic wasting disease fatal if left unchecked

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North Dakota Outdoors: Chronic wasting disease fatal  if left unchecked


Submitted Photo
Chronic wasting disease is a fatal disease of deer, moose and elk that can cause long-term population declines if left unchecked. Photo from NDGF.

Even if you don’t hunt, I hope you’ve at least heard about chronic wasting disease. If you haven’t, let’s start today.

Chronic wasting disease is a fatal disease of deer, moose and elk that can cause long-term population declines if left unchecked. There is no treatment or cure, and once established in an area, it remains indefinitely. For these reasons, CWD poses a major threat to North Dakota deer, elk and moose and the future of hunting these animals.

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Combating CWD is a long-term endeavor that requires committed, diligent effort from all North Dakotans who value these big game animals. Through our cooperative dedication to the cause, we can protect these important species and North Dakota’s hunting heritage.

A deer with CWD will only begin to look sick in the late stages of the disease, several months after it has been infected. Most positive deer found in North Dakota appeared healthy when they were harvested. The only way to determine if your animal is infected with CWD is by getting it tested. Testing information is also critical for determining the distribution of CWD and evaluating the success of the Department’s management strategy.

With the 2023 chronic wasting disease surveillance season completed, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department reported 11 deer tested positive.

“The good news is that all these cases came from units where CWD has already been detected. None came from the southeastern part of the state where we were focusing our surveillance efforts,” said Dr. Charlie Bahnson, department wildlife veterinarian. “However, CWD was detected right across our border in eastern Manitoba near Winkler, and again near Climax, Minn., where it was first found in 2021.”

Positive cases detected in 2023 came from units 3A1, 3A2, 3E1, 3E2 and 3F2.

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Casey Anderson, department wildlife division chief, said that despite lower harvest success, the department met its surveillance goal in units 2B, 2G and 2G1. The objective is to achieve a sampling goal of 10% of the allocated deer gun licenses for a given year.

Game and Fish will use its 2023 surveillance data to guide CWD management moving forward.

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North Dakota Job Service offers resume and interview workshops

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North Dakota Job Service offers resume and interview workshops


BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) – With high school and college graduation in the rearview mirror for the classes of 2024, it’s time to get ready for college or prepare for the job market.

Finding a job after graduation can be difficult, but learning how to sell yourself can help you stand out. One North Dakota company that provides this training is the Workforce Center through North Dakota Job Service.

“Every Wednesday, we have different workshops throughout the morning that you can attend, one of them specifically on interviews, one of them specifically on doing resumes. We also have a transferable skills one, so individuals that may be looking to change into a different occupation, we would be able to help look at what your skill sets are and how they apply to other occupations,” said Amy Arenz, the Bismarck Workforce Center manager for North Dakota Job Service.

Industries projected to be seeking many new employees in the coming years are construction, healthcare, transportation and information technology.

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Discover North Dakota's Coolest Secret Hidden Gem

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Discover North Dakota's Coolest Secret Hidden Gem


Readers Digest, you know the little magazine that used to be found in nearly every dentist’s or doctor’s waiting rooms, just came out with “The Coolest Hidden Gem” in each state.

Hmmm, what could it be?  If it’s secret, it’s got to be something that very few people know about right?  The scenic brides around Valley City, the Pembina Gorge, the Turtle Mountains, the James River Valley, the Turtle River State Park, Huff Hills, Lake Audubon, and all of its islands?

Let’s just say their secret spot for North Dakota is NOT so secret to us North Dakotans. 

In fact, it’s kind of ridiculous.  It’s so well known, it’s international.  If somebody I knew came from out of town to visit, this would be one of the first places I would bring them.

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According to Readers Digest, “The Coolest Secret Location Spot in North Dakota” is “The International Peace Garden in Rollette County.”

The garden offers a variety of outdoor activities including canoeing, camping, cycling, and various winter activities.  Readers Digest says the chapel is one of the most unique parts of this experience.  The garden is open daily.

So, how about our neighboring states around North Dakota?  What is their coolest secret hidden gem?

Minnesota: Spam Museum in Austin- If you’ve never heard of this before, don’t feel bad.  Neither have I, and I’ve spent a lot of time in Minnesota in my lifetime.  I’ve just never been a big fan of “Spam” before.  Mainly because we were forced to eat it as kids growing up.

Yes, there is a SPAM Museum and it’s free to tour! Located about 100 miles south of Minneapolis in the city of Austin, there’s even a gift shop on your way out if you feel like “piggin’ out”.

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Google Maps Screenshot

Google Maps Screenshot

 

South Dakota:  Deadwood-Again, not so secret, but at least not as bad as the International Peace Garden.  Deadwood is a big favorite for people around the Capital Region. It’s such a gorgeous area with so much to do in all four seasons of the year.

Deadwood is where Wild Bill Hickock was shot in the back while playing cards and it’s also where Calamity Jane is buried.

Historic Deadwood Facebook

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Historic Deadwood Facebook

 

Montana:  Havre Beneath The Streets-I can think of literally dozens of other more scenic hidden gems in Montana, but Readers Digest chose Havre, Montana.  Apparently, a fire destroyed most of the town at one time, so business owners went underground with their shops.

Tours are available daily, except they do not operate on Sundays during the winter.

Google Maps Screenshot

Google Maps Screenshot

Summer’s here and now you have your hidden gems to explore.  You better get going.  Summer is short in our part of the country.

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North Dakota’s Top 11 Lakes According To Our Fans

LOOK: 25 must-visit hidden gems from across the US

From secret gardens to underground caves, Stacker compiled a list of 25 must-visit hidden gems from across the United States using travel guides, news articles, and company websites.

Gallery Credit: Abby Monteil





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