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Police crack down on distracted driving in MN

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Twin Cities police are cracking down on distracted driving starting April 19, according to the Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press.

Police are looking for people who are using their cell phones in the efforts to put an end to distracted driving, according to the Star Tribune.

The state mandate was enacted in 2008, and said that drivers in Minnesota cannot read, compose or send texts, emails, or access the Internet while their vehicle is in traffic. In addition, drivers under the age of 18 are not allowed to use a cellphone in any way while driving, according to the Pioneer Press.

Since the texting law was put into place, citations have increased dramatically. In 2009, 294 tickets were given for distracted driving. Last year, 784 were written out to drivers, according to the Star Tribune.

Fines for texting and driving are around $115, according to the Pioneer Press.

Peavey Plaza possibly a historical landmark

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Peavey Plaza in Minneapolis has been spared from the bulldozers for six months in order to allow the city to evaluate if it should be named a historical landmark, according to the Star Tribune and MinnPost.

The Heritage Preservation Commission voted on Tuesday to have the city planning directy begin a study to make the designation. The study will take at least six months, according to the commission chairman, Chad Larsen, said the Star Tribune.

According to the city of Minneapolis, only one of three pumps at the plaza works and the pipes that carry the water are difficult to impossible to make because the pipes are deeply covered in concrete and the parts are no longer made, according to MinnPost.

In addition, access to Electric power is limited and the plaza drains storm water into the sanitary sewer, which is not up to code, according to MinnPost.

"We have not been able to keep up," said Mike Kennedy, of the city's Public Works Department, who cited budget restrictions as the reason for deterioration of the plaza, according to MinnPost.

While some believe that building a new plaza would be a better use of the space, others are not convinced.

"The decision to destroy Peavey Plaza is unredeemable. Once it's gone, it's gone forever," Trish Block, who has formed a Save Peavey Plaza organization said, according to MinnPost.

Minneapolis Teachers ratify new contract

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Minneapolis teachers have ratified a new two-year contract that raises their pay in exchange for working a longer school year higher pay, according to the Star Tribune and KSTP News.

Some civic leaders and parents don't like the deal because it only extends the school calendar by four days, when the original goal was to extend the school year by 35 days. Researchers say that additional time in school improves academic performance among low-income students, according to KSTP News.

The contract is projected to cost the district $17.1 million, which is largely financed by non-classroom cuts. That's a 6.4 percent increase in district costs, according to the Star Tribune.

Critics of the plan say the new deal protects bad teachers with seniority and tenure, and want the union and the School Board to get rid of the so-called "last hired, first fired" policy, according to KSTP.
Those voting approved the deal with 83 percent support, said Lynn Nordgren, president of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers, according to the Star Tribune.

Albert Lea Man killed in head-on collision

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An Albert Lea man died Saturday night after a head-on crash just north of Albert Lea, according to the Star Tribune and the Albert Lea Tribune.

According to the Minnesota State Patrol, Michael D. Skov, of Albert Lea, was driving north on Hwy. 13 about 10:40 p.m. when his car, crossed into the southbound lane and collided with a Cadillac, according to the Star Tribune.
The driver of the Cadillac, 17-year-old Alex Kast of Freeborn, Minn., and two passengers were taken to Albert Lea Medical Center, where they were treated and released, according to the Albert Lea Tribune.
The State Patrol report stated there was no alcohol in the driver or passengers of the Caillac, but it was unknown if there was alcohol in Skov's system, according to the Albert Lea Tribune.
All involved were wearing seat belts.

A group of Occupy Minneapolis protesters were arrested Saturday night on Nicollet Mall after a night of moving protests, according CBS News and the Star Tribune.

Police arrested the 12 protesters near the 9th Street intersection shortly after 11 p.m. Police say they arrested the protesters because they were walking in the street and at one point impeded an ambulance from an emergency run, according to CBS News.

"They were making their way back to Peavey Plaza when an ambulance was trying to get through the streets on an emergency run. They were severely hampered by these people in the street, as well as other motorists. That's when officers made these arrests," said Sgt. Stephen McCarty of the Minneapolis Police, according to CBS News.

Several people who were involved or near the occupy protest have alleged that the police acted brutally.

Osha Karow, 23, of Minneapolis is alleging brutality after a mounted officer used his horse's muzzle to push him back even though he said he was complying with the officer's request.

Also, KSTP-TV said one of its photographers was injured while videotaping the arrests when an officer shoved his camera, knocking it to the ground. Police said they're investigating that incident, according to the Star Tribune.

According to the Star Tribune, activists posted links to videos of some of the arrests and the incident involving the KSTP photographer at tiny.cc/mrqgcw.

Minnesota boy found after two weeks

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A Minnesota boy who has been missing for almost two weeks has been found, according to the Star Tribune and MPR News.

James Nordrum allegedly kidnapped his son, Wyatt Nordrum, 7, March 27. Nordrum is in a custody battle with Wyatt's mother, according to the Star Tribune.

Nordrum's attorney, Terri Port Wright, said that Wyatt was uninjured and has been reunited with his mother. Port Wright says Wyatt was safe the whole time, according to MPR.

The Duluth News Tribune reported Sunday that Wyatt of Brookston, and his dad were found Saturday in the Stoney Brook area of St. Louis County with help from public tips.

Although Wyatt is unharmed, Nordrum is in intensive care currently for self-inflicted wounds. Nordrum hurt himself when he learned authorities were closing in, according to Port Wright.

A hotel clerk was faces invasion of privacy charges after he allegedly made an audiotape of honeymooners having sex at the 340 Hotel in downtown St. Paul, according to the Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press.

Jeremiah Caleb Marg of Burnsville was arrested Dec. 28 on suspicion of invasion of privacy after a man called police to report that he and his wife found a Sony digital recorder under the door of Room 1006, according to the Pioneer Press.

The man also told police he had received a call from "Jeremy" at the hotel to ask if anyone had bothered him and his wife, as there was a "suspicious male walking around the lobby of the hotel," according to the Pioneer Press.

A search warrant filed in February showed that Marg was a registered predatory offender, and had shown sexual material to two girls in 2002. Police seized Marg's laptop with the warrant. No information about the findings has been released in regards to the information on the laptop, according to the Pioneer Press.

Marg allegedly told police that the recorder was his, but he had lost it around Dec 23, according to the Star Tribune.

Two Minnesota water parks closed temporarily last week after visitors were diagnosed with cryptosporidiosis, a parasite that is spread through feces in water, according to the Star Tribune and the Duluth News Tribune.

The number of suspected cases of the parasite, often referred to as 'crypto' at Duluth's Edgewater Resort and Water Park has risen to 41, a state official said on Thursday, according to the Duluth News Tribune.

Trisha Robinson, an epidemiologist for the Minnesota Department of Health, said she typically investigates between one and three outbreaks of crypto in a year. Two outbreaks occurring simultaneously is unprecedented, according to the Duluth News Tribune.

Duluth's Edgewater Resort and the Lodge at Brainerd Lakes treated their facilities through "super chlorination," which kills the parasite, and were scheduled to reopen when the water is safe, according to the Star Tribune.

Symptoms of crypto include diarrhea, abdominal cramping nausea, a low-grade temperature and dehydration, according to the Star Tribune and the Duluth News Tribune. The symptoms can last approximately two weeks.

People can minimize exposure to the parasite by refraining from visiting aquatic facilities for at least two weeks after experiencing diarrhea and by showering before and after visiting aquatic facilities, Robinson said, according to the Star Tribune.

A St. Paul man has been charged with second degree murder after he allegedly beat his girlfriend to death last week, according to the Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press.
Witnesses said Brent L Lynch, 26, pleaded, "No, don't call [the police]," as his girlfriend, Carolyn Leete, 32, lay dead on a bed in his home, according to the Star Tribune.
Lynch's mother, Brenda Lynch said she received a call from her son around 3 a.m. indicating that Leete had gotten out of their car to check on him and someone stole their vehicle. Brenda Lynch said she did not want to be home when her son and Leete got back to their St. Paul house, so she left, and lynch's aunt picked the couple up and took them home, according to the Star Tribune
around 6 a.m., Lynch called his aunt, Glenda Jett, again and asked her to come check on Leete. Jett found Leete unresponsive and went to a neighbor, who had nursing skills to resuscitate Leete, but was unsuccessful, according to the Star Tribune.
Records show that Lynch has a history of violence against women. Lynch is 6 feet 3 inches tall and weighs approximately 240 pounds. Leete weighed about 95 pounds, according to the Star Tribune.

Twenty charged with meth trafficking in Twin Cities

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Twenty people were charged in connection with a methamphetamine ring based in the Twin Cities this week by the Hennepin County attorney's office after an eight-month investigation, according to the Star Tribune and CBS.
The investigation was performed by St. Paul Police, Minneapolis Police, County Attorney Mike Freeman, and FBI special agent-in-charge Don Oswald, who all cooperated under the Safe Streets Task Force. the Safe Streets Task Force is a group made by the FBI to take on major criminal organizations, according to the Star Tribune.
Officials say some of the suspects had connections to the la Familia Michoacana Mexican drug cartel and were bringing the drug from Mexico through the West Coast, according to CBS.
Authorities have recovered 17 pounds of meth, valuing approximately half a million dollars and four guns, according to the Star Tribune.
St. Paul Police Chief Tom Smith said it is believed the suspects targeted the Hmong community for sales of the drugs, according to CBS and the Star Tribune.

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