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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: Officials assess key assets in state following 9-11

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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: Officials assess key assets in state following 9-11
Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and the Federal Emergency Management Agency met yesterday (Wed), on the anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Minnesota Homeland Security deputy director Joe Kelly says the agencies conducted a threat assessment of "key assets" in the state, to determine how vulnerable they may be and what they need to do to better protect them. He says it's an ongoing to effort to be more prepared than anyone was 12 years ago Kelly says the state's emergency officials remain vigilant and dedicated to making sure something like 9/11 does not happen within the state's borders. 

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Another lawsuit has been filed against former Rochester Boy Scout Leader Richard Hokanson, the Boy Scouts of America, the local Gamehaven Council, and St. Pius X Catholic Church, by a third man who claims he was sexually abused by Hokanson from 1975 to 1981. Previously identified as John Doe 17, Scott Hart has come forward with the claim that he was abused 200-300 times at Saint Pius Catholic Church in Rochester, on camping trips and during other scouting activities. Hart says he was just 11 years old at the time of the alleged abuse. Two other former scouts filed a similar lawsuit against the same four defendants earlier this summer, also claiming they were molested by Hokanson in the 1970's while he was scoutmaster of Troop 210. Scott Hart is seeking more than $50,000 dollars in damages.

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A Twin Cities area school was locked down yesterday (Wed), after police say a young man fired a shotgun nearby. Bloomington Police officials say the man lives near Life Academy, and had taken his grandfather's gun into the woods and fired a shot into the ground. He didn't threaten anyone with the weapon, but was ticketed for discharge of a gun in the city. Police were called after someone in the school saw him carrying the gun into the woods.

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A Burnsville teen admits his role in a deadly crash. The suspect, who was 17-years-old old at the time of the June 2012 crash, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to several charges including two counts of vehicular homicide. Sixteen-year-old Frederick Alexander and 17-year-old Katherine Roehl died and two other teens were injured in the crash on Interstate 35 at County Road 46. Sentencing will take place laster this month.

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Felony charges of recklessly discharging a firearm have been filed against a teen who authorities say accidentally shot his two-month-old nephew last Thursday night in north Minneapolis. Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman says 17-year-old James Early picked up a loaded gun, his brother took it from him and unloaded it, but when the baby's father wasn't looking Early reloaded the weapon and it discharged, hitting the child in the neck. Freeman says the defendant had no business having a gun around a two-month-old, particularly when by his own admission he knew nothing about its operation. Freeman says if the baby does not survive, Early could face manslaughter charges.

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The House Ethics Committee it extending its investigation of Minnesota U-S Congresswoman Michele Bachmann's 2012 presidential campaign, nearly two years after the Republican ended her White House bid. The Office of Congressional Ethics found substantial reason to believe Bachmann's campaign violated campaign finance laws that ban the use of campaign staff members to promote her book, Core of Conviction. The bipartisan Ethics Committee chose not to dismiss the case against her, nor did it immediately form a subcommittee to conduct hearings. Bachmann, has released a statement saying she did nothing wrong, but relied on experienced staff who were told to comply with election laws. 

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A big increase in state funding is fueling business for the Minnesota Film and T-V Board. The two-year, ten-million-dollar appropriation allows the "Snowbate" program to reimburse film producers up to 25 percent of local project costs. Executive Director Lucinda Winter says an article on the front page of the "L-A Times" entertainment section helped jumpstart the 2013 program and she was "absolutely amazed" by the amount of attention it got. Winter says she could have made multiple trips to L-A and called on a lot of production companies, studios and networks -- and not stirred up the kind of interest the article got. Winter says they are now in discussions with nine different projects about coming to Minnesota. An independent feature film called "Dear White People" is currently being shot at the University of Minnesota and on Saint Paul's Summit Avenue. 

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More than 400 advocates from Minnesota and across the region gathered in Milwaukee this week for the annual Great Lakes Restoration Conference. Chad Lord with Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition says much progress has been made, but a long-term funding commitment from Congress is needed. A U.S. Senate bill would provide 300 million dollars for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The House could slash funding to 60 million, but an amendment has been introduced that would boost the amount in the House to 210 million dollars.

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She's been dubbed "the neighbor from Hell" after being accused of harassing a White Bear Lake couple for several years, and now a jury will decide the fate of Lori Christensen. She tried to withdraw her guilty plea to charges of violating a restraining order yesterday (Wed) in a St. Paul courtroom, but the judge denied the motion. Christensen originally agreed to a deal that would put her on probation for 10 years, as well as keep her away from Kim and Greg Hoffman and the neighborhood for a decade, but now claims she was coerced into taking the plea. A jury will decide in October whether the ten year probation sentence, double the usual amount of time, is warranted. Over the years, White Bear Lake Police say they received more than 80 calls from the Hoffmans and other neighbors about Christensen's disturbing behavior.

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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. 
(715) 243-7767 x243
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