December 14, 2007

Bankrobber caught on Metro Transit bus

A man who robbed a St. Paul bank on Tuesday who apparently got on a Metro Transit bus after leaving the bank with an undisclosed amount of cash was arrested and charged Friday.
Shane Nathaniel Townsend, 35, of St. Paul, has been arrested and charged with bank robbery according to FBI Agent Paul McCabe.
He is accused of robbing the TCF Bank at 459 N Lexington Pkwy.
According to a criminal complaint, Townsend approaced a teller at the TCF Bank at around 2:30 p.m. Tuesday. He presented a threatening note demanding money.
The teller believed Townsend had boarded the route 16 Metro Transit bus.
St. Paul Police stopped the bus and Townsend ran out the back door.
Police then caught him on foot and arrested him.
Townsend's previous criminal record includes convictions for felony theft, burglary, drugs, aggravated robbery and domestic assault.

Local teen "adopts" families for christmas

David Gholar spent his 16th birthday selling coffee at Urban Venture's City Kid Java at a local Kowalski's supermarket to raise money for needy families.
After his family was "adopted" last holiday season, Gholar wanted to sell coffee at City Kid Java, his place of employment, so he could adopt other families.
A previous story about his efforts appeared in the online edition of the Star Tribune on Monday.
Since then, many calls have been received to support not only Gholar's efforts, but his family as well.
Approximately 30 people have contacted Urban Ventures to offer gifts to Gholar's family.
The goal was to raise $1,000 and adopt a few families, but since Monday over $3,500 has been raised. Gholar is now planning to adopt at least four families in the metro area.
Gholar is a sophomore at Roosevelt High School in Minneapolis.

December 9, 2007

Chanhassen hockey player remembered

Andrew Jackson, 18, died December 1 on his way to play in a club hockey tournament for Purdue University.
He was killed when the club hockey team's van rolled over near Wingate, IN.
Jackson's memorabilia was displayed at the Chaska Community Center rink Friday, during a hockey game that was played in his honor.
More than 100 of Jackson's family and friends payed tribute to him after the game as well.

Chisholm woman killed in shooting

Tiffany Johnson, 26, was killed around 12:30 a.m. Sunday after a gunman walked into Youth with a Mission in Arvada, Colo. and opened fire. Philip Crouse, 24, of Alaska also died. Two others were injured.
The gunman then fled the scene on foot. He remains missing, according to police.
A few hours later there was another shooting at a church in Colorado Springs. It is not known whether the two shootings are related.
Police said that the suspect is described as a white male approximately 20 years of age wearing a dark-colored jacket and a beanie hat. He possibly had a beard and glasses, police said.

November 26, 2007

Body found near Dayton, Minn.

An unidentified body was found Saturday night in a wooded area near Dayton, Minn.
Police had responded to a 911 call at the Sundance Golf Course in Dayton and the unidentified body was found close by.
Kare11 reports that the body may be that of a hunter who fell from his tree stand near the golf course.
The body was apparently found by friends of the hunter that went looking for him after he did not return home Saturday night.
Hennepin County Sheriff's Office and the Dayton Police Department are investigating.

Faribault crash site investigated

National Transportation Safety Board Officials along with the Federal Aviation Administration willl arrive in Faribault, Minn. later today to begin investigation on the crash site of a plane that killed four people Sunday at the Faribault municipal airport.
Faribault Interim Police Chief Daniel Collins said that no one on the plane survived the crash that happened around 3 p.m. Sunday on one of the runways at the airport.
The names of the four victims have not yet been released.
As officials begin to investigate the crash site, the cause of the crash is still unclear.
On Monday, FAA spokesperson Elizabeth Isham Cory reported that the plane was making a second attempt to land before flipping over and bursting into flames.
Collins said that maybe wind gusts reaching 20 miles per hour contributed to the crash.

November 17, 2007

Hybrid buses on Nicollet Mall

Metro Transit introduced 17 new hybrid buses Thursday on Nicollet Mall. Along with these, 150 more have been ordered and will be delivered over the next five years.
Each hybrid costs $557,000 and average 4.71 miles to the gallon. This is nearly a mile per gallon more than the standard Metro Transit buses.
Because of this improvement in fuel economy, Metro Transit is expecting to save 1,965 gallons of fuel per bus every year. This will be combined with less pollutants dispersed into the air and up to 90 percent fewer soot emissions.
The buses are a quieter ride inside and out and will be handicapped accessible.

Family of girl hurt in a wading pool sues

Abigail Taylor, a 6-year-old Edina girl had part of her intestines torn out when she sat on a drain in a wading pool last June 29. Now her family has filed suit Thursday against the Minneapolis Golf Club and the pool manufacturer, Sta-Rite.
The suit places blame on the golf club and the pool equipment manufacturer for the accident which sucked out 21 feet of Taylor's small intestines when she sat on an uncovered suction outlet. It specifically accuses the golf club of not properly installing the cover and frame, failure to inspect it and failure to close the pool when the cover came off. The suit also accuses the manufacturer of not coming up with a safer product when they knew it was hazardous.
The attorney for the family, Robert Bennett, said that the child's medical expenses could total $30 million over the course of her life. This far exceeds the $6 million in liability insurance that the golf club possesses.
Taylor will undergo a small intestine transplant which will keep her hospitalized for six months according to her attorney.
Taylor has been hospitalized two times for approximately one month each time since the accident.

November 10, 2007

Experts say more needs to be done to eliminate homelessness in Minneapolis

A panel of experts told civic leaders on Wednesday that there needs to be a stronger effort to help eliminate homelessness in Minnesota.
More than 300 attended a luncheon entitled "Ending Homelessness" sponsored by the Minneapolis Foundation at the Minneapolis Convention Center.
Approximately 3000 people are homeless in Hennepin County and more than 9,200 are homeless in Minnesota according to a study by the Wilder Research Group. One-third of which are children. The study found that approximately half of all homeless people in Minnesota are black. Approximately 625 veterans are homeless in the state.
More than half of the homeless population in the state say that they have been homeless more than once in the past three years.
Approximately 28 percent of homeless adults have a job and 40 percent said the primary reason that they're homeless is because they could not afford rent.
Nearly 625 veterans are homeless in Minnesota according to the study.
Sandy Vargas, the president of the Minneapolis Foundation said their organization created a fund to help put an end to homelessness in the state.

This article used numbers effectively to support the lead. All the examples were easy to understand and gave specific evidence that homelessness is a problem in Minnesota.

Bus Routes to Change on Nicollet Mall

Plans to revitalize the downtown area in Minneapolis aim to decrease the use of sky ways and move traffic onto the street level.
Head of the Downtown Council, Sam Grabarski says downtown will be a very different place in 5 years because of the plans.
The Downtown Council's plan known as "Access Minneapolis" is a 10-year plan to reshape transportation and transit in the Metro area.
Under this plan, by the end of 2009 only bicycles and hybrid buses will be allowed on Nicollet Mall. All other traffic will be moved onto Marquette Avenue and 2nd Street.
Currently, many national chains located downtown are making a lot less sales than their stores in the suburbs.
CEO of Macy's North thinks it would prove beneficial to get all buses off the streets of Nicollet Mall. He also thinks it would help to add more parking in the area.
He compared downtown Minneapolis to Michigan Avenue in Chicago, concluding that more cars will bring more traffic and people to the street level shops.
This is the first time the plan has been presented inn detail to a wide variety of members of the business community.

November 1, 2007

HIgh-speed Chase Ends in Suicide

After a high-speed chase through Hudson, Wis. and into Stillwater, Minn., a suspected bank robber ended his life Wednesday morning.
At around 10 a.m., the suspect had allegedly robbed the Associated Bank in Hudson and fled with an "undisclosed" amount of money.
A high-speed chase commenced through Hudson and into Minnesota when police cornered the suspect in Lakeview Hospital's east parking lot. Police heard one gunshot and found the man dead in his Ford Mustang from a self-inflicted gunshot to the head.
Police believe that the man ay be linked to the robbery of Citizen's Bank in Hudson las Friday.
The man's body was taken to Ramsey County medical examiners office.

Funeral for Katherine Ann Olson Draws 1600

1600 people gathered at Christ Presbyterian Church for the funeral of Katherine Ann Olson, Wednesday in Edina.
Olson was laid to rest on the anniversary of her confirmation. Her family urged others to pray for her murderer and his family during the difficult time.
Olson was killed last Thursday after she responded to a babysitting ad on Police said she was killed by Michael Anderson, 19, of Savage, Minn.

Both the Pioneer Press and the StarTribune felt this follow-up story was front page news. Similar headlines were printed on the cover of each newspaper. Both had large photographs, but were very different images. Both covered the story in a similar manner, focusing on specific quotes from the pastor of Olson's church and her overall remembrance.

October 26, 2007

Summer Drought Produces Mixed Pumpkin Crop

Minnesota pumpkin growers are experiencing smaller pumpkins and a small crop this season partially due to the summer drought. Because of this, consumers can expect to see higher prices and less supply when buying pumpkins this year.
Many pumpkins did not make it through the drought-stricken summer. Because of the large amount of rain in the past month, the stems of some pumpkins also began to rot. The combination resulted in a smaller yield.
Pumpkin experts are saying that Minnesota's pumpkin crop could have slumped as much as 50 percent from last year.
Due to the smaller crop, many businesses found it necessary to buy pumpkins from out-of-state suppliers. Retailers have turned to Illinois and Iowa for supplies this year. Illinois had a very healthy crop this year, so suppliers in the state are selling to much of the upper Midwest. Because of the cost of shipping, the overall price of pumpkins has increased.

Help to Survivors and Family Members of Bridge Collapse

Legislators began to consider how to help I-35W survivors and family members Thursday at the Red Cross headquarters in Minneapolis.
Relatives and survivors told their stories to a House of Representatives Committee. The hearing began with the state's consideration for creating a fund for families and survivors of the collapse. This fund would be similar to one created by the federal government after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Large medical bills and lost wages have plagued many involved in the collapse. Legislators must come to a decision on what role the state will play in offering compensation to families and survivors.
As time goes on, the frustration of those involved continues to increase.
"It is very maddening to see such an idle response from those responsible," survivor Brad Coulter said.
The funding would come from the state's budget and could also include private contributions from others involved with the bridge.
The next hearing is scheduled for Nov. 15. Legislators will discuss setting up a fund and how it would be delivered.

The StarTribune's article on this topic focused a lot more on personal accounts of the tragedy where as on the story was very short and mainly about how legislators plan to proceed from this hearing. This is mainly due to the proximity of the tragedy and how it affected the Twin Cities.

October 18, 2007

Massage Business a Possible Site of Prostitution

The Massage Room Wellness Center in southwest Minneapolis is the site of an investigation for possible prostitution.
Locals had begun to take notice of the high male clientele that the wellness center attracted in combination with the provocative clothing worn by some of the therapists during massage sessions. Authorities were alerted and in August, an undercover officer was allegedly offered sex for an additional cost during a massage session.
The owner was ordered to close his doors and he believes that the claims have hurt his similar business at a downtown location. He denies any connection to the allegations.
The incidences are still under investigation.

Possible Causes of Bridge Collapse Investigated

Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board have been re-creating the layout of the Interstate 35W Bridge in attempt to find possible causes for the collapse.
They have begun to inspect specifically the section of the bridge that fell first. By analyzing these gusset plates, investigators are hoping to find out what played the biggest role in the collapse.
Significant corrosion was found in three of the gusset plates found from this section of the bridge. According to one structural engineer, runoff of salt and other de-icing chemicals could have contributed to this corrosion.
The L-11 gusset plate was corroded somewhat more than the other plates. Of the more than 100 gusset plates total from the bridge, this one could have played a substantial role in the collapse on August 1.
Another possible contributing cause of the collapse, according to investigators, is the temperature changes. Even though the bridge had roller bearings, they may not have worked effectively. MnDOT records that state that inspectors found the bearings weren’t working correctly because of corrosion and buildup of debris.
Although major advances have been made in the investigation, authorities are saying that it could be a long time before the causes for the collapse are completely understood.

October 13, 2007

Improvements in Academics at Year-round Schools

An Apple Valley school that offers a year-round class schedule says that teachers and parents report increased improvements in behavior and academic scores.
Apple Valley's Paideia Academy is able to have longer breaks between quarters while still maintaining year-round classes. Students attend classes the same amount of days per school year as students with a more traditional class schedule.
Teachers and students at the school say that the class schedule keeps students from forgetting material over the summer. The school principal Chris Pellant says it avoids unnecessary regression at the beginning of a school year.
Traditional schedules with a summer vacation result in the need to review subjects and classroom expectations every fall according to many public school teachers.
Because students still get a break after each quarter, they are ready to come back to school and work hard, Pellant says.
According to the National Association for Year-Round Education, Minnesota has at least 26 year-round schools. This number is on the rise because of the increase of charter schools.
The Department of Education has approved two year-round charter schools in Minneapolis. They will be designed to help improve performance of at risk children while preparing them to get into college.

University of Minnesota Faces Lawsuit

Jimmy Williams says he was hired by Univesity of Minnesota Basketball Coach Tubby Smith and then rejected by Athletic Director Joel Maturi for an assistant coaching job with the Gohpers.
After quitting his coaching job at Oklahoma State and selling his home, Williams was ready to move to Minnesota when he received notice that he was not being offered the job.
He filed a suit against Maturi and the university Thursday. He wants the assistant coaching job he had been offered as well as damages for costs due to quitting his job.
His complaint claims that the job offer was overruled by Maturi because of a history of violations while coaching for the Gophers in the 1970s and '80s.
The University of Minnesota says they do not owe Williams anything. According to the university, an agreement on employment was never met and the university never encouraged Williams to leave his coaching job at Oklahoma State.
The university denied a request to interview Smith and Maturi declined to comment about the matter.

October 6, 2007

Runner Killed by Motorist Near Mankato Campus

A Minnesota State University, Mankato cross-country runner was killed when struck by an SUV during a run, Tuesday.
Catherine Delwiche, 18, was hit head on by 57-year-old Dale Hoechst near the Mankato campus. She had been on a run while teammate Laura Palmer, 18, biked with her. Palmer sustained minor injuries in the accident.
Alcohol was ruled out as a possible cause for the accident. Although Hoechst Lost control of the vehicle, he had no traces of acohol in his system. He sustained minor injuries and was released from the hospital, Wednesday.
Delwiche was a freshman attending Mankato. She had just starting running again this week after sustaining an injury early in the season. She was one of the state's top cross-country runners throughout high school in Glencoe, Minn.

The Startribune, Thursday edition fucused more on Delwiche's personal life of running rather than details of the accident. The reporter obtained personal information from family, friends and other teammates. It made the article more personal, focusing more on the recovery of those affected by her death. Kare11 had a story that was more fact-based and provided less personal information.

Construction Companies Claim to be Misled by MnDOT

Companies who lost the bid for the Interstate Highway 35W bridge project feel misled by MnDOT after the winning design was announced.
Three construction companies are complaining that state officials misled them into thinking that MnDOT wanted the cheapest and fastest solution for rebuilding the I-35W bridge. Lunda Construction, Ames Construction and C.S. McCrossen are claiming that what MnDOT really wanted was a plan that was more expensive and took more time to complete.
These three firms have been working with MnDOT for years. They are wondering how they could have lost since many had previous road contracts with MnDOT including other bridges in the metro area.
The companies filing the protest are represented by Dean Thompson, an attorney in the Twin Cities. They want the public to know that they think they were cheated out of the job.
The winning design was created by Flatiron Constructors, a firm from Colorado. They have never done business with MnDOT in the past.
MnDOT said that all bids for rebuilding the I-35W bridge were given the same information about the project.

September 30, 2007

Unique Approach to Youth Crime Finds Home in Minneapolis

The National Summit on Violent Crime in America in Schaumburg, Ill, referenced Minneapolis for its holistic approach to youth violence. This approach views violence among children as a public health issue and a police problem. Officials nationwide believe that the city of Minneapolis may have some answers in the fight on crime in the population of our youth.

Minneapolis has instilled many programs in the past year to "reach out further" to the troubled youth in the community. With help from the truancy and curfew center as wells as local hospitals, the ability to identify at risk teens at a much earlier time is becoming easier.

Police officials from other big cities including San Fransisco and Milwaukee were curious to hear how Minneapolis was reducing their youth crime. As the programs continue to reach out to youth crime in Minneapolis, the crime rates are expected to decline. Many other cities are already catching on to the approach in hopes that it will help lower crime rates in their area.

Rushford's Winter Coming Too Soon

After the flood of Rush Creek six weeks ago, Rushford, Minn. is struggling to rebuild before winter hits. Up to 15 inches of rain in some areas left much of the town destroyed. The town school has been recently re-opened, but the local grocery store still remains closed and the State Farm Insurance agent is working out of a trailer home.

The need for carpenters, electricians and plumbers is crucial as the temperatures continue to drop. Many of the residents of Rushford are hoping to be back in their houses by Christmas. This is becoming harder to accomplish as the media coverage continues to dwindle and volunteers become less frequent.

The financial struggle to rebuild has been especially difficult. Nearly the entire town did not have flood insurance policies, so virtually none of the damages were covered. As the town continues to rebuild, they hope that the winter temperatures can hold off, even in Minnesota.

September 23, 2007

TCF Stadium Construction Site to Pay Fines

After an inspection by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency in April, University of Minnesota could face tens of thousands of dollars in fines for seven potential environmental violations. The source of the problem is the TCF Stadium construction site on the Twin Cities Campus, which was dumping pollutants into the Mississippi River.

The University of Minnesota was issued a warning by the agency and the amount of the citation will depend on the severity of the violations and the impact of the pollution. Possible violations included dirt in the streets surrounding the site, inadequate filters to stop water runoff and pollutants found in the Mississippi River.

They were ordered to stop discharging groundwater from the site into the storm sewer. University officials said that the problems were corrected immediately. They report that the site is no longer the source of any environmental violations.

Girl Critically Wounded in Gang Related Shooting

A 12-year-old girl was critically wounded on Friday evening on Oliver Avenue in North Minneapolis. The child, whose name has not yet been released, was shot in the head from approximately one block away. She was walking home from a party when the incident occurred. She was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center where she remains in critical condition.

City officials are concerned that violence among young teens is on the rise in Minneapolis. The ages of children involved in shootings are becoming younger, with similar instances occurring in the past year in North Minneapolis.

Police do not believe that the bullet was intended for her. No arrests have been made in connection to the shooting, but police have descriptions of two suspects.

September 16, 2007

Biker's Murder Still Unexplained

Mark Loesch, a 41-year-old Minneapolis father of four, was found nearly dead early Thursday morning after leaving for a bike ride late Wednesday night. After being found around 7am on Thursday morning, Loesch was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics in the 3700 block of Elliot Avenue S.

After putting a new tire on his bike, Loesch announced to his wife that he was going for a quick ride. As an avid biker, this was not an uncommon occurence. She called police after realizing her husband had not come home by the time she awoke on Thursday morning. Loesch was not carrying a cell phone or any money, leaving his death a mystery.

Authorities are asking anyone with any information to contact the Minneapolis Police tips line.

Local Protesters Mirror Antiwar March in D.C.

1500 protesters stretched nearly four city blocks on Saturday in an antiwar march in St. Paul. Protesters marched from the St. Paul Cathedral to the Xcel Energy Center, continuing on to the State Capitol.

The Xcel, site for the 2008 Republican National Convention, has become a symbol for Republican war policy says local demonstrators.

The event lasted nearly two hours and was similar to an antiwar march in Washington D.C. with thousands of protestors marching from The White House to Capitol Hill.

September 10, 2007

AFSCME Strike Hits Home on U Campus

AFSCME employees at the University of Minnesota began striking Wednesday morning seeking higher wages. These employees include clerical, technical, and healthcare workers across the Twin Cities, Duluth, Crookston, and Morris campuses. Strikers marched on Northrop Mall at noon Wednesday, day one of the strike. No negotiations have been made thus far. University of Minnesota Office of Human Resources provides more information regarding the negotiation process on their website.

While there were large turnouts at the picket lines across the U of M campuses, university officials claim that nearly two-thirds of union employees came in for work.

As the first week of classes went on as scheduled, Wednesday strikers welcomed a visit from Elizabeth Edwards, wife of presidential candidate, John Edwards. More about her visit at Startribune's website.

Giuliani Visits St. Paul Café

Former New York City mayor, Rudy Giuliani visited Parkview Café in St. Paul this morning. The café was filled with media and supporters during Giuliani’s quick stop.

As the Republican Party’s front-runner in the race for president, he believes he can competitively campaign in all 50 states as opposed to the 20 or 25 states he sees his republican competitors claiming. Despite Minnesota not voting republican in the past 35 years, Giuliani views himself as the only republican candidate who can win in this state as he insists on wcco's website.

After greeting local supporters over a cup of coffee, he briefly addressed the collapse of the 35W bridge saying he would like to stop seeing money go towards “bridges to nowhere? in attempt to prevent such disasters in the future. Startribune covers more information on Giuliani's response to the bridge collapse on their website.

Before continuing on to a private fundraiser, he commented on immigration policy and former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson’s candidacy announcement earlier in the week. The Republican National Convention is set to take place in St. Paul September 2008.