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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: President Obama to visit St. Paul Wednesday

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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: President Obama to visit St. Paul Wednesday
Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

ST. PAUL -- President Obama is going to be in St. Paul this week. He'll make a pit stop at the downtown Union Depot at Wednesday afternoon. He's planning to announce a new competition that encourages investments to create jobs and restore infrastructure. A limited number of tickets are available to the public on a first come, first served basis starting at 10:00 this (Mon) morning. Those tickets can be picked up in Suite 120 of the Union Depot. Only one ticket per person is allowed.

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It appears that winter isn't about to ease it's icy grip on Minnesota just yet. Forecasters with the National Weather Service in Chanhassen say that portions of central and southern Minnesota are waking to wind chills of 15-to-30 below zero, thanks to a third round of "polar vortex" created frigid weather hanging over the region. Wind chill values will remain in the 20-35 below zero range each morning tomorrow (Tue) through Thursday statewide. Portions of west-central Minnesota will also see one to three inches of snow today (Mon). An inch or two is expected in southwest Minnesota, with light snowfall in the northwest. 

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Dozens of ice fishermen trapped on Upper Red Lake in Beltrami County when the blizzard hit on Thursday were rescued yesterday, after spending three days in ice houses. KSTP-TV is reporting that as many as 100 anglers in 45 ice houses were stuck on the ice when high winds and drifting snow left them unable to get off the lake. One of those stranded says that snowdrifts between four and seven feet high piled up more quickly than they could be shoveled, and rescuers were unable to reach them because the ice road onto the lake had become impassable. There were no reports of injuries.

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A Minneapolis man is dead after a shooting yesterday (Sun) afternoon. Minneapolis Police responded to a shots fired call and found the victim, a man in his 30's, dead in the back of a black SUV. Investigators say the shooter left the scene before police arrived, and they are not certain yet whether it was a targeted or random act. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner will release the identity of the victim once an autopsy has been conducted.

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People in the Fargo-Moorhead area should be on the lookout for the latest phone scam. Officials say someone is calling from a 312 area code, acting as a Gate City Bank rep, and telling people their debit card is locked up. The whole idea is to get the person to reveal personal account information, but don't do it. The scammers are likely looking to access your account and take your cash.

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As the state recovers from last week's winter storm, officials are assessing the damage. The heavy snow and low temperatures caused power outages, icy roads resulted in more than a thousand crashes and many of us are still sore from shoveling. State Patrol troopers said the conditions were the worst they've seen in 25 years. And MnDOT's Kevin Gutknecht agrees. He says there have been some cases where one part of the metro gets hit pretty hard during rush hour--but he doesn't recall it happening across the entire metro area plus the southern third of the state. Crews worked throughout the weekend to make the roads driveable, which was difficult with temperatures hovering around zero. Gutknecht says the roads will be in much better shape for this morning's commute.

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As of early yesterday (Sun) evening, Minnesota state troopers handled nearly 1,200 crashes in the aftermath of Thursday's blizzard, with 118 injuries and one fatality. Minnesota State Patrol Lieutenant Eric Roeske  says they also responded to more than 2,500 spin-outs or slide-offs, helped the drivers of 75 jackknifed semis, more than 1,200 stalled vehicles, and gave assistance to 81 other drivers for various reasons. With the roads still covered with packed snow and icy patches in spots, Roeske says they'll update these numbers once the potentially tricky morning commute comes to an end.

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State lawmakers are back at the Minnesota Capitol Tuesday (2/25) to begin the 2014 legislative session, and one of the hot issues will be a minimum wage increase. Democrats hold majorities in both the House and Senate and will try to resolve their differences which stalled the bill last year. House Republican Leader Kurt Daudt  warns a minimum wage increase is not fair to the people who will lose jobs. House Speaker, Democrat Paul Thissen says the bottom line is that unemployment is among the lowest in the country in Minnesota, because we have made investments in education and in job creation.

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 The 2014 legislative session begins tomorrow (Tues). There's a big push again this year for road-and-bridge funding, including a proposal for a wholesale gas tax increase keyed to the price at the pump. Democratic Majority Leader Tom Bakk says the Senate went out on a limb last year and passed a gas tax increase which the House didn't act on. Bakk says if the House sends over a bill this session, they'll consider it -- but it will not likely be addressed this year. Bakk says he's asking the business community to get engaged in the transportation funding issue after the fall election.

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"Mission accomplished." That's how Senior Vice President of Mortenson Construction, John Wood, assessed the demolition of the Metrodome's last remaining ring beam. The beam was taken down Sunday morning with a series of controlled explosive charges. Wood says the no one was hurt in the demolition, and no other property was damaged. It took 84 charges of dynamite set in 24 columns of the upper concourse to bring the beam down. The Metrodome is going away to make room for a new Vikings stadium, which is scheduled to open in July of 2016.

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 Minnesotans are urging McDonalds to follow through on a 2009 plan to reduce the use of pesticides in potatoes used to make its iconic french fries. Robert Shimek of the White Earth Reservation says with the pesticide drift and before that, contaminated groundwater, many of those who live near potato production areas have almost become accustomed to the negative impacts. Research found that skin, lung and intestinal irritations are linked to some incidences of pesticide drift, with the most acute reactions among children.

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