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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: Minnesota murder suspect refuses to attend court appearance in Arizona

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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: Minnesota murder suspect refuses to attend court appearance in Arizona
Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

PHOENIX -- A former Fergus Falls man wanted for murder in Otter Tail County is causing problems for Arizona authorities. Michael Alan Burris has been in a Phoenix area jail since his arrest in September, and refused transport to a court hearing. The Maricopa County Attorney's Office says Burris has been ordered to be brought to court "by any means available" for a hearing later this week. Burris is fighting extradition to Minnesota to face second degree murder charges in the drug related shooting death of his nephew in 2012. Earlier this month, Arizona authorities charged Burris with conspiracy to commit murder for allegedly attempting to hire a hit man to kill his ex-wife, her boyfriend and another woman while he was in jail. The alleged plot was uncovered after jailers got a tip and a detective posing as a hit man was hired by a person later identified as Burris. He's being held on $2 million bail.

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The Minnesota Nurses Association is upset about recent coverage by the "Minneapolis Star Tribune" regarding discipline of nurses in the state. MNA President Linda Hamilton this week sent out a letter to over 20-thousand union members in which she called the coverage a "smear campaign" and said the stories have not been fair to nurses overall. The newspaper has looked through thousands of records from the Minnesota Board of Nursing and reported on some being able to keep their license despite problems with stealing drugs, neglecting patients or being impaired on the job. The first story appeared on October 6, and the "Star Tribune" reports the union declined to give any comment for the story before it was published.

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A 52-year-old man is admitting he was behind the wheel when an Army recruiter was hurt in a hit-and-run accident in September. Enrico Taylor pled guilty yesterday and will be sentenced in January. He hit Army Sergeant First Class Travis Torgerson and dragged him under the vehicle for about three-quarters of a mile. A second recruiter went over the top of the vehicle and wasn't badly hurt, while Torgerson suffered several broken bones.

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 Members of the Legislative Commission on Fiscal Planning and Policy were pleased with the most recent report on the state of the Minnesota economy. According to numbers from the Minneapolis Saint Paul Regional Economic Development Partnership and The Center for Rural Policy and Development, Minnesota's 5.1 percent unemployment rate is more than two full points below the national rate, and the state's credit rating was upgraded earlier this year following strong financial management and improved revenue performance. The Greater Minneapolis-Saint Paul region has the lowest unemployment rate in the nation at 4.7% and one of the top 5 fastest growing economies in the country. House Speaker Paul Thissen called the news good, but added that the state has, "more work to do to grow our middle class and ensure more Minnesotans are thriving."

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A Thief River Falls man has been found guilty on three felony counts for threatening to kill a family. 52-year-old Gerald Sunsdahl was convicted of two counts of making terroristic threats and one count of coercion. Sentencing is set for December 12th. Pennington County authorities say Sunsdahl left a two-page letter in his neighbor's mailbox threatening to kill him and his family if he did not give him half a million dollars.

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State officials release the latest unemployment figures today (thurs) for both September and October. September numbers were delayed because of the 16-day partial federal government shutdown. The August jobs report showed the state unemployment rate dropped to 5.1 percent, the lowest level since April of 2008. Over 12-thousand jobs were added in August, surpassing the employment level the state had prior to the Great Recession

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An Iron Range lawmaker is proposing a constitutional amendment to raise Minnesota's minimum wage to 10 dollars an hour and increase it every year by the rate of inflation. House Democrat Tom Anzelc (ANN'-zells) from Balsam Township says "in order to potentially avoid some of the bickering and some of the partisanship, now may be the time to let the people decide this question." Even though Democrats control both the Minnesota House and Senate, they could not agree last legislative session on a minimum wage increase.

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The family of slain gynecologist Dr. Stephen Larson had never heard of the man accused of killing him before the murder. Thirty-year-old St. Anthony Law School graduate Ted Hoffstrom is charged with the murder of the prominent surgeon. Larson's son Christopher tells the "Star Tribune" that no one in the family had ever heard the suspect's name mentioned by the doctor, and adds they're still in shock. Larson says they will continue to ask for privacy and plan to hold a small private ceremony for his father.

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A Minneapolis man is behind bars this morning after police busted a suspected dog fighting operation. Officers seized 15 pit bulls from several locations in Minneapolis and one in New Hope yesterday. The 34-year-old suspect was arrested at work and is in the Hennepin County Jail. Police have not yet released his name and plan to recommend felony dog fighting charges be filed against him.

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Former Minnesota House Republican Leader Marty Seifert kicks off his campaign for governor in Marshall this morning (830am) with afternoon stops in Saint Paul and Mankato. Seifert says as governor, on health care he would do everything possible to "unwind the knot on the largesse and waste of money that MNsure has turned out to be." Seifert says the state should instead actually put dollars toward care.

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 Today is the Great American Smokeout and smokers in Minnesota are urged to kick the habit. The Smokeout had its origins with the editor of the Monticello Times, Lynn Smith. He published on the front page of his newspaper the names of 300 people who pledged to quit smoking for one day on January 6th, 1974. The American Cancer Society's Matt Shafer says it led to Minnesota's first "Don't Smoke Day," California followed suit in two years and then it went nationwide. Anti-smoking groups are also raising awareness today about the connection between tobacco use and cancer.

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Today (Thu) is National Rural Health Day -- and it's an issue critical to Minnesota. A recent study found the state will need nearly 12-hundred more primary care physicians by 2030 -- a 28 percent increase. A summit to address the problem was held in Minneapolis last week, and Chair of the Minnesota Medical Association Dr. Jeremy Springer says they talked about some of the roadblocks to recruiting and retaining doctors in rural communities. Springer says one is the amount of work: Rural doctors usually have more patients they're taking care of than their counterparts in the metro area. Springer says entertainment and education opportunities also provide a barrier for some. Mayo Clinic Health System and the University of Minnesota are collaborating on the Rural Physician Associate Program (RPAP), which gives third-year medical students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience and develop relationships with patients and providers in a rural setting.

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Jason Schulte
Jason Schulte is a reporter for the New Richmond News since February 2015. Prior to that he spent eight years at the Pierce County Herald in Ellsworth. His duties with the News will include covering news out of Hammond and Roberts along with action from St. Croix County court system. He lives in Roberts. 
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