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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: One more day of rain, then beautiful weekend ahead

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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: One more day of rain, then beautiful weekend ahead
Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

CHANHASSEN, Minn. -- Parts of central and southern Minnesota could see more rain today (Thu) but then most of the state will likely get a break from the wet.  Craig Schmidt is a hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Chanhassen, and says long range outlooks the next week or two give us a chance for below normal precipitation. He also says it looks like water weary Minnesotans could be looking at a beautiful weekend just ahead.

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Wind and heavy rains overnight were the main threats from a fourth storm system to hit southern Minnesota this week, but a tornado was reported in Marshall.  Damage reports are expected some time after daylight.  The Albert Lea and Austin areas were battered by high winds, while Mankato again saw heavy rainfall and flooding.  Mankato is under a flood warning, and Marshall a flash flood warning.  Flash flood watches are in effect for southeast, south central, and west central Minnesota.  National Weather Service forecasters in Chanhassen saywidespread showers and thunderstorms are expected again today (Thu) and into tonight. There is a chance that some of these storms could be severe and pose a continued threat of flash flooding. By tomorrow (fri), the flood threat will transition to the main stem rivers. Much of the Minnesota River...and the Mississippi river from Saint Paul down toward Red Wing could reach flood stage by the weekend. 

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A report from Deloitte Consultants finds what the firm calls "system gaps" in MNsure, but no significant problems were noted.  Consultants presented state officials with a plan to make the system work better in the coming months as a long-term sustainability plan is developed  They identified 73 functions and sub-functions that should exist in the health insurance exchange and noted Minnesota's plan is missing 47 of them.  Deloitte says 41 will have to be fixed before open enrollment starts in November.

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The Moorhead Police Department is reviewing its high speed chase policy after a controversial pursuit earlier this week.  The officers tore through a golf course while they were after Kendell Feist.  They flew right past a few people who were out on the greens, which some believe put people's lives in danger.  Police eventually caught up with Feist at the West Acres Mall in Fargo.  Mall officials are expressing concern over the way things were handled, primarily because the officers never informed them about the incident, and because they were dressed in plain clothes with their guns drawn.    

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Three employees at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development are under investigation.  Officials have reason to believe all three workers were using state equipment to do work for another employer, while they were clocked in at the state.  ValleyNewsLive reports the initial investigation began more than three months ago, which is when the workers were put on paid administrative leave.  All of the employees work out of the Crookston office.  They haven't been officially charged with anything.  

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Great Lakes mayors want the national governments of the U-S and Canada to do more to prevent oil spills.  Racine, Wisconsin Mayor John Dickert says the federal response to serious environmental mishaps has been insufficient in both countries.  Dickert heads the Great Lakes and Saint Lawrence Cities' Initiative, which passed a resolution yesterday for more federal action.  That would include stricter regulations on the shipping of oil by trains and pipelines.  The mayors also want more frequent inspections of oil-transporting facilities, and tighter enforcement.  The group also proposes a fee on energy companies, creating a fund to pay for emergency responses and clean-ups of oil spills.

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A Minneapolis company will pay 450-thousand dollars in refunds to thousands of Iowans enrolled in "membership programs" and charged monthly fees.  The money will go to consumers charged through programs marketed by Sempris LLC or one of its predecessors, Damark International Inc. and Provell Inc.  Many customers claimed they never signed up for the programs, or the monthly fees.

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Cleanup is expected to be underway this morning after a tornado blew through the small southeast South Dakota town of Wessington Springs last night.  Local authorities report significant damage in the town, with as many as a dozen homes with extensive damage and a handful of businesses destroyed.  Governor Daugaard sent National Guard troops into the area for assistance.  So far, only one person has been reported injured.  

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 Trees and power lines are reported down in McIntosh County, North Dakota after last night's storms.  Authorities say funnel clouds were also spotted in the area near Ashley.  Reports of some barn damage was also reported.  Authorities say at least one of the funnel clouds touched down briefly.

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Several Iowa communities are still dealing with the effects of flooding.  In Rock Rapids, 60 homes were flooded after the Rock River crested yesterday (Wed), leaving residents in waist-high water.  The Big Sioux River is expected to crest in Sioux City on Friday

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After today (thurs) it looks like things should dry out across Minnesota.  National Weather Service Hydrologist Craig Schmidt says rain is expected again today across parts of central and southern Minnesota  He says lake property owners are reporting the highest water levels they've seen in years, and small streams and tributaries are all running high -- some over their banks.  Schmidt adds the Minnesota River, and the Mississippi River downstream from where it joins the Minnesota, are also expected to reach minor flood stage over the next few days. 

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State officials release May's unemployment and jobs numbers later this morning (10am).  In April, the state's jobless rate fell a tenth-of-a-point from the month before to 4.7 percent, despite employers shedding 42-hundred jobs.  Manufacturing added 24-hundred jobs in the last report; government added 15-hundred workers.  The April numbers also showed construction, professional and business services, and leisure and hospitality each losing around two thousand jobs.  State policymakers are hoping for more encouraging numbers in today's release, but maintain Minnesota's overall job trend remains positive. 

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 Law enforcement officials throughout the state are cracking down on speeders this week (thru FRI).  State Patrol Lieutenant Eric Roeske (ROSS-kee) says summer is the deadliest time of year on Minnesota roads, contrary to what most people would think.  He says despite snow and ice in winter, Minnesota loses more lives on the roads in summer, and a lot of that is due to excessive speed.  It was a factor in over two-hundred fatal crashes in the last three years in Minnesota, resulting in 235 deaths and 666 serious injuries.  

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 It's National Preparedness Month -- and with recent heavy storms throughout the state, the reminder to be prepared couldn't happen at a better time.  When it comes to severe weather like tornadoes, Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek says by the time you hear sirens it's already too late and the weather is upon you -- so that's why people have to pay attention to what's happening outside.  Stanek says being prepared also includes putting together an emergency kit and having a family plan in case of severe storms and tornadoes. 

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