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E-Bingo to be used for paying Vikings Stadium cost

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Minnesota officials are betting on electronic bingo to boost sagging revenue meant to pay the state's share of the new Vikings football stadium, news sources report.

Starting this week, Minnesota will be the first state to launch a stateside bingo system that will allow players compete for jackpot prizes at dozens of video screen sites, the Star Tribune reports.

Players will only be able to play with other gamblers using the same device, according to the Star Tribune.

Proceeds from electronic gaming devices are supposed to pay Minnesota's $348 million share of the Vikings stadium, but the first round of gaming -with electronic pulltabs - have failed to bring in much revenue, forcing to state to slash projected game revenue for this year from $35 million to $1.7 million, according to the Star Tribune.

Officials are hoping this new form of linked charitable gambling, approved by the Minnesota Gambling Control Board on March 18, will bring in greater funds, the Pioneer Press reports.

Minnesota School Installs Bulletproof Whiteboards

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A Minnesota school district is stocking its classrooms with bulletproof whiteboards to help protect students in the event of a possible future school shooting, news sources report.

The Rocori School Distirct in Cold Spring, Minn., recently purchased nearly 2000 18-by-20 inch whiteboards designed to guard a head and torso against several magazines of ammunition from a handgun or shotgun, ABC News reports.

The boards are to be used as a last line of defense according to the school district, the first in Minnesota to adopt the boards, which are already in use in certain schools in California, North Dakota, Maryland and Pennsylvania, according to ABC News.

The whiteboards' manufacturer, Maryland-based Hardwire LLC, which has provided armor protection devices for military vehicles and personnel for years, turned its attention to school security after 20 children died in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Fox News reports.

Rocori School District faced its own school shooting in 2003, when two teens were shot to death at Rocori High School before a teacher convinced the gunman to put his weapon, Fox News reports.

Hospital apologizes for losing baby's body in laundry

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A St. Paul hospital has admitted to mishandling the remains of stillborn baby that wound up in hospital linens sent to a laundry service, news sources report.

Chris Boese, chief nursing officer for Regions Hospital, apologized for the mistake, which he said should have been prevented, CNN reports.

An employee from Crothall Laundry in Red Wing, Minn, called police Tuesday afternoon to report that a baby's body had been found in items picked up from the hospital, CNN reports.

The baby boy had been stillborn on April 4 at 22 weeks development, Fox News reports. His body was placed in the hospital morgue and it is currently unknown how his remains ended up in the linens sent to Red Wing for cleaning, according to CNN.

Boese said it was too early to say whether any hospital employees would be disciplined, and that child's family has yet to be notified of what happened, Fox News reports

CNN reports that hospital officials said Wednesday that they were reaching out to the baby's family, offering their apologies and support.

A newly proposed re-route of an Iron Range highway has drawn the ire of business owners along the current route, news sources report.

The stretch of highway between Eveleth and Virginia must be moved to make way for a expansion of an open pit taconite mine, but will bypass both cities and local businesses, the Pioneer Press reports.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation hopes to have the new highway in place by 2017, the Pioneer Press reports.

Public safety officials in Virginia are worried that the proposed reroute would cut communities off from quick access to ambulances, according to MPR. The city of Virginia instead prefers a route over the abandoned Rouchleau Pit, which is hundreds of feet deep and partially filled with water.

the proposal would require the construction of a bridge with 200 foot piers and cost $160 million, according to MPR. The state has set aside only $60 million in bonding funds for the project so far.

Dayton Declares Snow Emergency Following Snow Storm

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Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton declared a state of emergency Thursday after a spring snowstorm heaped ice and frustration on Southwest Minnesota, news sources report.

Dayton signed an emergency executive order at speeding relief efforts to the area affected by the storm, where transportation was impeded and communities struggled to restore power, CBS reports.

Six to 8 of wet snow fell early Thursday on top of the thick layer of ice that accumulated Tuesday night, the Pioneer Press reports. Snowfall in some areas reached 12 inches, and heavy snow, sleet, and gusting winds hampered commuters in the Twin Cities.

Officials say it may be early next week before electricity is restored in the southwest, CBS reports, as downed power lines and broken utility poles has disconnected the area from the larger power grid.

Across Minnesota, the State Patrol said it responded to 296 crashes plus 440 vehicles that either spun out or went off the road. Injuries were reported in 39 of those crashes, the Pioneer Press reports.

Minnesota Revives Sales Tax Overhaul

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The Minnesota Legislature has revived a sales tax overhaul, news sources report.

Less than a month after Gov. Mark Dayton dropped his plans for comprehensive changes to the state's tax system, Senate DFLers revealed a plan Thursday for major revisions to Minnesota's sales and corporate taxes, the Pioneer Press reports.

The Senate plan would broaden the sales tax while lowering the overall rate to 6 percent from 6.875 percent, and trim Corporate income taxes, the Star Tribune reports.

The biggest change for Minnesotans would be a new sales tax on clothing, but personal services, including haircuts, tattoos, dance lessons, and auto repairs, along with nonprescription drugs would also be taxed, according to the Pioneer Press.

Dayton's original plan attracted controversy by taxing business-to-business services, such as legal, accounting and advertising services, a move that solidified opposition from the business community, according to the Pioneer Press.

Dayton staffers said Thursday that he would not embrace key components of the Senate's plan, according to the Star Tribune. Senate Republicans have also voiced their opposition to the tax overhaul.

University of Minnesota proposes Fairview Takeover

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University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler has proposed that the University of Minnesota should acquire Fairview Health Services, news sources report.

IKaler wrote in a January letter to Fairview interim CEO Charles Mooty that a union between the University and Fairview would be the "best choice for our patients and communities, our state, and our physicians, staff students," the Minnesota Daily reports.

Leaders of both organizations are scheduled to meet Monday to discuss the proposal, according to MPR. Fairview is also negotiating a potential merger with health care giant, Sanford Health.

Kaler said in an email to University faculty and staff Thursday that the idea of the South Dakota based company taking over Fairveiw, which runs the University Medical center, "raises serious concerns for the University," according to the Minnesota Daily.

Concerns had been raised that possible Sanford-Fairview merger would compromise the university hospital's status as an academic and research institution, according to the Star Tribune.

Kaler said the U's proposal does not mean the merger between Sanford and Fairview cannot go through. He was scheduled to meet with Sanford officials this week, but cancelled due to an attorney general's inquiry and the Legislature returning from its spring break, the Star Tribune reports.

According to a statement released by Fairview last month, talks of Sanford acquisition are in "very early stages," though the Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson believes the talks are serious, as is the possibility of an out-of-state company gaining control of Fairview, the Minnesota Daily reports.

Augsburg College has received a gift of $10 million from a former student, news sources report.

The donation from the 1965 alumnus, who wishes to remain anonymous, is the largest in the school's history, according to the Pioneer Press.

The college announced Monday that the gift would further its plans to construct a new $60 million Center for Science, Business and Religion, the Star Tribune reports. The gift brings the school's collected funds for the project to $23 million.

Fundraising for the project began in 2008, when the country was in the midst of the Great Recession, according to the Star Tribune. After failing to raise the funds, the campaign re-emerged last year.

Augsburg's board of regents has tentatively set 2014 for the start of construction on the new facility, the Pioneer Press reports.

2 fraudsters escape from Duluth Prison

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Two multimillion-dollar fraudsters have escaped from a federal prison near Duluth, news sources report.

Authorities discovered Michael Krzyzaniak, 64, and Gerald Greenfield, 67, missing from the facility around 10 p.m. Saturday after a regularly scheduled prisoner count, the Star Tribune reports.

The low-security prison camp they were being held in has no perimeter walls and holds its inmates on an honor system, according to the Star Tribune. While many freedoms are lost during imprisonment, the camp offers many amenities, including a gym, movie theater, and sleeping quarters that resemble a college dorm.

The prison's most notable inmate of late was disgraced auto mogul Denny Heckler, who started serving his prison term there in 2011 before being shuffled between multiple federal prisons, according to the Star Tribune.

Krzyzaniak was serving a 12-year sentence for defrauding investors out of nearly $26 million and Greenfield was serving four years for conspiracy to commit money laundering in a $2.5 million scheme and was scheduled to be released in November 2015, the Pioneer Press reports. Krzyzaniak sentence wasn't going to end until April 2022.

The search for the escapees is being carried out by the U.S. Marshal Service, according to the Pioneer Press.

Minnesota Zoo to see major expansion

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The Minnesota Zoo is preparing to launch a major expansion, news sources report.

The plan to continue the zoo's shift from its original focus on conservation and education to a family entertainment venture, will cost hundreds and millions of dollars, and will include adding a new African trail with lions, giraffes and hippos, the Star Tribune reports.

The planned expansion is meant to deliver on the original dream of the Minnesota Zoo's founders and finally deliver the bread and butter zoo species people expect to see in a major zoo, Zoo director Lee Ehmke told the Star Tribune.

The plan also calls for converting the Northern Trail to an Asian themed, an events center overlooking a domed orangutan forest, elevated zip lines and new restaurants.

The first phase of the project will cost an estimated $50 million, according to the Star Tribune. The price of the expansion is to be covered by a mix of private donations, state aid, and increased admission fees.

Young farm animals, including chicks, piglets, lambs, calves, goat kids, bunnies and ducklings, debuted at the Minnesota Zoo this weekend, according to CBS. The Farm Babies exhibit will be open from March 31 through April 30.

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