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November 25, 2007

"Park Board guessed wrong, so trees get whacked"

Original article found in the Star Tribune.

Trees all over the metro area are being pruned thanks to a park board which thought that they wouldn't be a problem when they grew. Several years ago, trees were planted all over the Minneapolis area in order to replace elm trees that had died of Dutch elm's disease. Many of those trees were planted very near or right under power lines. It was thought that in a few years all of the power lines would have been moved under ground. However, that is not the case.

Now Xcel energy has to begin pruning all of these trees in order to prevent damage to power lines and ultimetely, blackouts to citizens. So, Xcel is sending out people to prune the trees year round. Many of these trees are in such a bad position that they have to be cut drastically in order to prevent damage. However, this is not pleasing to those people who have to look at the trees.

Many are complaining that the trees are left looking terrible. Some pine trees are even having the top cut right off of them. But Xcel says in response to complaints that the trees have to be cut so much in order to prevent future damage.

The plan is to have 1.6 million trees pruned within 5 years.

November 21, 2007

"Latest plan for downtown Wayzata is gaining"

Original article found in the Star Tribune.

Downtown Wayzata is currently discussing changes around the Wayzata Bay Area. The people of this small town want some reform as far as the shops and retail area there.

So, on Monday night, more than 350 residents of Wayzata gathered in a church basement to discuss changes. For the most part, the residents want to see changes take place.

Presbyterian Homes and Services are the ones that wish to transform Wayzata's downtown. The plan is to take Wayzata Bay area and five more blocks and build it up full of bigger retail buildings. Most of downtown Wayzata is only full of one story buildings. Also, the building company is planning on putting in a plaza and reducing paved area.

"New limits on snowmobiling in Yellowstone"

Original article found in the Star Tribune.

For the last several years, conservationists have been concerned about snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park. They say that the snowmobiles cause air pollution and unwanted noise.

So, in the winter of 2008-2009, only 540 personal snowmobiles will be allowed in the park per day.

However, this year, the number of snowmobiles will stay the same as in the past. 720 snowmobiles will still be allowed every day.

Local business owners are not happy about this. They say that the snowmobilers bring good business to their stores.

This whole issue is being spurred on by the National Park Service. The National Park Service hopes to eventually get rid of all snowmobilers in the park. But congressmen who live in the states surrounding Wyoming do not seem to be in favor of the decision.

"France: Civil servants on strike, too"

Original article found in the Star Tribune.

There has been a strike in France for the last week among many civil workers. Those involved in the strike include transportation workers, teachers, air traffic controllers and others. However, the French President Nicolas Sarkozy is determined to keep further strikes from happening all over France, so he is refusing to give into their demands.

The original plan was that the strike would only last a day. But now workers are determined to win the strike and cause the President to give in to their demands.

The President is currently working on new reforms in social, economic and political areas. If he were to give in to the strikers, it were significantly damage all that he has done in those other areas and it would be detrimental to his political decree.

November 18, 2007

"Edina residents see red over murky water"

Original article located in the Star Tribune.

The city of Edina has been having some problems with not very clear water for some time now. It started out with a yellow tint. Then the water started to leave rust spots on laundry and smelling bad. Finally, in Lynn avenue area, the water coming out the pipes is reddish brown with bits of things floating in it.

The problem with the water pipes has most likely come out of this really hot summer combined with old metal pipes. The hot summer caused the metal pipes to rust and corrode more than they usually would.

1.4 million dollars has been set aside by the city in order to fix the problem. Unfortunetely, they will not be working on the pipes until at least next spring. Then, it will take them 3 years to finish.

The plan is start by getting rid of the rust from inside the pipes and them lining them with something new such as cement or plastic. This will hopefully keep the pipes clean in the future.

For now, the water contains a lot of iron but is still considered safe to drink. Plus, Edina neighborhoods are working on flushing out some of the rust and improving the water. When it gets even colder the problem should temporarily go away.

"Flooded Katrina cars showing up worldwide"

Original article located in the Star Tribune.

A couple years after the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe in New Orleans, it is being discovered that many cars that were flooded and seemingly destroyed, have been sold to foreign countries.

These cars often have mold lines which show how deep they sat in water. But some people, in countries like Bolivia, jumped at the chance to get a car for cheap.

Over 10,000 cars damaged by Katrina are suspected to now be located in Bolivia. Bolivia has pretty relaxed import rules, so it was an easy place for these cars to go.

They were mostly bought over the internet through sites that were originally supposed to turn the cars into scrap metal. One car, a mini cooper, owned by Colleen Mcgaw, was sold to a very large United States salvage company. But somehow, it was sold to a person in Bolivia for $7000.

Thankfully, Mcgaw had received a check from her insurance for $18,500 for the car. The check came because of the immense water damage that the car had received.

"Explosion kills dozens of coal miners in Ukraine"

Original article appeared in the Star Tribune.

A methane blast erupted in a coal mine in Ukraine at about 3 a.m. Sunday morning. More than 360 were able to get out of the mine, but over 63 were killed.

This is one of the worst mining disasters in years. The Ukrainian President has even declared three days of mourning for Ukraine in honor of those who died.

The coal mine itself is known as the Zasyadko mine. It is very deep. The actual blast area was located at 3,300 feet deep.

The dust was so bad that many could not even where they were going as they tried to escape. Some even had to walk over dead bodies as they tried to save themselves.

"A dangerous rite of passage"

Original article found in the Star Tribune.

There seems to be a trend across the state of Minnesota of immense partying once a person turns 21 years old. Whenever a person turns 21, it is normal and expected for them to go out drinking on their birthday. They face a lot of pier pressure from friends to go to a bar and drink as much as they can. It is often hard to say no to that much pressure.

Many adults don't even think about the fact that alcohol is a dangerous substance which can kill you if you drink too much. One girl, Amanda Jax, had a huge party on her 21st birthday. She ended up with alcohol poisoning and died.

In fact, it is on one's 21st birthday that they are the most at risk for harm. The rest of the days of that year, they will most likely be fine, but on that day, the chances of them causing harm to themself are raised drastically.

What typically happens on a 21st birthday is a bunch of friends get together and go to a bar where they can drink as much as possible. A male turning 21 will consume on average thirteen alcoholic beverages. A female will drink roughly 7 and a half.

The goal is to get them as drunk as possible.

November 11, 2007

"France may expand champagne's reign of terroir"

Original article appeared in the Star Tribune.

In Paris, there is a section of land that is exclusively meant for growing the grapes used to make champagne. This area is now loaded with vines to the max. Since the champagne industry is a multi-billion dollar industry every year, the need to expand is important.

The area used to grow wine is known as the "terroir". These places in France are treasured. Therefore, before France chooses any new areas good enough for a vineyard, they will do extensive research. The earliest new champagne would be available is in 2015.

Wine that is officially called champagne is only grown in the 86,500 acres declared perfect for making champagne in 1927. No other wine can be called champagne. That is why the search for additional land is taking such a long time. It has to be the best.

"Investigators to survey San Francisco Bay oil spill"

Original article appeared in the Star Tribune.

There was an oil spill in San Francisco Bay on Wednesday, November 7. It was caused by a ship called the Cosco Busan which due to human error hit the side of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. The impact caused a 100 foot gash in the side of ship and oil then spilled out. This has been declared the worst oil spill in that area in 20 years.

Nearly 58,000 gallons of fuel were dumbed into the bay. This kills birds and other sea creatures. Also, all of the beaches along that area have to be closed as well because you cannot swim in oil.

At this point in time, their are 20 boats working to get the oil out of the water. Originally their were only 11. The efforts have been going well. In four days time, the 770 workers were able to clean up 20,000 gallons of the oil. But obviously more still has to be done.

It is probably a big communication problem that took place and the reason why the ship ran into the bridge in the first place. Investigations are still under way to try and pinpoint the exact cause.

Over 60 birds have already been found dead from all of the oil. 200 more have been picked up and taken to animal hospitals to try and get cleaned up.

"Prior Lake supt. quits; fired employee elected to board"

Original article found in the Star Tribune.

Tom Westerhaus has been a superintendent for 20 years. Most recently he has worked as superintendant for the Prior Lake-Savage school area. But at the end of the school year he will be quitting his job. He is very angry about the fact that Chris Lind, a former teacher at the Prior Lake High School, has just been elected to the school board.

In June, Westerhaus found out that Lind was making friends with students and trying to mentor them in their Christian faith. Lind is a strong Christian himself and was only try to encourage other Christians at the school. He had worked at the high school for four years, but it was finally decided that this was bad. So, they fired him.

Lind was elected to the school board on Tueday. It was almost immediately after this that Westerhaus quit saying that he could not work with Lind.

Lind finds it sad that Westerhaus is stepping down because he believes that Westerhaus did a good job as superintendant and Lind never wanted him to leave.

"Staff, parents, students earn Maple Grove school an A+"

Original article appeared in the Star Tribune.

Rush Creek Elementary School in Maple Grove, Minn. is one of eight school in Minnesota to recieve a blue ribbon for outstanding performance and test scores according to the "No Child Left Behind" standards. This elementary school is one of many in the Osseo District. All are doing very well, but this school is leading the pack.

The Principal Don Johnson and a second grade teacher Phyllis Rither are going to be traveling to Washington D.C. soon in order to receive a plaque and recognition for the school.

The kids at the school have been testing exceptionally well. 83 to 88 percent of sixth-grade students meet or exceed the standards for math and reading. While this is good, the third graders are doing even better with 97 to 98 percent meeting or exceeding the standards for math and reading.

Rither was really excited about the whole process. He commented that his school really does do some things very well. Others at the school were very excited also.

Teachers attribute much of the success of their school to the active parents that are involved.

The school has roughly 850 students.

November 4, 2007

"Water drives one million people from homes"

Original story found in theStar Tribune.

There has been a massive amount of flooding in Villahermosa, Mexico over the past week. The rain has even caused the water to reach a third story on buildings. The incredible amount of water has covered about two-thirds of the state of Tabasco in Mexico. It seems to just keep on raining. However, it seems as if the worst of the rainstorm is over by now.

Many people have been forced out of their homes and have to stay in shelters. Some are staying in schools others are still stranded on rooftops waiting for boats to come rescue them and take them to higher ground.

Those whose houses were flooded were not allowed to take hardly anything with them. With so many people stranded the rescuers in boats needed all the room they had for people only, not for personal possetions.

It is possible that there will be many water borne illnesses from this event. The water has been sitting for quite some time now, and the tropical warm weather will probably make the situation worse.

So far only one person has been found dead in the all the water in the state of Tabasco.

November 2, 2007

"Bomb threat closes road in Bloomington"

Original article found in the Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press.

On Thursday, November 1, the city of Bloomington received a bomb threat for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement building at 2901 Metro Dr.

They ended up closing the building for three hours and using dogs to search the place for the bomb. It seemed like a credible threat, but no bomb was ever found.

However, the dogs did spend a lot of time sniffing around three vans that were in the parking lot. The vans are probalbly used to transport illegal aliens. It was heavily searched.

The bomb threat not only affected the Immigration and Customs Enforcement building, but the roads that were in the vicinity. Police wanted to make sure that no one would be hurt if a bomb did go off, so they closed American Boulevard between 24th and 34th street. A detour was provided.

Even though the bomb threat happened early in the day, Employess who work at the ICE were told to just go home.

There is still an investigation going on about the bomb.

November 1, 2007

"Child who started fire could face charges"

Original articles located in the Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press.

Last week there was a fire in California which burned over 59 square miles and destroyed 21 homes. The original presumed cause of the fire was downed power lines, but now, a ten year old boy has come forward and has admitted to playing with matches and accidentaly starting the fire.

It seems unlikely that the boy will face criminal charges, but it is still being debated if he should be charged with anything.

His parents probably won't be liable for the costs of the damages. There were millions of dollars in damages and they would not have the financial means to cover even a part of it. Plus, it seems that the whole incident was an accident and the boy is terribly distraught over the whole thing.

It was on October 21 that the boy was playing with matches and the brush caught on fire. There were many other fires burning that day due to the Santa Ann winds which were making it difficult for firefighters to control the flames.

"Judge rejects effort to stop I-35W bridge work"

Original article appeared in the Star Tribune and thePioneer Press

The I-35W bridge will begin being rebuilt today, which is Thursday, Nov. 1. There were some concerns on whether or not the bridge would be able to begin construction this month due to a lawsuit again the Minnesota Department of Transportation. The lawsuit was from two Minnesota taxpayers saying that it was unlawful of Minnesota to choose a contracting company that cost so much more than the others and that will take so much longer to build. However, a judge ruled that this lawsuit was not enough to keep the bridge from begining reconstruction.

Judge Cleary ruled against halting bridge construction while this lawsuit is taking place.

It seems like a victory for the Minnesota Department of Transportaton, yet it seems like the trail shall still continue.

The company that will be working on the bridge is Flatiron Constructors of Colorado. They say they should finish the bridge by the end of 2008 and it will cost $234 million.