Recently in Local News Category

First storm of the season pummels the metro

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Over a foot of snow fell on the Twin Cities metro area Sunday, causing snow emergencies to be declared in more than ten cities, the Star Tribune reported.

Snowfall was most intense Sunday afternoon. The National Weather Service predicted up to 15 inches could cover the area by the end of the day.

According to the Pioneer Press
, the storm caused traffic accidents across the state. One fatal accident was reported in Goodhue County.

At 1:30 p.m., most Metro Transit buses were running behind schedule.

Flights were also affected, the Star Tribune reported. More than 150 flights out of Minneapolis-St. Paul airport were cancelled.

St. Paul's historic Union Depot re-opens

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St. Paul's Union Depot, a 20th century landmark that closed in 1971, re-opened Saturday to Metro Transit buses and passengers, the Pioneer Press reported.

The opening, which was made possible by a $243 million renovation, is expected to serve buses, light-rail and Amtrak by 2014.

Next month, Jefferson Regional Bus Lines will open at the site, the Star Tribune reported.

According to the Star Tribune, the opening celebration included a morning dedication ceremony, movies in the evening and activities throughout the day.

According to the Pioneer Press, Sen. Amy Klobuchar said the depot is "historic, iconic and one of the great railway stations of the 20th century."

"But that doesn't mean it can't also be modern, efficient and one of the great American railways stations of the 21st century," she said.

Little Falls teens slain during Thanksgiving break-in

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Two Little Falls teens, cousins Nick Brady and Haile Kifer, were killed Thanksgiving Day by a homeowner after breaking into his house, the Pioneer Press reported.

Byron Smith, 64, shot 17-year-old Brady and 18-year-old Kifer multiple times as they entered his basement. According to the Pioneer Press, he put their bodies in a workshop, and police were notified a day later after receiving a call from a neighbor.

Brady and Kifer were connected to a burglary the previous day. They apparently stole prescription medicine and coins from a home south of Little Falls.

A funeral was held Saturday, the Star Tribune reported. Community members wanted to focus on good memories of the two teens and show support for their families.

But questions remain about how and why the incident occurred.

"It's been really sad. A lot of people want to know what happened," Shania Morawczynski, a classmate, told the Star Tribune.

Bill would provide greater restrictions for guardians

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Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson and Anoka County Attorney Tony Palumbo announced a proposed bill Friday that would create stricter background checks for the guardians of vulnerable adults, the Star Tribune reported.

The bill, which was written by state Rep. Debra Hilstrom, DFL-Brooklyn Center, and Sen. Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park, would also protect against financial exploitation.

According to the Star Tribune, the bill comes in the wake of the prosecution of former guardian Terri Ann Hauge, who stole tens of thousands of dollars from the bank accounts of multiple wards.

Hauge had been suspended from practicing law in 1995, the Pioneer Press reported, but was still able to serve as a guardian because Minnesota Law does not require the disclosure of suspensions.

According to the Pioneer Press, the new legislation would require background checks every two years instead of the current five years. It would also require potential guardians to disclose information that could impede their ability to be a guardian, including whether they had a license denied, suspended or revoked in the past.

Grandmother and 2 grandkids die in crash

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A 70-year-old woman and her two grandchildren died Friday when their car collided head-on with a school bus in Inver Grove Heights, the Star Tribune reported.

Elaine M. Clausen, 11-year-old Leala Clausen and Gion Clausen, about five, were driving on the 7600 block of Argenta Trail near Minnesota 55 when their car collided with the bus, the Star Tribune reported. Police were notified of the crash at about 4 p.m.

According to the Pioneer Press, both vehicles partially caught fire. But the bus driver -- the only person on the bus -- was not injured.

According to the Star Tribune, the identities of the victims have not yet been confirmed by the Minnesota Regional Medical Examiner.

Clausen was a school bus monitor, the Star Tribune reported. Marvin Emeott, one of her co-workers, said she knew the importance of being cautious when driving near school buses.

Nicollet mall gunshot noise a false alarm

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A gunshot-like noise put the Nicollet Mall area on high alert Friday, causing police to search an office building leased by Target, the Star Tribune reported.

Police were notified of the noise at about 11 a.m. Friday, the Star Tribune reported. The 911 call said shots were heard in the Retek building on Nicollet Mall. About 1,300 Target employees work in the building.

According to the Star Tribune, workers were warned of an "active shooter alert" and advised to stay in their offices. The University of St. Thomas Minneapolis campus, which is located nearby, warned its students of the incident as well, according to the Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal.

A SWAT team searched the Retek building but found no evidence of a shooting. Police issued an all clear at about 1:30 p.m, the Business Journal reported.

Police later found that construction workers in the building used a tool that sounded like gunfire, the Star Tribune reported.

Priest pleads guilty in abuse of 2 boys

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A Catholic priest pleaded guilty Thursday to molesting two underage brothers and was banned by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis from ministry, the Star Tribune reported.

The Rev. Curtis Carl Wehmeyer, 48, pleaded guilty to abusing the boys in 2010 when he was the pastor at St. Paul's Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, the Pioneer Press reported. He also pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography, which was part of another case.

Wehmeyer's sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 1, the Pioneer Press reported. According to the Star Tribune, he will remain a priest despite being banned from ministry.

Wehmeyer admitted in court to molesting the brothers, then 12 and 14, in a camper parked outside of the church, the Star Tribune reported. He said he offered the boys alcohol and marijuana to entice them inside. He said he also showed them child pornography, touched one boy's genitals and masturbated in front of them.

According to the Pioneer Press, Wehmeyer was removed from his parish job June 21, after the victims reported him to the police.

St. Paul teacher wins $25,000 national award

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A St. Paul teacher received the $25,000 Milken Educator Award in a surprise ceremony Friday, the Pioneer Press reported.

Stephen Abenth, 37, teaches 4th grade and directs the choir at St. Paul's Highland Park Elementary School, the Star Tribune reported. Several people received the award this year, but Abenth was the only recipient in Minnesota.

The award is typically given as a surprise, the Star Tribune reported. Abenth said he was asked to prepare choir students for an assembly recognizing student achievement.

The Milken awards are known as "the Oscars of teaching," the Star Tribune reported. Recipients are in their early- to mid-career, and many go on to become administrators.

According to the Star Tribune, Abenth said he will use the money to pursue a master's degree in education technology. He has already done work with technology at Highland Park Elementary -- according to the Pioneer Press, he created a data-tracking system to identify student achievement gaps.

Among the attendees at Friday's assembly were U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and state Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius, the Star Tribune reported.

SPCO cancels all 2012 concerts

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The management of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra cancelled performances until the end of the year Thursday, the Star Tribune reported.

The decision is the latest in a process that began Oct. 21 when management locked out the orchestra's musicians, the Star Tribune reported. The contract between the musicians' union and management expired June 30, and the two sides have yet to reach a consensus on the musicians' salaries.

According to the Star Tribune, musicians have said they would like to continue performing during contract negotiations.

On Wednesday, the union rejected a management proposal that included reduced salaries and benefits as well as a smaller orchestra, the Pioneer Press reported.

Kyu-Young Kim, a member of the negotiating committee, said, "management again fails to realize that an orchestra functions as a team, and that none of us in the SPCO have any interest in selling our present or future colleagues down the river," the Pioneer Press reported.

The two sides will meet gain on Thursday and the musicians will present a new proposal, the Star Tribune reported.

39 wolves killed in hunting season's first weekend

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Minnesota's first wolf hunting season opened Nov. 3, and by the following afternoon 39 wolves had been killed, the Star Tribune reported.

According to the Department of Natural Resources, 32 of the wolves were killed on the first day, the Star Tribune reported.

All 1,600 available wolf hunting licenses were sold within 5 minutes Monday, the Associated Press reported.

An effort to block wolf hunting was struck down by the Minnesota Supreme Court last week, the Associated Press reported. A separate wolf hunting-and-trapping season will begin Nov. 24.

Quotas are set at 200 wolves for each of the two seasons, the Star Tribune reported.

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