November 27, 2007

Alcohol poisoning death may lead to charges of suppliers

Amanda Jax died on her 21st birthday from alcohol-poisoning after celebrating her freedom to drink.

According to the Blue Earth County attorney, charges are being filed on people who were with her or businesses that served her through out the night.

The decision on charging someone is at least two weeks aways, County Attorney Ross Arneson said.

Arneson said that those subject to being charged "could be people who accompanied" Jax in the hours before she died late last month or "people commercially serving her."

The office Arneson works in has been meeting with representatives of Jax's family to listen to their views about issuing such charges, Arneson said. However he emphasized that, "it's not up to them" to make final decisions.

At the time of her death, Jax's blood alcohol level was at .46 percent, which is more than five times the legal driving limit.

According to the Mankato Free Press reports, Jax spent the last night of her life drinking heavily at the Sidelines Bar & Grill downtown Mankato, whom served her alcohol when she was clearly intoxicated, which is a gross misdemeanor.

Jax was a pre-nursing student at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

Police said that Jax was taken to a friend's nearby home after the night out drinking. When they found her unresponsive they called 911.

MSUJ president Richard Davenport testified at the public hearing, saying that Mankato "has a reputation for binge drinking." Administrators plan to explore fining students for off-campus alcohol violations, Davenport said.

November 12, 2007

Seven story tall Christmas Tree headed to Rice Park

A seven story tall, 27 foot wide Christmas tree is heading to St. Paul's Rice Park and being donated as their second annual Christmas tree.

The tree was cut down at 500 block of Smith Avenue S., this morning and donated by James and Rebecca Dreyling.

The tree will be decorated with 60,000 multicolored lights (twice the number New York City's Rockefeller Center Christmas tree uses) and anchored in concrete, promoters in St. Paul said.

The Rice Park's Christmas tree is to be up and lite by Nov. 24, at 5 p.m.

Don't live close to Rice Park? Get your own Christmas tree!

The Minnesota Tree Association is selling Balsam Fir, Canaan Fir, Fraser Fir, Norway Pine, Scotch Pine, White Pine, Colorado Spruce, Norway Spruce trees this year.

If you take good care of your tree it can last between 2-5 weeks, Minnesota Christmas Tree Association wrote about their tree tips.

According to the Minnesota Christmas Tree Association, Christmas trees contribute to a home for wildlife, and that when a tree is cut down, 203 seedling are put in its place so as not to worry about hurting the environment's growth.

November 8, 2007

Here comes Santa

Santa Claus is coming to the Mall of America's Park at MOA ready to kick off the holiday season.

Even though its still two-plus weeks before the unofficial start of the Christmas shopping season, Santa will be ready to get those Christmas lists rolling at 6 p.m. in the nation's largest shopping and entertainment complex.

Looking to hire your own Santa for your Holiday party or Christmas campaign? Look no further than, to find Mr. Carlucci, who has been an experienced real bearded performer / actor and Professional Santa Claus since 1996.

Mr. Carlucci is available year round for home parties, company/corporate parties, film performances, photo shoots, modeling, parades (etc).

He is dedicated to his Santa position by showing it with his C SANTA license plate and Naughty and Nice Inspector bumper sticker.

He comes dressed and ready to sing songs, read books, tell North Pole stories/anecdotes and pose for pictures. He's ready to give a full 'show' for as long as you can.

Contact Mr. Claus by e-mailing:

Young, but Strong.

Two high school seniors juggle school work and teen life, while overcoming great personal crisis.

Winter Mealey and Tottiana Adams were both sexually molested. Adams was molested this year by a stranger and left homeless this summer. She was attending a national spoken-word poetry competition and representing Minnesota.

Mealey's world turned upside down when her parents were arrested for discovery of methamphetamine lab inside their home. Both Mealey, her then-9-month-old brother and now-14-year-old sister all tested positive for meth residue.

Even with the trauma in their lives, both St. Paul students kept school in mind and are planning their college and potential careers. They are both among 15 city high school seniors selected to receive a $1,500 scholarship for college from the Optimist Club of St. Paul.

According to RedOrbit, Adams describes herself as a person of peace and reconciliation. She looks upon herself as an aspiring artistic voice "for the unspoken."

The awards are given to low-income and college-aspiring city kids who are doing well in school and overcoming compelling odds. The awards will be presented Thursday evening at a formal dinner.

Augsburg College, College of St. Catherine, Hamline University, Macalester College and the University of St. Thomas are all pledging to annually match and renew the award amount for the recipients who are admitted to and attend their institutions.

The other 13 award winners are also excelling in school while dealing with physical disabilities, mental illness, murders or deaths of parents or siblings, their own crime victimizations and other obstacles, stated in TwinCities.

After college, Mealey plans to own her own beauty salon or child facility.

November 3, 2007

Scott Tridgell - found in Wisconsin

A Twin Cities couple was driving past a black pick-up truck when they noticed a man sleeping in the back around 11:30 Friday morning.

They called 911 and Menomonie, Wis., police arrived shortly, confirming the unidentified body to be Scott Tridgell, 23, who had been missing for three weeks, Edina police Lt. Dave Nelson said.

Tridgell had been missing since Oct. 10, after being last seen working at his job as an accountant for Lund's grocery store.

Nelson said Tridgell seemed to be ok, but just a little confused and lost as to where he was.

Tridgell's parents, Gary and Amy Tridgell of Duluth, said they thought their son may be experiencing an amnesia episode due to a serious head injury he suffered in December.

“He recognized Amy and I… but he’s definitely confused,? Gary Tridgell said. http://ww§ion=News

"We always think the worst case scenario," Sgt. Brian Tholen said. "And this turned out the best."

November 1, 2007

Bomb threat in Bloomington, third threat in the last three months in Minnesota.

There was a bomb threat this morning at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Bloomington. Police are on the scene investigating.

Roads near the building are closed. Those include areas near Metro Parkway and American Boulevard, police said.

"We are investigating," an officer with the Bloomington Police Department said about the threat.

Authorities said there were two bomb sniffing dogs out on the scene and that they detected possible explosive material on the Homeland Security transport van.

Just a few months earlier a Prior Lake High School was evacuated due to bomb threats as well.

An even more recent case, the University of Minnesota's Anderson Hall was evacuated due to a bomb threat just 9 days ago. The bomb threat came through an e-mail form that originated from a Cedar-Riverside area coffee shop, Jason McDonald, a facilites management employee said.

Jason McDonald, a facilities management employee who was on duty during the bomb threat, said he was told police believe the e-mail originated from a Cedar-Riverside area coffee shop.
This is the second threat the university has received in the last year.

Investigations are taking place on the Bloomington case, but no other details are available on this threat.

October 31, 2007

3 students at St. Thomas are being targeted with threatening racial messages

Three students at St. Thomas are being targeted with threatening racial messages.

Notes were slipped under the doors of black women living in John Paul II hall regarding racial-natured messages specifically intended for them, school officials said.

The first message came Tuesday at 1:30 a.m. under a girl's dorm room door. A second one was sent to her classroom around 8 a.m. that same morning.

The hate mail came even when a guard was standing outside the room. President Dennis Dease is call the threats a hate crime.

School officials and police don't know yet who is behind these notes.

“It’s quite a mystery,? said Jim Winterer, a university spokesman. “It’s really weird. As more and more this goes on maybe we’ll be able to figure it out.?

President Dease sent an email to faculty, students and staff showing his sympathies and apologizing on behalf of the university to each of the students. He continued on by saying that hate crimes are not tolerated at St. Thomas and those who act in that manner shall be condemned.

A program is scheduled for 11:45 a.m. Thursday in support of the students who have been victimized by these hate crimes.

October 26, 2007

Gay rights appealed at Osseo schools.

Attorneys for the Osseo school district are appealing a federal court order that involved a student-run gay rights group that was granted at Maple Grove Senior High.

According to court documents, the defendants are appealing whether U.S. District Judge Joan Ericksen abused discretion by issuing a permanent injunction on Sept. 25 putting Straights and Gays for Equality (SAGE), on equal grounds with other groups and organizations.

SAGE contended that they were denied the rights to publicize meetings over the public address system and have access to school facilities, but groups such as cheerleading, synchronized swimming and the Black Achievers were allowed those rights.

The school district stated that these other groups were under the "curricular" label, meaning their activities related to the school's curriculum.

The federal judge ruled Tuesday that the Osseo school district must give the student-run gay rights group the same privileges it gives the other student-run groups.

October 25, 2007

Bullets found at St. Paul high school

ST. PAUL, Minn -- Several bullets were found inside a St. Paul high school, but police and school authorities say they have no reason to believe anyone is in any kind of danger.

At St. Paul Central High school a student found a .22-caliber bullet in a hallway on Wednesday. Staff members and teachers searched for more bullets but none were found. They did not find any weapons or threatening notes, Howie Padilla, a school district spokesman said.

According to WCCO, officials are still working with St. Paul Central high school to find out who put the bullet there.

"Given the way they were placed, somebody may have wanted a day off," said Tom Walsh, a police department spokesman. "They wanted to make people panic."

A telephone message was sent to all the parents as a precaution.

School officials said classes continued to go on without any disruptions on Wednesday and no problems have been reported.

Minnesota family wins "Got Milk?" contest

ST. PETER, MINN. -- A St. Peter family of nine is one of 25 winners in a national "Got Milk?" contest.

The Olinger family submitted photos of the seven milk-mustached children to the diary industry that sponsored the contest.

Randy and Cara Olinger now have seven kids after their marriage three years ago. Cara recalls telling her husband to run and pick up some milk on his way home after she realized she was out. Randy bought a gallon and soon returned home to find out that wasn't enough. "We buy about six to eight gallons of milk at a time," Cara Olinger said.

According to Startribune, Olingers' said they used heavy whipping cream to make their milk-mustaches stay on good.

The contest is part of a nationwide campaign to encourage families to bring milk to the dinner tables. The latest market research cites that nearly 60 percent of children's dinners do not include milk and that percentage is soon declining.

"They're so excited. They think it's great," Cara Olinger said. "They're telling everybody, 'We're going to have a chef for a week.'"

Man bit by bat is killed by rabies

A man from Monticello contracted rabies after swatting at a bat in his cabin porch in mid-August. Randy Hertwig didn't realize he had beittne because there was no blood and no puncture marks.

Last weekend Hertwig's family and physicians realized he contracted rabies as he lay dying from the neurological virus. Hertwig, 46-year-old father, died Saturday in Rochester at St. Mary's Hospital.

Hertwig is the fifth person to die in Minnesota from rabies in the past century, others died in 1917, 1964, 1975 and 2000.

"What is most saddening about these deaths is that they could have been prevented with prompt medical attention following exposure," said Ruth Lynfield, state epidemiologist and medical director for infectious diseases at the Minnesota Department of Health.

According to state Health Department, in the early 1900s, 100 people died each year from rabies, now only two to three people contract the virus in the United States.

The Minnesota Department of Health issued a public health alert about Hertwig's death on Tuesday to warn people about the danger or rabies.

On the website, Hertwig's wife, daughter and son report on Hertwig's symptom's which started a month after the bite and went unnoticed.

Symptoms started as tingle in Hertwig's hand where he had been bitten. Soon after he had lost his ability to talk and move, and by mid-October he lay in a deep coma.

According to experts at the Minnesota Department of Health, everyone who has contracted rabies should have vaccinations immediately because the disease can incubate in a matter of years or even days.

October 22, 2007

Hannah fans paid big bucks for Minneapolis concert

Miley Cyrus, formerly known as Hanna Montana performed Sunday evening at the Target Center.

Cryus was greeted by over 16,000 teenage fans and accompanying parents whom felt very lucky to be there.

"I'm still disappointed it cost so much, but for a once-in-a-lifetime thing it seemed worth it," said Andy Medley, of Spooner, Wis., whose four seats with his wife and two daughters cost double their face value, about $120 apiece, from a ticket broker website.

There was a ruling last week in Las Angeles bannging software that's used to rig Ticketmaster's website said four states' attorneys general.

Another mom, whose daughter is a Miley Cyrus fan-club member, was promised early access to tickets for the concert. Julie Zemanick, mother of 9-year-old Lynsey, said she was on the computer for eight hours trying to get tickets but that they sold out instantly to many of whom were ticket scalpers.

Zemanick said tickets were being sold by scalpers anywhere between $300-$1,300 a piece.

Very few however did get lucky, beating the brokers in Minnesota, where scalping of tickets was legalized statewide in August. Tickets for face value ($64 and under) could be found on Craigslist and eBay last-minute, said ticket holder Stacey Mulrooney, "We gave it a last shot, and it worked."

Ticket costs weren't the only thing that money went towards on the night of the concert. T-shirts, hats and posters were all being sold for the children's excitement and memorabilia stash.

As quoted in Startribue, "I've bought a few concert T-shirts myself, so how could I not get her one from this show?" said Jennifer Kuntz, of Coon Rapids, whose daughter Melanie, 11, was one of the many girls who wore a Hannah-like wig to the concert.<

"They say ticket scalping is a victimless crime," Brill said, "but I think there are a lot of 8- and 9-year-olds who didn't make this show who'd say otherwise."

October 21, 2007

Couple reunites after two year engagement

Paul Barker awaits with sweaty palms in the Bloomington Armory parking lot in July, holding a dozen roses.

His fiancee of two years, Amanda Ploog, Minnesota National Guard Spc. is finally coming home.

The 22 year-olds have spend their entire engagement apart while Amanda has been away in Iraq. Paul and Amanda must get to know each other again and spend time preparing for their wedding that is in just three months.

"I think it's gonna be harder than what everyone else thinks it is," she says. "Everyone else is so happy to go home ... My friends were all 21 and going to universities, going out partying, and I was in Iraq. Different lifestyles. I have nothing in common with them anymore, and I've realized that through e-mails. So that's going to be different, trying to hang out with my friends again. With Paul, everything's changed - he's changed, I've changed ...

"I used to be very outgoing, but I don't know how I am now. We'll see when I go home," she says. "I know I've changed a lot, and I hope I can go back to the way I used to be. I think I was a very fun person."

"People sympathize for the soldier, but sometimes I sort of think it's harder on the people waiting back at home," Paul says. "I wouldn't want to put Amanda through what I just went through for two years of just waiting, waiting on her and hoping everything is all right. A lot of late-night worrying. I'd rather be in her shoes than sit home and just wait. The unknown will eat you up, kill you."

Amanda said one of the things she will enjoy the most about being back is being by herself. She said she shared a room in Iraq and even when she was in the shower room people were there. She said everywhere you went someone was always there.

This summer 2,600 Minnesota National Guard members returned home to Minnesota after serving 22 months in deployment.

Text lingo used in class?

Text lingo is starting to migrate into some students' school work.

Phrases such as BFF (Best friends forever), CU (see you), B4 (before), along with absense of punctuation and grammar have all been seen in school work.

"I write 'cuz' a lot, instead of 'because'," said Nick Miron, 17. "And I forget apostrophes."

Minnesota teachers are split in their idea of text message writing. Some really don't like seeing it, and some say it might be a way to keep students' writing.

Schools could possibly help students learn by using text messaging said one official with a national teachers group.

According to the Startribune, seventh and ninth - grade teacherat Lake Junior High and Woodbury Junior High, Eva Pitzel said that she estimates 25 percent to 40 percent of her students use text - messaging in their in-class writing.

"I see it as a negative because they are not always showing me that they can write out the words correctly," she said. "To compensate for this, we spend extra time editing in class and we talk about the different languages we use in our lives. I have to explicitly tell them that it is not OK to write like that for English class."

She also said that this form of language is a 'secretive' language because students' know that teachers and adults don't understand the lingo.

There has been a 3 million increase in American teenagers use of text-messaging. It was noted from the Pew Internet and American Life Project that 13 million in 2000 texted and 16 million in 2004.

Not only are students texting, but teachers as well. Shirley Holm, teacher at Junior High in St. Paul sends up to 600 messages a month, and once admitted to sending her son one word at a time the opening of the Gettysburg Address to wake him up.

According to the net lingo website some acronyms mostly commonly used by texters are:
2nite (tonight)
14AA41 (one for all and all for one)
4ever (forever)
B4N (bye for now)

October 16, 2007

Britney Spears loses custody, but Lakeville mom of drowning baby keeps hers.

Britney Spears' lost custody of her two young boys for child-endangerment concerns, while Lakeville mother, Katherine Bodem, was able to keep her kids after her 11-month-old daughter drowned in the bathtub while she allegedly shopped for shoes online.

"Apples and oranges", say legal experts asked to compare the cases.

Hennepin County Family Court Judge James Swenson said the parent who does not comply with court-ordered demands, for example chemical abuse evaluations or mental health, may have parenting time or custody scaled back.

During Monday's custody hearing, Spears' former bodyguard, Tony Barretto, accused Britney Spears of having "issues of nudity and drug use" since she returned from rehab.,2933,297107,00.html

Bodem's case occurred in juvenile court as Child in Need of Protection orders, also known as CHIPS. The determination in this case is to look at whether the child is in physical or emotional danger in the hands of the parent or guardian.

According to Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom, Children in "imminent harm" are removed immediately from the home and placed in a protective area. A hearing is held to be deteremined in the next 72 hours of whether removal will be temporary or permanent for Bodem's case.

Most cases, like Bodem's, never get that far, which is frusterating to Backstrom. "There has to be specific information before a child protection case will be opened and a social worker sent out to the home," he said. A call to child protection saying "I think this parent might have some mental health problems" is not going to initiate a child protection investigation, he said. "We get around 14,000 of these calls every year in Dakota County. There's not enough social workers in the world to go out and meet with every family."

Cheif Justice Kathleen Blatz collaborated with the judicial branch and Minnesota Department Health Services to to create the Minnesota Children's Justice Initiative which has a goal of looking at each county and determining how to improve the processing of child protection cases and outcomes for abused and neglected children through collaboration with the juvenile courts and social service agencies.

The difference for Britney might be that her she was tracked, photographed and dissected by the public on her every move with the boys. Where Bodem lived a more private life, which made challenges dicier and not always successful.

October 13, 2007

New Twins Stadium a Go

A new $522 million baseball stadium for the Minnesota Twins is now on the way after the settlement, Friday, between landowners and Hennepin County.

The deal ended an expensive legal battle over the land sale of which County officials were worried of paying to much for the land. They felt there would not be enough money to complete roads and public works projects around the new stadium.

Nothing will be said until 10 a.m. Monday said Aron, Kahn, spokesman for the landowners.

"I am pleased that we seemed to have come to an agreement and that we can move forward in funding infrastructure rather than attorneys," Hennepin County Board Chairman Randy Johnson said. "We hope we are done on this. Now we move on, on building a ballpark.Obviously I'm very pleased about it, although I don't know any of the details," Jerry Bell, president of Twins Sports Inc., said Friday. "It just seemed like it should be settled."

The ballpark is scheduled to open in 2010, however negotiations over the final price were still continuing after the Twins groundbreaking ceremonial in August.

"Today we are breaking ground for the next generation," said president and CEO of Twins Inc., Jerry Bell, who helped in the fight for a new ballpark the past 12 years. "So that they will experience baseball the way it's supposed to be played."

The fans gathered to with the team on the groundbreaking day for the new stadium to celebrate.

October 10, 2007

Mom convicted for drowning of daughter

LAKEVILLE, Minn- Last summer, 11-month-old daughter of Lakeville mother, drowned in the bath tub. The mother was charged today by the Dakota County District Court. They said Katherine Renae Bodem, 38, was using the computer on a different floor from her daughter, Cecelia Bodem, when she drowned.

Bodem's 10-year-old daughter, believed her mother was buying shoes off the internet at the time, charges said.

Bodem is being charged with two counts of second-degree manslaughter with a bail set at $60,000.

Bodem told police that she went downstairs for a few minutes while her daughter and 2 1/2-year-old son were in the tub. She said she could hear them playing but after their was silence she went upstairs to see her son pulling
daughter Cecelia out from the tub.

According to the complaint, Bodem said she attempted to revive the baby by hitting her on the back and blowing into her mouth.

According to forensic examination, the mother was online for 19 minutes.

October 4, 2007

Meth Confused For Candy?

ST. PAUL, Minn. - A 14-year-old was caught selling methamphetamine to other children at Hazel Park Middle School Academy on Wednesday.

The students all around the age of 14, ate the drug. Experts say the students aren't experienced with these drugs because you snort it or inject it to get the quickest high. This idea is fueling the rumor going around the school that the students didn't know what they were eating

The 14-year-old girl pleaded guilty Wednesday in Ramsey County juvenile court to giving meth to six other classmates.

Hazel Park Principal Coleman McDonough said that one girl went to the school nurse during Tuesday's lunch period, because she wasn't feeling well and was anxious and scared. The girl proceeded to tell the nurse that six girls and one boy had found a substance and "ingested" it, officials said.

McDonough said that all seven of the students have been suspended from school for further investigation and some, if not all, will face additional school discipline.

Two Hazel Park parents said that the girl who brought the meth to school might have told the students it was candy.

"It was such a large group of kids who tried it," said Becky Grace, whose son is an eighth-grader at the school. "That could explain it."

School officials are saying the girl told them she'd "found" the crystal meth.

Nancy Schiller, parent of an eighth-grader, said some students said it looked like Pixy Stix.

Methamphetamine use among kids this age is far less common than alcohol and marijuana use said Professionals who work with young people struggling with this addiction.

Chuck Noerenberg, meth policy coordinator for the state's Department of Health, said meth's shiny crystals could pass for something less sinister.

"I think that's indicative that the kids really didn't understand what they were doing," Chuck Noerenberg, meth policy coordinator said of those who ate the drug. "It wouldn't shock me if some of the kids thought it was some kind of exotic candy."

The student who gave out the meth pleaded guilty in juvenile court so she appears to know what she was doing said a Ramsey County spokewoman.

According to prosecutors, the girl charged is facing an uncertain future. Passing out a small amount of drugs would be a third-degree crime, but passing out drugs at school heightens the offense said Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom.

"Whoever is at the home, the mother or the father or both, not only could they be charged for the drugs, but maybe with endangering a minor," said Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman.

October 1, 2007

Finally fresh air at bars.

Minnesota joined 17 other states in a statewide smoking ban as of 12:01 a.m. today.

The owners of restaurants, bars and private clubs are the most anxious about the new ban on their businesses.

Many outdoor areas, where smoking is permitted, has been added onto businesses so that customers have a spot to smoke and aren't running to their cars to light up.

"They're doing patios, outdoor facilities to try and make their customers have a spot to have a cigarette so they don't have to get in a car and leave," said Kenn Rockler, of the Minnesota Tavern League.

Thousands of information packets have been handed out to food and beverage establishments by the Minnesota Department of Health and local officials reminding them of the new law.

The law in intended to protect the workers from secondhand smoke through the Minnesota's Freedom to Breathe Act.

"Smoking becomes something you have to interrupt your social activity to do. Because of that, you just cut down more," said Mike Maguire, a spokesman for the Midwest Division of the American Cancer Society. "We expect a pretty smooth transition with just a few bumps."

In Ohio, more than 13,000 complaints about the smoking ban was reported in the first four months of their statewide ban effect this year. According to one newspaper account, many businesses appeared to be openly violating the law.

However, for smokers, there are a few places they can still light up. Some places include: Cars that are sometimes used for personal use and used for public transportation if the driver says smoking is ok. Guest rooms in hotels and motels, the Veterans Rest Camp in Marine on St. Croix, and the Traditional American Indian ceremonies.

If you witness a business that is breaking the law you may fill out a drafted Compliance Assistance Letter by the state Health Department found on the agency's Web site:

September 25, 2007

2 teens arrested for death of Minneapolis girl

Minneapolis - A 12-year-old girl was shot near her north Minneapolis home. Two teenage boys have been arrested in connection with the shooting of the girl.

Vernice Hall was shot in the head just two days before the two boys were arrested.

The Minneapolis Police Department's violent-crime apprehension unit picked up the two boys, 16 and 17, on Monday afternoon said, Lt. Amelia Huffman, head of the homicide unit.

Huffman believed the incident was gang-related but did not elaborate on the role the teenagers played in the shooting.

Vernice walked outside her family's home about midnight Friday as a siblings party was winding down. Witnesses told Vernice's father that four men were shooting at people leaving the party, but that Vernice was not the intended target. She is now located at Hennepin County Medical Center in critical condition.

Witnesses said they heard about eight or nine gunshots and saw that Vernice had been hit in the head.

"We're keeping our fingers crossed that we're on the right trail," Police Chief Tim Dolan said Monday night. "We're hoping and praying for her."

New efforts in tackling youth violence are being made by Mayor R.T. Ryback for a new truancy curfew center with prevention programs.

Initiatives to help fight crime seem to be working with violent crime rates down 14 precent compared to last year and juvenile crime down 20 percent from last year.

Minnesota. Smart State?

Minnesota is well above average according to the National Assessment of Educational Pregress. The state ranks second nationwide based on math test scores among eighth-graders and ranked fifth for fourth-graders on test scores.

The NAEP gives out tests every year to measure how the states compare on student achievement. They are given out every year to the fourth and eigth - graders along with science tests administered in the intervening years.

Massachusetts was the only state to rank higher than Minnesota on the eighth-grade tests.

In 2005, Minnesota ranked near the head of the class nationwide in math and reading scores.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Education commissioner Alice Seagren have been worried that Minnesota wasn't keeping up with the rest of the world in math, science, engineering and technology so money has been poured into more resources for the students to get the teachers who will help them in those disciplines.

According to the report card there seems to still be a significant academic achievement gap between Minnesota's white students and students of color. However the gap has narrowed among the African-American students and the Hispanic students.

September 24, 2007

Take a walk in the Pope's shoes.

Two huge boxes from Rome arrived at the Sharing and Caring Hands, a downtown Minneapolis homeless mission. Friends of Rev. Joseph Johnson, the rector of the Cathedral of St. Paul, were visiting from the Vatican and received a tour of the Twin Cities area.

Mary Copeland, director of Sharing and Caring Hands, opened the two big boxes brought in by Rev. Johnson not sure what was inside.

Rev. Johnson told Copeland the boxes were from the Pope. "What do you mean? The Pope," said Copeland.

Copeland opened the boxes to see several dozen pairs of handmade Italian shoes to give to the poor.
Take a walk in the Pope's shoes. | Entries | News Blogger | Movable Type Publishing Platform
"These are just grand! This is just the best gift. That Pope Benedict, wherever you are, God bless you!" said Copeland.

"It's a blessing for everybody. All the kids love them. The parents love them, too. I just can't stop smiling. Thank you pope," said Tasha Allen, who received a pair of shoes.

Copeland received a note from the Vatican and a picture of the Pope.
"That was very nice because now the pope is praying for me, I know I'll keep going," said Copeland.

September 22, 2007

U of M Strikers return to Work

After 17 days of being on strike, University of Minnesota AFSCME Union workers decide to return to work after reaching a settlement with the University's Administration.

The reached an agreement for a two-year contract of a 2.25 percent cost of living increase for clerical and technical wokers, a 2.5 percent cost of living increase for health care workers, and annual step raises for experience plus a $300 lump sum each year.

There are still 1,000 of the 3,100 workers still on strike. Monday, students, faculty members and union supporters decided to go on a hunger strike by only having water and juice. One participant was impacted by the hunger strike so the group needed to contact a nurse said Marion Traub-Werner, a geography graduate student.

September 15, 2007

I-35 Bridge Bidding

Losing bidders on the I-35W bridge project won't walk away empty handed.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation is ready to pay unsuccessful bidders $500,000 which is a $200,000 increase from the day agency offered the stipend on August 1. The increase is reflected on the increase in expectations for the new bridge. A future light rail is in line for the future bridge.

This is the highest stipend that has ever been offered in Minnesota. The last closest was awarded for $425,000 to the teams competing for the Highway 52 reconstruction in and around Rochester.

Competition is getting down there after KTM Constructors withdrew its name from the project.

Full proposals are required to be submitted by Sept. 18 so the agency can pick the winning builder by the end of September.

DWI Crack down

Minnesota Public Department Safety did a two-week crack down on motorists who were intoxicated.

The "Safe and Sober" campaign of increased enforcement ran from Aug. 17 to Sept. 3.

During the two-week long campaign the State Patrol stopped 343 motorists for driving while impaired. Minneapolis ranked top with 58 citations, followed closely by St. Paul police stopping 57, Bloomington police with 48, Wright County Sheriff stopping 47 and Coon Rapids police followed with 30 motorists.

According to last years results, drunk driving was responsible for 166 deaths on Minnesota roads.

In 2006 there was a record high of 41,842 DWI arrests in the state of Minnesota. Of all the Minnesota residents, 493,059 have a DWI on their record.

Driving drunk is a big risk to take. A first offense can result in a loss of a driver's license for 30 to 90 days and can cost up to $20,000 in fines and legal fees.

Have a sober driver.

September 13, 2007

Star Wars coming to the Science Museum

Only nine months away, the Star Wars will be at The Science Museum of Minnesota. (website link-

You can visit the museum's website ( to get updates and special offers. You can also join the priority email ticket club which will entitle you the opportunity for buying tickets to the blockbuster exhibit in March, along with many other opportunities said museum officials.

Admission for the Star Wars exhibit is $17 for adults and $14.50 for ages 4-12 and those 60 and older.

According to the Science Museum website ( there will be over 80 costumes, models and props from all six Star Wars films.

The Science Museum is one of only eight museums to host the exhibit in the United States, St. Paul being it's last stop before heading overseas.