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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: Couple involved in officer shooting from North Dakota

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news Ellsworth, 54011
Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

ALEXANDRIA, Minn. -- The two people found dead after a shooting near Alexandria were from North Dakota. The Douglas County Sheriff says the bodies of a 24 year-old man and a 29 year-old woman were discovered about 200 yards from their car by a State Patrol helicopter using infra-red detection equipment. A deputy exchanged gunfire with the two as he was checking a report of a suspicious vehicle in a driveway south of Alexandria. They took off in the car, but got stuck in the snow a short time later. Two guns were found near the suspects. The Medical Examiner's Office in St. Paul will determine whether the bullets that killed them were fired by the deputy or from the guns found near their bodies.

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A man is in jail after police in Park Rapids say he admitted to killing a woman. 19 year-old Kiela Knowles died late Sunday night or early Monday morning. The woman's body was found in her apartment by her father. Police Chief Terry Eilers says Harley Leritz is in custody. He says Knowles and Keritz recently met online.

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Target has sent some new information to customers dealing with the aftermath of the massive data breach. The letter says Target has not yet detected any fraud involving its own store credit cards, and there has been only a small amount of additional fraud involving its Target Visa credit cards. The Minnesota-based retailer says it is speeding up its $100 million investment in chip-enabled smart cards that company officials believe will offer significantly more protection to users. Target says its goal is to have the new cards in use by early next year, six months sooner than its original goal.

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 Sanford Health says an explosion at its new clinic in south Moorhead was construction-related, but the cause has yet to be determined. The Monday afternoon explosion took place in or near an elevator shaft. The March 3 grand opening has been delayed. The clinic on 8th Street south will remain open until the new clinic is ready for patients and staff.

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Assistant Hennepin County Attorney George Widseth is off the job until early April. Widseth is officially on medical leave, but the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports he was also removed from a rape case due to taunting e-mails to another prosecutor. He had been set to argue against the proposed release of rapist Thomas Duvall from the Minnesota Sex Offender Program. As soon as an email sent to Solicitor General Alan Gilbert was made public, Widseth was taken off the Duvall case.

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Teachers in the Anoka-Hennepin School District are considering a strike vote as contract talks are not producing the results they want. Union officials will discuss that and other options on Monday while more districts and teachers reach new contract deals. Negotiations started eight months ago, and another mediation session is scheduled for tomorrow.

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A Blizzard Warning is in effect today for west and southwest Minnesota, while a Winter Weather Advisory has been issued for most of the rest of the state. Forecasters with the National Weather Service in Chanhassen predict very strong winds today in the blizzard area, with snow drifts expected to be three feet or higher in some locations. Wind gusts up to 50 miles an hour are likely in many spots, with dangerously cold wind chills this (Wed) morning of 25 to 35 below zero.

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The economy is the focus as President Obama visits Saint Paul's renovated Union Depot this afternoon (2pm). Minnesota D-F-L Party Chairman Ken Martin says it's no surprise the president is coming to Minnesota because the state has the fifth-fastest-growing economy in the nation. But Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann says the Obamacare rollout worsens each day. She says when the president is in Minnesota he needs to answer the question, why aren't families saving 25-hundred dollars a year like Obama promised?

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There's a Minnesota Senate hearing this morning (830am) on a proposed 20 million dollars additional for the state's low income heating assistance program, prompted by the spike in propane prices. The House passed the bill within an hour of Tuesday's opening gavel of the 2014 legislative session, Crosby Democrat Joe Radinovich (ruh-DIN-uh-vitch) warning fellow lawmakers if they don't act the fund will run out money, leaving Minnesotans literally out in the cold. But Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk (BOCK) says there are questions about when the current Low Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP) Program will run out of funds, and how much actually needs to be appropriated to keep it viable through the rest of the heating season. Bakk is talking about a vote in the full Senate possibly Monday, but whether the bill is the same as the House version remains to be seen.

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Minnesota House lawmakers are moving forward with a package of tax cuts for the middle-class, plus they want to repeal three "business-to-business" sales taxes enacted last year. But Democrats in the state Senate appear reluctant. House Tax Committee Chair Ann Lenczewski (len-CHESS'-key) hopes for agreement early-on in the session -- but acknowledges lawmakers have different opinions about what's most important. Senate Democrats are concerned that over-reaching on tax cuts could push the state into another series of budget deficits if the economy were to slow down.

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 Bitter cold in January is being blamed for a downturn in real estate activity in the state. Pending sales were down 17 percent, closed sales fell about 11-percent and new listings dropped nearly 13 percent. Minnesota Association of Realtors C-E-O Chris Galler (GAL'-ur) says the median sales price rose another eight-point-three percent last month. Percent of original list price received was unchanged in January at 92 percent.

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The Salvation Army says, believe it or not, in January and February they saw a decline in the number of homeless people staying at their family shelters in St. Cloud and Mankato. The agency's Annette Bauer says what they're hearing is that, because of bitter cold and all the snow, family and friends are giving a "longer line of grace" to those who don't have any other resources -- basically, not kicking them out on the street. Bauer says the Salvation Army is still serving a record number of people at their emergency shelters in the Twin Cities and continues serving hundreds of hot meals each day. 

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