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December 9, 2007

Eden Prairie Store Reopens After Threat

A Von Maur department store in Eden Prairie closed on Saturday after someone called in a threat.

The store, according to the Pioneer Press, is located off of Interstate 494. Eden Prairie Sgt. Bill Wyffels said that the threat was not specific, just a general threat. Eden Prairie Police are still investigating the call. According to the story, the Omaha, Neb. mall shooting that happened on Wednesday occurred in a Von Maur store.

The Star Tribune reported that the name of the Omaha Mall was Westroads Mall. They also report that nine people were killed in the shooting, while the Pioneer Press report eight died. They report that the Eden Prairie incident happened at around 7 p.m. and forced the store to close two hours early, according to police.

U of M Graduation Rates Increase

I guess I was kidding in my last entry about being the last blog ever. So to kick off the last week of blogs, the University of Minnesota, the school I am attending right now actually, graduation rates are rising, but the school is still lagging behind their peers.

According to the Star Tribune, in 2006, over 40 percent of the university's students graduated in four years. The U of M trails its peers in graduating students in six years or less, the report said. The report also said that the U of M compares itself to 10 other peer universities like Wisconsin, Texas and Penn State. The U ranks last in graduating students in six years or less. The school's current five year graduation rate is 57.9 percent, and their six-year rate is 60.8. The ten other universities it compares itself to have five year rates of about 65 percent and six year rates of 70 percent.

December 2, 2007

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow

The first snowstorm of the winter season arrived Saturday causing misery on highways and roads, but joy to those who enjoy the pleasures and activities that come with snow.

According to the Pioneer Press, St. Paul got about 6 inches while Forest Lake saw 7.5 inches fall on them. The Minnesota State Patrol reported 290 accidents across Minnesota and 98 in the metro area. 21 of those in the metro involved injuries. As of Saturday night, the Pioneer Press reports that none of them were serious. Airport travel handled the snow well. According to Pat Hogan, a Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport spokesperson, the average plane delay was about 15 minutes or less.

The Star Tribune took a lighter approach to their story. They reported that Duluth saw nearly 8 inches of snow Saturday and Two Harbors saw seven. However, they report that the Minnesota State Patrol reported more than 338 accidents statewide. They also report that Anoka County alone had 80 crashes. The State Patrol also reported no fatalities. According to the Hennepin County Sheriff's Department, about 1,700 homes in Brooklyn Park lost power for several hours due to the snowstorm, but the problem was resolved.

Missing Refinery Worker Found Dead

A refinery worker at the St. Paul Park Marathon Petroleum Co. refinery, who was considered missing on Saturday after a tank fire, was found dead Sunday.

According to the Pioneer Press, the man was Nicholas Gunter, 29, of Hastings, Minn. They also report that Gunter was found at around 1:40 p.m. and was found in a blending tank at the refinery. The fire occurred at 8:30 a.m. Saturday in one of the tanks at the refinery. Police, Marathon workers, firefighters and volunteers joined forces to search the refinery for Gunter. About 70 people total helped in the effort, according to Marathon spokesperson Robert Calmus.

The Star Tribune ran an AP story. The AP reports that Gunter had been a refinery operator in the blending operation since January 2006. Police are investigating both the cause of Gunter's death and the cause of the tank fire. They also report that the fire did stop operations at the refinery.

November 18, 2007

Mankato Student Dies in Car Accident

One Minnesota State-Mankato University student is dead and another seriously injured after a car struck them early Sunday morning.

According to the Mankato Free Press, one woman laid in the traffic lane in Mankato's industrial north side. The other woman was trying to help her up when a car hit them both and killed the woman that was lying down, police said. Police and medical crews arrived at the scene at 12:47 a.m. Sunday on 3rd Avenue and Kingswood Drive. Police also said the two were leaving a sorority event. One woman was pronounced dead at Immanuel St. Joseph's Hospital and the other suffered serious injuries. According to police, the driver was a 17-year-old who was driving a 1991 Toyota Tercel.

The Star Tribune reports that a university spokesperson said that the two women were in their early 20s and upperclassmen. Police told the Star Tribune that the area the women were hit was industrial and has no traffic lights or stop signs and the speed limit is 40 miles per hour. They also reported that the university will post a web page to allow friends and family access to information on the accident. They also mentioned another accident that happened at the university last month where an 18-year-old girl was struck and killed after a car hit her while she was training for a cross-country meet. Both media outlets report that police have not identified anyone involved with the accident.

November 13, 2007

Teen Pleads Guilty to Bus Shooting

Jerome Pablo Cross, 18, pleaded guilty to second-degree intentional murder in Ramsey County District Court Tuesday.

The Pioneer Press reports that Cross pleaded guilty to a shooting that occurred on April 22 when, according to the criminal complaint, Earl Freeman, 16, was shot to death after a fight broke out between two groups of youths on the Route 74 metro transit bus. The confrontation began in downtown St. Paul at the intersection of Fifth and Minnesota streets after Cross group of friends crossed the street to confront Freeman's group. Cross' sentencing is set for Jan. 4.

Both the Pioneer Press and the Star Tribune also report that a fight out outside the courtroom. The Pioneer Press give very little detail, but the Star Tribune said that Freeman's father was punched in the face and two people were knocked down as police broke up the fight. They also report a 20-year-old man was arrested and could be charged with inciting a riot. The Star Tribune also reported that Cross agreed to the maximum sentence of 391 months, which is roughly 32 1/2 years. However, they also report that formal sentencing will be on Jan. 4.

November 11, 2007

St. Paul Rape Supect Arrested

St. Paul police arrested a 19-year-old man in connection with a rape that happened earlier this week.

According to the Pioneer Press, George Allen Walker was arrested and booked at Ramsey County Jail on charges of first-degree sexual assault and a probation violation warrant at 8 pm. Saturday. The rape took place on Wednesday at around 4:50 p.m., on St. Paul's East Side near Jessamine and Payne Avenues. According to police, a man knocked on a 17-year-old's front door and forced his way into the house where he assaulted and raped the teenager. Walker's first court appearance will be on Tuesday.

The Star Tribune does not give the name of the suspect. However, they give a little more description of the area the assault took place. They report that the girl's home was on the 600 block of Jessamine Avenue. Both outlets report that the police released this information "because of the grave concerns of the residents of the East Side and all of St. Paul's citizens after this brazen attack."

November 10, 2007

Minneapolis Park Police Officer Dies

A Minneapolis Park Police officer died Friday after being hit by another officer's car in a chase on Nov. 1.

Mark Bedard, 34, died Friday at North Memorial Hospital from injuries suffered after being hit by another squad car while responding to a call from a person who said that were shot at from a car, according to the Star Tribune. The report says that Bedard suffered broken bones, a collapsed lung and torn aorta from the accident. His heart also stopped twice during surgery, which also caused a stroke.

According to the Pioneer Press, the incident happened at the vicinity of 27th Avenue North and Irving Avenue North, in the Jordan Neighborhood. Bedard was chasing suspects on foot into yards and alleys, according to police officials, when a marked Minneapolis Police vehicle hit Bedard when he was crossing an alley. The Star Tribune reports the name of the officer driving the vehicle was Patricia Grant, a 20-year veteran of the Minneapolis Police. Both outlets said that this is the first time an officer was killed in the line of duty in the Minneapolis Park Police Department since its inception in 1883.

November 2, 2007

Missing Edina Man Found

An Edina man who was missing for three weeks, was found in his truck at a rest stop in Wisconsin Friday.

Scott Micheal Tridgell, 23, was found Friday morning at a rest stop along Interstate 94 near Menomonie, Wisc., Friday morning, according to the Pioneer Press. A Minnesota resident who saw media coverage about Tridgell spotted his Toyota Tacoma truck and called police, according to the short report.

The more in-depth story by the Star Tribune gave the name of the man who found Tridgell, Larry DeMarr. DeMarr and his girlfriend were traveling from the Twin Cities to Green Bay, when they saw Tridgell's truck, according to the story. DeMarr remembered seeing news reports about Tridgell and the description of his truck, pulled up and saw Tridgell sleeping. Police and Tridgell's parents believe that Tridgell suffered from amnesia caused by a severe head injury he suffered in December.

October 31, 2007

Hudson Bank Robber Found Dead

A man who robbed an Associated Bank branch in Hudson, Wisc. Wednesday shot himself after pulling into a hospital parking lot in Stillwater, Minn.

According to the Star Tribune, the man robbed the branch and fled at around 10 a.m. Wednesday. The man fled to Lakeview Hospital in Stillwater, Minn. and officers heard one shot, approached the vehicle and saw the man dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to police. The Hudson Police believe that this robbery could be connected to another bank robbery that happened last Friday at Citizens Bank in Hudson.

Oak Heights Police Chief Lindy Swanson said that the robber weighed between 250 to 300 pounds and was between 30 and 60 years old, the Pioneer Press reports. This also matches the description of last week's robber. They also report the robber used a white Ford Mustang to conduct the robbery and was found dead in the same car.

October 28, 2007

Nanny Responding to Ad Killed

A local woman who responded to an ad on a website for a nanny was found dead in a Burnsville park late Friday.

Katherine Ann Olsen, 24, was found dead in the trunk of her car in a Burnsville park on Friday night, according to the Star Tribune. They also report that her friends last saw her on Thursday and she was going to meet a man from Savage, Minn. about a job interview for a nanny position.

The Pioneer Press reports that the Savage Police Department arrested a 19-year-old man shortly after finding Olsen's body. The man was taken into custody at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, where he works.

October 22, 2007

Target Sales Forcast Down

Target Corp cut its monthly sales outlook for the second month in a row on Monday.

According to the Star Tribune, the Minneapolis-based company predicted that sales will rise about 2 to 4 percent this month at stores that have been open for a year or more. This is down from the 3 to 5 percent prediction earlier this month. Last month, Target predicted a same-store growth of 4 to 6 percent, which was lowered later in the month to a 1.5 to 2.5 percent increase. The actually increase was only 1.2 percent. A private equity firm from Minnetonka called Growth Venture said that consumers are cutting discretionary spending due to the poor economy.

The AP reports in USA Today that this could raise more concerns about consumer spending during the holiday season. The AP also reports that some analysts blame the warm weather and the sluggish economy for lackluster sales this fall. They believe that stores aren't able to sell boot, coats and other cool weather apparel which could be affecting sales.

October 20, 2007

Body Found in Cedar Lake

A body of an unidentified man was found Saturday in Cedar Lake near an overturned boat.

The breaking story has very little facts available at this time. The Star Tribune reports that Hennepin County Sheriff Rick Stanek said that they and the Minneapolis Park Police are investigating the matter. They also report that the body was was found at around 10 a.m. this morning about 100 feet off shore by someone passing by. The cause of death is still unknown.

The Pioneer Press reports that Hennepin County Sheriffs responded to a 911 call at around 9:45 a.m. Saturday and after a witness saw an overturned boat. Authorities found the body shortly after arriving.

October 18, 2007

Hit and Run Suspect Description Released

St. Paul Police released the description of a man and the car he was driving after he allegedly struck a 71-year-old woman crossing the street.

According to the Pioneer Press, witnesses describe the car as a mid-1980's Pontiac Bonneville with white and blue panels possibly. Witness described the driver as a black male in his 50s with short hair. Witnesses also said that the woman was crossing W 7th Street near Chestnut Street at around 10:40 a.m. According to police, the women broke several bones and had internal injures.

The Star Tribune had a little more information in their report. The Star Tribune reports that witnesses think that the the license plate was PAJ 774. The Star Tribune also gave the name of the victim, Susan Hengefelt. They also report that witnesses said that the man who struck the woman got out of the car, saw the victim and ran away.

October 13, 2007

New Twins Stadium Land Agreement

A settlement was reached Friday between Hennepin County and landowners of the site where the new Minnesota Twins' stadium will be built.

According to the Star Tribune, the two sides reached an agreement after two weeks of mediation before retired Hennepin County District Judge Rick Solum. The report also said that the in dispute was worth $33 million and Hennepin County only wanted to pay $19 million. County officials said they were worried about paying too much for the land and not having enough money left to complete roads and other public works projects around the stadium. As part of the settlement, details will not be released until Monday at 10 a.m.

The deal means that a jury trial over the matter will be avoided. According to the Pioneer Press, a jury trial was scheduled for Nov. 13 on the landowners' appeal of a $23.8 million price set in early negotiations. The report also said that the land is owned by Land Partners II, a limited-liability corporation with about 80 investors.

October 9, 2007

Six Injured in Minneapolis School Bus Crash

Three children and 3 adults were injured when a bus was hit by car that ran a red light at the intersection of North Broadway Avenue and Fremont Street North.

The bus was transporting 3 and 4-year-olds to Donald M. Fraser Early Childhood Family Development Center at 700 Humboldt Ave. N. police said to the Star Tribune. The accident set off a chain reaction of collisions at the intersection at around 9 a.m. Tuesday. Police said that an Oldsmobile traveling west on West Broadway Avenue ran a red light and hit the southbound bus on Fremont Street. The bus then collided with two other cars, according to police.

The Pioneer Press reports that 11 children between the ages of 3 and 5 were on the bus at the time, along with a parent and two grandparents. According to a hospital spokesperson, none of the injuries suffered were serious and the children were treated and released. All the riders were wearing over-the-shoulder restraints when the accident occurred.

October 4, 2007

Senator Craig Guilty Plea Stands

A Hennepin County District Court judge rejected an attempt by Sen. Larry Craig to withdraw his guilty plea following an arrest in a gay-sex sting at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

According to the Star Tribune, District Judge Charles Porter called the guilty plea to disorderly conduct in his 27-page ruling, "accurate, voluntary and intelligent," and called Craig's reasoning "illogical." They also reported that Sen. Craig initially resigned on Sept. 30, but then put it off until the ruling.

The Pioneer Press reported that there was no word whether or not Sen. Craig was going to appeal the judge's decision or step down from his senate seat.

October 3, 2007

Middle School Girl Brings Meth to School

A 14-year-old girl plead guilty Wednesday to distributing crystal amphetamine to other students at Hazel Park Middle School Academy in St. Paul on Tuesday.

According to the Pioneer Press, the girl was charged with second-degree sale of a controlled substance and will remain in custody until her next court appearance on Oct. 10. Earlier on Wednesday, police said they found two grams of crystal meth at her home. The Pioneer Press reported there were six girls who ingested the drug and were brought to the hospital, and one boy was brought to the hospital, but it was unknown if he took the drug.

The Star Tribune reported that a girl went to the school nurse at around 12:15 p.m. Tuesday and said she wasn't feeling well and felt anxious and scared. The girl then told the nurse that her and another group of students had "found a substance and 'ingested' it."

September 30, 2007

Trucker Shot by Squirrel Hunters

Two juveniles shooting at a squirrel in St. Louis County accidentally struck a truck driver in the forearm, the St. Louis County sheriffs office said.

According to the Star Tribune , the 56-year-old truck driver was heading north on Hwy. 53 when he was shot through the passenger side window. The incident occurred around 11:30 a.m. According to authorities, the juveniles were 11 and 12 years old.

The St. Louis County reminded parents to supervise their children when allowing them to use firearms, the Pioneer Press said.

September 26, 2007

Minneapolis Institute of Arts Names Female Director

Kaywin Feldman, 41, has been named the director of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, becoming the first female director of the Institute in its history and the fifth female museum director in the Twin Cities.

Feldman replaces William Griswold, who is leaving to become the head of the Morgan Library in New York, the Star Tribune says. For the past eight years, Feldman has been the director of the Brooks Museum of Art in Memphis, Tenn. Feldman was chosen unanimously by an 11-member search committee.

According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Feldman was considered for the job originally in 2005, when the Institute hired Griswald. They go on to say that, "she was not a finalist in that search but made a favorable impression on the search committee." By coming to Minneapolis, Feldman takes on a much bigger task. The Brooks Museum in Memphis has about three-fourths the amount of gallery space, and its collection is about one-tenth the size of the Minneapolis Art Institutes's.

September 21, 2007

Unversity and Strikers Reach Agreement

The University of Minnesota union workers will be returning back to work after an agreement was reached between them and the university.

According to the Star Tribune, the AFSCME Union decided to take the university's original offer that was submitted on Sept. 5. The offer was a two year contract that "contains a 2.25 percent cost of living increase for clerical and technical workers, a 2.5 percent cost of living increase for health care workers, plus annual step raises for experience and a $300 lump sum in each year."

The Pioneer Press reported that the two sides were a percentage point apart. According to the article, "The union wanted cost of living increases of 3.25 to 3.5 percent and scorned the U's initial offer as unfair given the money it got from the Legislature and raises granted to other workers."

September 17, 2007

Gunfire in Target Center

Police are looking for a man after gun shots were fired in the stands at the "World Fighting Championship-Downtown Throwdown" held at the Target Center late Saturday night.

The Pioneer Press, reports that two men were involved with the shooting and they knew each other. The shooter fled the scene after the shots were fired. Police interviewed the 27-year-old intended victim.

The Star Tribune story, reported the victim's name to be Yarzue Slowon of Minneapolis. The Star Tribune story, which was much more in-depth, described the scene of the altercation, "...a [witness] and his friend walked hurriedly through Section 133. There was a light pop from the entrance to the concourse, [the witness] said, and one man fell down about 10 steps."

September 13, 2007

Boy Killed While Crossing Hwy. 36

A 13-year-old boy was killed while trying to Highway 36 in St. Paul during rush hour traffic on Wednesday.

According to the Star Tribune, the boy was identified as Joseph J. Wright of North St. Paul. They also report that the boy was with his younger brother and "may have been trying to cross Hwy. 36 near McKnight Road to go to a nearby Target store when he was hit about 5:30 p.m," according to State Patrol Lt. Rochelle Schrofer.

The Pioneer Press mentioned that, "a pedestrian bridge was recently constructed just east of the accident site. The bridge leads foot traffic over the highway from Helen Street on the south to North High School on the north." They also reported something sadly ironic. "The Minnesota Department of Transportation announced last week that there will be a ceremony at 10 a.m. today to commemorate the new bridge, which was built to increase pedestrian safety."

Both news outlets are reporting that the truck that hit the boy was hit by a pick-up truck. However, the Star Tribune stated the man's name, James J. Ryan, 46, of Oakdale. The Pioneer Press does not, but did state the man's age and the make and model of truck, a 1996 Dodge Ram.

September 11, 2007

Thieves Withdrawal Entire ATM from Hamline University

Thieves stole an entire ATM machine from the Klas Center on Hamline University's campus in St. Paul early Friday morning, taking off with an undisclosed amount of cash.

The Star Tribune reports that the break-in occurred around 2:20 and 3 a.m. The ATM was owned by Associated Bank of Green Bay, Wisc. St. Paul police spokesperson Tom Walsh said there are no suspects at this time. Walsh also said "the thieves pried open a door to gain access to the four-story building."

According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Walsh also said that "a small dolly was used based on tire tracks they found.... but they don't have much other evidence."

The Klas Center is part of the athletics complex on the university's campus. It houses university memorabilia, lockers for Hamline athletes, a banquet hall, classrooms and meeting spaces.