Recently in Local News Category

Plumbing company cashing in on house explosion

April 22, 2010

A home in Highland Park exploded in February after a sewer repariman hit a gas line, and some accuse a local plumbing company for using this incident to make money off those in the neighborhood,according to KSTP.

Benjamin Franklin Plumbing recently sent out postcards saying they would do their camera inspections for only $99, which is half the actual cost, but after the explosion Xcel had begun offering the service for free, according to KSTP.

The company owner, Paul Gavic, claims that they are offering it to customers who want faster service than Xcel's.

"Could take two to three years before the contractor looks into someone's sewer," said Gavic, in an interview with KSTP. "And in the meantime, they could have a backup and could have another explosion."

Icelandic volcano strands Eagan woman in Bulgaria

April 19, 2010

Leah Spring went to Bulgaria to help a friend in adopting a child, but with no air travel since the volcanic eruption in Iceland, airline officials say it could be another month before they can go home, according to a story on Channel 5 Eyewitness News.

According to what U.S. Embassy officials told Spring and her friend, they are the only Americans in Bulgaria currently.

The delay of departure could interfere with the adoption process because of the expiration date on the paperwork, according to the story.

Minneosta DWI device bills move forward

April 15, 2010

Bills proposing that DWI ignition devices be put in driver's cars who have acquired a DWI are thought to be welcomed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty, according to an article by the Star Tribune.

Pawlenty was in favor of making it mandatory to put the devices in every convicted offender's vehicles in place of taking away their driving privileges, but the bills being put through are a little more lenient for first-time offenders, making it just an option for those caught with low blood-alcohol levels, according to the article.

According to Sen. Steve Murphy in an interview with the Star Tribune, "more than 40 states have some kind of interlock requirement in their law books, with at least half of them putting the penalties on first time offenders and repeat drunken drivers."

"Quite frankly, we are behind in Minnesota on this," said Murphy.

Inaccurate training for fire code inspections in Minneapolis

April 15, 2010

The Minneapolis City Council decision of 2004 to transfer fire-code inspections to the Fire Department is under scrutiny after an apartment fire that killed six this month, according to an investigative report by the Star Tribune.

City officials had not checked the upstairs unit of the apartment for violations of the fire code for almost 16 years, according to the Star Tribune's article, and many see the split of responsibility between two departments as inadequate.

According to the article, "two fire captains have told the Star Tribune they don't have adequate training to carry out their jobs as housing inspectors."

In an interview with the Star Tribune, Council Member Elizabeth Glidden, chair of the Regulatory Services Committee, said reports are showing that the fire department is not finding as many violations of the fire code as regulatory services are.

Como Zoo brings back the polar bears

April 6, 2010

The Como Zoo has brought their polar bears back to reside in their "new digs," according to the Star Tribune.

The bears, Neil and Buzz, have been living in Detroit for two years while their new habitat has been built. The new home, Polar Bear Odyssey, is almost four times bigger than their old home, according to the article.

Visitors cannot see the bears until June 3, so they can get used to the new place, which cost $15 million to build, to be similar to the Hudson Bay, according to the Star Tribune.

The bears are 14 years old and have been at the Como Zoo since 2002.

Bike rental for St. Paul's low income residents

April 4, 2010

Sibley Bike Depot is planning to rent out refurbished bikes to low income members of the community with a $200,000 federal grant, according to an article by the Star Tribune.

Called the Community Partners Bike Library, Sibley Bike Depot will join with 20 other groups to lend out 200 bikes to people for transportation. People 16 years or older can use the bike for up to six months, and have to take a saftey class before taking the bike, according to the article.

"We're getting bikes in the hands of people who need them," said Jason Tanzman, volunteer coordinator for the nonprofit bike shop in an interview with the Star Tribune.

According to the Star Tribune, from 1999 to 2009, the department had an 8.7 percent drop in service calls. Meanwhile, from 2003 to 2009, calls went up 17 percent throughout the county.

Fire Chief Nyle Zikmund credits this to the department's many years and wide range of fire prevention work.

"Volumes of evidence says [fire] suppression is a failed response," said Zikmund in an interview with the Star Tribune. "It's the extreme case that suppression actually makes a difference. You don't abandon suppression, but we recognize if we really want to make a difference, we've got to make an investment ... into prevention."

Powderhorn Park benefited from local Michael Gramling


Michael Gramling was a Powderhorn Park resident and put together events like alley cleanups, culture celebrations and flower planting. He lived most of his life on the 3600 block of 17th Avenue, where he also organized an Easter egg hunt that is now 20 years old, according to the Star Tribune.

Gramling died of colon cancer at age 54 on March 12. Gramling went to and graduated from the South High School. He served on multiple task forces and was the president of the Powderhorn Park Neighborhood Association.

"No matter where you go in south Minneapolis, you will find his imprint, but you might not know it," said Mary Dobish in an interview with the Star Tribune. She helped published the former Powderhorn Paper.

According to the Star Tribune, a memorial service will be held in May.

Tree grower Keith Jacobs dies


It began for Keith Jacobs with picking out the perfect Christmas tree as a child, and grew to selling his marketing company to start a tree growing business.

Jacobs had tree farms in Shoreview, Anoka, and Sunrise, Minnesota, according to the Star Tribune. "He was an inspiration," said Pat Olive, vice president of the Minnesota Christmas Tree Association. "He was extremely respected by both Minnesota and national tree growers, and was a mentor to many of them."

Family members said that he presented the Christmas tree for the Blue Room at the White House for First Lady Hilary Clinton.

Jacob was born in Rib Lake, Wisc. according to the Star Tribune. He attended the University of Minnesota and majored in business administration. He also served as a lieutenant commander in the Navy.

He was survived by his wife Hilda, and his sister Bonnie Rasch. According to the Star Tribune, services have been held.

Minneapolis lawyer acquitted of rape

March 12, 2010 10:21 a.m.

Al Garcia, 50, was acquitted of rape on Monday after a prospective client accused him of forcing sex on her in his office on August 7, 2008.
The woman claimed that cocaine was involved, and that after she escaped him he hid under his desk with his pants down, in a "paranoid state." According to the Star Tribune, Garcia never took the stand during the trial.
"There was sex, there was drugs, and there was consent," said Paul Edlund, Garcia's attorney.
Three other women also took the stand as saying that Garcia behaved sexually inappropriate or forced sexual acts upon them in their time working with him as clients or relatives of clients, according to the Star Tribune.
Edlund said that Garcia's actions were unprofessional but that he was "not a rapist."
As the Star Tribune puts it, Edlund "ridiculed" the idea that the woman spent 78 minutes in the office with Garcia. Since the legal consultation was 30 minutes, Edlund said that this only left "48 minutes for this all-out, knock-down, drag-out rape."
According to City Pages, Garcia still faces charges of witness-tampering because of phone calls he made to prevent his accuser from testifying.
Even though he was acquitted, Garcia remains in custody, according to the Star Tribune, to begin his five-year sentence for a drug-related charge, when he took drugs as payment for legal services last February.

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