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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: Fourth of July the deadliest day of the year on Minnesota roads

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News Ellsworth, 54011
Pierce County Herald
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Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

The Fourth of July has become the deadliest day of the year on Minnesota roads. There have been 19 road deaths on Independence Day during the last five years - and 13 of those were drunken-driving related. State Patrol Lieutenant Eric Roeske urges partiers to plan ahead for a sober ride. A D-W-I offense can result in loss of license for up to a year and possible jail time. Roeske says extra patrols will be out across the state. 

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A new study shows that traffic congestion in Minnesota cities is the second-worst in the nation, behind only California. The annual Highway Report by the Reason Foundation found that Minnesota's congestion is worse than areas like New York, Chicago and Boston. But because the survey uses data that is only as recent as 2009, it's possible that improvements to the Twin Cities metro commuter system made in the last four years would improve the state's standing. Minnesota's overall highway rating places the state No. 42 among the 50 states, and rural road conditions are responsible for the poor showing. Researchers say 9.3 percent of Minnesota's rural highways are in poor shape, five times the national average. 

And a second recent study also holds bad news for Minnesota…Travel and Leisure Magazine has named Minneapolis/St. Paul number four on its list of snobbiest American Cities. The editors called Twin Cities residents, "bookish, indie-music-loving, craft-beer-drinking hipsters, who also ranked highly for being exceptionally tidy." 

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Governor Dayton has declared July "Hire a Veteran Month" in Minnesota. Dayton spokesman Matt Swenson says the governor has a strong commitment to making sure all veterans and service members are connected with employment opportunities. Swenson says Dayton signed a bill into law in May that allows private employers to implement their own veterans preference programs. He says the Department of Employment and Economic Development Website has a number of resources for veterans searching for a job. (www.positivelymn.com

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A wrongful-death lawsuit by the family of a worker killed in the mass shooting at Accent Signage Systems will go forward. A Hennepin County judge dismissed claims from 34-year-old Jacob Beneke's family against the estate of shooter Andrew Engeldinger, but allowed two negligence claims against the company to continue. Attorneys for Accent argued that Beneke's death falls under the Minnesota Workers Compensation Act, which applies to deaths that happen in the course of an employee's job. The family's lawyers told the judge that Beneke's killing was the result of personal animosity, and that the company was negligent because the shootings were reasonably foreseeable based on Engeldinger's past incidents of employment misconduct and his known propensity for abuse and violence. Beneke was one of six people Engeldinger shot and killed after being fired, before he killed himself. 

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This morning at 8 a-m the Army Corps (CORE) of Engineers is re-opening the three Minneapolis locks on the Mississippi River to commercial traffic. The locks were closed last week due to high water flow from recent rains, but Corps officials say forecast flows are falling to a point where the locks can safely re-open for commercial traffic. They expect to re-open the locks for recreational vessels on July 9th, if weather cooperates (Affected are the locks at Upper and Lower Saint Anthony Falls and the Ford Lock next to Minnehaha Park.) 

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On the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, a wreath-laying, military honor guard, taps and a firing salute last night (Tues) in Cannon Falls at the grave of Colonel William Colvill. He led a regiment of the First Minnesota Infantry which suffered 82-percent casualties in a key engagement of that pivotal Civil War battle. It was the highest casualty rate in U-S military history, and Lieutenant Colonel Simon Schaefer says that sacrifice held the Union line just long enough so General Hancock could get reinforcements in place. Schaefer commands the Minnesota National Guard's 135th Infantry Regiment, which has direct ties to the unit that gave so much at Gettysburg. 

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A Columbia Heights man will be sentenced next month for witness tampering after taking a picture with his cell phone camera while the woman was on the stand. Prosecutors say 20-year-old Faymis Freeman was about to enter a Hennepin County courtroom for the trial of his friend when he saw the prosecution witness, uttered an expletive and said "you're here." Freeman pled guilty to witness tampering in exchange for prosecutors dropping charges of aggravated harassment and aiding an offender. 

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