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Benny Polacca, Published December 16 2008

Commission hears salvage yard owner comments

A rural Cass County salvage yard owner told county commissioners he was defending himself when he got angry at law enforcement officials when they contacted him twice about nuisances on his property earlier this year.

David Habiger, who lives near Amenia, told the Cass County Commission on Monday that he believes authorities “have bigger fish to fry.”

He then went on to criticize the food being served in the Cass County Jail, where he was taken by law enforcement after he allegedly interfered with the state Department of Health’s summer inspection of his property.

Habiger was arrested during a June search of his salvage yard that was a concern for state health officials. He is accused of knocking the papers from the hands of one of the health inspectors.

Habiger was also arrested on disorderly conduct charges and hindering law enforcement Dec. 3 after county law enforcement officials sought to remove two “junk” cars off his property. The city of Casselton sought the order to remove the two vehicles, which had expired licenses.

“People thought I was being unreasonable. The bottom line is I did defend myself,” he said.

Now-retired Cass County District Court Judge Cynthia Rothe-Seeger ruled last month that the June search of Habiger’s property was illegal. Habiger referred to several county law enforcement officials while he spoke.

The commission took no action on Habiger’s comments.

“I don’t know if this is the place you can discuss this issue,” commission Chairwoman Robyn Sorum told Habiger.

Commissioner Vern Bennett said he could not let Habiger’s comments about the jail’s “garbage food” go. Two days after he became aware of Habiger’s comments in July, he made an unannounced visit to the jail and requested and paid for a meal.

“I can say I enjoyed the meal,” he said adding that the meal was photographed.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Benny Polacca at (701) 241-5504