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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUND-UP: Minnesota Orchestra Wins Grammy For Sibelius Recording

LOS ANGELES - The Minnesota Orchestra and former director Osmo Vanska are celebrating their first-ever Grammy award. 

They won the Best Orchestral Performance Sunday night for their recording of Sibelius' Symphonies One and Four.  The recording was made at Orchestra Hall in May and June of 2012, five months before the 15-month lockout of union musicians.  Neither Vanska nor the musicians attended the 56th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles.  The orchestra is scheduled to resume practice next week and Vanska is returning for a special performance in March. 

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Driving conditions are improving on the state's roads, but officials are still urging caution.  MnDOT's Kevin Gutknecht says drivers need to slow down and drive according to road conditions.  I-94 from Moorhead to Alexandria and Highway 10 from Moorhead to Detroit Lakes have re-opened, as has I-90 in southern Minnesota.  Gutknecht says while most roads that had been closed this morning are now open, drifting snow has made it difficult to clear up the northwest corner of the state.

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Xcel Energy says its customers in Minnesota and North Dakota can dial their thermostats back up and start using natural gas appliances again, and customers in western Wisconsin will get the go-ahead right around noon today (Mon).  The utility asked people to conserve natural gas after a pipeline was ruptured in a blast near Winnipeg and two other pipelines were shut down for inspections.  Xcel Operations V.P. Kent Larson says the utility's customers are "amazing," keeping their homes at 60 degrees for nearly two days in extremely cold weather.  Larson says their efforts helped the Xcel maintain the system so no one experienced outages.

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Great Plains Natural Gas customers in western Minnesota have been told they can resume normal usage today.  Customers were asked to lower their thermostats to 60 degrees if possible and reduce usage after a weekend pipeline rupture near Winnipeg reduced natural gas supplies.  CEO Frank Morehouse says reduced usage by their customers and others affected by the supply disruption played an integral role in maintaining service.  Great Plains serves around 23-thousand customers in Crookston, Vergas, Pelican Rapids, Fergus Falls and Wahpeton-Breckenridge. 

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The cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service is hiking the price of a first-class stamp from 46 cents to 49 cents today.  The USPS had to ask federal regulators to approve the increase because it's higher than the rate of inflation.  The rising stamp price is yet another effort by the Postal Service to stay afloat financially.  Recent efforts to do away with Saturday mail delivery didn't work out. 

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Michaels Inc., a popular art-and-craft store chain, is warning customers of a possible data breach similar to the one that has plagued Minneapolis-based Target.  Michaels CEO Chuck Rubin says they are working closely with federal officials and are encouraging customers to closely monitor bank accounts for unauthorized charges.  Company officials are not saying when the data breach may have occurred.  If you believe your card information was compromised, contact your bank or card issuer right away.  Michaels has 22 stores in Minnesota.  For more information on the Michael's investigation go to michaels.com. (www.michaels.com)

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Police have arrested two suspects believed to be involved in a fatal shooting in St. Paul's Frogtown neighborhood Sunday.  A 24-year-old Bloomington man and 21-year-old St. Paul man are currently in custody.  Police found a man dead around 2 a.m. Sunday and questioned several people at the scene.  The Ramsey County Medical Examiner is working to confirm the victim's name and age. 

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A southwest Minnesota man is jailed for multiple felonies after a major drug raid at his Heron Lake residence.  Authorities searched the home of 51-year-old Esteban Chavez-Cruz last Friday and found four pounds of methamphetamine, five pounds of marijuana, 50-thousand dollars cash and five firearms.  The items were discovered in hidden compartments under the floor of an upstairs bedroom  Chavez-Cruz was not home but was later arrested during a traffic stop when two more ounces of meth were seized from his van.  Total street value of the meth is estimated at 80-thousand dollars.  Chavez-Cruz remains in custody on a quarter-million dollars bond. 

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One of the daycare providers who's helping raise the quality bar for early childhood education in Minnesota is getting a special visit today.  Human Services Commissioner Lucinda  Jesson will be at a home-based child care and preschool in Rochester that's earned the top rating of four stars under Parent Aware.  Jesson says the voluntary rating system helps providers stay up-to-date and helps parents more easily find high-quality care and early education.  Jesson says kids who are ready when they get to kindergarten have better odds for future success, and that's important to all Minnesotans.  The number of providers who are taking part in Parent Aware has now surpassed one-thousand, and the rating system is set to go statewide next year.

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