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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: Gov. Dayton to sign minimum wage bill today

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

ST. PAUL -- A big item on Democrats' agenda becomes law this afternoon (230pm) when Governor Dayton signs a minimum wage increase at public ceremonies in the State Capitol Rotunda.  The minimum wage increase will be phased in, reaching 9-50 an hour at large employers and 7-75 at small employers by 2016.  After that, the minimum wage will be indexed to inflation.  Democrats say hundreds of thousands of low-wage workers in Minnesota will get a raise and be able to better support their families -- although many D-F-Lers acknowledge it's still not enough for many of the working poor.  Republicans warn a minimum wage increase will force some employers to cut staff or reduce hiring, meaning thousands of Minnesotans will lose their jobs or not be able to find employment.  

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The Vice President for University Services at the University of Minnesota has issued a statement concerning the melee that broke out following the Gopher's loss in the NCAA hockey championship.  Four men between the ages of 19 and 21 are facing charges after the disturbance broke out in the Dinkytown neighborhood, and, in all, Minneapolis police arrested 19 people, with most given tickets and released.  The incident began when the Minnesota Golden Gophers lost 7-4 in the title game to Union College on Saturday night.  Pamela Wheelock says it's important to remember that there are more than 50,000 students at the University's Twin Cities campus, only a small percentage of those gathered in Dinkytown, and an even smaller number engaged in unacceptable behavior.  Wheelock also says the university will hold any students involved in unacceptable behavior accountable. 

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Jury selection begins today (Mon) in the trial of a Little Falls man charged with shooting two teens during a burglary.  Sixty-five-year-old Byron Smith is accused of first-degree murder in the deaths of Haile Kifer and Nick Brady who allegedly broke into Smith's home on Thanksgiving 2012.  Each juror will fill out a questionnaire and then the court will interview each potential juror separately starting with 20 today and 30 each day through the end of the week until the final jury is seated.  The actual trial is expected to start next Monday in Morrison County District Court.  

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The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will place burning restrictions over the central part of the state starting today. The restrictions have been put into place because fire danger is expected to rapidly increase as winds pick up and snow continues to melt.  The burning restrictions mean the state will not give out burning permits for burning brush or yard waste.  Campfires are still allowed but be sure to watch the fire continuously and make sure it is out before leaving.  More counties will be added as conditions warrant.  The restrictions normally last from four to six weeks until sufficient green vegetative growth occurs.  Spring fire restrictions have resulted in a dramatic decrease in both the numbers and sizes of accidental fires.  

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Four eclipses will occur this year, two lunar and two solar, and the first will be visible - weather permitting - in Minnesota very early tomorrow (Tue) morning.  Sarah Komperud works in the planetarium at the University of Minnesota's Bell Museum of Natural History and says the last lunar eclipse visible in North America occurred in December of 2010.  The moon will completely pass into the Earth's shadow at just after 2 a.m., and the total eclipse will last 78 minutes.  It's safe to look at with the naked eye, and Komperud (COM'-puh-rood) says no special viewing equipment is needed to see the phenomenon.

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 The 2014 Minnesota Grown Directory boasts a record setting 978 farms and is now available  Jessica Miles with the state Department of Agriculture says the guide is broke down by regions and offers some new things this year, including restaurant suggestions and fun facts. The directory is free.  To order a print copy you can call Explore Minnesota at 888-TOURISM or order a copy on-line at Minnesota-grown-dot-com. (minnesotagrown.com)

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The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is out with the first ice-out dates for lakes in the state this year.  According to the DNR's website, the ice on six lakes in southern Minnesota disappeared last week. which is a few weeks later than normal.  No ice-out dates have been given yet for lakes in the Twin Cities metro area.  Those typically thaw in early April, but this winter was more severe than the past several years.

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Minor flooding is expected in parts of southeast Minnesota this week, after weekend rainfall followed by about two inches of snow early this (Mon) morning.  The National Weather Service says the precipitation is causing the Mississippi River to rise in southeast Minnesota, but it looks like the river will hit flood stage only in Wabasha this week. It appears the river will reach the flood stage of 12 feet sometime Tuesday or Wednesday and crest at 12 1/2 feet before slowly falling by the end of the week.

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The body of a woman was found partially under water in a creek in Maplewood.  The woman was fully clothed but was not carrying identification, and investigators say there were no obvious signs of foul play.  The Ramsey County Medical Examiner's Office will conduct an autopsy and positively identify the woman.

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A Detroit Lakes woman has been arrested on accusations that she was driving drunk with children in the vehicle.  Police say 24-year-old Taynee Lohnes was driving a car seen drifting across the center line near Calloway, and when officers spoke to her they say her speech was slurred and she smelled of booze.  Another adult and three children ages 11,4, and 10 months were in the vehicle.  A routine search at the jail uncovered a baggie with two Percocet tablets inside stuffed in her bra, and police say Lohnes did not have a prescription for the drug.  She is charged with two counts of driving while intoxicated, three counts of child endangerment and one count of driving without a valid license.

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 It's not a charge you hear too often in the modern era, but a southeast Minnesota man is facing cattle rustling charges.  The Olmsted County Attorney's office has charged 29-year-old Adam Tiedeman of Oronoco with felony theft after he apparently stole seven Holstein cows from his father's farm and sold them to a livestock exchange in Zumbrota for about $5500 dollars. The complaint says Tiedeman admitted that he took the cattle and sold the animals while his father was out of town last October.

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