Recently in Local News Category

Saint Paul Union Depot Re-opens With a Celebration

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Hundreds of people attended a party Saturday to mark the reopening of Union Depot in downtown St. Paul reported MPR.
The station's restoration took two years and $243 million, MPR said.
Union Depot closed in 1971, following a shift in macro-transportation trends reports Minn Post.
The pillared entry and head house of the station remained open and were rented out as office space, condos and restaurants over the years, Minn Post said. The concourse and lobby were used as storage for a nearby, though now closed, post office and was opened to the public only occasionally for events like the 1999 Titanic memorabilia exhibit, reports Minn Post.
Plans for the station include offering services to passenger and light rail trains, buses, bikes and motor coaches reports MPR.
MetroTransit bus service to the depot begins this weekend, with Jefferson Regional Bus Lines making stops there in January reports MPR. According to MPR, Amtrak will begin making stops at the station in late 2013 and official plans for light rail service are slated for 2014.

Hodges Makes Move Toward Mayoral Race

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Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak has not declared whether he will run for another term next election, reports the Star Tribune. In the mean time, one city representative is making moves toward her own candidacy.
Council Budget Chair Betsy Hodges filed paperwork last week for campaign finances that declared her running, according to the Star Tribune.
Hodges told the Southwest Journal, "If the mayor runs again I will support him."
Rybak has promised to announce whether he will run by Jan. 1 reports City Pages.

In this ABC News story, a press conference served as just one part of a variety of sources bringing depth to a Minneapolis workplace shooting that resulted in six deaths last September. Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan's comments in a press conference as summarized by the Star Tribune ground the story in facts from police investigation of the crime.
Mention of information from the press conference first appears in the second paragraph and continues again with a direct quote from Dolan in paragraph four. The first half of the article focuses on official police statements, lending credibility to the report and informing readers early-on of some of the physical details behind the shootings.
The reporter expands beyond the official accounts near the end of the story when he gathers observations from Barbara Haynes and Marques Jones, two individuals who were near the scene of the crime and witnessed some of the aftermath. This segment of the story adds a more personal angle than the press conference notes had, including the image of Jones and his senior portrait photographer running to their cars out of fear of gunshots.
The quotes and summarization from the press conference work well to explain the events that occurred at the scene of the crime and are well-balanced by the personal reports at the end of the story. However, the article may have been stronger if the conference facts had been synthesized a little more seamlessly throughout the piece, instead of all piled in one section together.

Man Arrested in Synthetic Drug Raid

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Officers confiscated more than 80 pounds of synthetic marijuana and $280,000 in a raid of a Minneapolis tobacco shop and its owner's suburban home reports the Star Tribune.
KSTP reports an undercover police officer purchased the synthetic drug known as "K2" or "420" at least four times from the shop.
Mokrane Rahim, 30, of New Brighton, was charged Monday with fourth-degree sale of a controlled substance to a police officer and may face further charges in connection to the sale reports the Star Tribune.
As of Tuesday evening, the shop was still open reports the Star Tribune.
KSTP reports search warrants were issued for the store and Rahim's New Brighton home where the synthetic marijuana, cash, a Mercedes Benz and jewelry were also confiscated according to KSTP.

Members of the Blaine-based Teamsters union Local 120 await results of an investigation into corruption of their former top-ranking union officers, reports MPR.
A father and son duo, Brad Slawson Sr. and Brad Slawson Jr. are the focus of an investigation by the Independent Review Board (IRB), a body commissioned by the U.S. Justice Department to tackle corruption across U.S. Teamsters union branches reports the Star Tribune. The review board is a result of a 1989 consent decree between the Teamsters and the Justice Department in order to dodge racketeering charges against the union, said the Star Tribune.
The Teamsters international union ousted the Slawsons from their leadership roles, at least temporarily, on Nov. 13 while Local 120 has been placed into emergency trusteeship, reports the Star Tribune.
The Star Tribune reports the Slawsons were each earning six-figure salaries in their positions as president and secretary-treasurer of Local 120. The 11,661 members of the local were unaware that the Slawsons were also receiving payment from a Fargo bar reports the Star Tribune.
MPR reports allegations in the IRB's report include more than $200,000 of unaccounted for beer and liquor from the Fargo bar between 2010 and 2011. The Slawsons allegedly used union funds to abruptly change a building contract for the local's office construction and pay $90,000 to Todd Chester, a close friend of Slawson Jr. and father to one of Slawson Sr.'s grandchildren reports MPR.
Neither of the officers have faced criminal charges to date reports MPR. If the pair is successfully charged with the allegations they could be banned from officer positions in the Teamsters union along with other criminal offenses reports the Star Tribune.

A man from the Little Falls area has been arrested on suspicion of second-degree murder after the bodies of two teenagers shot on Thanksgiving were found in his basement reports the Star Tribune.
The man, Byron David Smith, 64, of Little Falls is currently being held and is expected to be charged Monday, Nov. 26, reports the Pioneer Press.
MPR reports school officials in Little Falls have identified the victims as Haile Kifer, 18, and Nicholas Brady, 17, cousins and both students popular amongst their classmates.
According to MPR, Smith admitted to Morrison County deputies Friday that he had shot two people the previous day around noon. The bodies were found in his basement that same day when the house was investigated on a suspicious activity call.
Smith claims the deaths resulted from self defense, as according to him Kifer and Brady had broken into his home reports the Pioneer Press. Morrison County Sherrif Michel Wetzel said Sunday in an interview with MPR that the scene of the crime led investigators to believe his actions exceeded simple self-defense.
John Lange, a neighbor of Smith, said Smith's home had been burglarized at least two times before and that he may have "snapped" this time when he heard an intrusion through his bedroom window, reported the Star Tribune.
Both deceased teenagers' schools, Little Falls High School and Pillager High School, will provide counseling services for their students following the death of these students reports MPR

Corcoran Update Met with Mixed Feelings

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The city of Corcoran, Minnesota will soon become the last town in Hennepin County to add sewer and water lines reports the Star Tribune.
The Star Tribune reports the sewer will cost $2.1 million and will become fully operational next year when a pumping station is built.
Press & News reports that Corcoran City Council's next task will be to decide who receives the new municipal services.
For now Mayor Ken Guenther and the council have made no formal action, reports Press & News. Dan Donahue, Corcoran city administrator, told Press & News a draft of applicants would be released for discussion within the next month.
The Star Tribune reports mixed feelings have resulted from the recent developments. The possibility of further development and commercialization of the town has raised both concern and praise from Corcoran locals reports the Star Tribune.

Minnesota Veteran Awarded a Very Belated Purple Heart

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Vietnam veteran and Bloomington, Minn. native Mike Kirkpatrick was awarded a belated Purple Heart Saturday at 44 years after he earned it, reports the Pioneer Press.
Kirkpatrick told the Pioneer Press, "I'm very amazed and very happy to receive this. It's more than I expected. I just did my duty."
While on a patrol mission, Kirkpatrick's squad was hit by an enemy explosive, reports Kare 11. While he had been injured, Kirkpatrick moved quickly to aid his fellow Marines said Kare 11.
Kirkpatrick's comrades received their Purple Hearts in a more timely fashion and also contributed to his receiving the award this year in time for Veteran's Day reports the Pioneer Press.
"I couldn't believe he hadn't received the Purple Heart," fellow veteran Ron Oakes told Kare 11. "So, we made sure the letters were written. This is way overdue."
The award ceremony was led by Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar Saturday at Bloomington City Hall reports the Pioneer Press.
Kirkpatrick told the Pioneer Press after the ceremony he planned on wearing the award for the rest of the day and on really celebrating Veterans Day Sunday.

Lapses in Minnesota Prison Health-Care System

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Inmates at state prisons and county jails are the only adults in America granted a constitutional right to health care. The Star Tribune reports this circumstance comes from a 1967 Supreme Court ruling that found these offenders to be "vulnerable" adults completely dependent on their guardians. The amount of care afforded these inmates is meant to be comparable to that given to other members of their community, said the Star Tribune.
A high level of care though, as stories from the Pioneer Press and the Star Tribune report instances of negligence resulting in the death of one prisoner and the near-death of another in the last two years.
Xavius Scullark Johnson, an inmate at Rush City prison never finished his five-month sentence as he died of complications related to a seizure, reported the Pioneer Press. His family filed a lawsuit for $1 million in damages related to negligence against two nurses at the jail reports the Pioneer Press. One of the nurses, Denise Garin, turned away an offer for an ambulance to transport Scullark Johnson to a nearby hospital the same night he died in Rush City prison, reports the Pioneer Press.
Other practices used to cut costs and save on space have resulted in discomfort for inmates, like the "double-bunking" methods used in Stillwater reported by KSTP.

First Minnesotan Wolf Hunting Season Begins Today

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Minnesota's Department of Natural Resources is opening the regulated hunt to wolves for the first time ever this season, reports Alexandria's Echo Press
MSNBC reports Wisconsin will also participate in the wolf hunt this season.
Minnesota Public Radio reports all seven Ojibwe bands are banning the wolf hunt on their tribal lands. The Wisconsin DNR has closed all lands associated with Ojibwe bands there, while the Minnesota DNR will close only the sections that are fully owned by Ojibwe tribes, leaving private, state and federal property within reservations open to the hunt reports Minnesota Public Radio.
The Minnesota DNR states that prior to a former hunting ban, Minnesota was the only state in the lower 48 home to wolves when they were endangered.
The Echo reports early wolf hunting season runs Nov. 3-18 in 100 series deer permit areas and Nov.3-11 in 200 series deer permit areas. Late wolf hunting and trapping season is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 24 through Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013.

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