MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: I-35 closed in Chisago County due to fatal crash
The first accumulating snowfall of the season has proven challenging for some drivers. Minnesota State Patrol is on the scene of a fatal crash this (Wed) morning on Interstate 35 in Chisago County, north of Highway 95. Northbound traffic has been shut down for the investigation. Troopers have not released much information, including how many vehicles were involved or the number of injuries or fatalities. The highway is expected to be closed for a significant period of time. Overnight, on I-94 westbound near Worthington, a chain reaction crash caused by a driver that State Patrol says lost control on an icy bridge collected four cars in total. There were unspecified injuries. There was a fatal two-car crash Tuesday evening near Jasper on Highway 23, a collision with injuries on Highway 61 near Lake City, and another injury crash on Highway 59 in Granite Falls.
Most of the snow that fell last (Tue) night stayed on the expected track, from the southwest corner of the state, across the Twin Cities metro, and into northern Wisconsin. The amounts were widely varied across the narrow band of snowfall -- the National Weather Service in Chanhassen says 1.8 inches fell at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, not quite a half-inch of snow came down in Shakopee, and four inches in Redwood Falls. Pipestone, in southwest Minnesota near the South Dakota state line, was the hardest hit with ten inches of snow. Forecasters say it should be dry and cool today (Wed) and tomorrow (Thu) before a weak weather disturbance arrives on Friday, bringing the next chance of some light snowfall into early Saturday.
The final results won't be available until sometime today (Wed), when the second and third place ranked voting choices are tallied, but it appears that Minneapolis will have it's second female mayor. The race wasn't nearly as tight as analysts had predicted, with Council Member Betsy Hodges taking a commanding early lead. Just two hours after the polls closed the second-closest opponent, Mark Andrew, informally conceded. A little more than 79,000 people voted in the race for mayor -- not counting same-day registration voters -- which adds up to a turnout of around 30 percent. Current Mayor R-T Ryback announced last December that he would not seek reelection. Sharon Sayles Belton was the first woman to lead the city -- from 1994 to 2001.
In St. Paul, the winner of the mayoral election is clear but the results won't be known in another close race until next week. St Paul Mayor Chris Coleman easily secured a third term, securing 80 precent of the vote. In the only contested city council race, which used ranked choice voting to select a two-year First Ward city council seat, the contest was tight between Dai Thao and Noel Nix and the results won't be known until Monday. Ramsey County will work between now and then to tally the second-and-third choice votes to determine the winner.
Voters in the Detroit Lakes School District voted down a 59-million dollar proposal to build a 1000-seat elementary school and make renovations and additions to the other school district buildings. About 3,000 people showed up at the polls, with long lines and 30-to-40 minute waits between 2:00pm and 8:00pm. Superintendent Doug Froke had been hoping for a higher turnout, and says the administration and the school board will turn their attention now to finding out what the objections are with the proposal.
The results are in for school districts just west of the Twin Cities. Voters in the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted School district approved $21.31-million in funding for a new middle school and other spending by a slim margin -- just 20 votes. An additional $6.63-million for improvements to two elementary schools failed by a narrow 14 vote margin. Eastern Carver County School District voters said yes to both the renewal of the current operating levy and a $2.45-million bond referendum for engineering labs and wireless infrastructure improvements at Chaska High School and wireless infrastructure improvements at all elementary and middle schools. The Hutchinson school district's existing levy and a $180 per pupil referendum both passed. Lester Prairie and Annandale voters both approved renewing their existing, but the Dassel-Cokato levy referendum failed. Elections officials are still tallying votes in Nicollet.
Advocates at Hunger Solutions Minnesota are closely watching Farm Bill negotiations in Washington. Executive Director Colleen Moriarity says they're particularly concerned about a U-S House proposal to dramatically slash SNAP benefits, also known as food stamps. Moriarity says the proposed 40-billion-dollar cut over ten years is heartless. She says it's totally inappropriate for those trying to gain self-sufficiency who have already had a hard time. Backers of the House measure say those who really need help will still receive it and others will have an incentive to find work. As for the Senate's proposal, Moriarity calls the proposed four-billion-dollar cut "difficult," but says they understand the country is in a difficult financial position. The average SNAP benefit in Minnesota is 110 dollars per month.
Deer hunting should be good when Minnesota's firearms hunting season opens this Saturday. The DNR's Leslie McInenly says says deer populations are stable across much of the state due in part to mild winters and generally conservative deer management. She says deer populations in the southern half of the state are most stable. She says the severity of last year's winter only had significant impact in far northern Minnesota. Last season, the state's nearly 500-thousand hunters harvested 186-thousand deer. A similar harvest is expected this year.
A man from Fargo and a man from West Fargo are being honored across the border in Minnesota for a dramatic water rescue in Clay County. Sheriff Bill Bergquist presented his department's "Lifesaving Award" to Randy Trader and Michael Joyce, who were fishing October 2nd on Silver Lake near Hawley when they heard shouts. Troy Morse of Glyndon was thrown from his boat after he accidentally let go of the motor's handle. Trader and Joyce found him hanging onto the side of the nearly-submerged craft. Morse told investigators he probably would have drowned if no one had intervened.
Voters in eight southeastern Minnesota communities approved ballot proposals for their local school districts. In Stewartville, voters overwhelmingly approved a $558 per-pupil, ten year spending request. A "One Day Bond" request by the Caledonia school district, which will create a nearly half-million dollar fund for school improvements, was given the green light. Zumbrota-Mazeppa School district voters approved spending $350 more per student each year than the previous request -- a similar request failed last year and more than $300,000 in program cuts were made as a result. In Owatonna, per pupil spending was increased by voters by $340, to $870.61 per-pupil. It was a yes in Albert Lea on the seven year reauthorization of $1,165.74 in per-pupil spending.