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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUND-UP: Investigators make their way to North Dakota train derailment, fire
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news Ellsworth, 54011
Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

CASSELTON, N.D.  --  Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board expect to be in Casselton, North Dakota up to a week, after Monday afternoon's oil train derailment and explosion that prompted the evacuation of almost two-thousand residents. 

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The NTSB's Robert Sumwalt says investigators will look at a number of factors, including track condition, mechanical condition of the trains, train recorders, the track signal system, operations -- including interviewing the train crews -- plus hazardous materials and emergency response.  Sumwalt says preliminary information could be available in as soon as 10 days, but the entire investigation could take a year to a year-and-a-half.

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One person is dead and another injured after an early-morning shooting Tuesday in the Twin Cities suburb of Andover.  Anoka County Sheriff's officials were called to a residence around 4 a.m. and found a 43-year-old woman dead from gunshot wounds and a 42-year-old man with non-life-threatening gunshot wounds.  Investigators say the man and woman both lived at the residence and were relatively new to the area.  No suspects are being sought and officials say there is no threat to the public.  

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A Duluth man faces multiple felony charges after a burglary and police chase last week that ended near Duluth International Airport  The St. Louis County Sheriff's Office says 52-year-old Jeffrey Hoff stole several firearms and an SUV from a residence before leading patrol cars on a pursuit.  Hoff crashed the vehicle on the road to the 148th Fighter Wing, ran into the woods and was eventually caught in the airfield.  He was arraigned Monday on charges including first-degree burglary, theft of firearms, theft of a motor vehicle and fleeing police.  

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Second-degree murder charges have been filed against a 48-year-old man after his girlfriend was found dead Monday afternoon in a house fire in Ponsford in northwestern Minnesota.  Becker County authorities found Charles Jones a short distance from the home with burns on his skin and clothing.  They then located the body of 35-year-old Shalonda Clark in the burning residence.  Authorities arrested Jones on the scene.  He's being held at the Becker County Law Enforcement Center.

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It was a quiet tornado season in Minnesota this past year, with only 15 twisters reported across the entire state.  National Weather Service Forecaster Tony Zaleski says that's the lowest total in Minnesota since 1990 -- and also the lowest in years across the nation.  Among other notable weather events in the year just-ended:  a record 15.4 inches of snow fell May 1st in Dodge Center, and a winter storm April 9th and 10th left an inch of ice on trees and powerlines in southwest Minnesota.

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A new law that takes effect today does not require home sellers to test for radon, but they must notify the buyer if the house has a radon problem, plus hand over any records on radon testing or mitigation.  Operators of estate sales must now carry a 20-thousand-dollar surety bond to ensure the family receives payment for goods sold, even if the estate sale business defaults.  An estimated 40-thousand additional low-income families may qualify for Medical Assistance under new guidelines that take effect today.  And in an attempt to reduce car thefts, scrap yard operators must photograph every seller of a scrap vehicle, plus the vehicle and the license plate -- and law enforcement can request that information.

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Minnesota's new "Ban the Box" law takes effect today (wed), preventing employers from asking a job applicant's criminal history on an initial application or contact.  Kevin Lindsey, commissioner of the state Department of Human Rights, says people who have committed a non-violent crime should be able to at least get in front of an employer to have their merits considered.  The new law does not apply, however, for employers where a criminal history background check is required -  for example, when pertaining to schools, health care facilities and banks.

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