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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: One dead, three injured in Mankato shooting

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news Ellsworth, 54011
Pierce County Herald
715-273-4335 customer support
Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

MANKATO, Minn. -- One person is dead and three injured after an early morning Easter shooting in Mankato.  Officers received a call of shots fired at the Kato Entertainment Center at around 2 am Sunday.  All four shooting victims were taken to a nearby hospital. One person died and three were treated for non-life-threatening injuries.  Police have a suspect in custody and a handgun was recovered. Two other people have been arrested for obstruction of the legal process.  Agents from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension are assisting Mankato Police with the investigation. 

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The first-degree murder trial of 65-year-old Byron Smith of Little Falls is set to begin this morning(9am).  Smith is charged in the shooting deaths of 18-year-old Haile Kifer and 17-year-old Nick Brady after they entered his home on Thanksgiving Day 2012.  Jury selection was completed Wednesday at the Morrison County courthouse. The jury will be composed of seven women and seven men with 12 members seated as jurors and two as alternates.  The trial is expected to last two to three weeks. 

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With about a month to go in the legislative session, expect some serious wrangling as lawmakers return to the State Capital.  Governor Dayton has suggested increasing the agreed-upon cap for state building projects.  D-F-L Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk says Republicans would first have to agree to spend more than 850-million dollars but he knows they'll want something in return.  Republican leaders are expected to ask for permanent tax relief and the repeal of some taxes passed last year in return for increasing the bonding bill.

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Minnesota farmers are worried increased Bakken oil rail traffic may jeopardize fertilizer deliveries and delay spring planting.  During a recent stop in Minnesota, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says B-N-S-F Railway Company is addressing farmer's concerns and will add as many as five-thousand additional employees in 2014.  Many of them will be dedicated to the northern corridor.  And they will add an additional 500 locomotives to their fleet, which will increase the capacity to move product to market more efficiently. Vilsack says he is also working with Senator Al Franken on a number of rail safety measures due to the increased rail traffic across Minnesota.

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Governor Dayton has declared this Wildfire Prevention Week in Minnesota (4/20-26) to increase awareness of outdoor fire hazards.  Jean Goad with the Interagency Fire Center says when all the snow melts it doesn't take very long for those dead grasses to dry out and that's when se see fire danger increasing. Goad says the wildfire season has been relatively quiet this spring with just a few fires in the dry areas.  New burning restrictions take effect today (Mon) in 11 counties across north-central Minnesota. 

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A Minnesota company has withdrawn a controversial policy that would have taken away consumers' rights to sue if they participate in contests, download online coupons, or even "like" the company's Facebook page.  General Mills was widely criticized on social media after a New York Times article brought the new policy to light last week.  A statement from the company claimed that the new terms were "widely misread" but have still been changed and no longer include a clause that says customers interacting with General Mills online agree to arbitration and forego the option of suing the company in a potential dispute.  The Minneapolis-based company makes hundreds of food products including Cheerios, Pillsbury, Green Giant, and others.

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A devastating pest has been found in a southeast Minnesota city for the first time.  An emerald ash borer infested tree has been found inside the Winona city limit.  The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is now scouring the area to see if there are other impacted trees.  The hungry bug was first discovered in Minnesota in 2009, and is in the Twin Cities metro area as well as Houston and Trempealeau Counties.

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 The superintendent of a Minnesota public school district will not face charges for slapping an elementary school student in February.  Hubbard County Sheriff's officials say Nevis Superintendent Steve Rassier admitted to slapping the student after the boy allegedly spit in his face.  School officials immediately notified the state Department of Education, which prompted a police investigation.  The inquiry by the Hubbard County Attorney's office concluded that there was not sufficient evidence to support criminal charges.  The Nevis School Board suspended Rassier briefly.  The Bemidji Pioneer reports that he will retire at the end of the school year.

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Investigators say the man who was found dead in a southeast Minnesota home after a fire was extinguished died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.  Olmsted County Sheriff's officials say a shotgun was found next to the body of 57-year-old Donald Helgerson after the house fire in Dover last week.  The State Fire Marshal's Office is investigating the cause of the fire and working to determine whether it was intentionally set.  

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A toddler riding on a tractor with his grandfather was hospitalized after a tractor accident near Rochester.  Olmsted County Sheriff's officials say the 2-year-old fell from the garden tractor and was pinned under the back tire.  The boy was conscious and crying when first responders got to the scene and is expected to recover.

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 A one-year-old boy is recovering from minor injuries suffered from an ATV accident Saturday night.  The Stearns County Sheriff's Department says Riley Kraemer was run over by a four wheeler driven by his 4-year-old brother.  The baby was treated at a St. Cloud hospital and released.

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 A southeast Minnesota man is facing more charges after exposing himself and committing lewd acts in a Rochester courtroom last week. Olmsted County Sheriff's officials say Lloyd Armstrong was already jailed on sexual misconduct charges when he pulled down his pants in court.  He is facing several sexual misconduct charges.  Investigators say Armstrong also punched a corrections officer in the face later that same day and is charged with assault as well.

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  Two horses were found tied to trees, starved to death in western Minnesota.  Hubbard County Sheriff's investigators say the horses were discovered by a man hiking near his home. Animal control officials and sheriff's deputies are investigating, but it's not believed the landowner was responsible for the deaths of the animals.

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 If you happened to grill hot dogs over Easter weekend, hopefully it wasn't an Oscar Mayer Classic Wiener.  Kraft Foods is recalling 96-thousand pounds of the hot dogs because the company says they mistakenly contained cheese.  The problem is cheese is made with milk, which is an allergen.  The company said the error came in packages that were not labeled warning of the presence of cheese.

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