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Digital billboards to warn for snow emergencies

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by Sarah See

Digital billboards will warn drivers when a snow emergency is in effect in Minneapolis, according to the Star Tribune and Associated Press Wednesday.

Mayor R.T. Rybak and Clear Channel Outdoor officials announced plans for 12 digital billboards around the city to display messages for drivers to sign up for free alerts and to move their vehicles out of the way of the plows, according to the Star Tribune.

Ads will be replaced with alerts when a snow emergency is declared, and drivers are encouraged to call the hotline to find out where to park, according to the Associated Press.

"We already have many creative ways of informing residents and visitors about Snow Emergencies, and thanks to Clear Channel Outdoor, we have a great new one," Mayor R.T. Rybak said. "This partnership will help the City do its job of clearing the streets and keeping people safe during a Snow Emergency, and will help drivers keep money in their wallets by keeping their cars from being towed."

According to the news sources, the billboards are a new addition to the tools already in place that notify residents when the city is under a snow emergency: text and e-mail alerts, automated phone calls, a Snow Emergency hotline, Facebook, Twitter, and the City's website.

"With these digital billboards we have just about every method of reaching people except for skywriting or carrier pigeons," Council Member Sandy Colvin Roy said. "Our Snow Emergency Twitter account is the eighth most followed for a local government in the nation. When it comes to creative communication, Minneapolis excels."

The billboards are intended to help drivers avoid getting towed, according to the Associated Press.

The billboards "will be seen by more than 1 million people throughout the community each day during those designated snow emergencies," Clear Channel Outdoor branch president Susan Adams said.

Worker dies in gravel pit accident

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by Sarah See

A worker was killed Thursday morning in an industrial accident in Milaca, Minn., according to CBS Minnesota.

Scott Armstrong, 41, of rural Swanville was killed while working on a large gravel conveyor belt system that was to be moved, according to the Mille Lacs County sheriff's office.

Armstrong was struck in the head by a large wheel while working as a crushing operator at a Knife River Construction Company gravel pit, authorities said.

Armstrong was pronounced dead, and a medical examiner will determine the exact cause of death, according to WCCO-TV.

Authorities are investigating the fatal incident, according to the Associated Press.

The construction company plans to turn the investigation over to the Mine Safety Health Administration, a Knife River spokeswoman said to the St. Cloud Times.

Teen killed in hunting accident

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by Sarah See

A 15-year-old boy died Monday afternoon after accidentally shooting himself in a deer tree stand near his home in east-central Minnesota, authorities said.

Jeremiah D. Scofield, 15, suffered a fatal gunshot wound to the upper inner part of one of his legs, while trying to take off his jacket with the gun between his legs, in Brunswick Township, according to the Kanabec County Sheriff's Office.

Scofield, a Mora High School sophomore, was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press.

Scofield was the fourth hunter to die since Saturday, the opening weekend of Minnesota's firearms deer season, according to both news reports.

Of the three other hunters, one died of natural causes and did not fall from his tree stand as initially suspected; one died after his clothing caught fire while lighting a propane heater and falling from his tree stand; and one died after shooting himself when he fell from his tree stand and his gun discharged, according to the Pioneer Press.

Body of missing man found in lake

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by Sarah See

The body of a Blaine man was found Tuesday morning in Rice Lake after he was reported missing last week, according to the Pioneer Press and Star Tribune.

The man, whose identity will not be released until relatives are notified, was reported missing to Blaine police Friday, according to the news reports.

His vehicle was found Monday afternoon at Trappers Bar and Grill in Lino Lakes, located on the shore of Rice Lake, according to the Pioneer Press.

His body was found by an aerial search and rescue team after the area was searched Monday and again Tuesday morning by Anoka County authorities, Lino Lakes and Blaine police and volunteers, according to the Star Tribune.

Foul play is not suspected, and "law enforcement is not pursuing any suspect(s) at this time," the Anoka County Sheriff's Office said in a news release.

A cause of death has not been released, according to the Anoka County Sheriff's Office.

The Midwest Medical Examiner's Office is investigating the death, according to the Star Tribune.

Arson suspected in Roseville apartment fire

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by Sarah See

Arson is suspected for a Roseville apartment building fire that displaced 50 residents, caused about $1 million in damage, and condemned three apartment units, according to the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press Friday.

Police and fire investigators are awaiting laboratory results from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) on material recovered from the scene before specifying the cause of the fire, according to both news reports.

Police labeled the fire suspicious and have not said what led investigators to suspect arson, according the news reports.

Officers dispatched to the Centennial Garden Apartments complex fire at 2825 Pascal St. N. around 7:45 p.m. Tuesday saw smoke and flames coming from the second and third floors when they arrived, according to the Pioneer Press.

The entire 23-unit building was evacuated. Firefighters used a ladder to rescue one resident from a second-floor window, but all other residents exited safely, according to the reports.

Police are asking for the public's help in gathering information by calling Crime Stoppers or the Arson Hot Line, according to both reports.

Police kill deer inside St. Kate building

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by Sarah See

St. Paul police shot and killed a deer Wednesday evening after it broke through a window of a St. Catherine University building, according to the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press.

Police tracked down the large male deer after it busted through a window of the Coeur de Catherine building around 6 p.m., according to the Pioneer Press.

Students told police an unleashed dog had been chasing the six-point buck across the Highland Park university campus, according to the Pioneer Press.

The deer broke through an O'Neill Center for Academic Development window, which was about 18 inches off the ground, and an interior Sheetrock wall made of gypsum, according to the news reports.

After getting inside the building, which houses the campus center and classrooms, the deer took refuge in an emergency stairwell where it was shot, police spokesman Howie Padilla said.

Classes were in session in the building, police said.

Police decided to shoot the deer before it could get loose again, do more damage, or become a threat to students, Padilla said.

Animal control authorities were called to the scene but had not arrived by the time the deer was shot, a police official said.

Teacher sentenced for running over toddler

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by Sarah See

A St. Paul teacher was sentenced Thursday to 90 days in jail for running over a 2-year-old while driving drunk, according to the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press.

Hamjatta Baba Fofana, 53, who struck a toddler in an East Side apartment building parking lot in April, had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.32 percent, four times the legal limit, according to the Star Tribune.

Police were called April 10 to 1311 Conway St. at 4:12 p.m., where a Honda hit a girl and left the scene, according to the Pioneer Press.

The girl's father said his daughter, Rosie Ortega, was playing behind him in the parking lot when her mother saw a car hit her, according to the criminal complaint.

The father pulled the Honda's emergency brake, and the mother pulled her daughter from under the car, the complaint said.

After Fofana walked off, he returned and drove east to his apartment complex, where police found him and subdued him with a Taser, according to the charges.

The girl was missing a quarter-size portion of her scalp and spent three days in the hospital, according to the news reports.

Fofana pleaded guilty to a gross misdemeanor count of criminal vehicular operation in September, as part of a plea deal that dismissed two other counts, one which was a felony, according to the Star Tribune.

Ramsey County District Judge Robyn Millenacker fined Fofana $3,000, put him on probation for two years, and gave him three days of custody credit, according to both news reports.

Fofana, who has been teaching English as a Second Language at Farnsworth Aerospace PreK-8 Magnet School, is eligible to serve the time on home electronic monitoring, according to the Star Tribune.

Fofana remains on paid administrative leave, and no decisions have been made about his employment, Toya Stewart Downey, a spokeswoman for the St. Paul school district, said.

Scissor-stabbing man at group home charged

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by Sarah See

A delusional St. Paul man was charged Friday with intentional second-degree murder for stabbing a cross-dresser to death with a pair of scissors, according to the Star Tribune and Associated Press.

Anthony Jay Haukos, 44, killed an acquaintance, Thomas Grover Stein, 61, Thursday night at a group home for the mentally ill, according to the charges filed.

Police were called to Stein's residence near the intersection of Capitol Heights and Winter Street around 9:30 p.m., after Stein called a mental health practitioner and reported an unruly man in his apartment, according to the Star Tribune.

After nobody responded to police's arrival at apartment No. 2, one officer looked through a window on the south side of the building and saw what appeared to be a middle-aged woman covered in blood on the floor, the complaint said.

The suspect was lying curled up behind the victim, caressing the body with his right hand that held scissors, according to the Star Tribune.

When a second officer arrived, the suspect looked at the officer and then stabbed the unresponsive victim twice in the neck, the complaint said.

Several officers with backups kicked in the door of the apartment-style house and arrested Haukos after a struggle, according to the Star Tribune.

Haukos, who was repeatedly yelling and making religious-themed statements, was subdued and taken to Regions Hospital, where he told a nurse he was the devil and the victim was a witch who he had to kill because "she could bring back the dead and he couldn't let that happen," the complaint said.

The victim was identified as Stein, who dressed like and preferred to be known as a woman, according to court papers.

Stein died at the scene, due to blood loss from multiple stab wounds to the neck, according to the Ramsey County Medical Examiner's preliminary findings.

Small plane crashes in field

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by Sarah See

A small plane carrying two people crashed Friday afternoon in a Clinton Township farm filed, according to the St. Louis County Sheriff's Office.

The pilot and passenger survived an emergency landing about 10 miles east of Hibbing around 4:30 p.m., authorities said to CBS Minnesota.

Pilot James Chuk, 59, of Chisholm told deputies the cockpit filled with smoke after an apparent engine failure, according to the Associated Press.

The plane crashed into a barbed-wire fence and flipped over, according to the Associated Press.

The passenger, Christian Werdier, 39, of Keewatin suffered a minor cut while getting out of the overturned plane, according to the Associated Press.

The crash is under investigation, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

Man trapped in garbage truck dies

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by Sarah See

A 61-year-old man was killed Wednesday when he was trapped in a garbage truck in Minnetrista, authorities said.

The man who was an employee at Blackowiak & Son, a west-metro trash hauling business on Sunnyfield Road, died after being trapped by equipment around 8 a.m., according to the Star Tribune.

Police and paramedics found the man pinned by a hydraulic arm on a garbage truck and pronounced him dead at the scene, according to the Associated Press.

The man's identity has not yet been released, according to the Star Tribune.

Police are investigating, according to the Associated Press.

Blackowiak & Son is a family-owned company that serves several Lake Minnetonka communities, according to the Star Tribune.

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