MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: Second Minnesota gator caught; Father and son charged
SCANDIA, Minn. -- A father and son have been charged after their pet alligators recently escaped or were set loose in Scandia. 30-year-old William Henry St. Sauver and 66-year-old William Charles St. Sauver Sr., are each charged with a misdemeanor count of keeping wild or exotic animals. A D-N-R officer shot one of the gators, Clyde, last month and Bonnie, the second alligator, was apparently captured by one of it's owners, yesterday (Thu) in Goose Lake. Washington County sheriff's officials say St. Sauver Jr. also admitted that he owns a third alligator that is larger than Bonnie and Clyde, but he would not say where it's being kept.
A Rochester woman may be charged with animal cruelty charges after witnesses told police that she threw her roommate's kitten off the balcony of their apartment. Rochester investigators say the woman and her male roommate got into a fight, and he apparently hit her in the face several times. She began throwing things at him as he left the apartment, and that's when officers believe she tossed the kitten over the balcony. The kitten was bleeding from the face and struggling to breathe, and was taken to a local animal hospital. The man may also face domestic assault charges.
This week's update from the U.S. Drought Monitor shows an even larger area of severe drought in central Minnesota. More than 7 percent of Minnesota is now in a severe drought, up from just over 4 percent last week. The area of severe drought now extends across the northern Twin Cities metro, into western Wisconsin, and down along the Mississippi River to the southeast corner of Minnesota. About 79 percent of Minnesota is rated abnormally dry or worse.
Employees for St Louis County who are members of two AFSCME union locals voted in favor of a new contract. The unions represent about a thousand of the county's 16-hundred employees, and the deal prevents a strike that was called for if a contract were not ironed out. The sticking point had been a plan to offer future new employees a different contract when it came to accumulated sick leave. In a statement, County Administrator Kevin Gray said he was pleased with the compromise that reduces the maximum accumulated leave for current workers, but makes it the same for current and future workers. Union officials had called the two-tiered proposal an attempt at union busting. The county employees had been working without a contract since December 31, 2011, although both sides have recognized the old contract.
A MNsure employee accidentally sent an e-mail to an Apple Valley insurance broker that contained Social Security numbers, names, business addresses and other identifying information for thousands of insurance agents. MNsure, the state's new online health insurance exchange, admits to mishandling private data, and say a security official helped the broker delete the file from the office's computer hard drives. Officials say the mistake was quickly resolved and was the first security breach, but it may give fuel to the fight surrounding online health insurance exchanges and the privacy issues that can, and apparently do, arise.
Governor Dayton says trade officials from Taiwan will be at the State Capitol this morning (10am) to sign letters of intent to purchase billions of dollars of agricultural products from farmers in Minnesota and other Midwestern states over the next two years. Business leaders and representatives of Minnesota's ag producers will be on hand in the Governor's Reception Room for the ceremony. Taiwan is Minnesota's sixth-largest export market and officials say the nation is a key trading partner for Minnesota's corn and soybean growers.
A reward is now being offered for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of a man suspected of committing a double murder in Granite Falls. Kara Monson was shot to death on Labor Day inside her Granite Falls home, and her new boyfriend Chris Panitzke was also shot; he died six days later. Monson's ex-boyfriend Andy Dikken (DEEK'-en) has been named a suspect in the murders, and a warrant has been issued for his arrest. Dikken has been on the run for nearly two weeks; his truck was found abandoned near Belview, but police say no sightings of the suspect have been reported. CrimeStoppers is offering a reward of $1,000 for anyone who provides information that leads to Dikken's arrest.
(Tips can be provided online at www.crimestoppersmn.org or by calling 1-800-222-8477.)
An 18-year-old man from Burnsville has pleaded guilty to criminal vehicular homicide for an August 2012 crash during a hundred-mile-an-hour joyride that killed two teen passengers and injured two others. The vehicle driven by Joshua Decoteau, who was 17 at the time, went airborne along an interstate frontage road in Burnsville and two passengers were ejected. Sentencing is September 23rd and could include detention in a juvenile facility and community service. Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said they're pleased the driver accepted responsibility for his dangerous behavior.
A West St. Paul man has been sentenced to 17 years in prison for shooting at two Inver Grove Heights police officers. 41-year-old Justin Amick was acquitted of attempted murder and some assault charges, but a Dakota County jury convicted him in July for first and second degree assault and illegal possession of a gun. Two officers were sent to an Inver Grove Heights neighborhood in March of 2012, after a neighbor claimed to hear several gunshots, and found Amick and a woman sitting in a parked car. When they approached the vehicle the officers say Amick began firing at them, and after several calls for him to drop the gun he threw it toward one of the patrol cars and sped off. Amick was later caught in the woods near his home.
About a dozen medically-needy sex offenders could be transferred from high-security facilities in Moose Lake and Saint Peter to a lower-security setting in Cambridge. State Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson contends a less-expensive venue is appropriate for those people. As for public safety, Jesson says any transfer needs court approval and her department is being "very careful" and only requesting it, if they think the person can be treated safely in a different setting. Several people who were committed to the sex offender treatment program are sueing the state. They claim no one is ever released from the program which is for those who are deemed a continuing risk to the public.