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Minnesota News Briefs: Arena turned into shelter for stranded motorists

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- The Alerus Center in Grand Forks was turned into a storm shelter overnight for a couple hundred stranded travelers due to blizzard conditions in northwest Minnesota.

Red Cross Regional Communications Director Brian Shawn says they originally planned for 40 to 50 people, but all the hotel rooms were sold out and there was no place for people to stay. Cots, blankets and food were provided. Shawn says many of the stranded travelers were Canadians who could not get home because Interstate 29 from Grand Forks to Winnipeg was shut down.

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Two people died and a third was hurt in a four vehicle crash on I-94 Monday near Barnesville. Authorities say poor visibility was likely a factor in the crash due to white-out conditions at the time. Forty-nine-year-olds Sean Ray and Judith Reid of Minnetonka were killed and 16-year-old Evan Ray was hospitalized with serious injuries. The crash involved a DOT plow, a semi, a pick-up pulling a trailer and a car. The westbound lanes were closed and traffic was diverted for about three-hours so investigators could re-construct the crash.

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Minnesota-based Medtronic is reporting revenue of four-billion dollars for the third quarter, a three-percent increase from last year. Sales rose four percent and earnings of 988-million dollars beat Wall Street estimates. Robust international sales and growth in emerging markets helped fuel the third-quarter gains. The medical device maker expects revenue growth of three to four percent for the full fiscal year 2013.

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The operators of Valley Fair amusement park in Shakopee saw a third straight year of record revenue in 2012. Cedar Fair Entertainment Co. reported a 43% increase in net income for 2012 compared to the year before. Officials with the amusement park operator say net income climbed to $101.2 million. The company was able to reach that milestone by holding down expenses in several areas. In the coming season, Cedar Fair plans to invest approximately $100 million in what it called "marketable capital improvements" across its properties, and spend another $15 million to $20 million on "incremental capital programs."

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The California firm that SAGE Electrochromics Inc. of Faribault filed a patent lawsuit against in late December has now filed a counterclaim, saying the Minnesota company is actually using its methods for tinting glass. Company officials at View Inc., believe it is SAGE that is infringing on its patent for an intelligent glass system for buildings. SAGE Senior Vice President Chuck Hayes says such lawsuits take years to move through the court system, and the company will keep moving forward while the corporate legal team handles the patent dispute.

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A 22-year-old Shakopee man is charged with assault, after prosecutors say Derek Fesik broke his neighbor's nose because the other man "made fun of" him and didn't believe Fesik was a mixed martial arts fighter. The neighbor was treated at the hospital for a nasal fracture and injured eardrum. One the website mixed martial arts.com, a 22-year-old Derek Fesik from Minnesota is listed as an amateur fighter. Fesik has a previous assault conviction from 2011 that required him to take anger management treatment, and also has other convictions for felony and misdemeanor domestic assault.

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Former Timberwolves coach and player Sidney Lowe is facing three misdemeanors for failing pay to income taxes in North Carolina. Lowe was arrested Monday for allegedly not filing income tax returns in 2009, 2010 and 2011. He was coaching at his alma mater North Carolina State during that time with an annual salary of 500-thousand dollars. Lowe played for Minnesota in 1989-90 and coached the Wolves from 1992-1994. He's currently an assistant with the Utah Jazz. Lowe is scheduled to appear in court next month.

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U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (DFL-Plymouth) awarded a St. Cloud-based company a certificate for their work in food safety. Microbiologies employs over 80 people who specialize in testing for food and water contamination. Klobuchar says they are an example of how St.Cloud is making something that saves lives and it allows them to test their food for e-coli and things that kill people. The senator awarded the company with an Export Achievement Certificate from the U.S. Commerce Department.

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Firefighters were at the State Capitol today asking lawmakers for a million-plus dollars to reimburse their departments when personnel have to go on leave for military service. Saint Paul Fire Chief Tim Butler says when those firefighters are gone, response times suffer -- for heart attack victims bringing in a neighboring company could mean a person won't survive that cardiac arrest. Chief Butler adds house fires double in size every minute...and a four-minute response time is typical for St.Paul. Hearings on the funding bill are expected in the next few weeks at the State Capitol.

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Gas prices are up this month, with the national average at around $3.73 a gallon -- and Minnesota is two cents more than that. Gail Weinholzer with Triple-A Minnesota says gasoline prices have gone up in Minnesota about 65 cents over the past month, and nationally there have been increases for 32 consecutive days. Weinholzer says it's due to crude oil prices going up, and because the switchover from winter- to summer-grade fuels is constraining supply in the Upper Midwest. Weinholzer doesn't anticipate that gas will go over four dollars a gallon in Minnesota--but predicts we'll get pretty close.

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The new mayor of Sauk Rapids is expected to be charged with drunk driving. Police Chief Perry Beise says Mayor Brad Gunderson was arrested Sunday afternoon after he failed a preliminary breath test following a crash. Nobody was injured in the crash, and Beise says the mayor was given a ride home and not taken to jail. Gunderson hasn't been charged yet; investigators are waiting on the results of lab tests. The 48-year-old has just begun his first term as mayor.

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A St. Paul mother and daughter are charged with murdering a woman in Wisconsin in 2007. Court papers show 34-year-old Kandi Siveny was charged with first-degree intentional homicide, party to a crime and solicitation of substantial battery in the death of her mother's 30-year-old girlfriend. Her mother, 53-year-old Dianna Siveny of Appleton, Wis., faces the same charges in the shooting death of Lara Plamann . A third woman, 38-year-old Rosie Campbell of St. Paul was also charged with first-degree intentional homicide. Dianna Siveny was the sole beneficiary of Plamann's estate, and investigators say Plamann had an affair with another woman a few weeks before her murder.

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A Grand Forks boxer is in critical condition after collapsing this weekend. 29 year old J.J. Moen suffered a severe brain injury according to family members. Moen collapsed after the first round of a heavyweight fight in East Grand Forks Saturday night. Witnesses say Moen took one blow to the head that staggered him, but he finished the round. He went to his corner to sit down and apparently had a seizure.

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A Macalester College professor is suing the school for discrimination. Poet Wang Ping says the college in St. Paul blocked her efforts to move up the tenure track and promoted white men from the same department instead, despite her "internationally acclaimed" work as a poet, author, and educator. She also claims the college put stumbling blocks in the path of her projects after she filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Wang was denied promotion to full professor in 2009, which was eventually granted in 2012, so she is asking for the wages and benefits she would have received in those three years. Court papers show Macalaster's lawyers have argued her allegations are without merit.

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