MINNESOTA NEWS ROUND-UP: Gov. Dayton proposes new highway projects
ST. PAUL - Governor Dayton is eyeing ten state highway projects at a cost of $300-million to ease congestion.
The governor plans to use money from special borrowing approved by lawmakers last session and conceded to reporters that raising taxes to pay for roads will be a tough sell. The most expensive project at over $100-million is the construction of a new connection on Highway 610 from Highway 81 and Interstate 94. Two projects will be in the Twin Cities, with the other eight scattered throughout the rest of the state.
Police in Pine County have three people in custody in connection with a home invasion near Sandstone that left a fourth suspect dead. The homeowner woke up early yesterday morning when he heard the break-in and shot and killed Gypsy Wayne Watts of Pine County. The man who is accused of being with him was captured several hours later, and police also arrested a pair of suspected accomplices. No other names have been released and the investigation continues.
Rochester police say an employee of the Federal Medical Center prison is in critical condition after a possible hit and run. Police Lt. Casey Moilanen says 46-year-old Jared Jacobson and two co-workers went to the VFW club Sunday night and a woman who noticed he was no longer with the group went outside to look for him. She found him unconscious on the ground in the alley next to the club and called for help. Moilanen says Jacobson suffered a broken pelvis and other injuries. He says they're not sure how Jacobson was injured, although it's possible he may have been hit by a vehicle. Moilanen says Jacobson - who is from Grand Meadow - has no recollection of what happened.
Some Filipino-Americans in Minnesota are still awaiting word on how their families overseas are doing in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan. Glen King with the Cultural Society of Filipino-Americans says while communications in the bigger cities tend to get set up quicker, in some of the smaller towns they have not seen the return of electricity or any kind of communication and the families of those people are very concerned. Meanwhile, the relief effort for those impacted by the Typhoon continues. King says there will be a fundraising concert at Guardian Angels Church in Oakdale on Sunday, November 24th and other events are in the works.
Today is the final day to nominate an educator in the state for 2014 Minnesota Teacher of the Year. Eligible nominees must teach in a public or nonpublic pre-K through 12 school, have a Minesota teaching license and three years of classroom experience. Assistant program coordinator Kieren (KEER'-in) Steinhoff says they've received about 350 nominations so far. The 2014 Minnesota Teacher of the Year will be crowned May 4th and also becomes the state's candidate for National Teacher of the Year. Nomination forms are available online at educationminnesota.org
Floral design students on the U-of-M's Saint Paul campus have created a "grave blanket" to mark the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's assassination, which is November 22nd. Their professor Neil Anderson says he was surprised the students were even interested in it. Anderson says while the 50th anniversary of the assassination draws back memories for older Minnesotans, the students have a different perspective, in trying to learn more about Kennedy's presidency and why it was so significant. The grave blanket will be on display at the U-of-M Saint Paul Student Center.
The state's fifth annual Give to the Max Day had an overwhelming start, with more than $9 million in donations made before lunchtime -- but the high volume of traffic on the website dedicated to online giving for Minnesota nonprofit organizations and schools crashed the system. It was down for more than five hours. GiveMN organizers say the site was back up by about 6 p.m., and donors kept giving -- pushing within $200,000 of last year's $16 million in donations by 11 p.m. with money still coming in. The final tally will be announced later today.
Kinsale Management Consulting will be running the third-party review of clergy files from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Officials with the Archdiocese say they evaluated several nationally-recognized firms to look into alleged sexual abuse by priests. One recent project for Kinsale was working with the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice on the incidence of sexual abuse of youngsters behind bars in that state, which resulted in recommendations to keep the young inmates safe.
"Too little, too late" says Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann about President Obama's announcement that insurance companies can renew policies slated to be canceled under the new federal health care law. Bachmann says it won't stop cancellations -- and warns the next thing Americans will see is "sticker shock" from increases in their health insurance premiums. She asks if the president will keep his second promise that Americans will see a 25-hundred-dollar-a-year decrease in premiums under his health insurance law. Meanwhile, Eighth-District DFL Congressman Rick Nolan is applauding Obama for moving quickly. Nolan says if necessary the law should be changed "to honor the President's promise that the American people may choose to keep their existing health insurance if they like it." He's urging lawmakers to stop the partisan bickering and fix the law to make it work.
The weekly update from the State Health Deparment shows flu activity is still sporadic in Minnesota. There were two flu-related hospitalizations in the week ending November 9th and a total of 13 this fall. No schools or nursing homes reported flu outbreaks and there have been zero deaths so far this season. Flu cases typically increase during November.
Doctor Brooks Jackson from Johns Hopkins will be the new dean of the University of Minnesota Medical School. U-of-M President Eric Kaler says bringing in a world-class leader like Jackson "should enable us to build new energy around our research, teaching and clinical activities" -- and Kaler says he hopes those new activities would also improve morale. Kaler said Thursday afternoon he looks for an "exceptional run" for the U-of-M's Medical School with Jackson at the helm. He's expected to start in mid-February.