MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: Funeral held for Mandy Matula Sunday
More than 1,000 people attended a funeral service yesterday (Sun) for Mandy Matula in Eden Prairie. Matula disappeared on May 1st and her body was found in a shallow grave at Mississippi River Park in Stearns County on October 26th. Matula's ex boyfriend, David Roe, shot himself to death in the Eden Prairie Police parking lot before he could be questioned in Matula's disappearance. Among those remembering Mandy were teammates who played softball with her at University of Minnesota Duluth. Her jersey, number 14, will be retired. Matula played for the Bulldogs from 2007 to 2011.
The move back into civilian life can present barriers for many veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, but there is help available year-round, not just on Veterans Day. Barb O'Reilly is director of women veterans and employment programs at the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs. She says one pilot program that's just getting ramped up in Minnesota aims to help ease the transition from military service to employment in several key fields of work. There are about 380,000 veterans currently living in Minnesota.
The Salvation Army's red kettle fundraising began over the weekend, and the Twin Cities branch of the organization broke a record set last year by a huge margin. Spokeswoman Annette Bauer says a $50,000 matching gift from Hormel, Cure 81 Hams and a $15,000 early morning check presentation from Cub Foods helped raise $148,000 -- $35,000 more than the 2012 record. The bills and change placed in kettles throughout the Twin Cities totaled $60,000 and counting. The total goal for the Twin Cities Salvation Army fundraiser this year is $10.8 million. The end of the campaign is December 31.
An Edina company is proposing a 100-megawatt solar power plan that would include 24 solar farm locations across the southern half of Minnesota. The proposal is one of five being considered by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to generate extra power for Xcel Energy during peak times. The solar farm sites are all outside the metro area. Tena Rytel with Geronimo Energy of Edina says solar power has become much more efficient and with Geronimo's plan to place the 24 Minnesota sites near Xcel substations there will be little line transmission loss. Rytel says Xcel needs more power during peak times, when it is hot and sunny outside, and that's exactly when solar generates the most.
Minneapolis-based Target Corporation is the lastest retailer to announce they will open earlier on Thanksgiving this year Company officials say the doors will open at 8 p.m. an hour earlier than last year and remain open until 11 p.m. on Black Friday. Target will also be offering hundreds of deals online on Thanksgiving morning that will include almost all deals that will be available in the store. In addition, the discounter said it will feature 15 online-only daily discounts for two weeks beginning Sunday, November 24th.
On this Veterans Day, Minnesota U-S Senator Al Franken is pushing for support of his bill that would improve access to health care for veterans that live in rural locations. Franken says a disproportionate number of Minnesota's veterans live outside the state's larger cities -- and that rural clinics are often lacking when it comes to emergency care. The bill would require the V-A to come up with a plan to recruit and retain doctors for rural clinics, make more effective use of mobile outpatient clinics, and do a better job of treating rural women veterans.
Air Force R-O-T-C cadets at the University of Saint Thomas continue their 24-hour Veterans Day vigil through 5 p-m today in Saint Paul (Mon). They've been marching past a flagpole since Sunday evening to honor veterans who are, or were, prisoners of war or missing in action. Lieutenant Colonel Charles Musselman is detachment commander says it's an opportunity to show their remembrance and appreciation in a personal way...and it's very meaningful to the students. Musselman says the cadets spent the past week promoting the vigil and he expects a lot of visibility on the center of campus on this Veterans Day. The closing ceremony begins at 5 p-m.
Minneapolis businessman Dennis Nguyen (WIN) announced Sunday afternoon that he's running for Minnesota secretary of state, and becomes the first Asian-American to seek statewide office in Minnesota. Nguyen, a Republican, takes issue with current Secretary of State Mark Ritchie implementing an on-line voter registration system. Ritchie's on-line voter registration system is the target of a lawsuit by conservative groups and a number of Republican lawmakers.