MINNESOTA NEWS ROUND-UP: State Fair on pace to set all-time attendance record
ST. PAUL -- Officials of the Minnesota State Fair should find out today if this year's festivities set an all-time attendance record. If 126,000 people passed through the gates on Monday, the 2014 state fair will break the record set in 2009 when there were 1.79-million-visitors. This year's fair has already set single records for the sixth and tenth days.
More Minnesota school districts this November will ask voters to approve property tax increases for building construction than in the last election, according to a preliminary survey by the Minnesota School Boards Association. Spokesman Greg Abbott says a lot has to do with the state fully-funding instructional costs for all-day kindergarten. He says a lot of the building requests are for additions to elementary schools, or additions to middle schools so sixth-graders can be moved over. And he says this year Greater Minnesota appears to have more bond referendums scheduled than the metro area.
A majority of Minnesota School District's are now offering free all-day kindergarten. Commissioner of Education Brenda Cassellius says this is a great stepping stone in a child's education. She says around 60-thousand young learners are expected to participate in all-day k this school year. Minnesota is following a national trend of getting students into school earlier in hopes they will do better academically and need fewer interventions as they progress through school. Cassellius and Governor Dayton will be welcoming back students this morning(tues) at Garden City Elementary School in Brooklyn Center.
The start of a new school year means several-thousand daily school bus trips on Minnesota roads and the State Patrol is reminding drivers to be ready to stop and watch for kids. Minnesota has a good school bus safety record and officials want to keep it that way. The State Patrol has some safety reminders for parents and children. Among them, not chasing a missed bus and following the driver's directions. Also motorists must stop 20 feet from a school bus when its red lights are flashing and the stop arm is out. Officials also say it's always wise to look around to make sure a bus stop area is clear of kids before driving off.
A Twin Cities man wanted for allegedly murdering his former boyfriend and business partner in Arden Hills last month may have robbed a Blaine bank at gunpoint Sunday afternoon. According to police the picture of a man who robbed the TCF bank matched the description of 44-year-old Lyle "Ty" Hoffman. Police believe that the suspect may be tainted with red dye from a dye pack added to the money pouch. Deputies believe Hoffman shot 48-year-old Kelly Phillips and then ran him over before fleeing in Phillips' car on August 11th. Anyone with information about the bank robbery is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS, or call 911. A 25-thousand dollar reward is being offered in the case.
Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton will be in Breckenridge and Moorhead in the next couple of days to talk about the massive flood diversion plan. Recently, Dayton has pushed the federal government to stop work on the plan, including funding, until his state can carry out an environmental review. A meeting is set for tonight at the Wilkin County Courthouse at 6:30 p.m. There's another meeting on the flood diversion scheduled for tomorrow at Moorhead City Hall at 9 a.m.
The state of Minnesota has over $600-million of unclaimed assets that have not been returned to their rightful owners. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports around $50,000 people are owed money from a number of different sources including old bank accounts and safe deposit boxes. Those owed money include Prince and U.S Senator Amy Klobuchar (DFL-Plymouth). The state says they no longer notify people through the mail but they can use the website missing-money.com to find out if they have any unclaimed assets.
A 23-year-old man has been seriously injured following a hit and run accident in Minneapolis. An off-duty officer witnessed a car hit 23-year-old Luis Angel Cruz-Guzman while he was crossing east Lake Street early Monday morning. The same officer was able to pull over and arrest the driver of the vehicle, 26-year-old Kaleb Conway. Police believe alcohol may have been a factor in the incident. As of Monday, Cruz-Guzman was in critical condition at the Hennepin County Medical Center.
The search continues for a missing Annandale man who has not been seen since August 22nd. Christopher Rossing was last seen at Troubles Bar in Howard Lake. The 25-year-old's car was found nearby with the keys inside. A reward of five-thousand-dollars is being offered for any information that helps bring him home.
A 40-year-old woman who wandered away from a campsite in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, just inside the U.S. waters on the U.S./Canadian border, wandered back in just as a massive search effort was gaining momentum. The St. Louis County Sheriff's Office says the woman was with a group of about 20 people from a community college in Iowa and had walked away from the campsite the night before. She wasn't hurt, and told investigators that it had become too dark during her walk to get back safely and she thought it best to stay put and try to find the campsite after daylight.
State officials say by the end of this week they will have finished briefings in all counties eligible for federal assistance as a result of severe storms and flooding in June and July. Minnesota Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Kris Eide says at this point total statewide damage to public infrastructure is estimated just over $40 million -- and the federal government will pick up 75 percent of eligible costs. The state's portion is expected to come in right around ten-million dollars.
Lawmakers set aside three million dollars in a disaster contingency fund, but it looks like the legislature will have to appropriate additional money. Governor Dayton indicated last week he'd probably call a special session "in a few weeks."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has softpeddled an earlier acknowlegement that Minnesotans may face health risks from cell phone use. In a "Frequently Asked Questions" section on the CDC website experts first answered that is was too soon to know for sure if cell phones pose a health risk for children because they will have more exposure over a lifetime growing up with them. Last week the answer was changed to simply, "It's not known if cell phone use by children can cause health problems." Jim Turner of Citizens for Health speculates the changes were triggered either by industry lobbyists, government officials, or both. The agency has made other backtracking language changes to their website regarding cancer, and other health risks, from using cell phones.
Twelve Minnesota fire departments have been honored nationally for promoting fire prevention. And the state rates second in the nation for receiving fire Life Safety Achievement Awards. To qualify for the award, fire departments must have zero fire deaths in residential structures, or a 10-percent reduction from the previous year, must demonstrate a commitment to preventing residential fires and must have an active fire prevention program. Only North Carolina had more award recipients than Minnesota. The 12 fire departments that received the award are: Alexandria, Brainerd, Chaska, Hastings, Eden Prairie, Excelsior, Maple Grove, Minnetonka, Moorhead, Roseville, Spring Lake and White Bear Lake.
A week late because of the weather, MnDOT today plans to remove the final traffic signal on Highway 52 between Rochester and the Twin Cities, putting into service an overpass and interchange ramps in Cannon Falls. Goodhue County officials say they'll continue working on further safety improvements as the area's population and traffic volumes grow.