Recently in Local News Category

The Twins have traded their two starting center fielders Denard Span and Ben Revere, making Aaron Hicks open to take the top spot in Twin's center field, news sources report.

Hicks 2012 season saw an improvement from the left side of the plate. General manager Terry Ryan said "the Twins had started to talk about making him solely a right-handed hitter during the 2011 season, but Hicks developed a more compact left-handed swing and learned how to handle the changeups he'd frequently see from right-handed pitchers," Star Tribune reported.

While there is favor for Hicks, there is open competition for their center field job between Hicks, Joe Benson and Darin Mastroianni, Pioneer Press reported.

The Twins will also continue to work for more starting pitchers, but better start moving as Friday saw one of the needed pitchers, Brandon McCarthy, sign with Arizona, Pioneer Press reported.

The Minnesota Orchestra announced an operating deficit of $6 million for fiscal year 2012 after a $2.9 million loss for fiscal year 2011, news sources reported.

This is the organization's largest operating loss in its 110-year history. This loss is coming at a time when the orchestra's musicians are locked out in the midst of contract negotiations, Pioneer Press reported.

The news was presented at a closed meeting of the board of directors Thursday. The board did not hold a celebratory annual meeting, due to the labor dispute. For now, all concerts for the fall and holiday seasons have been canceled, Star Tribune reported.

"At the most fundamental level, our expenses continue to grow and our revenues cannot keep pace," board chair Jon R. Campbell said outlining the serious financial challenges facing the orchestra." This gap will continue to widen annually until we eliminate our structural deficit once and for all," Pioneer Press reported.

Currently there are no negotiations scheduled between the board and musicians. The negotiating is being handled under the auspices of the federal mediation office, Star Tribune reported.

Minn loses to Packers, Peterson prevails

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Faith remains intact for quarterback Christian Ponder has upsetting game against the Green Bay Packers, news sources report.

Vikings lost 23-14 to the Packers after upsetting second half. Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said he did not consider replacing his quarterback at any time against the Green Bay Packers and will not consider changing quarterbacks for the upcoming game against the Chicago Bears, Pioneer Press report.

The game turned out well for Vikings star Adrian Peterson which registered his third career 200-yard rushing day. He also had the longest run of his career, an "impressive" 82-yarder, Star Tribune reports.

While Peterson's day ended with a new career records, Ponder's two interceptions in the game ultimately led to their defeat, Star Tribune reported.

"Christian is our quarterback we are going to do all we can to help him have a good game against Chicago and to help our team go out and get a win," Frazier said, emphasizing his commitment to starting and keeping Ponder.

Minn. man charged with murder of two teens after burglary

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A Minnesota man is charged with two counts of murder after shooting two teenagers who broke into his home on Thanksgiving weekend, news sources report.

Nicholas Brady, 17, and his cousin, Haile Kifer, 18, were killed in the Little Falls home of Byron Smith, a highly trained U.S. Foreign Service retiree. Morrison County Sheriff Michel Wetzel said Smith told the police he shot the teens multiple times after they broke into his house, Star Tribune reported.

Smith grew up in Little Falls and volunteered in Order of the Arrow, a camping fellowship program within the Boy Scout program. He was apart of the community, even hired high school kids to help around his property, St. Louis Post Dispatch reported.

According to Smith, in the past three years his house and garage was burglarized. Sheriff's records show that Smith had reported only one burglary, on Oct. 27, when $10,000 worth of sentimental items was reported taken, Star Tribune reported.

Police discovered the bodies of Brady and Kifer after Byron Smith called a neighbor, asking about a lawyer and letting the neighbor know that he should call authorities, Star Tribune reported.

Mall of America is tightening security on Black Friday by not allowing unaccompanied teenagers at the mall on the biggest shopping days of the year, news sources report.

Children younger than 16 and who are not with an adult 21 or older will not be welcome at the Mall of America on Thanksgiving night or Black Friday, and also during the week between Christmas and New Year's, Star Tribune reports.

After last years chair-throwing teenage tussle in the food court that happened days after Christmas, the mall is taking steps to prevent any recurrence of such an event, Pioneer Press reports.

"We realized after last year that we had a large number of youths who were coming," she said. "Just for everyone's safety, it makes sense to us to put the policy in place," Star Tribune reports.

"Unaccompanied teens must provide proof of their age with government-issued identification; school IDs will not cut it," Star Tribune reports.

The Red Bull Crashed Ice race in St. Paul will return this January, featuring a longer and higher ice track than last winter's course, news sources report.

The event is expected to draw tens of thousand of spectators and athletes from around the world to downtown on Jan. 24-26. The track will start near the Cathedral of St. Paul, crossing Dayton and Summit Avenues and winds its way down the hill, Star Tribune reported.

Last year, the event drew in a large amount of spending from the spectators. City officials estimated the event drew in 100,000 people, with athletes and visitors spending $20 million in St. Paul over the course of the weekend, Pioneer Press reported.

The start of the course will be higher and run for more than 1,300 feet. Team USA Coach Charlie Wasley said this allows for skaters to have a bit more room to recover from the course's many obstacles, Star Tribune reported.

The return of the 1201 Crashed event was supported by Mayor Coleman. At a news conference Wednesday, Nov. 14, on the Xcel Energy Center's center ice, Mayor Chris Coleman said the event "was too good not to do again," Pioneer press reported.

Red Bull started sponsoring the sport in 2001 and held races in Duluth in 2003 and 2004, news sources report. "The St. Paul race in the only Red Bull Crashed Ice event in the United States; others will be held in Canada, Switzerland and the Netherlands, with the finals in Quebec," Star Tribune reports.

A St. Louis man is in jail after posting a picture on Facebook of a graphic tattoo aimed at a Minneapolis police officer, news sources report.

Antonio "Savage" Jenkins Jr., 20, was charged after a tattoo depicting a person holding a pistol to the mouth of a pig dressed in a Minneapolis police uniform with the badge of Officer Jeffrey Seidel appeared on Facebook, Pioneer Press reports.

The Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said that Frasion's tattoo on his arm and on Facebook is a specific terroristic threat against the officer, Star Tribune reports.

Jenkins is a reputed member of the Bloods street gang and currently on probation for armed robbery. On Thursday, he was charged with making a terroristic threat for the benefit of a gang, Pioneer press reports

The arrest follows a report made a week ago for Minneapolis and St. Paul police to be on heightened alert after learning that Gangster Disciples street gang members were threatening to kill an officer, Pioneer Press reports.

Chuck Samuelson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota, says "while the images are disgusting and disturbing, they're not criminal," Star Tribune reports.

""The fact that they arrested him and threw him in jail and then charged him," Samuelson said, "could be interpreted as harassment by the police and the county attorney," Star Tribune reports.

As to if it's protected speech or a terroristic threat is still under debate, news sources reports.

Murder victim of apparent shooting victim found in alley

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The body of an adult male was found shot dead Wednesday morning in an alley in south Minneapolis; investigators are looking for suspects, news sources report.

Minneapolis Police Sgt. William Palmer said "officers from the department's third precinct went to the scene just before 3 a.m. after a report of gunshots being fired in the 2100 block of 10th Ave. South," Star Tribune reports.

The victim suffered multiple gunshot wounds and was pronounced dead at the scene, Palmer said in a news release Wednesday night, Pioneer press reports.

The department's homicide unit is working on the case and there are no suspects in custody, Palmer said, Star Tribune reports.

The victim's identify will be released by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office after an autopsy is performed, Pioneer Press reports.

Gang Leader Accused of Coercing Witnesses, charged

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Convicted gang leader Lamonte Rydell Martin, 17, was charged Monday for masterminding a network of intimidation against witnesses who had testified against
Martin at his 2007 trial, telling them to recant their stories, news sources report.

Martin was convicted of murder and sentenced to life without parole in 2007, Pioneer Press reports. He also made his case to the Minnesota Supreme Court and they rejected him. Martin, along with nine others, resorted to bribes, intimidation and violence, prosecutors claim, Pioneer Press reports.

"Witnesses to the 2006 murder were repeatedly beaten up and threatened; one person had his neck slit. Another was told his children would be killed if he didn't recant trial testimony." Martin's mother and his companions paid or promised thousands of dollars in return, Star Tribune reports.

Martin's mother was taken into custody Saturday and will be charged with being an accomplice and allegedly put money into one of the witnesses' prison accounts, Hennepin County Attorney Michael Freeman said at a news conference announcing the charges, Pioneer Press reports.

In a ruling this past summer by the U.S. Supreme Court, "life without parole for juveniles amounts to cruel and unusual punishment". Minnesota is reviewing cases of seven juveniles facing such sentences, including Martin's conviction in 2007 for the killing of 19-year-old Christopher Lynch, Star Tribune reports.

"Martin has now been charged with 12 new felony counts, including bribery, witness tampering and crimes committed in association with a criminal gang," Star Tribune reports.

Marriage amendment signs disappear

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With the election approaching, the main targets this year are lawn signs pertaining to the marriage amendment, with continual theft and vandalism of the signs on both sides of the issue, news sources report.

Sign thefts happen in almost every election, but the marriage amendment is an issue that seems to irritate many people, resulting in new levels of sign theft and intimidation. "There is no statewide tally, but police, citizens and advocacy groups say sign thefts are soaring," Pioneer Press reports.

So far this political season, 33 cases of stolen signs have been reported in Woodbury. That is dramatic increase from the last presidential election where Woodbury police reported one theft of a sign, Pioneer Press reports

Based on the letters to the editor at the Star Tribune, they've been receiving almost daily reports of newly victimized signs. Most pertaining to the marriage amendment, Star Tribune reports.

In Herb Goetsch's neighborhood, lawn signs change almost every day. He worries about what the vandalizers will result to next, "are they going to start breaking windows, harming our property or physically harming us?" Pioneer Press reports.

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