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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUND-UP: Driver killed in Swift County chain reaction crash

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DE GRAFF, Minn.  --  A chain reaction crash killed a driver last night on Highway 12 in western Minnesota's Swift County. 

The State Patrol says the victim's vehicle was making a left turn off Highway 12 near De Graff when it was rear-ended by a car driven by 37-year-old Thomas Kolbe of Sleepy Eye.  The impact pushed the first car into the path of a truck and the car's driver was killed.  The victim's name has not been released.  Kolbe and his passenger were treated and released at Swift County Hospital.  The truck driver wasn't hurt.

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Congressman Keith Ellison (DFL-Minneapolis) voted for short-term funding to replenish the federal Highway Trust Fund but is calling for a long-term solution.  The U.S. House passed a ten-billion-dollar measure to extend funding to repair highways and bridges until next spring.  But Ellison warns lawmakers will be in the same situation in May 2015 if they don't consider long-term appropriate funding options, like increasing the gas tax or passing the president's GROW America Act.  Ellison says Minnesota has 1,190 structurally deficient bridges and 42 percent of the state's roads are in poor or mediocre condition.  He adds the best way to prevent tragedy tomorrow is to invest in rebuilding roads and bridges today.  

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A Minnesota lawmaker led a congressional hearing this week spotlighting the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's ongoing work and how they are implementing recent changes in law.  Congressman John Kline (R-Burnsville) says the organization has made a big difference for thousands of Minnesota families, and since 1990 has worked on nearly 1,700 runaway cases, 373 family abductions, and 67 lost, injured, or otherwise missing children.  And he says that's only in one state.  Kline says he's hopeful Congress will move forward with bipartisan legislation to strengthen support for victims of youth sex trafficking, providing vulnerable victims with help they "so desperately need." 

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Organizers expect a big year for the 33rd Annual Sonshine Christian Music Festival that begins tonight on the Willmar Civic Center grounds.  Festival Director Bob Poe has been there since the very first Sonshine on the grounds of Willmar Community College back in 1982, when attendance was just 1,800 -- and Poe says it "kinda kept climbing" from there.  In the past decade attendance has averaged 15- to 20,000.  2011 was a mud bath for the entire event, which caused 2012 attendance to dip to 13,000, but more people came last year.

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