Recently in Local News Category

St. Paul Santas drink a beer to raise some cheer

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Santa is having one last night of fun before the holiday rush takes over.

Crowds of St. Paul residents and visitors put on their best holiday costumes Saturday, donating money and toys to the Toys for Tots Foundation and enjoying a beer along the way, reported the Pioneer Press. Last year, the St. Paul Santa Crawl raised roughly $5,000, said event organizer Chuck Terhark.

Similar to the popular Zombie Pub Crawl held in the Twin Cities each October, the St. Paul Santa Crawl involves crowds of pub-goers dressed in costume, only with less gore and more snowy-white beards. The Santa Crawl included 10 bars around the city, which can be found on the event's website.

For pub-goers, a $20 wristband allowed them to get into the 10 pubs and contributed to the event's charity donation, said the website. Another Santa Crawl is expected for next year.

Faribault man charged with bank fraud, stole $432K

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A 39-year-old Faribault accountant has been charged with bank fraud and stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from his Minnesota employer.

Ronald L. Schaeffer, of Faribault, Minn., was charged Thursday in federal court in Minneapolis with bank fraud totaling $432,504, reported the Star Tribune. Schaeffer allegedly stole the money while working as the sole in-house accountant for the Faribault company Environmental Tillage Systems Inc.(ETS).

According to an FBI press release, Schaeffer wrote 127 fake checks, ranging from $400 to $12,000, to his bank account from the ETS checking account. He then created false entries in the company's finance records to make it appear that the checks had gone to real ETS vendors.

Schaeffer reportedly used the money to build a lake house in Elysian, Minnesota, and to make payments on home equity or auto loans, according to the FBI press release.

Hospital workers and parents alike were shocked when 19 baby boys were delivered in a row at the University of Minnesota Medical Center Fairview this weekend.

The baby boy streak began at 9 p.m. on Friday and didn't stop until 7 a.m. Monday, reported the Pioneer Press. "I'm calling it a statistical marvel," said Lisa Archer, a nurse manager at the hospital.

The odds of 19 boys being born in a row are one in 524,288, reported the Star Tribune. Hospital officials said Monday that they couldn't recall another time when they've had so many baby boy deliveries in a row.

The streak ended Monday at 7:30 a.m. with the birth of a little girl named Ladan Ibrahim, the second daughter for Mohammed Guled and Naima Bashir, reported the Star Tribune. Guled, the owner of a Bloomington-based diaper company, was so awed by the all-boy deliveries that he decided to donate three months' worth of diapers to the families of all 19 boys.

City leaders are hoping to encourage greener operations among the commercial building owners in Minneapolis with an ordinance that would assign public ratings based on energy consumption.

The ordinance would require commercial buildings larger than 50,000 square feet to submit utility usage and other information to Energy Star, a government-backed program that offers a tool for calculating energy efficiency, reported the Star Tribune. That rating would then be published on the city's website.

City Council Member Elizabeth Glidden, who proposed the ordinance, says it will help the city meet its goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 15 percent by 2015, reported the Republic. Glidden also said that the change could also create jobs, reported the Star Tribune.

Kevin Lewis, a member of the Greater Minneapolis Building Owners and Managers Association, said the ordinance may assign low scores to owners who lack the funds to retrofit their buildings or be unfair to tenants with high energy demands, reported the Republic.

A public hearing is scheduled for January 2013.

Last old-style parking meters removed in Minneapolis

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The last old-style, coin-operated parking meter in Minneapolis came down Wednesday morning.

The final meter was removed by retired maintenance worker, Phillip "P.J." Peterson, on Washington Avenue S., just west of the University of Minnesota and east of Interstate 35W, reported Fox 9 News and the Star Tribune respectively.

Multispace pay stations, which take cash as well as debit and credit cards, have become the regular in the Twin Cities area, reported the Star Tribune. They began popping up on the city's streets in November 2010 and gradually started to replace the old coin-operated meters.

St. Paul began its switch to pay stations this past summer, reported the Star Tribune.

5 shot during fight outside Austin events center

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Five people were injured, two critically, after shots were fired outside an Austin events center early Sunday.

The shooting occurred around midnight in the parking lot of Lansing Corners, a diner turned events center just outside of Austin, after a hip-hop event, reported the Star Tribune. Two guns were involved in the shooting, officials said.

The two victims in critical condition were a Rochester man and a Sioux Falls, S.D., man, reported the Star Tribune. All of the shooting victims were taken to the Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin before they were transferred to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

Authorities are facing difficulties with witnesses. "We do know that several victims are not cooperating, and witnesses at the scene didn't see anything. So that's very frustrating," Mower County Sheriff Terese Amazi said, reported the Star Tribune. Without cooperation, this case will stall soon, she said, reported the Pioneer Press.

No one is currently in custody, reported the Pioneer Press.

Robert Street bus lane in the plans for west side metro

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Residents and business owners on St. Paul's west side, in the District del Sol and in Highland Village, may soon be signing off on a new community plan to improve transportation, housing, public health and economic development in the area.

The 83-page West Side Community Plan suggests adding a Bus Rapid Transit system on Robert Street, reported the Pioneer Press, as well as adding to the bike trails of Wabasha Street, Smith Avenue and Stryker Avenue. Other possible bike trail additions include routes on George and Annapolis streets.

The plan also mentions three areas for possible redevelopment, reported Mass Transit Magazine. Multi-use buildings containing retailers, offices, apartments and civic institutions would all be included in the redevelopment.

A public hearing will be held before the Planning Commission at 8:30 a.m. Dec. 14 in Room 40 of St. Paul City Hall, reported the Pioneer Press.

Over 50 wolves killed in Minnesota opening weekend

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Hunters reported fifty-six wolves killed in the opening weekend of Minnesota's first wolf hunting season, said the Department of Natural Resources.

Thirty-two wolves were killed Saturday and 18 killed Sunday, reported the Star Tribune. Only six have been reported for Monday.

Minnesota's wolves were removed from the endangered species list last January, reported the Pioneer Press. A quota of 400 wolves has been set for the season, reported the Pioneer Press - 200 in the early hunting season that aligns with deer season and 200 in the late hunting-and-trapping season.

Several animal rights groups have protested the new hunting season, including Howling for Wolves and the Northwoods Wolf Alliance near Duluth and Cloquet, reported the Pioneer Press. Other groups are planning to sue the Department of Natural Resources in order to place the state's wolves back on the endangered species list.

With only a week until the presidential election, former president Bill Clinton visited the University of Minnesota Tuesday to rally votes for President Barack Obama, who's lead in the state has been closing.

Clinton spoke to a crowd of roughly 1,800 at McNamara Alumni Center, reported the Minnesota Daily, and a large portion of that crowd was university students. Clinton's visit came just days after republican candidate Mitt Romney began airing television ads in Minnesota.

The former president's visit to Minnesota was the first appearance of a big-name campaigner in the state since last year's national conventions, reported the Pioneer Press, showing that Minnesota, once considered a guarantee for Obama, may be up for grabs.

Tuesday's rally was one of the last campaign events for the democrats before President Obama suspended his upcoming presidential visits to tend to the destruction of Hurricane Sandy, reported the Pioneer Press.

Teacher collapses and dies in Minneapolis classroom

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Lori Blomme, 40, collapsed in her classroom at Menlo Park Academy in northeast Minneapolis on Tuesday and was taken to the hospital where she died later that day.

Blomme was leading a class when she collapsed, said brother-in-law David Blomme to the Star Tribune. Wednesday afternoon, Rachel Hicks, a spokeswoman for the school district, said Blomme suffered "a medical emergency".

Students were moved to the school's gymnasium while paramedics attempted to help Blomme, reported the Pioneer Press. The school district sent security and psychologists to assist students and faculty.

Blomme had taught at Menlo Park Academy, a non-traditional high school, for nine years, reported the Star Tribune. "She was one who thought she could make a change and could also learn from her students," said her brother-in-law.

She lived in south Minneapolis and is survived by her husband and two daughters, ages six and eight, reported the Pioneer Press.

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