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HORACE, N.D. — For all of his life, Ross Wicklund has considered his parents and younger brother as his only family. But one day recently, he learned he also has nearly two dozen half-siblings out there, maybe more. “Like, whoa, I was surprised,” Wicklund said, recalling his reaction. Ross, 22, and his brother John, 20, who grew up in this town 15 miles southwest of Fargo, have known since childhood they were conceived through a sperm donor. They figured there could be other donor siblings, but didn’t know for sure until Ross took a 23andMe genetic test.
MANVEL, N.D. — Hunting trips for Chris and Susan Felege are a bit more complicated than they used to be, and the two wouldn’t have it any other way. Along with camouflage gear, guns and ammunition, they’re packing pacifiers, snacks, baby toys and diapers. The couple from rural Manvel has brought daughter Kaylee along for every outdoor adventure they’ve had since her birth in late January. The now 9-month-old was introduced to ice fishing at just 6 weeks of age, and has since been on hunts for turkey, deer and waterfowl.
MOORHEAD — Every year around this time, retired military man Tom Krabbenhoft starts feeling even more anxious than usual. On Oct. 11, 1992, he and 16 other servicemen cheated death when the Chinook CH-47 helicopter they were in crashed in the Alaskan wilderness. Krabbenhoft was a 26-year-old North Dakota Army National Guard soldier at the time, anxious to get home after wrapping up a week-long air defense drill.
FARGO — A runner for ten-plus years, James Botnen is often training for the next big triathlon or marathon. But since last December, he's also focused on shorter, equally important distances. In a play on numbers, Botnen pledged on his 31st birthday to run 3.1 miles, equivalent to a 5K, every single day for a year. His preference is to run outdoors, but when the weather is bad or time is short, he's inside, on a treadmill. The total number of miles he faced wasn't the issue.
FARGO — Along with accolades, the personnel files of the two men who want to be the next Cass County sheriff show multiple disciplinary actions against candidate Mike Kjera, and a single warning for the other candidate, Jesse Jahner. However, Kjera said the contrast could be due to the different job duties each candidate has, and the fact that his opponent is an administrator. Kjera, 54, is a patrol officer for the Fargo Police Department, where he's worked for 29 years.
FARGO — Michele Elsenpeter gets upset when people ask why she's still looking for answers to what happened to her brother, Kevin Mahoney, 25 years ago. Her family, and police, think foul play was involved when he disappeared Oct. 2, 1993, after a house party here. "He's my brother and you just don't give up on family," Elsenpeter said.
FARGO — Rick Von Alman carefully looked through freezers and shelves at the Emergency Food Pantry here for meat, produce and other items to feed his household of seven. At 59, he's a cancer survivor, disabled by a back injury, who lives at home with his wife, children and his father. "It means the difference between going hungry and having a full belly," Von Alman said about the pantry visit, as he patted his midsection.
FARGO — Carol Schlossman is on a mission to make downtown Fargo safer and more livable by holding bars and restaurants more accountable for over-serving alcohol. A business consultant and vice chair of the Downtown Neighborhood Association, Schlossman lives in a condo along Broadway. She says the association views alcohol consumption three ways: those who drink responsibly, those who drink due to addiction, and binge drinkers, most often college students.
FARGO — As former North Dakota State University students and longtime Bison fans, Ashley and Thomas Ritteman saw more than they were expecting at her recent ultrasound appointment. The couple wanted to learn the gender of their baby, due in early December, and their families anxiously awaited the news. Seeing their first child on 3D ultrasound, Ashley began to cry. But through tears, she saw an unmistakable image. "I was kind of overwhelmed at the moment, so I just giggled a little bit," she said.
TOWER CITY, N.D. — A walk through Maple Valley Public School here reveals a shiny new addition, including a bright lunchroom and new elementary wing.