State's tribes awarded $1.8M in HUD grants

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has awarded nearly $1.8 million to three American Indian tribes in Minnesota to improve housing conditions and to stimulate local development.

The Bois Forte Band of Chippewa was awarded $555,203 for the renovation of an elderly nutrition program building and food distribution building. The facilities provide hot meals to local and homebound elders as well as food storage.

The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa received $600,000 for the expansion of broadband services. The project will include the installation of 31,670 feet — or 6 miles — of fiber optic cable and will create 12 seasonal jobs for low-income tribal members.

The Lower Sioux Indian Community will get $600,000 for water infrastructure to support a housing project for 137 families to be constructed within the next five years.

Mark Brunswick


Men charged in teen girl's kidnapping remain in jail

Three men accused of kidnapping a 15-year-old Alexandria girl and holding her captive for 29 days remain in the Douglas County jail and will appear in court in November.

Thomas Jay Barker, 32, and Joshua Lee Holby, 31, both of Carlos, Minn., and Steven Michael Samuel Powers, 20, of Benson, Minn., were charged this month with kidnapping and false imprisonment. Barker and Powers also were charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct, and Barker was charged with an additional count of second-degree assault.

Holby's next court hearing is Nov. 2, Powers' is Nov. 9.

Barker will appear in court Nov. 16. His attorney, Justin Braulick, said his client's story is "significantly different" from what was reported by police and that the criminal complaint is not accurate.

"This is another side of the story that is not being told," he said.



Combat zone tax credit deadline looms

The Minnesota Department of Revenue is reminding Minnesota service members to take advantage of a refundable tax credit before it expires. The Credit for Military Service in a Combat Zone for service in 2013 will expire for most qualifying service members on Oct. 16. The 2013 credit is worth $120 per month, or partial month, served.

The department recently sent letters explaining how to claim the credit to more than 1,500 service members who may qualify. Service members have already claimed more than $1 million in refunds for the 2013 credit, with an average refund of $620, the department said.

To qualify for the credit, service members must have served in a combat zone or qualified hazardous-duty area on or after Jan. 1, 2013; been a Minnesota resident during the time of service; and received combat pay, which is exempt from federal and Minnesota income tax.

Anyone interested in more information on the tax credit or needing to fill out the form should visit the state's website at revenue.state.mn.us.

Mark Brunswick