MINNESOTA NEWS ROUND-UP: State added 2,600 jobs in March
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota employers added 2,600 jobs in March, according to figures released today by the state Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).
The state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.8 percent, well below the U.S. rate of 6.7 percent. Professional and business services led all sectors last month with 3,500 new jobs. Other sectors that gained jobs were construction (up 2,700), financial activities (up 1,200) and government (up 1,000). Sectors that lost jobs last month were leisure and hospitality (down 2,700), transportation and utilities (down 2,300) and education and health services (down 1,000).
The Minnesota Court of Appeals has dismissed a portion of a challenge to a district court injunction that closed a notorious Duluth head shop. Last Place on Earth owner Jim Carlson was ordered not to operate any business at the address for one year, and was permanently banned from selling any type of synthetic drugs in Duluth. The ruling was made as part of a public nuisance lawsuit filed by the city after Carlson's convictions on 51 federal crimes for selling banned synthetic drugs out of the shop on Superior Street. The appellate court ruled that the appeal to the one-year injunction is moot because the building was turned over to the federal government after Carlson's conviction. The court did rule that Carlson could continue to try to get the permanent injunction against selling synthetics within the city lifted.
A key railroad oversight board has directed two major rail companies to take steps to address the problem of poor rail service affecting Minnesota farmers. The Surface Transportation Board has directed Canadian Pacific Railway Company and Burlington Northern-Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway Company to report how they will ensure that fertilizer shipments are delivered in time for spring crop planting. U.S. Senator Al Franken (DFL-Minneapolis) says action is still needed on behalf of all the other rail customers who suffer from poor service. The rail companies will have to deliver a report to the STB outlining how they plan to deliver fertilizer shipments, and starting April 25th the companies must supply the board with six weekly status reports.
U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (DFL-Plymouth) will introduce a bill meant to strengthen support for local law enforcement across Minnesota and put more cops on the street. The COPS Improvement Act of 2014 would reauthorized funding for the Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS, program which awards grants to state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies. The COPS Program has put over 100,000 cops on the beat since 1994.
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike McFadden has released his first television advertisement that focuses on the record of incumbent Senator Al Franken (DFL-Minneapolis). In it, McFadden faults Franken for record Washington spending, posting over 40 votes for higher taxes, and voting for the Affordable Health Care Act. The ad states that Franken voted for Obamacare, then voted to exempt himself and Congress from enrolling in it. The Minnesota DFL party responded by saying the claim is blatantly false, and that Senator Franken and his wife have purchased their health insurance through MNsure.
The Minnesota Supreme Court has ruled that the second-degree murder conviction of Jennifer Nibbe of rural Lake Crystal will stand. Thirty-six-year-old Nibbe pleaded guilty to killing her husband, James Nibbe, while he slept in August of 2010. She later appealed and claimed that she never acknowledged that the evidence would be sufficient to for a jury to find her guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The state Court of Appeals rejected her appeal and the high court Tuesday denied Nibbe's petition for further review. Nibbe is scheduled to remain in the Shakopee women's prison until 2027.
A 30-year-old southeastern Minnesota man is charged with several felonies that accuse him of molesting a young teenager as many as 30 times. Winona County prosecutors say Cayetano Maldonado faces four counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a victim younger than 16. Court documents show that the Rushford man initiated sexual contact with the girl in 2011, when she was about 12, and accuse him of having intercourse with her 20 to 30 times while she was 13 and 14 years old. Maldonado is facing multiple felony charges and will be back in court April 24.
Olmsted County authorities are working with the State Fire Marshall's Office to determine what caused a fatal house fire in southeast Minnesota. The name of the person who died in the blaze has not been released. The Sheriff's Department says the fire was reported at about 10 a.m. yesterday (Wed), and when fire departments from Dover, Elgin, and Eyota arrived the house was completely engulfed in flames. The victim's body was found inside the home after the fire was extinguished.
A Colorado man is accused of drunkenly trashing a senior living facility in Bemidji, claiming that he was searching for his uncle. Investigators say 25-year-old Sean Heideman was pounding on the patio door of an apartment at Windsong Catered Living when he shattered the door and made his way to the main common area of the facility. The damage he inflicted next included throwing a toilet tank lid through a window, coffee makers thrown through a second window, and broken flower pots. Officer found the drunken man walking in a nearby ditch shortly after and say his blood alcohol level was at .20. The charging documents show that Heideman thought he was visiting his uncle -- but also told investigators that the uncle lives in Colorado. The Duluth News-Tribune reports that Heideman faces a charge of first-degree damage to property in an occupied dwelling, and could face up to five years in prison.
A Dawson teen has admitted that he and his father hosted an underage drinking party. Erik Hastad pleaded guilty in La Qui Parle County Court to violating the county's social host ordinance and contributing to the delinquency of a child. Hastad's father, Gary, was in court Wednesday for a hearing and has yet to enter a plea. Authorities arrived at the site of the party and that's when 18-year-old Michael Anyasike fled and was later reported missing. His body was found nearly 12 hours later about a mile away from the party site. Anyaskike died of hypothermia.
The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority announced today that demolition of the Metrodome has been completed one month ahead of schedule. The demolition contractor will haul away the last truckload of debris this afternoon. MSFA Chair Michele-Kelm Helgen called it a major milestone for the project. Construction of the new multi-purpose stadium is on schedule as excavation and foundation work continue.