MINNESOTA NEWS BRIEFS:State reports first West Nile virus death
ST. PAUL - Minnesota has reported its first death from West Nile virus this year.
It's believed the victim is from Greater Minnesota. The Minnesota Department of Health has confirmed 16 human cases in the state so far. There were 70 West Nile cases and one death last year -- and most of the illnesses were in the southwest corner of the state.
One person is dead and another was hurt in a shooting in Burnsville early this morning. The shooting happened at a townhouse in Burnsville, and then the victims were apparently taken to an Eagan gas station. Burnsville Police have not released the current condition of the surviving victim, and they have no information concerning any possible suspects.
A man was killed Monday night when his car left West River Parkway in Minneapolis, near the Stone Arch Bridge, crashed through a security fence, and went into the Mississippi River. Hennepin County Sheriff's Deputies, Minneapolis Police, Minneapolis Park Police and Minneapolis Fire worked to find the car with the help of an underwater remote operated vehicle and pulled it from the spot, 40 feet from shore, where it landed. The male driver was alone in the car and was pronounced dead at the scene. Police had recieved several calls before the crash, reporting an erratic driver.
Searchers have found the body of a Grand Marais man who had been missing along the Gunflint Trail for nearly two weeks. Eighty-two-year-old Paul Brandt went blueberry picking August 1st and never returned. A member of Brandt's family discovered his body Sunday about a mile from his abandoned vehicle. The Cook County Sheriff's Office and the Border Patrol ended formal searches last Wednesday. An autopsy will be performed to determine cause of death.
A Rochester woman was arrested after a cab driver said she tried to stab him with a pair of scissors. Police say the driver asked Miranda Hoff to stop smoking in his car, and that's when she pulled the scissors from her purse and began attacking him. The driver says he blocked the jabs with a clipboard, and he tried to call 911 from his cell phone but she knocked it from his hand. The driver ran from the car and Hoff apparently chased...at least until she fell. Police believe she was drunk. The cab driver was not hurt.
The pilot escaped injury but the plane is totaled after a failed take-off from a lake in Otter Tail County on Saturday morning. Sixty-year-old Mark Spiekermeir of Wahpeton, North Dakota was taking off from Loon Lake in an ultra-lite and was up to proper speed when the plane veered to the right and crashed. He suspects a mechanical problem. Emergency crews from Vergas and Otter Tail County plus other boat owners helped tow the plane to shore.
The shooting death of a 20-year-old man in St. Paul Park has been ruled accidental. Regino Nitti was shot in an apartment early Saturday morning and Washington County Sheriff's investigators say a friend accidentally shot and killed Nitti. There were other guns in the apartment, and police say the investigation is ongoing.
A St. Paul woman is charged with murder and conspiracy in the death of her National Guardsman husband, and family friend Aaron Allen is facing the same charges. Investigators say Brandon Horst was shot in his bed last week, and Heather Horst originally told them that the couple had argued for days because Brandon wanted the couple to have an open relationship and she suspected he had committed suicide because of the fight. Four days after Brandon Horst's death prosecutors say Allen's fiancee' told police that Heather convinced Allen to kill her spouse by claiming he was abusive, and to make it look like a break-in. Heather Horst apparently provided the gun used in the crime, and police discovered potentially incriminating text messages between Heather Horst and Allen exchanged in the moments before the shooting. Test results show that a bullet casing found at the scene had been fired by a gun case owned by Heather Horst.
A judge in Willmar has denied a request by the parents of a teen murder suspect that he be released to their custody. Sixteen-year-old Devon Jenkins is charged with two counts of second-degree murder in the July 29th death of 79-year-old Lila Warwick. Prosecutors say he helped plan the robbery and murder of Warwick and drove accused killer Brok Junkermeier to her home. Jenkins is being held without bail in the Prairie Lakes Juvenile Detention Center. Prosecutors will ask at an August 29th hearing that he be tried as an adult.
Police continue looking for a Pelican Rapids teen missing since last Wednesday. Authorities say 17-year-old Alex Key snuck out through a bathroom window, taking a backpack with him. He's had heart surgery and is diabetic, and it's not known whether he took his medication with him. Key was spotted in Detroit Lakes over the weekend. He's six feet tall, 200 pounds, with dark red hair and hazel eyes. Key was last seen wearing a blue jacket, orange tennis shoes, and had a star-and-cross necklace. Anyone with information should call the Pelican Rapids Police Department.
Members of the AFSCME and MAPE state employee unions have ratified a new two-year contract for 2013 thru 2015. About 32,000 state workers will receive across-the-board raises of three percent for each of the next two years but will also pay more for health insurance. For the contract to take effect, a special legislative panel must approve it within 30 days. The 2014 legislature has the final say.
A slight setback in July, after the state ended its fiscal year with significantly more money than expected. The latest report shows tax revenue collections for July about 21 million dollars less than forecast, but officials stress that people shouldn't jump to conclusions because of wide variations in the rate which tax receipts are processed and refunds issued. The state finished its fiscal year at the end of June with tax revenues 463 million dollars ahead of forecast. That's a significant chunk of extra change, and analysts credit some of it to stronger-than-expected economic growth in the latter part of 2012. But they caution that high earners also moved more of their income into the 2012 tax year, which won't have a lasting effect in the new budget. But the extra money *does* mean schools will be paid back sooner for aid payments that state lawmakers delayed earlier to help balance the budget.
More than 500 people are in Duluth the next few days (8/13-15) for the 2013 Food Access Summit. Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson says attendees will share best practices and learn about successful efforts to put nutritious meals on the table. Jesson say far too many people in Minnesota are going to bed hungry when they don't need to. Jesson says the state is working with grocery stores and farmers markets to help low-income residents buy more healthy foods. The 2013 Food Summit is a partnership between several public and private organizations.
The federal firearms trial of 24-year-old Buford "Bucky" Rogers of Montevideo begins today in Minneapolis. Rogers was arrested in May, and a few days later the FBI's Kyle Loven said it stopped a terror attack in its planning stages, potentially saving the lives of several Montevideo residents. FBI agents found a cache of explosives and weapons in the mobile home of Rogers' parents in Montevideo. Court records say a man told police that Rogers wanted his help with attacks on law enforcement and infrastructure in the Montevideo area. The man refused and went.
More than three times the number of women are operating farms in the U.S. than in the late 1970s, with the share of women-owned farms increasing from five to 14 percent -- and the number of Minnesota farms operated by women nearly doubled between 1997 to 2007. USDA economist Bob Hoppe says about 45 percent of women-owned farms specialized in livestock. Women are also more likely to raise specialty crops rather than the standard corn and soybean rotation. About 80 percent of women-owned farms had sales of less than $10,000.
The Twin Cities suburb of Chanhassen has been ranked number four on Money Magazine's "Best Places to Live in America" list The city gets high marks for rebounding from recent economic woes--including improvement in the job and housing markets. Chanhassen also received praise from the magazine for its variety of year-round outdoor options, featuring 34 parks and 90 miles of trails. Apple Valley also made the list at number 17, and Savage was number 21. The magazine put Sharon, Massachusetts in the top spot for places to live in the U.S. in 2013.
Minnesota is a great place to live. At least according to recent studies like the Camelot Index, which ranked the state second in the country for overall quality of life. And recent Money Magazine and Forbes lists have singled out Chanhassen, Mankato, Rochester and St. Cloud, among others, as great places to live and start businesses. Madeline Koch with the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) says we're faring so well for a number of reasons including -- a growing economy, affordable living, an unmatched healthcare system, coupled with the sort of quality of life aspects around our lakes, our forests our amenities. Koch says, however, there is room for improvement, specifically when it comes to the disparity in unemployment numbers between whites and people of color. She says DEED considers closing that gap a top priority now and in the foreseeable future.