North Dakota museum property rights case set to trial
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MINOT, N.D. — A trial date is set for the years-long dispute over whether a pioneer village museum can be evicted from the North Dakota State Fairgrounds.
A judge has scheduled a civil trial on Jan. 30 in the fight between the State Fair Association and the Ward County Historical Society, which runs the Pioneer Village Museum, the Minot Daily News reported .
The association wants to remove the museum from the fairgrounds to use the property for different purposes. The historical society defends the museum's right to stay under a 1966 agreement.
The dispute began in December 2013, when the association served an eviction notice to the historical society. The two sides then spent months discussing the property issues, but no resolution was reached.
The case was considered in district court in 2014. The next year, the North Dakota Legislature rejected a bill that would have sided with the historical society and allowed the museum to stay on the fairgrounds. The case returned to district court in 2015, but the original judge recused himself at the end of last year.
Southwest District Court Judge Rhonda Ehlis was later appointed to the case. She has scheduled a pre-trial conference for Jan. 18 to better understand the sides' current positions.
Ehlis decided not to use a jury for the Jan. 30 trial. She said she will determine which entity has rights to the State Fairgrounds property "due to the complexity of the issues and what seems to be an emotionally charged case."
The historical society is also seeking money damages to be decided by a jury. Ehlis said those arguments would be considered at a later date, depending on the civil trial's outcome.