MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: Severe weather moved across central Minnesota Thursday morning
CHANHASSEN, Minn. -- Heavy rains, damaging winds, and large hail are greeting central Minnesotans this morning. Meteorologist Jacob Beitlich with the National Weather Service office in Chanhassen says the rains could cause a problem in a region already drenched yesterday. Golf ball sized hail has been seem in places this morning. Yesterday baseball sized hail fell in the Lake Mille Lacs area. A tornado warning was issued for Otter Tail County, but Beitlich says there have been no reports of touchdowns or damage. The good news is that the unsettled weather pattern won't stick around; Beitlich says a cold front is moving in today that will dry out the area for the coming weekend.
Severe storms that hit Wright County Wednesday morning have made life very difficult for farmers in Waverly, Minnesota. Half dollar size hail and strong winds destroyed fields throughout the town including the entire apple crop at Untiedt's Farms. Insurance adjusters have already started assessing the damage.
Minnesota Senator Al Franken is calling on President Obama to develop a comprehensive strategy to address the growing threat of ISIS. Florida Senator Bill Nelson wants to give the president authority to bomb ISIS forces in Syria, but Franken says U-S air strikes are being used for precise purposes -- to protect American and for humanitarian relief. Franken says the last thing he wants is combat troops in that region which would get the U-S mired down in a long war. Franken met with the F-B-I Wednesday to discuss ways to prevent terrorist recruitment efforts in the state. He's reminding Minnesotans that the vast majority of the Somali community is horrified by the threat of ISIS.
Ice Cream giant Dairy Queen says it is taking measures to solve a possible data breach. The Edina based company announced last month that customers of a limited number of stores could be at risk for possible credit card fraud. In response, Dairy Queen says some of its stores will start using a cash only policy. It is not known how many stores will adopt the new policy.
A man who may be a student at North Central University in Minneapolis is accused of tampering with vitamin bottles and returning them to grocery stores in several Michigan counties and is facing federal charges. Police found receipts and gift cards from the affected stores in a raid on Brian Conover's Minneapolis apartment prior to his arrest in his hometown in southwest Michigan in late August. The FBI says Conover bought a range of vitamins or supplements, emptied the bottles, filled them with other things like walnuts or prescription drugs, glued seals back on, and returned the bottles to the stores; some of those packages were put back on shelves and sold to other customers. An FBI agent working the case says Conover emailed him to say he made "drug-induced bad decisions" and was struggling with gender-identity issues that put him into a black-out state.
The search continues for the murder suspect wanted in an Arden Hills shooting. Police reported sightings of a man who fit the description of Ty Hoffman in Prior Lake near Mystic Lake Casino. One sighting occurred Tuesday and another Wednesday morning. A police search of the area came up empty. Hoffman is accused of killing Kelly Phillips, who was shot at an Arden Hills gas station last month. Phillips is said to be Hoffman's former boyfriend and business partner.
An investigation continues into the first-ever armed robbery at the Minnesota State Fair. Authorities say the robbers showed up last Friday night with a weapon, tied up two workers at the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild exhibit and made off with more than ten-thousand-dollars. Not long after, the two workers were discovered by people about to service the booth. Neiter one was injured in the incident. So far no arrests have been made in the case.
Organizers say workers at 15 McDonald's restaurants in the Twin Cities are holding a one-day strike today (Thurs) to ask for higher wages and the right to form a union. Veronica Ayala says she's been working at McDonald's for 15 years and should have received a raise in the last year, but the company says they can't pay her any more money. Ayala adds many workers have been at McDonald's for over ten years and still don't have any vacation. Officials at McDonald's Corporation haven't commented.
GOP-endorsed Supreme Court candidate Michelle MacDonald has filed a complaint with the state Office of Administrative Hearings against top Minnesota Republican Party officials, including Chairman Keith Downey. MacDonald says it's illegal to coerce a candidate with threats, and what she was told was, "get out of the race... or your business and your reputation will be further damaged." What's prompting the dispute is D-W-I charges against MacDonald, with her trial set for later this month. Minnesota GOP officials refused to let her campaign at the party's State Fair booth. Minnesota Republican Party leaders haven't been reachable to comment on these latest developments.
Will a Minnesota man convicted of killing a La Crosse camera shop owner and his son get a new trial -- that's the question at a hearing this afternoon (2pm) in a Wisconsin courtroom. A new attorney for 41-year-old Jeffrey Lepsch says three jurors reached conclusions about his client's guilt before hearing the case -- something lawyers should have caught when the jury was chosen. Prosecutors respond the three jurors in question vowed to base their verdicts only on evidence presented at trial. If the judge denies the request for a new trial, Lepsch can take his case to a state appeals courts. Lepsch, who's from the southeast Minnesota community of Dakota, was convicted of killing 56-year-old Paul Petras and his 19-year-old son A-J in 2012 at May's Photo in downtown La Crosse.
A new study by Mayo Clinic researchers shows patients' recovery from cancer surgeries can be influenced by family conflicts and other stressors that have little or nothing to do with their health problems. Mayo surgeon Doctor Juliane Bingener says the study shows that quality of life issues can increase the risk of surgical complications. Bingener says "patients are not just a body with a disease. There's a whole person with that and everything plays together." The study specifically looked at colon cancer patients and found that those with a poor quality of life were nearly three times more likely to face serious postoperative complications.