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August 12, 2007

Young women break glass ceiling

An analysis of 2005 census data shows that, for the first time, the wage gap no longer holds true for women working full time in a few of the nation's largest cities, the Star Tribune reported Sunday. One of these elite areas is the Twin Cities. In Minneapolis, a woman in her 20's and working full time earns, on average, 19 percent more than her male counterparts. This equates to women making $31,000 on average and men making $26,000. The biggest leap was found in Dallas, where women are making 120 percent more than men. New York City, Boston and Chicago were other urban areas where women have seen a large leap in closing the income gap. For example, in New York City in the 1970's, women earned an average of $7,000 less each year than men did. In 2005, women earned $5,000 more than men. Researchers said that the findings are not all that surprising since women are graduating from high school and college in larger numbers than men. However, researchers caution that women with college degrees still make less than men with college degrees.

Willmar classroom to use balls instead of chairs

A Willmar, Minn. kindergarten classroom will use stability balls instead of chairs this fall, the Pioneer Press reported. The overhaul in classroom seating options is part of the SMART (Stimulating Maturity through Accelerated Readiness Training) Program, which incorporates physical activity into learning and brain development. Sixty-five teachers from Willmar's school district received training this month on implementing the program into their classrooms. Kindergarten teacher Chelsea Brown, who's mother is the trainer for the SMART curriculum, discovered last year that the stability balls helped keep the more active students in their seats and focused on their work.

August 5, 2007

Man killed in fight

A man was killed in an early Sunday morning brawl off Hennepin Avenue, the Star Tribune reported Sunday. The homicide was the first in the downtown district since March 2006, when a 31-year-old man was shot outside Block E. The killing was also the third homicide in Minneapolis in a 52-hour period. Previously, there had not been a homicide in Minneapolis in a month. By Sunday evening, police had arrested a 20-year-old man in connection with the killing, which authorities said stemmed from an altercation over women. The killing is the 29th homicide in Minneapolis in 2007.

August 4, 2007

Roseville official interfered in cop stop

A Roseville, Minn., city official interfered in a traffic stop by an officer in the city, the Roseville city attourney said this week. The Pioneer Press (http://www.twincities.com/north/ci_6538570) reported Friday that Janet Delmore, head of the suburb's Human Rights Commission, is under fire from city police and the city attorney for allegedly ignoring an officer's command for her to step away from a traffic stop. Police officer Brady Martin stopped a car July 25 for illegal window tint. The man, Andres Garza, 18, was involved in an incident five years ago with the same officer when Martin accused Garza of stealing a bike. It turns out that the bike belonged to Garza and Martin came under fire for the incident from Delmore. Delmore and Garza accused the police officer of racial profiling in both cases. Roseville's City Attorney has found probable cause that Delmore disobeyed police orders in the July 25 incident and said that city police could charge her with a misdemenor count of disobeying police orders. Delmore said she will bring the racial profiling allegations up to the city's peace officers board, regardless of charges filed against her.

July 29, 2007

Second worker swept away in storm found

The second and final sewer worker missing after a heavy rainstorm Thursday was found, the Pioneer Press reported Sunday. The body of Joe Harlow, 34, was recovered from the Mississippi River Saturday about 15 yards from where the body of his coworker, Dave Yasis, 23, had been found the previous day. The two were swept away Thursday while working in the sewer system below St. Paul's Frogtown neighborhood. Six other workers made it to safety as a strong afternoon storm dumped nearly a half inch of water in the area in less than half an hour. It is still unclear why Harlow and Yasis did not make it out of the sewers in time.

July 28, 2007

Remains of missing Stillwater man found

The remains of Jon Francis, 24, of Stillwater, Minn., were positively identified Tuesday, ending more than a year of searching for the young man who went missing while climbing a mountain in Idaho, the Pioneer Press reported Thursday. Francis, who's parents also live in Stillwater, never returned to a church camp where he was a youth leader last summer after going on a hike by himself in the Sawtooth Mountains. A guest log at the top of Grand Mogul mountain showed that Francis had reached the summit. His body was found on the north side of the mountain, which is the most trecherous face to climb. Authorities are still looking for his backpack and camera, at the family's request, because the family wants to see the last pictures their son took before his death.

July 15, 2007

Ham Lake fire reveals geological treasure

Geologists who had their plans for an annual meeting changed by the Ham Lake fire in northern Minnesota in May stumbled upon a previously undiscovered rock that may hold secrets dating back 1.85 billion years, the Star Tribune reported Sunday. The formation resembles cement, but, as Mark Jirsa, the geologist who discovered the formation explains, this cement was made from an ancient impact with force equal to several billion Hiroshima-sized nuclear bombs. This formation is the furthest above ground evidence of the impact found.

July 14, 2007

State Representative Convicted

An eight-term state representative from Big Lake, Minn., was convicted Friday of one count of misdemeanor domestic assault with intent to cause fear, the Pioneer Press reported. However, State Rep. Mark Olson was acquitted of a second charge of misdemeanor assault. The case stems from a November incident behind the representative's home, where he pushed his wife to the ground three times. During the trial, Olson claimed that he was the victim in the case, and told the jury of ways his wife had abused him, including cutting his picture out of their wedding album cover. HIs wife, Heidi Olson, claimed she was the abused one in the relationship and had frequently feared for her life. After the verdict, Olson said he would try to reconcile with his wife. However, in a prepared statement by Heidi Olson and read by her brother-in-law, no suggestion of reconciliation was mentioned. State House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher said Friday that the House can punish members who bring the body dishonor, but that two members would have to file motions to set the process into action.

July 1, 2007

Minnesotan wins America Junior Miss

A Mendota Heights teen won America´s Junior Miss scholastic competition Saturday night in Mobile, Ala. Nora Ali, who graduated valedictorian from South St. Paul High School in May, beat out one teen from each state to win the $50 thousand scholarship, the Star Tribune reported Sunday. She placed in the top five in four of the five catagories being judged, which included scholastic merit, interview, fitness, self-expression and talent. Placing high in so many catagories earned Ali an additional $4,000. She will use the money to attend Harvard University in the fall, where she will study applied mathematics and finance.

Lilydale struggles with sliver of land

Lilydale city officials are trying to decide what to do with a little piece of land causing some big disputes. The land, less than an acre in size, was given to the city years ago, the Pioneer Press reported Thursday. City officials thought that the land was deeded to the city with certain stipulations for its use, but recently discovered tht at this is not the case. Most of the council members want to sell the land to residential developers, which would win the ity about $320 thousand dollars. These council members see the land as a way to help the city get out of debt. However, there is another side to the story. One council member wants to protect the land as it is zoned in the city plan, a¨"passive open space." She also contends that the land is not suitable for residential development because it is too steep of a grade to build on. The council voted 3-1 to survey the land for residential sale.

Lilydale struggles with sliver of land

Lilydale city officials are trying to decide what to do with a little piece of land causing some big disputes. The land, less than an acre in size, was given to the city years ago, the Pioneer Press reported Thursday. City officials thought that the land was deeded to the city with certain stipulations for its use, but recently discovered tht at this is not the case. Most of the council members want to sell the land to residential developers, which would win the ity about $320 thousand dollars. These council members see the land as a way to help the city get out of debt. However, there is another side to the story. One council member wants to protect the land as it is zoned in the city plan, a¨"passive open space." She also contends that the land is not suitable for residential development because it is too steep of a grade to build on. The council voted 3-1 to survey the land for residential sale.

Lilydale struggles with sliver of land

Lilydale city officials are trying to decide what to do with a little piece of land causing some big disputes. The land, less than an acre in size, was given to the city years ago, the Pioneer Press reported Thursday. City officials thought that the land was deeded to the city with certain stipulations for its use, but recently discovered tht at this is not the case. Most of the council members want to sell the land to residential developers, which would win the ity about $320 thousand dollars. These council members see the land as a way to help the city get out of debt. However, there is another side to the story. One council member wants to protect the land as it is zoned in the city plan, a¨"passive open space." She also contends that the land is not suitable for residential development because it is too steep of a grade to build on. The council voted 3-1 to survey the land for residential sale.

June 22, 2007

Minnesota Monthly editor dies

An editor of Minnesota Monthly magazine died unexpectedly of natural causes in her Edina home Thursday, the Star Tribune reported Friday. Carol Ratelle Leach, 43, started her career for a subsidiary of Dow Jones in New York City. She graduated from the University of Minnesota and had a rich background in reporting, book editing and, most recently, as a top editor of Minnesota Monthly magazine.

This article follows the basic formula for writing obituraries. The author of the obit leads with the person´s name and age, and also includes the cause of death and the day of death in the lede. The lede also includes why she is a noteworthy person. Then the obit moves into a short quote from her publisher about what a valued employee and person she was. Then the obit writer goes into more detail about her career and life, talking about where she went to college, where she started her career, other professional high points and, finally, her position before death. Lastly, in the last paragraph, the obit includes information about her family including her husband´s name, how many children she has and where they lived. I think this obit could have had more personal details about her life to make it more personal and interesting, but it sounds like the death was completely unexpected, which makes me believe that no one was prepared to reflect on this relatively young person´s life. I think the author did a good, respectful job, considering the abruptness of the death.

Boy sues parents over injury

A nine-year-old boy can sue his parents for improperly installing his carseat, a mistake that resulted in permanent brain damage when the boy was ejected from the car during a crash when he was three. The boy initially sued the car seat manufacturer Century Power Products, according to the Pioneer Press. There was a coin lodged in the buckle, so even thought the buckle clicked like it was locked into place, it wasn´t. The manufacturer argued that the boy´s parents were to blame because they failed to properly install and maintain the car seat. The boy quietly settled the suit with the manufacturer for an undisclosed amount of money, and then turned to his parents. To sue them, with their support. The ruling, in favor of the boy, forces his parents´ auto insurance company, Progressive, to pay $100,000. The money will help the family pay for his care, which requires around-the-clock assistance. The boy´s lawyer, in a statement, said this case wasn´t about blaming the parents but rather about forcing the insurance company to pay their part in the accident.

June 15, 2007

3M chemical found in private wells

A chemical 3M legally disposed of in Woodbury decades ago is now turning up in private wells in the area surrounding the disposal site, the Pioneer Press reported Friday. The chemical, perfluorobutanoic, or PFBA for short, was discovered in 99 of the wells in southern Washington County. The state Department of Health tested 350 wells in the area of suspected contamination. PFBA is a chemical 3M used for photographic film and was legally disposed of in the site off Woodbury Drive and Military Road, ending in the 1970s. The 99 wells that were contaminated contained at least one part-per-billion of the chemical, with some houses testing as high as five ppb. PFBA has proven in lab tests to start effecting rats in extremely high doses. Health officials said a resident in the contamination area would have to drink over 250,000 glasses of water a day to reach even the lowest level of the effects documented in lab studies.

June 10, 2007

Teen dies in north side violence

A 14-year-old girl died late Saturday after being shot leaving a party in Minneapolis's north side neighborhood, the Star Tribune reported Sunday. The girl, Charez Jones, was walking home from a party with her boyfriend and younger step-brother when they saw three men fighting at the corner of 33rd and Humboldt Avenues N. The teens decided to turn around and began to run when they heard gunshots. Jones was separated from the group and was found dead shortly after near the doorstep to the party they had recently left. Police said they are still looking for the three men and that they believe Jones was an unintentional victim of the violence. She would have finished her freshman year at Edison High School on Tuesday. The Pioneer Press, which also picked up the story, said the teen and her boyfriend had attended a birthday party for a 17-year-old girl on Humboldt Avenue N and had called a cousin shortly after 10:30 p.m. for a ride home. Party-goers had to submit to a weapons search before being allowed into the house, according to family members of the 17-year-old birthday girl. A group of four men approached the house about the time Jones stepped outside to call her cousin, and according to the host family, the men did not submit to a weapons search and consequently were not allowed inside. Police believe these men may be connected to the shooting.

June 7, 2007

Hmong leader charged

A prominent Hmong leader was among ten indicted this week in conspiracy charges to bring down the communist government in Laos. General Vang Pao, a Hmong military leader with strong Minnesota connections, was charged with raising money to buy weapons and recruiting fighters to topple the government in Laos, the Star Tribune reported Tuesday.

Vang Pao has long vowed to return the Hmong to their home in Laos, where they were ousted during the Vietnam War by the communist government in the country. Hmong soldiers helped the United States military perform a "secret war" in Laos and surrounding countries during the Vietnam War but their efforts to defend their homeland were abandoned by the United States after the Vietnam War ended.

Vang Pao made two trips to Minnesota in recent months, alledgedly raising money for his group's efforts to overthrow the Laotian government. Others in his group, called Neo Hom, shopped for military equipment sold illegally and were reportedly warned by a former Wisconsin senator to go outside the United States to complete the weapons transactions because the senator had heard of a sting operation surrounding the deals.

Locally, former US Attorney Tom Heffelfinger met with those close to the general Tuesday to discuss a defense council in the case. Heffelfinger acknowledged that he may be chosen as the head defense attorney in the case.

May 30, 2007

Candy and Pot found in bust

Authorities seized a ton of marijuana in a bust Tuesday. Seriously, one ton hidden inside a 21-ton shipment of jawbreaker candies, the Pioneer Press reported Wednesday. Authorities said the bust may be the biggest in Minnesota history and worry that their focus on methamphetamines may be causing a resurgence in pot and other street drugs. The shipment had a street value of about $3 million, authorities estimate. The semi-truck was pulled over in Minneapolis.

Stillwater staple to close doors

This story is not really that interesting to most people, let me start with that. But when I read in the local briefs section of the Pioneer Press the Stillwater Drug was closing its doors for good this summer, it was with heavy heart. The drug store has been a downtown staple for me since I can remember. I grew up in Stillwater and would go down there for prescriptions, candy and trinkets. The corner of Main Street and Chestnut Street has housed a drug store since 1881, so I'm sure I wasn't the only one who felt as if a staple of our town's history was being taken away. The owner, who is 79, wants to retire and will be selling the spot. This is the third historic local business to close down this year. The Minnesota Zepher and the Stillwater Hardware Store already announced their departure from the main drag earlier this year.

As far as briefs go, this one is pretty standard. It is short, it is to-the-point and it is basic. The author does a good job of getting quotes from two different sources into the brief, which can be hard sometimes with such a limited space. The author also deviated from the standard cut-and-dry approach to briefs, which is basically just a summary of the who, what, where, when and sometimes the why. I appreciated this personally because this is a sad story for long-time residents or visitors of Stillwater. The author's reference to "Main and Chestnut" shows that she is intimate with the area and understands how this piece of news will effect some readers. She also did a good job of explaining the historical significance of this store, which is sometimes difficult in briefs because the "why should I care?" is usually complex and hard to sum up neatly.

May 26, 2007

Son kills father after domestic dispute

A ten-year-old St. Paul boy stabbed his father to death early Friday after the father and the boy's mother argued, the Pioneer Press reported Saturday. This story is the follow-up to a story published Friday on the incident. As an interesting reminder of the mistakes that can happen when deadline pressure is fierce, the story begins with a correction to Friday's story, explaining that the boy and his mother were not involved in a neglect case in Carver County as stated in Friday's piece. The father, Thomas Christopher Simmons, 34, had another ten-year-old son by a different woman, who was involved in the neglect case.

This story starts to get at the motive the boy had to stab his father, who lived in the apartment above the one the boy shared with his mother and siblings. Simmons returned to the building intoxicated, according to witnesses, and began arguing with the mother. The mother said in Saturday's article that the boy just wanted to scare his father, who was making verbal threats to his mother. The boy picked up a knife and stabbed his father in the chest. The mother said she decided to speak out on the case to let the public know her son is not an evil child and that Simmons was not a horrible man who deserved being killed.

May 25, 2007

Bobcat suspect in camper attack

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officials now think a bobcat may be responsible for the attack on a camper in northern Minnesota earlier this week, the Star Tribune reported Friday. The bobcat, the most common yet most elusive of Minnesota's wild cats, is being blamed for a middle-of-the-night mauling that left a college professor with multiple deep scratches on his head and face.

Jon Kenning, 28, is a visiting assistant professor at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, who was leading a group of students on a trip to Itasca State Park when the attack happened. Kenning was sleeping in a tent away from the other students when the attack occured, the Pioneer Press reported Friday, when he awoke to something batting at his head. Local authorities first thought Kenning was attacked by a small black bear but, after studying Kenning's injuries, now believe the marks are those of a confused bobcat and not a curious bear. DNR officials said this is the first bobcat attack in a state park they have heard of.

May 14, 2007

Ham Lake fire still a threat

Although the North Shore received some much needed rain Sunday night, the Pioneer Press reported that the Ham Lake wildfire only received about one-tenth of an inch of rain, which will quickly be evaporated by the sun on Monday. The fire is currently the fourth largest in Minnesota history, beating out 2006's Cavity Lake fire in number of acres destroyed. The Ham Lake fire, which started May 5, has consumed an estimated 60,000 acres of Minnesotan and Canadian land. Winds from the south Sunday pushed the fire into Canada, where an unspecified number of residents were forced to evacuate. The Star Tribune added that the fire is 93.1 square miles and only about 20 percent of the fire is under control. However, more firefighting resources flooded into the area over the weekend, including an upsurge in fire fighters. There are now about 930 fire fighters on the Minnesota side of the blaze, which almost doubles the town of Grand Marais, which has a population of about 1500.

Minnesota man and Wisconsin finace die in crash

A Minnesota man and his Wisconsin finace were among the five dead after a small airplane crashed in Montana, the Associated Press reported Monday. The Star Tribune picked up the story, identified Kyle Mills and Jennifer Sengpiel as the Midwestern couple who were planning on tandeem skydiving from the plane. The pilot, a 28-year-old Wisconsin man, had been working at Skydive Lost Prairie for about 10 days, according to his father. The Pioneer Press also picked up the wire story, which said it was too early to determine what caused the small Cessna to crash. It appeared that shortly after take off, the plane did a 180 degree turn and fell from about 500 feet high into a forested area. Also killed in the crash were Mills's and Sengpiel's instructors, two men from Montana.

April 29, 2007

Prison guard caught with pot

A guard for the Oak Park Heights prison was charged Friday with smuggling marijuana into an inmate, the Pioneer Press reported. The woman, officials allege, smuggled in small amounts of the drug on two occasions and also admitted to having an eight-month long relationship with the inmate. The Star Tribune, which picked up the AP's version of the story, said the guard was fired March 2 for violating policies against sexual misconduct between officers and inmates and also for bringing contraband into the prison. The article also said allegation details include the inmate paying her $1000 for each delivery of marijuana.

Big stone wins big bucks

The Minnesota Historical Society received a surprisingly large donation Friday. The donator? An anonymous jewelry collector who paid over $3 million for a 22.66 carat sapphire. The Star Tribune reported Saturday that the sale is the largest for a sapphire on record. Proceeds from the gem, which was originally the stunning centerpiece of a necklace lumber baron James J. Hill purchased for his wife, will benefit the James J. Hill house on Summit Avenue in St. Paul, which is owned by the Historical Society and used for tours highlighting Minnesota's past. The Pioneer Press also covered the story, but chose to pick up the AP version, which also explained that the necklace was purchesed Dec. 24, 1886- possibly as a last minuet Christmas present.

February 25, 2007

Let it snow, Let it snow, Let it snow

The winter storm that swept through Minnesota this weekend left as many as 18 inches in some parts of the state, the Star Tribune reported Sunday. Minnesota State Patrol said there have been no traffic fatalities in the state by press time. The Star Tribune also wrote that 490 car accidents had been reported by print time. Some flights were canceled or delayed out of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and both cities declared a snow emergency.

Nationally, eight deaths were attributed to the storm, according to the Houston Chronicle. Seven of those deaths were reported in Wisconsin. The storm stretched across Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinios, Kansas, Nebraska and Ohio.

February 17, 2007

Missing Wirth Park Statues Found

Two missing statues stolen from Theodore Wirth Park in Minneapolis turned up Tuesday at a scrap yard in St. Paul, according to the Pioneer Press. The bronze statues were taken from the park Feb. 9. Two men and a woman were charged in connection with the crime on Friday in Carver and Ramsey counties. The scrap yard called the police when two men showed up trying to sell pieces of the missing statues for cash. The article reports that the statues would have garnered the pair about $300 to $400. The statues are estimated to be worth over $8,000 each and will be restored by the Minneapolis Parks Legacy Foundation, which was the original donator of the statues.

This story does not start with a hard news lede. Instead, the reporter chose to start with a description of the delight of stumbling upon the statues when walking through Wirth Park. Then, in the second sentance, the allegations against the three and the "who" of the story are addressed. The story then goes into more detail about the crime and the charges. It separates the Ramsey charges into one fact block and the Carver County charges into another. It also gives a description of the stolen statues and detail about how the alleged thiefs stole the statues from the park. The story then goes into chronological order about how the statues turned up and the response by scrap yard workers. It also gives interesting information near the end about the value of the scrap metal compared to the real value of the statues. The story ends with a projection into the future as to how the statues will be repaired.

February 13, 2007

Dinos on parade

Well, looks like each Minnesota summer brings more than mosquitos and road construction, based on articles published in both the strib and ppress Tuesday. According to the articles, the Science Museum of Minnesota plans to celebrate its impending 100 birthday with 100 dinosaurs spread throughout the Twin Cities during the summer.

Each article included artist renderings of what the dinos may look like. Much in the vein of the Charlie Brown statues that graced downtown St. Paul for four summers, artists will decorate the dinosaurs.

While the majority of the dinosaurs will stay in St. Paul, 20 will venture across the river and into Minneapolis's parks and sidewalks.

When the summer of dinos is over, each art work will be auctioned off. The proceeds will go to the Science Museum.

Fun Fact: According to the strib article, the statues are modeled after the Rebbachisaurus, which looks kind of like Little Foot from the "Land Before Time" series (very scientific explanation, I know). Each statue will be 4.5 feet tall and almost 9 feet long!

January 27, 2007

Death after Iraq

This story, although some may consider it to not be news because of its personal details, is about a Marine from New Prague who committed suicide after returning home from Iraq. He attempted to check himself into the VA hospital in Minneapolis but was told he was 26 on the list of veterns waiting for admission.

The best part of this article is the subhead, in my opinion, because it reveals that coming home from war isn't happily ever after for many young veterns.

The lede in this story re-emphasizes this point without revealing how the Marine died. It is an example of a feature-style lede because it does not detail the 5 w's and instead chooses to start with an anectdote. This lede works because it foreshadows the tragic end and also leaves the Marine with some dignity by saying he was "a U.S. Marine to the core."

Interestingly, the story was only covered by the Star Tribune.

January 26, 2007

Community protests neo-nazi event

Both the Pioneer Press and the Star Tribune picked up this story for today (Jan. 26). Both pieces focus around the community reaction and outcry against a planned neo-nazi book burning event that was schedualed to take place somewhere in the Twin Cities today.

However, with a focus on ledes for this week, the two reporters chose different ways to tell this story.

The P. Press used a striaght-forward approach that outlined the who, what, why and where in the one-sentance lede. The nut graph then further explains the who and where, while introducing the when.

The Strib, on the other hand, picked a human-interest lede. Their lede uses a Holocaust survivor to lead (ha ha ha) into the who, what, where and when. This is not as hard-hitting as the P. Press's lede, but has the ability to pull the reader into the story.