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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUND-UP: FEMA crews survey flood damage

FEMA crews and state officials are surveyed flood damage today in Sibley, Steele, Martin, Hennepin, Carver and Scott counties. 

The Hennepin County Board reported Tuesday that damages are estimated at nearly $15-million dollars.  Emergency management officials in Carver County are looking at more than nine-million dollars in losses.  Governor Dayton is expected to request a presidential declaration this week.  Additional assessment are scheduled tomorrow in Nicollet, Blue Earth, Hennepin and Ramsey counties.

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Former Governor Jesse Ventura's defamation lawsuit against the widow of slain "American Sniper" author Chris Kyle continues in St. Paul.  Ventura alleges that Kyle's story that Ventura made derogatory remarks about Navy SEALS that ended in a fight in a California bar was fabricated.  University of Minnesota Law School Professor William McGovern says when public figures sue for defamation, standards are high--higher than the standard of proof for an ordinary citizen.  McGovern says such a trial is rare because most defamation cases are settled out of court.  Kyle and a friend were killed in last year at a Texas gun range.  Kyle's widow, Taya Kyle, is now the defendant in Ventura's case.

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An 86-year old Brainerd area man is dead following a tractor accident in a shed in Sylvan Township.  The Cass County Sheriff's Office says the man, whose name has not been released, was pinned by the tractor after it rolled in reverse into a trailer hitch.  The accident happened late Tuesday afternoon.

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Bond was set at $100,000 for a Rothsay man accused of backing over his girlfriend with his SUV Sunday night.  Thirty-four-year-old Casey Grunewald was arrested at his home following a brief chase with an Otter Tail County deputy.  The woman told investigators that Grunewald backed over her after he forced out of the SUV during an argument.  She was burned by the vehicle's exhaust.  Besides attempted murder, Grunewald is charged with DWI, assault with a dangerous weapon, criminal vehicular operation, fleeing and domestic assault.

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After receiving several complaints, Renville County Sheriff's officials are warning residents of a phone scam.  The caller identifies himself as a representative of Xcel Energy attempting to collect on a missed payment.  The scammer threatens the homeowner by saying their power will be disconnected in 45 minutes unless a payment is made immediately by using a pre-paid debit card.  Authorities say the scammer then uses the card information to make personal transactions.  To avoid being taken advantage of, know that Xcel Energy does not conduct business in this way.  Customers in danger of having their power turned off will receive written notice from the company.  A customer who doubts the authenticity of a call should hang up and call an Xcel customer service representative.  

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North Mankato is the latest city to ban electronic-cigarettes in public places.  The ban mirrors the same tobacco rules under the state Clean Air Act.  E-cigs are still legal for use in private homes, yards, and cars, but city council member Kim Spears fought the ban, saying it was a violation of personal freedom.  Spears was the only council member to vote no. 

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