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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: Illegal fireworks caused business fire in Zumbrota

ZUMBROTA, Minn. -- A preliminary investigation by the Goodhue County Sheriff’s Department shows that a recent fire at a business in Zumbrota was caused by illegal fireworks.  The fire took place May 24 at ATI Services/Agritech and the building was fully engulfed when crews arrived.  It took about two hours to get the fire out.  Three other buildings also sustained significant damage.  Investigators were later able those who lit the fireworks  and criminal charges are being considered - but  the investigation indicates the fire was not set intentionally.

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A 4-year-old suffered head injuries from falling out of a second story window at a home in Waconia on Sunday.  Carver County Sheriff's officials say the child pushed out the window screen and fell about 15 feet onto a patio. The child’s current condition is unknown.

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The body of a pilot killed Saturday in a plane crash in Lake Superior near Duluth was found Saturday night, but investigators are still searching for the kit plane that went down in deep water off Brighton Beach.  The U.S. Coast Guard’s 45-foot response boat searched the debris field and the  plane's logbook was recovered, but heavy fog is hampering the search for the plane.  Specially trained divers will be back in the water today (Mon)

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Dodge and Olmsted County sheriff’s deputies were able to catch two burglary suspects thanks to a tip from a Rochester news reporter. Dodge County Sheriff Jim Jensen says a homeowner arrived at the house to find a vehicle in the yard and two people running from the house and into a nearby field. Two others people got into the car and sped off.  Police were not able to track down the car but they did begin a search for the two that ran off.  A reporter from KTTC-TV called police to report seeing a man and woman walking on a rural road near Rock Dell, in southwest Olmsted County. Officers took them into custody for questioning and say the investigation into the incident continues

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The former Minnesota State University-Mankato football player critically injured in an assault last month is continuing to show improvement.  Isaac Kolstad’s CaringBridge page says there have been “exciting movements from Isaac” that include scratching itchy spots, tracking familiar people with his eyes, and grabbing the phone when his wife Molly made a video call to his hospital room.  However, the update also says that a blood clotting problem has worsened and that will delay any surgeries for an undetermined period of time.  Kolstad’s next step is rehabilitation at a traumatic brain injury facility.  The 24-year-old was hospitalized May 11 following a beating incident outside a Mankato bar.  Former Gophers quarterback Philip Nelson and Trevor Shelley of St. Peter have been charged in the assault.

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A St. Paul police officer is accused of using another person’s identity to funnel money to a man who plead guilty to attempted murder.  38-year-old Ruby Diaz is charged with forgery and identity theft, after prosecutors say she wired $1,500 into the prison account of 21-year-old convicted felon Ramone Smaller. The criminal complaint states that Diaz used the name of a former college classmate to create a Western Union account to send money orders to Smaller.  The Ramsey County Attorney’s office says Diaz’s relationship with Smaller was uncovered during an investigation into his alleged involvement in a string of shootings in October of 2013.  Diaz is on administrative leave from her position as school resource officer at Humboldt High School in St. Paul.  

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The man found dead after a farming accident at the Dodge County Airport Friday has been identified.  Sheriff Jim Jensen says 26-year-old William Pohlman was found pinned under a piece of hay equipment.  The Wanamingo man was an employee of Durst Brothers Dairy near Mantorville, working as an Agriculture Technician.

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Several departments from across the Iron Range spent hours battling a fire at the Hibbing Public Utilities steam plant on Saturday night.  Hibbing Fire officials say heavy smoke was coming from the roof of the steam plant when they arrived, and the fire broke out on the wood biomass side of the plant.  Plant workers stopped a small leak in the plant’s urea tank.  Nobody was hurt and damage is estimated to be around $30,000.

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The Hennepin County Sheriff is urging people with an active warrant to turn themselves in. Tomorrow (Tue) the Sheriff’s Office will begin conducting a warrant sweep, and Sheriff Rich Stanek is warning those that are on the wanted list that their warrant will not simply go away.  Police are looking for more than 160 people, mostly repeat drug offenders.  Stanek say by surrendering the wanted individuals can avoid being arrested by deputies at their home or workplace. 

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A DWI suspect pulled over in Moorhead apparently pretended he couldn’t speak English, but his game was called by the officer who spoke the language Adam Dominguez was trying to fake.  The officer pulled Dominguez over for speeding, but noticed that he smelled of alcohol and and there was an open bottle of vodka in the car. Dominguez tried to claim in Spanish that he does not speak English, so the officer effortlessly switched to Spanish and Dominguez didn’t reply.  The Forum newspaper reports that he is charged with two felonies - one count of DWI, and one count of refusing to take a breath test, Forum says.

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 Duluth will battle Provo, Utah, in the final round of Outside magazine’s annual “best outdoors town” competition.  Voting closed late last (Sun) night for the semifinal round of the contest - and Duluth got more than double the votes of Asheville, North Carolina.  Provo beat Ithaca, New York by only a narrow margin.  A week of online voting will determine which is the best outdoors town in the country, and the winner will be announced next Sunday.

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A Minnesota woman is in protective custody in Louisiana after escaping a home where she'd been held captive for two years.  According to KSTP-TV, the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff's Department found the woman with a chain around her neck last Saturday outside a business, and she said she'd just escaped a home where she'd been treated like a slave.  Three people have been arrested and face charges including kidnapping, human trafficking and false imprisonment.  Investigators say the victim met two of the suspects on a website and voluntarily moved in with them, where she later claims to have been beaten when she refused to work.

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Blaine Police are investigating after finding a body inside a vehicle in the Lowe's parking lot.  Authorities were called on a report of a crash at around 7 am Saturday and arrived to find the body in the car.  So far, the cause of death is not clear.  The Anoka County Sheriff's Office is assisting with the investigation.  

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Thousands of prisoners serving long sentences for non-violent drug offenses are applying for a presidential pardon. University of St. Thomas law professor Mark Osler is working with Clemency Project 2014 to train volunteer attorneys to vet the applications that will be forwarded to the final decision makers in the Office of the Pardon Attorney.  Osler says not only is using the pardon power in this manner historic, but it also represents a return to an attempt to use principal in discerning who gets advantages of the pardon power, not just using political contributors, or favorites of the president.  Many of the drug offenders expected to apply for the pardon were given very long sentences for crack cocaine under laws in the 1980s that have since been changed.

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 If you don't want to see another winter like the one we just went through, you'll be happy to hear about the El Nino (NEEN-yoh) of 2014.  U-of-M Climatologist Mark Seeley says the system is likely to arrive this summer, but we in Minnesota will feel the effects later in the year with a milder than normal autumn and a milder than normal winter.  The system involves temporary changes in the water temperatures in the Pacific ocean along the equator.

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A common practice that has been used for more than a decade as a tool for Minnesota economic developers actually got it's start with the help of Ma Bell and the agriculture community.  Michael Barger of University of Minnesota Extension says Business Retention and Expansion consists of finding out the needs of business needs in a community by interviewing local business owners and using the data gathered and community involvement to address those needs.  Bell Telephone created a visitation program to assess the needs of local businesses, and ten years ago Barger says an extension researcher decided that would be a great topic for him to study as an applied economist and he ended up creating an extension program with several other colleagues in the Cooperative Extension service.

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Former President Bill Clinton is at Northrop Auditorium on the U-of-M's Minneapolis campus this evening (530pm) to talk about the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, and he'll receive a public leadership award from the Humphrey School.  Dean Eric Schwartz says Clinton has often spoken about how his political identity was largely forged during the civil rights struggles of the 1960s and how he has referred to Minnesota's Hubert Humphrey as a personal hero. Organizers say proceeds from the event will support student scholarships.

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