MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: Fire deaths continue dropping in Minnesota
ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota Department of Public Safety reports 50 people were killed in fires in 2012. State Fire Marshal Jerry Rosendahl says that's six fewer fatalities than 2011 and about half the annual number of fire deaths during the 1970s. Rosendahl says in a couple of those years, Minnesota had over 100 fire deaths. He says since then there's been a tremendous drop, even though the state's population has increased. Minnesota has the tenth-lowest rate of fire deaths per capita in the U-S. There were zero firefighter fatalities last year. But Rosendahl says human behavior and carelessness are still to blame for way too many fires in the state.
A construction worker is dead after the crane he was operating tipped over at a church in Maplewood yesterday (Mon) afternoon. Maplewood Police say 34-year-old Cory Lewellin of Ogilvie was killed when the crane tipped on it's side as he tried to move a large beam into place at the St. Paul Hmong Alliance Church and the crane's side supports gave way in loose soil. He was cut from the dirt-filled cab by emergency crews but was pronounced dead at the hospital.
The Lewiston City council has put their police department leader on paid leave while Olmsted and Winona County Sheriffs offices work together to investigate allegations of misconduct by Chief Joe Hastings. They have not released any details concerning the allegations. It's not the first time in recent years there has been controversy within the department; In 2010 the city council fired former chief David Kleinschmidt for falsely reporting a crime and lying. Hastings has worked for Lewiston since 2010 and was previously police chief in Hackensack.
The investigation into a complaint filed against Brownsdale Police Chief Jason Mindrup has been completed, and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has turned the findings over to the Olmsted County Attorney's Office for review. The county attorney expects that review to take about two weeks. While details of the allegation have not been made public, Mindrup has been on leave since early September, when the complaint was filed.
A psychiatric patient with a history of violence and inappropriate sexual behavior was set free from the Minnesota Security Hospital last April, to live at a Minneapolis boarding house where he repeatedly had sex with a vulnerable woman. 44-year-old Elliott Carroll was ordered back to St. Peter after Hennepin County authorities demanded he be given the forensic sexual evaluation that they say he should have had before he was released. It's apparently the second time in recent months that a mentally ill and dangerous patient was released from the state's largest psychiatric facility without proper safeguards.
A mentally ill inmate who stabbed himself in both eyes last year after being held in the Hennepin County Jail for more than a month without proper psychiatric care has been awarded a $1 million lawsuit settlement; it's believed to be the largest such settlement ever awarded a Minnesota inmate. Michael Schuler had a long history of mental illness and self-inflicted wounds, and when he was arrested in March 2012 for missing a court date he used a pencil to stab himself two months later. Court documents show that he was denied antipsychotic medications, and jail paperwork details Schuler's mental deterioration while he was jailed for weeks without much psychiatric evaluation. Schuler's missed court date that led to the arrest occurred because he was in inpatient psychiatric care at the Hennepin County Medical Center at the time.
The countdown to the holiday shopping season is here. Many retailers already have their Christmas displays up and Minneapolis-based Target Corportation is out with their "hot" toy list. After a gloomy outlook during the summer, the retail industry is sounding fairly confident about the holiday shopping season Dave Brennan is a marketing professor at the University of St. Thomas and says the projections show people are likely to spend more over last year. He says most of the projections are anyplace between two and four-and-a-half percent. In terms of Minnesota, we may fare somewhat better then the national because our economy here is stronger then the national economy. About one in four employers plan to add jobs between now and the end of the year.
Drivers in western Minnesota will be able to legally go a little faster on three state highways. The speed limit on all of Highway 75, most of 59 and 14 miles of Highway 7 will be raised from 55 miles-per-hour to 60. Mn-DOT officials says they did a comprehensive study looking at crash history and road design before deciding to raise the limit. Crews will begin swapping road signs to display the new posted speed today.(tues)
Eden Prairie Center is under new ownership. The mall has been sold to Cypress Equities of Dallas, but the buying price has not been revealed. Outside of the Twin Cities, the mall is famous for being the setting for the majority of the 1995 Kevin Smith comedy "Mallrats," which starred Ben Affleck, Shannen Doherty, Jeremy London and Jason Lee.
Today (Tues) is the 24th anniversary of the kidnapping of 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling by a masked gunman in Saint Joseph in central Minnesota. The Jacob Wetterling Resource Center is asking people to leave a porch light on, to show a safe way home for Jacob and all missing children. Spokeswoman Allison Feigh (FAY) says they're also asking people to think of something they can do to create light in their world, like helping a neighbor or donating to a local child-serving organization. Feigh says it's something we can do in Jacob's name to help make the world a better place for kids.
The federal government releases September unemployment numbers today -- a little late because of the now-ended shutdown. Meanwhile state officials says September jobless numbers for Minnesota will be released next month (Nov), several weeks later than normal and also because of the federal government shutdown. They postponed last week's release because necessary data was not available from Washington.