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Charly Haley, Forum News Service, Published August 09 2013

Resident writes city of Jamestown again over trespassing issues

JAMESTOWN, N.D. - After a man who appeared to be masturbating in her yard was arrested there while her children were home last Friday, Laurie Markegard wrote to the city of Jamestown, asking for help.

It’s the second letter she’s sent to the city this summer, asking for help with an ongoing trespassing problem that she and her husband largely blame on their home’s close proximity to the Jamestown Walmart.

She sent her first letter on the issue earlier last month, shortly after she looked out her kitchen window and saw a man defecating on her family’s property.

Since then, the issue was addressed in the July 23 Jamestown City Council meeting. The council took no action but discussed the possibility of reviewing the city’s ordinances and suggested the Markegards post “no trespassing” signs, which they did.

Also, the Jamestown Walmart posted signs Sunday, prohibiting overnight camping and parking.

“So far, it’s been pretty good,” Jamestown Walmart Manager John Shafer said Monday. “It’s early (to tell), but they’re abiding by it.”

In Markegard’s second letter she wrote that “it’s very noble of Walmart to ban camping in an attempt to resolve the issue,” but, considering Friday’s incident, “This is not a problem that is going to disappear.”

When Detective Jason Falk, of the Stutsman County Sheriff’s Office, arrived at the Markegard residence around 4:30 p.m. Friday, he said he saw a man laying in the trees in the backyard with his zipper undone.

There was evidence of alcohol use by the 50-year-old Williston man, Falk said. The man was originally arrested for trespassing, but since the Markegards did not sign their “no trespassing” as required for legal enforcement, the man ended up being cited for disorderly conduct, Falk said. He did not provide the man’s name.

In Markegard’s second letter, she wrote that she was upset about law enforcement’s response to Friday’s incident, confused about why a sheriff’s department officer responded to her calls instead of the Jamestown Police Department.

“The problem is they do not live in the city,” said Jamestown City Attorney Ken Dalsted. “Criminal jurisdiction lies with the sheriff’s office. ... They have to understand they live in the county.”

Markegard said the reason she’s appealing to the city is because it was the city that allowed Walmart to be built near her home in 2008.

“We did not choose to share a property line with Wal-Mart, we moved here eight years ago,” she wrote in her first letter.

City Council member Dan Buchanan said “I really feel for those people,” but he’s not sure what specifically the city can do.

“It’s not knowable if that person (from Friday’s incident) is from the Walmart,” he said. “This most recent incident — it’s hard to put this on Walmart’s feet.”

Markegard did blame Friday’s incident on being near Walmart. “Very likely he came over from the liquor store,” she said.

Shafer said that he had seen some truckers parked in the street near Walmart, out of the parking lot, but his employees can’t enforce what happens on the street.

Lt. James Hunt of the Jamestown Police Department said that he hasn’t heard of any issues with people parking in streets near there, but if it does arise, the proper law enforcement will handle it.

In Markegard’s most recent letter, she requested a response from Mayor Katie Andersen and each of the City Council members. As of Thursday afternoon, the only response she received was from Andersen, stating that “The City of Jamestown should consult legal counsel prior to a formal reply.”

Sun reporter Charly Haley can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at chaley@jamestownsun.com