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MINNESOTA NEWS BRIEFS: MSP unaffected by travel alert

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news Ellsworth, 54011
Pierce County Herald
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Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. -  The State Department has issued a worldwide travel alert, cautioning Americans against traveling to Africa and the Middle East, and today federal officials have specifically issued a no-travel alert to Yemen, and have started the process of pulling Americans out of the country because of an increased fear of terror attacks. But what does that warning mean for the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport? Spokesman Patrick Hogan says it has absolutely no impact on security processes at MSP.

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Hogan says the airport has been, "At a heightened state of alert for over a decade now and already has programs in place to reduce risk," to those flying in or out of the airport.

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A former Duluth basketball and baseball coach accused of molesting a young boy and taking pictures of him in sexual positions has now been charged with sexually assaulting a second boy. Peter Olson was fired from his job with the Duluth Salvation Army in November, after officials with the organization found child pornography on his work computer. He was charged in June with first-degree criminal sexual conduct, possessing child pornography, and use of a minor in a sexual performance. Olson was a longtime coach with the Lake Park Little League before resigning in June, and apparently was the coach for both victims. His next court appearance is September 6.

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A 45-year-old man participating in the Minnesota Sex Offender Program in Moose Lake died Saturday in what officials say is likely the first suicide in the program? history. The St. Louis County medical examiner is scheduled to conduct an autopsy today in Hibbing to determine whether the man took his own life. The Minnesota Department of Human Services, which is in charge of the program, issued a statement saying they are, "Fully investigating the circumstances and reviewing all relevant policies and procedures.

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A blood test that revealed that a Minnetrista father was legally drunk when his vehicle crashed through the ice on Lake Minnetonka, killing his infant daughter, is admissible in court. Jonathan Markle's lawyer argued that the blood test should be thrown out, after a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that determined search warrants were necessary for blood-alcohol tests in most drunk driving cases. The judge ruled that extenuating circumstances surrounding the long period of time it took to make the water rescue, get Markle to the hospital, and determine if he was hurt relieved the officer of the need to get a warrant before the test was conducted. Just under two hours after the SUV broke through the ice Markle's blood alcohol level registered .13. Markle, his wife, and a two-year-old daughter were treated for hypothermia but were otherwise unhurt in the January incident, but his eight-month-old daughter Tabitha was underwater for 15 minutes and died at the hospital three days later. He is charged with criminal vehicular homicide in her death.

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A Coon Rapids man who was the secretary of Minnesota Society of Orthotists, Prosthetists and Pedorthists, a nonprofit industry group that promotes ethical standards, has been sentenced for being anything but ethical. 52-year-old Peter Stasica Jr., will serve two years of probation and pay $88,000 in restitution after he was convicted in federal court of wire fraud for stealing prosthetics from the University of Minnesota Medical Center in Minneapolis and selling them on Ebay. Stasica was an employee of the medical center, and prosecutors say dozens of buyers purchased more than 60 stolen prosthetics and related supplies from him online. He was fired after he was charged.

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More than 240 members of Workers' United Local 150 walked off the job from Health Systems Cooperative Laundries in a strike over what workers call unfair labor practices, including the discontinuation of paid sick days. Workers poured out of the building just after lunch yesterday afternoon, completely shutting down operations at the commercial laundry facility. Union members refused to approve the company's final contract offer on July 26. Negotiations resumed between the Union and the Laundry yesterday (Mon) morning at a mediator's office in Minneapolis, but so far have been unsuccessful. Local 150 members at the St. Paul laundry have walked the picket lines twice before this summer during contract negotiations. Workers at Health Systems Cooperative Laundries provide linens to nearly every hospital in the Twin Cities. There is no indication as to how long a strike could last.

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The Minnesota State Patrol has released video of a police chase last fall, hoping to convince urban climbers that they could face charges if they are caught scaling the scaffolding used by Capitol building remodelers during the massive makeover that is to begin soon. The video shows a man in a hoodie who climbed the scaffolding set up outside the Capitol last October, and managed to climb back down and avoid being caught. State Patrol officials say anyone who is caught climbing the dome could be charged with trespassing, criminal damage to property and other crimes.  

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A Chinese company has made an offer to buy U.S. pork producer Smithfield Foods for $7.1 million. If the sale goes through, Shuanghui International would take over 26-percent of the American pork processing industry, and that would impact Minnesota-based Hormel and several other U.S. brands. With more than two-billion dollars in annual gross revenue, the pork industry in Minnesota is watching the deal closely. Doug Peterson is president of the Minnesota Farmer's Union and says there are concerns about China and food quality control. He says they can do whatever they want, there will really be no restrictions. Peterson says the other issue is we don't have the capacity within the USDA to have any kind of inspection. He says China has a long history of tainted and poor quality products.

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Tonight is National Night Out, which is meant to encourage people to get out in their neighborhoods, hold block parties, and get to know their neighbors as a way to prevent crime. Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek says partnerships, whether between police and citizens or neighbor to neighbor, are proven to reduce crime rates. More than 1,500 neighborhood events have been registered in Minneapolis alone. Last year Minneapolis outranked all U.S. cities with a population of more than 250,000 in terms of participation in the event. Dozens of communities across the state will be participating in National Night Out.

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Farmfest 2013 kicks off today and runs through Thursday in Redwood Falls. The Farmfest Forums, which bring together top politicians and ag leaders, are among the most popular attractions every year. The man in charge of the forums is Kent Thiesse of Lake Crystal. He says the first forum will focus on the Farm Bill. Congressman Tim Walz (DFL-Mankato) and ranking member of the Ag committee, Collin Peterson (DFL-Detroit Lakes) will be featured on the Farm Bill panel today.

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The number of farmers markets in Minnesota that accept federal SNAP food benefits, continues to increase. Agricultural Marketing Service Administrator Anne Alonzo says that's good news, because it allows the state's farmers to not only supply local communities with fresh and healthy food choices, but it also supports those local economies, helps fund economic development, and creates jobs. Last season, there were 30 farmers markets in Minnesota that accepted SNAP vouchers, or about one-quarter of the farmer's markets that operate in the state.

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Officials at Shakopee's Canterbury Park are considering a "running with the bulls" event for next year. Canterbury spokesman Jeff Maday says they're in the process of vetting the event and safety for the animals and participants is a key factor in whether or not it will happen. Maday says the so-called Great Bull Run, while enticing to thrill seekers, is not quite the same as the annual bull run in Pamplona, Spain. The Great Bull Run is already on the calendars at several locations throughout the U-S--the first being in Richmond, Virginia on August 24th. So far, more than 5,000 have signed up to participate in that event.  

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The Minneapolis Police Officers union says there's "no place for racist or bigoted officers" in the department. The Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis issued a statement Sunday in response to the allegations that off-duty police officers used racial slurs. The federation also says it would like to be a part of Minneapolis police Chief Janee Harteau's meetings with city leaders in response to those incidents. Harteau says she will be working with the city's civil rights director to discuss how the city can rebuild trust after off-duty Minneapolis police officers allegedly used racist and anti-gay slurs during separate incidents in Apple Valley and Green Bay, Wisconsin. Chief Harteau also plans to appoint a new Police Conduct Oversight Commission, which she says will be working by September.

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No injuries have been reported after a corporate jet overshot the runway at Flying Cloud Airport in Eden Prairie yesterday morning. Metropolitan Airports Commission officials say the incident happened just before 9:00 a.m. At this point, it's not clear what caused the plane to overshoot the runway, crashing through a fence and coming to rest on a nearby road.

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Chances are that Minnesotans who own farm real estate are finding it a great investment, with an average 13 percent increase in value over the past year. In Minnesota, ag economist Joe Glauber (GLOB'-ur) says values are reaching $9,500 per acre. Ag land has seen double-digit increases in value of 25-to-30 percent over the past six years, but Glauber says those big increases may slow down in the next year or so. Continued low supplies of land and low interest rates have kept the market strong, but Glauber says an expected moderation in the income levels of producers and slightly higher interest rates means prices will likely reach a plateau for the remainder of 2013 and see only moderate to steady growth going forward.

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It's a black beetle about 1.5 inches long with white spots and long antennae, and it bores holes into hardwood trees to lay its eggs. Because it is not native to our country, it has no natural enemies to keep it in check. The Asian long-horned beetle has been found in other Midwest states, but so far not in Minnesota. The tunnels the bug creates to lay it's eggs eventually weaken and kill the tree it invades, and Rhonda Santos of the U.S. Department of Agriculture says August has been designated "Tree Check Month." If you think you've found this kind of damage she says don't try to deal with it yourself. Contact the state agriculture department and they will send an expert to deal with it.  

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