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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: Lawmakers react to Minneapolis winning Super Bowl LII

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Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

MOORHEAD, Minn. -- Former State Representative Morrie Lanning of Moorhead is pleased but not surprised that Minneapolis landed the 2018 Superbowl.  As chief house author of the Viking Stadium bill two years ago, Lanning was a key player getting the legislation passed, assuring the new stadium would be a major selling point for winning the Superbowl bid.  Lanning, who retired after the 2012 legislative session, said at the time that his reputation as a diplomatic leader was never more tested as he led the campaign to get the stadium bill okayed.  He was threatened by e-mails and phone calls, criticized on blogs and snubbed by members of both parties. 

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Political leaders, businesspeople and fans are celebrating the N-F-L's announcement Tuesday that Minnesota will host the 2018 Super Bowl at what will be the Vikings' new stadium in downtown Minneapolis.  Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority Chair Michele Kelm-Helgen credits the governor and legislature taking the lead on a new stadium.  Kelm-Helgen says that effort was recognized by all the N-F-L owners.  She says another important factor is that the Vikings' new stadium will be unlike any other in the country.  Kelm-Helgen also credits corporate leaders for standing behind the effort.

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The Montevideo City Council has approved a resolution in support of locating the state's first medical cannabis manufacturing and distribution facility there.  City Manager Steve Jones says an unnamed developer approached the city looking for their support.  He says city leaders have located at least one site they believe would be a very good site for the construction and would meet zoning codes.  Jones says he's not sure if it would be a greenhouse or some sort of indoor growing facility, but it would be secure and include the needed lab space to process the plants into a medicine form.  The developer will now submit the proposal to the state, which is looking to choose two sites for manufacture and distribution by the 1st of December.

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Maple Grove Police has asked Minneapolis Fox affiliate KSMP-TV to turn over the unedited interview conducted earlier this week with Susan Pagnac -- the mother of a girl who went missing 25 years ago in a case that suddenly has renewed activity.  Investigators haven't said exactly why they want the interview, and Fox 9 officials say their policy is not to hand over unedited videos without a court order.  The station is reporting that the details in the original police report filed in 1989 contradict what Susan Pagnac is saying now.  The original report states Pagnac as saying that "they" - meaning she and Amy's adoptive father -- stopped at an Osseo gas station when 13-year-old Amy suddenly got out of the car and took off.  Pagnac insists that her husband Marshal Midden was alone with Amy when he returned from the gas station restroom to find she was gone and that is what she stated in the original interview.  Police have not said much about the investigation but have confirmed that they haven't found any human remains at the family home.

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 A former state lawmaker is planning to appeal a Minnesota Court of Appeals ruling that requires him to post an $11 million bond to continue his lawsuit that seeks to stop construction of a new Senate Office Building.  Jim Knoblach was ordered by the appeals panel to post the bond by May 27 to keep his lawsuit from being dismissed. The judges required the bond in order to protect the state from increased construction costs that would be likely if the project is delayed by the lawsuit.  The appeal of the bond requirement will go to the Minnesota Supreme Court.  The lawsuit claims that the Legislature violated the state constitution by including financing for the $90 million office building in a tax bill, rather than in a public works bonding bill -- which would have needed a super-majority to pass.  A lower court dismissed the suit, but Knoblach is appealing. The state hopes to break ground on the building in July.

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St. Paul-based Gander Mountain is being sued in New York, on claims that store employees should have realized a woman was making a straw purchase for a convicted felon who used the weapon to kill two people and himself.  The lawsuit filed by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence on behalf of the victims families seeks to have Gander Mountain reform its practices and employee training procedures to prevent someone from buying a gun for another person that is not allowed to own one.  61-year-old William Spengler Jr. used the semiautomatic rifle in a 2012 Christmas Eve shooting that killed two Rochester, New York volunteer firefighters and injured two others. He accompanied 22-year-old Dawn Nguyen when she purchased the gun at a Gander Mountain store.  Nguyen was sentenced on Monday to four years in prison for lying on forms when she bought the guns, and still faces federal charges for illegally purchasing the firearms and selling them to a known felon. Spengler was prohibited from owning firearms after he was convicted of killing his 92-year-old grandmother with a hammer.

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A report condemning the University of Minnesota as having the third highest administrative costs of any public university in the U-S has been rescinded by the Institute for Policy Studies.  University of Minnesota president Eric Kaler stated that the report was "flat out wrong", and says the "U" has made significant strides increasing financial aid, holding the line on tuition and reducing administrative costs. I-P-S has removed the report from it's website and put in it's place a statement that says they are reviewing the data released in the report, and issue a revised version after any necessary corrections are made.

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Minnesota-based Hutchinson Technology has announced the pending layoffs of about 100 workers by the end of July.  It's a cost cutting move that company officials say will save about $1.5 million.  Hutchinson recently began consolidating and shifting more work to an assembly plant in Thailand, which is expected to save $2.5 million.  President Rick Penn says the company's third quarter results will include about $1.3 million in severance for laid off workers, but financial performance will improve as demand for disk drive programs increases and the benefits of the lower cost structure are realized.

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The driver was the only person on board a North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale school district bus when it caught fire on I-94 yesterday (Tue) afternoon.  Minnesota State Patrol says the driver had plenty of time to gather his belongings and exit the bus, after he smelled smoke and pulled onto the shoulder.  The fire took about 30 minutes to extinguish, and appears to have started in the engine compartment.  The cause is being investigated.

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Rochester police are investigating a break-in and vandalism spree at a vacant school building that resulted in upwards of $50,000 in damage.  Police say vandals broke windows, damaged flooring, and destroyed gym equipment in the weekend break-in at the former Gage East school.  No suspects have been identified.  Last (Tue) night the Rochester School Board approved the sale of the building to Center City Housing Corporation for $1.3 million.  The company plans to turn the former school into affordable housing that will serve homeless families and teens in the area.

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Guests were evacuated from a hotel in Hibbing after fire broke out in a wall between two rooms.  Firefighters got an automatic fire alarm along with several calls from guests at the Hibbing Park Hotel, reporting smoke throughout the building.  The fire was quickly extinguished and was isolated to that one wall and did not reach the roof area.  The Hibbing fire Marshall is investigating the cause of the fire. Nobody was hurt, and because cleanup is still under way there is no damage estimate available.

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 A fatal head-on crash in Grant County last (Tuesday) night.  Minnesota State Patrol officials say 51-year-old Donna Anderson of Parsippany, New Jersey crossed over the centerline on Hwy 27 and hit a vehicle driven by 49-year-old Paul Heck of Wheaton head on.  Anderson died as a result of the crash.  Heck was not injured.

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Two pedestrians were hit by a vehicle in Wadena County yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon.  According to the State Patrol 55-year-old Erwin Barney of Verndale was turning onto Highway 10 and did not see the pedestrians in the street.  29-year-old Natalie Trettel and her young child were hit by the pickup.  They were taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. 

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The Mdewakanton Sioux Tribe is trying to reclaim tribal land in Minnesota.  A lawsuit was filed claiming the secretary of the Interior set aside 12 square miles of Redwood, Renville, and Sibley for the Sioux in 1863.  The property is now owned by farmers.

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Farmers in southern and parts of central Minnesota are starting to worry that their corn isn't in the fields yet.  Farm Management Analyst Kent Thiesse (TEE-see) says the window for good corn planting is rapidly closing.  He says if farmers get full-season hybrids in the ground in that part of the state by around May 25th, they have a good chance of getting 90-percent or better of optimum yield.  But Thiesse says after that, potential starts to drop off very quickly.  He says the weather forecast sounds more promising than in recent weeks, but it's not good enough. 

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The Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter is accused of the death of a patient.  A report released yesterday said two mentally ill residents were inadequately supervised.  The Human Services Department said Michael Douglas was murdered by Darnell Whitefeather in January.  DHS Commissioner Lucinda Jesson said conditions must be changed by, quote, "a huge tidal wave of training and a new infusion of management support"

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Seven new cases of sexual assault are filed against a former custodian at Linwood Monroe Arts Plus School in St. Paul.  Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said more victims of Walter Happel have come forward involving kids during three decades at the school.  Happel sits in jail on 100-thousand dollars bail and appears in court today.

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The Minnesota Department of Health is warning that risk of tick-borne disease remains high in the state.  Epidemiologist Dave Neitzel (NITE'-zul) says heavy snow this winter insulated the forest floor where black-legged ticks live and they survived the winter really well, assisted by this spring's wet weather.  Neitzel says there are plenty of black-legged ticks right now, especially in central and southeastern Minnesota.  The highest risk period for exposure to disease-carrying ticks is mid-May through mid-July.  

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 Minnesota House leaders are in Saint Cloud, Brainerd, Bemidji, Willmar, Morris and Moorhead today (Wed), touting accomplishments of the legislative session just ended.  House D-F-L Majority Leader Erin Murphy points to tax cuts, a bonding bill, a minimum wage increase and many other items -- calling it a sharp contrast to Republicans' record.  Murphy says Minnesotans will choose in this fall's election and she "can't wait" to tell Democrats' story.  House Assistant Republican Minority Leader Kelby Woodard fires back D-F-Lers increased taxes over two billion dollars last year but gave only one-quarter of it back in 2014.  (House Democratic leaders stop in Grand Rapids, Duluth, Mankato and Austin on Thursday.)

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