April 26, 2009

Man who killed road worker won't get jail time

A driver who struck a road construction worker last year in Chaska on what was then called U.S. Hwy. 212 won't do jail time, reported the Star Tribune Saturday.

"LuAllen H. Kettner told a judge Friday he would trade his life for that of 47-year-old Leo Kuisle of Stewartville."

Kettner was driving a large SUV when he struck Kuisle, who was the foreman on the construction job.

According to a police report, Kuisle had a blood alcohol content of 0.08 and wasn't wearing proper reflection safety gear at the time, and this may have been a contributing factor in the accident.

Coleman asks the Minnesota Supreme Court to go slow in the appeal

Republican Norm Coleman has asked the state Supreme Court to allow for arguments in the disputed election appeal no sooner than mid-May, two weeks later than the date proposed by his opponent Democrat Al Franken.

According to the Star Tribune, "the Coleman camp said in documents that while it recognizes a need to resolve the case 'as expeditiously as possible,' the two sides and the court 'must be given enough time to fully develop and consider the issues on appeal.'"

If the state Supreme Court recognizes Franken as the winner, he said he believes that Gov. Tim Pawlenty will do the right thing, which is also the law, and sign the election certificate.

Political scientists believe that Franken's request is on the fast end of a normal decision time period, and Coleman's request is on the slow end.

April 20, 2009

Woman dies after stolen car collides with her vehicle

The Star Tribune reported a St. Paul woman died Saturday after a suspect driving a stolen car crashed into the woman's vehicle on the Larpenteur Avenue exit off of Interstate 35E.

Shoua Vang was identified as the victim on Sunday. She was pronounced dead at Regions Hospital. A male companion who was in the car with her was listed in serious condition at the Hospital as of Saturday night.

The incident started when Roseville police responded to an assault of the car theft victim around 6:56 p.m. on Saturday.

The suspect fled eastbound on Highway 36 while police pursued. The suspect began driving dangerously around other vehicles on the road and the police discontinued the pursuit.

The suspect was arrested after the crash with Vang and suffered minor injuries and was possibly intoxicated, although no blood alcohol content was available at the time.

3 dead in parking lot shootings

A women was shot to death in an apparent domestic dispute and her suspected killer was later found alongside a nearby freeway dead of a likely self-inflicted gunshot wound outside of a Maple Groove McDonald's.

In an unrelated incident a man was shot to death outside of a White Castle in Hopkins within 12 hours of the Maple Groove shooting, according to the Star Tribune.

Police were called to the Maple Grove McDonald's at Sycamore Lane N. around 2 p.m. were they found a women in her 20s dead of at least two gunshot wounds.

Witnesses were able to give police descriptions of both the man and the vehicle he fled with, and he was later found on the side of Interstate 694 near the border of Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Center.

It is unknown whether children that were present at the McDonald's actually witnessed the shooting.

April 12, 2009

Body found in river not missing St. Thomas student

A body recovered from the Mississippi River Saturday morning is not the body of a missing University of St. Thomas.

The Star Tribune reported, the woman's body was recovered after employees from a barge company spotted the body tangled in debris near the intersections of Childs and Shepard Roads.

Peter Panos, a St. Paul police spokesman said the body matches the discription of a woman seen jumping from a nearby bridge a few weeks ago, and isn't the body of Dan Zamlen, a St. Thomas freshman who disappeared one week ago.

Zamlen, who turned 19 on Wednesday, was last heard from last Sunday morning, before his phone abruptly cut out near the intersection of Mississippi River Boulevard S. and St. Clair Avenue.

WIld's Lemaire ends an era

Minnesota Wild coach Jacques Lemaire has ended an era in Minnesota on Saturday.

Lemaire, the first coach the Wild has ever had made his resignation as coach official on Saturday after a 6-3 victory over Columbus, ending the Wild's season.

The Star Tribune reports that Lemaire, 63 does not think this is a retirement.

"I think it's time for the players to get a new coach and myself to look for other stuff," Lemaire said. "I always said there'll be a time. There comes a time that you know it's the right time to go, and I know this. I had a great time, man. I had eight great years."

Asked if he would want to stay with the Wild in another capacity, Lemaire said, "I don't think it'll be the case."

April 5, 2009

15 more lawsuits filed over I-35W bridge collapse

Fifteen more victims of the Interstate 35W bidge collaps filed suit on Friday against a consulting firm that studied the bridge and a contractor that was resurfacing it.

According to the Pioneer Press, URS Corp. and Progressive Contractors Inc. are named in the suit.

Investigators ruled that the bridge collapse happened because of a flaw in the original design.

The bridge collapsed during rush hour on August 1, 2007 killing 13 people and injuring 145.

Many of the victims gave up their right to sue when they accepted compensation from the state.

Off-duty DWIs do not end transit jobs

Last month was the first time a Metro Transit had a driver arrested on the job for DWI, resulting in the driver's quick firing.

However, the Star Tribune reported Saturday that 14 bus drivers have been charged with DWI since July 2006 and only nine lost their jobs because their licenses were suspended.

In the past Metro Transit has put the burden on drivers to maintain their commercial drivers licenses.

After the March 21 arrest of Alonzo V. Martin for DWI on his bus route, the agency has decided to reevaluate its policy on screening drivers for alcohol and drug abuse as well as how extensive its background checks should be.

March 29, 2009

Minnesota's public defenders overloaded

Minnesota's public defenders are taking on more cases than they can handle, and defendants are paying the costs.

According to the Star Tribune, the public defenders are meeting with their clients just minutes before they go into court, and have little time to offer advice and answer questions.

"It means that our justice system will slow down considerably and so cases will go unresolved, and that's very harmful for the victims and witnesses and general public," District Judge Joseph Carter said.

The state lost 5 public defenders last year because of budget cuts, and more of those jobs are threatened this year.

In the past, cases have moved through the court system within 3 months, but now cases are taking as long as 6 months.

In Dakota County, criminal cases have increased by 9 percent in the last year, and the public defenders have been decreasing.

St. Louis Park offers incentives to live, work there

The city of St. Louis Park is offering people incentives to buy a house, live and work in the city.

People who work in the city would receive a $2,500 grant to buy a home in the city, provided they live in the home for three years. If they move, the grant would be turned into a loan.

Those who buy a foreclosed home would receive an additional $1,000.

"We want to revitalize our neighborhoods and schools, and having new people move into our community is a way to do that,'' said Michele Schnitker, St. Louis Park housing supervisor.

There is enough money for about 25 grants this year.

The idea to give incentives for new home buyers is not limited to St. Louis Park, however, the idea of giving grants is unique to that city.

Many banks are also providing cash for closing on a new home mortgage, which adds to the incentives to buy a new home.

Information and quote from the Star Tribune.

March 9, 2009

Wash. Ave. Bridge repairs to begin March 16

The Minnesota Daily reported Wednesday that repairs to the Washington Avenue Bridge will begin as of March 16 and will be completed in May.

Previous statements from university and county officials said that the bridge work would be done by April 1.

The Hennepin County project engineer Paul Backer said that parts for the project needed to be manufactured by a company in New York and delivery for the project will take longer for that reason.

The county anticipated that the two inside lanes will be closed during the universities spring break.

Minneapolis cab fare stay put for now

Minneapolis cab fairs will remain the same for now, after they were lowered because of lower gas prices.

The city council lowered the rates earlier this year to compensate for the decrease in gas prices this year.

The council decided in August 2008 that cab fares should be determined based on gas prices, but few expected that to result in lower fares as gas prices decreased.

Council Member Cam Gordon asked for approval, which required unanimous consent by the council, to delay the rate increase for one year without committee approval.

This request was shot down resulting in a delay in the voting on the rate increase until April 10.

Source: Star Tribune

March 1, 2009

5 holdups in Minneapolis Sunday Morning

The Star Tribune reported Sunday that Minneapolis Police are investigating if 5 robberies that occurred Sunday morning may be linked.

The suspects, who robbed 7 people in five locations between 12:30 a.m. ad 2 a.m. Sunday, are described as men in their 20s.

The men drove up the the victims in their cars yielded a gun. The suspects stole wallets, purses, cell phones, clothing and cash.

All the robberies occurred in south and southeast Minneapolis

Southwest Airlines may lead to a showdown

Next week Southwest will begin flying 8 non-stop flights each day to Chicago's Midway Airport.

According to the Star Tribune, Southwest is set for a showdown between itself and Northwest Airlines, which is notorious for the lengths it will go to defend its turf.

Because of its merge with Delta airlines last fall, Northwest can "no longer claim to be the hometown airline," the article said.

Dean Headley, co-author of the Airline Quality Rating report called Southwest the McDonald's of the airline industry. "McDonald's knows where the best corner is and they go get them," he said.

Minneapolis travel expert Terry Trippler said the competition between Southwest and Northwest will result in a win for the consumer.

February 22, 2009

Graduate School reconstruction implementation team announced

The team that will implement the restructuring of the Graduate School into the Provost's Office by 2010 was announced Friday according to the Minnesota Daily.

The team will consist of 18 people, mainly high-ranked faculty but will include one student, GAPSA President Kristi Kremers.

The process will be lead by the Institute of Technology Dean Steven Crouch. The team is asked to have their letter of recommendations submitted to Senior Vice Provost Tom Sullivan by April 17.

Salon armed robbery in broad daylight shows "desperation"

While downstairs, the manager of an uptown salon new the sounds she heard coming from her salon Saturday were completely out of the ordinary.

According to the Star Tribune a masked robber with a .22 caliber handgun walked into Sudz in Uptown around 4:30 p.m. and through a woman to the ground and demanded that the assistant manager, Steven Spafford, open the safe.

Spafford said there was no safe, then opened the cash register, triggering a silent alarm, and giving the robber $285.

On the way out the robber demanded that the women he through to the ground take off the rings, one being a wedding ring worth tens of thousands of dollars, or he'd shoot them off of her. He then fled before cops arrived minutes later.

The man was described as wearing a jacket with "H K" on the back of it, which matches video surveillance of a suspect in the Maple Grove Subway and Cedar Avenue robberies from early February.

Franken Want more ballots counted

Al Franken proposed Saturday to recount 1,600 ballots in the Senate election recount.

According to the Star Tribune nearly half of those ballots were ones that Norm Coleman had requested to be recounted earlier.

Coleman spokesperson Mark Drake called Franken's move hypocritical.

"Their motto is simple: If it's a vote for Franken, count it; if it's a vote for somebody else, disenfranchise the voter," Drake said. (Star Tribune)

The Canvassing Board that has been overseeing the recount agreed to add 24 more votes in Franken's favor since the board certified the election, bringing his lead to 249 more votes than Coleman.

February 15, 2009

Reward offered in killing near U

The Minneapolis Police have put together a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the murder of Joesph Sodd II killed in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood in June.

According to the Minnesota Daily police teamed with Crime Stoppers, a non-profit organization that offers awards to help solve crimes, because police believe there are still witnesses that have not come forward in the case.

Police say Sodd was killed while home on break from an out-of-state college while leaving a bar with friends. He was killed from a "sharp force injury".

After hundreds of hours of gathering information and following leads, they still have yet to make an arrest.

Man Dies in St. Louis Park fire

The Star Tribune reported Friday that a man died in a Fire in St. Louis Park on Friday afternoon.

The man, who's name has not been released was found lying on the floor, when firefighters arrived to find flames a smoke coming from the house.

The fire, which started in the kitchen, is still under investigation and took three hours to extinguish.

Another fire in St. Louis Park on Friday caused 125 people to evacuate from their apartment complex and six fire departments responded.

That fire is believed to have started on the third floor near the furnace room.

February 8, 2009

Budget cuts for Hennepin County will be deep

Although Hennepin County's state aid for next year won't be announced for a few months, county officials said Thursday they are expecting huge cuts

The county commissioners were told state aid for the county will likely be $100 million less than last year, according to the Star Tribune. The county's budget for this year is roughly $1.7 billion.

Based on budget constraints that the state is currently facing the budget cuts are likely to get worse according to County Administrator Richard Johnson, especially after the next economic forecast comes out at the end of the month.

Franken ready for Senate

Democrat Al Franken said Friday to the Pioneer Press that he is preparing for a place in the United States Senator while the legal battle between him and Republican Norm Coleman drags on.

Franken said he has been speaking with House and Senate staffers, President Obama's educational transition team, as well as Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar.

He has also been following all of the debate going on in Congress, and has voiced his opinion on how he would vote.

Franken said he has not had time to fully celebrate since uncertainty looms around the election.

February 1, 2009

Water damage to University building estimated at $1 million

Water from a cooling pipe flooded most of the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Building at the University of Minnesota on Friday causing approximately $1 million in damage.

The Minnesota Daily reports the pipe froze causing it to burst early Friday morning, causing classes to be canceled or moved.

Since the water came from a cooling pipe containing chemicals the Department of Environmental Health and Safety was called to assess how to remove the water. It was determined that the water could be dumped down the sewer.

Facilities Management said the building can be fixed in a week to 10 days.

The northeast corner of the building sustained the most water damage.

This is the second pipe to burst in a university building this winter. A pipe broke in the Bell Museum of Natural History over winter break.

January 31, 2009

Minnesota schools warned about salmonella peanuts

The Georgia peanut plant being investigated for distributing contaminated peanuts that caused a salmonella outbreak sent products, that may have been contaminated, to nearly 200 Minnesota schools, the Star Tribune reported Friday.

The salmonella outbreak has killed at least eight people, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture suspects that schools in Minnesota, Idaho, and California were sent the peanut products through the National School Lunch Program.

The Pioneer Press reported that one of the districts that received contaminated peanuts was Bloomington Public Schools.

The schools were notified Friday about the incidents by the Minnesota Department of Education.

The Health Department stated that they are looking through their surveillance systems to see if any illnesses may have occurred at the schools as a result of these incidents.