MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: State to see severe weather today
CHANHASSEN, Minn. -- Be on guard today, especially this afternoon and this evening, for severe weather watches and warnings. That's the advice of National Weather Service meteorologist Rick Hiltbrand, who says much of Minnesota is at risk of severe weather. Some areas experienced hail storms overnight, and showers and thunderstorms are expected in many locations during the morning hours, but the severe weather threat is greater this afternoon and evening. Hiltbrand says hail and high winds are the biggest worry, but there will be the potential late afternoon and evening of some of the storms also causing tornadoes. The storms will be scattered about throughout the state, and while there is the potential for an inch of rain to fall quickly in some locations Hiltbrand says it will not be a widespread, heavy rain event like Minnesotans experienced a week ago.
All U-S flag vessels on the Great Lakes will have their flags at half-mast today (THU) in honor of the late Congressman James Oberstar. A ship named for Oberstar will approach the Duluth Ship Canal this morning (930am) at almost the same time as the former congressman's funeral service in Maryland. In honor of Oberstar, the ship's master will blow a full, formal Interlake Fleet Salute once the ship's bow nears the Aerial Lift Bridge in Duluth/Superior. In a statement, the Interlake Steamship Company remembers Oberstar as the nation's foremost authority on the maritime industry. Oberstar represented the largest port on the Great Lakes when he served the region as a congressman from 1975 through 2011.
Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek says it's a great day in Minnesota. That's because Steve's Law, which was unamiously approved by the House yesterday (WED), is one step closer to being signed into law. Stanek says the bill allows first responders, police, fire and EMS to carry Naloxone -- a life-saving antidote for those who overdose on opiates or heroin. Law enforcement officials across Minnesota have seen an exponential increase in herion overdose deaths, and Stanek says every single one of them is preventable, and tragic. Eighteen other states are already using the antidote. Steve's law is named for Steve Rummler, an Edina musician who died of a heroin overdose in 2011.
The Minnesota House has approved a compromise lawmakers worked out on legislation dubbed the Women's Economic Security Act. Among other provisions, the bill prohibits employers from discriminating based on a worker's "family status." Hibbing Democrat Carly Melin says it means an employer cannot discriminate against a pregnant woman or against people because they have children when it comes to decisions about hiring, promotion or termination. Melin stresses the bill does *not* require special treatment of individuals in those categories -- only that they can't be treated differently from others. The bill now goes to the Minnesota Senate for a final vote.
Former pro wrestler Eugene Buck "Rock and Roll" Zumhofe (ZOOM-hoff) will be sentenced on several sex charges in Kandiyohi County District Court this afternoon (Thurs). Sixty-three-year-old Zumhofe -- formerly of Cyrus -- was found guilty of sexual conduct involving his daughter over the span of 12 years, beginning when she when she was 15 in 1999. Zumhofe has two previous sex convictions on his record from the 1980s. Right after being convicted on 12 felony counts of criminal sexual conduct in March, Zumhofe (ZOOM'-hoff) tried to escape from the courthouse in Willmar but was caught by two guards.
A Bloomington man will spend an additional 18 months behind bars for escaping from the Federal Prison Camp in Duluth. Sixty-seven-year-old Gerald Greenfield was serving a 50-month sentence for conspiracy to commit money laundering when he escaped from the prison facility on March 30th, 2013. Greenfield and another inmate were arrested April 5th at a hotel in Burnsville.
The Minnesota Senate has approved a bill that would allow combat wounded veterans to get special license plates for their motorcycles -- but not before lawmakers debated whether Minnesota has too many different kinds of plates. The Senate decided to allow a new "Retired Firefighter" license plate, said "no" to one with the logo "Start Seeing Motorcycles," but also decided the Department of Motor Vehicles could create other special license plates without the legislature's permission. Saint Louis Park Democrat Ron Latz says law enforcement and citizens need to be able to identify Minnesota license plates to fight crime -- and says if lawmakers keep that in mind, quote, "maybe we can put a cap on this proliferation of bumper stickers masquerading as license plates." Backers point out the specialty plates raise money for worthwhile causes like the environment.
A new study by the University of Minnesota School of Public Health suggests Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans are having trouble getting enough food to eat. Dr. Rachel Widome (WID'-um) says they surveyed 922 veterans who had at least one outpatient visit to the Minneapolis V-A and found that 27 percent reported being food insecure. Widome says the finding was shocking because it's substantially higher than the prevalance of food insecurity in the general U-S population which in 2012 was at 14.5 percent. Dr. idome says many of these veterans are younger, not married, have low incomes and are more likely to be unemployed. She hopes this study raises awareness of the hidden struggles many veterans face when they return home.
A transient has been arrested in Cold Spring in the murder of a 12-year-old girl in Chicago in 2009. Chicago Police say Jahmeshia Conner was found dead in an alley about a block away from her home after a two week search for the missing girl in November 2009, and the case had been cold ever since. Investigators say a DNA match connected to another Chicago sexual assault that took place in 2011 led them to 47-year-old Rene Valentin-Matos, and his DNA also matched that found on the girl's body. WLS-TV reports that detectives had been searching for Valentin-Matos since January and tracked him down in Cold Spring this week. He will appear in court in Chicago today (Thu).
A Minnesota man was in federal court yesterday (Wed), accused of immigration fraud for failing to disclose the fact that he served in the military in the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina the 90's and allegedly committed war crimes. Federal prosecutors say 45-year-old Zdenko Jakisa is a former member of the armed forces of the Croatian Defense Council in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Court documents reflect records and witnesses from Bosnia that show he committed crimes that he didn't disclose on his refugee or green card applications. Among those crimes is the killing of an elderly Bosnian Serb woman and the kidnapping and assault of a Bosnian Muslim man in 1993. Jakisa has been in Minnesota since 1998, and has a long criminal record that includes several drunk driving convictions and disorderly conduct. He will be back in court on Monday and will be granted a public defender.
A Rochester man in trial for assault is facing new charges after Olmsted County Sheriff's officials say 29-year-old Armando Rodriguez assaulted a witness in the courtroom. Deputies say Rodriguez's cousin was walking out of the courtroom after testifying when the defendant stood and punched the witness in the face several times. Rodriguez was on trial for third-degree and domestic assault, and now faces a new felony assault charge.
Potholes are invesitable in Minnesota in the spring, and after an especially brutal winter there are some wicked ones this year. A chuckhole in the street got a man in trouble in Rosemount this weekend, but he's off the hook. A driver in Rosemount was given a ticket Saturday for failing to stay in his lane, but made a complaint to the Rosemount Police Department about the citation because he says he was dodging a pothole that could have damaged his car. After reviewing the traffic stop with the Rosemount City Attorney, Rosemount Police have rescinded the ticket.