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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: Tweet gets family booted off plane

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news Ellsworth, 54011
Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

A Minneapolis man is claiming a harmless tweet about a rude gate agent got him and his kids kicked off a plane. Duff Watson says he and his two children were pulled off a Southwest flight Sunday in Denver after he tweeted about a gate agent who refused to give his kids priority boarding.  Watson says the agent told him he was a safety threat and forced him to delete a tweet that contained her name before he and his kids were allowed back on the plane.  Southwest says it is reviewing the incident, though Duff says he will never fly the airline again.

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A man is charged with attempted first-degree murder after authorities say he shot a 17-year-old girl three times Monday night as she stood on the deck her home in Eckles Township in Beltrami County.  A judge set bail for 40-year-old Chad Pickering at 300 thousand dollars.  The victim told authorities she talked to Pickering, a neighbor, about trespassing after he repeatedly rode his lawnmower through her yard carrying a pistol in a holder.  Authorities say Pickering told them the victim came to his front door and threatened him and he later went over to the house and shot her.

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The state Health Department has hired a director for the office that will administer the state's new medical cannabis program.  Officials say Michelle Larson brings a wealth of administrative and policy experience to the job, most recently as deputy director for the Office of Statewide Health Improvement.  Commissioner Ed Ehlinger says the medical cannabis program will ramp up quickly and Larson has the right mix of experience and skills to lead the effort.  

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A D-N-R expert predicts a "very significant" drop in Minnesota's deer harvest in 2014 under new regulations that aim to rebuild the deer herd after two tough winters.  The agency's Steve Merchant says there likely won't be just a gradual decline in the deer harvest as in the past.  He says the harvest could possibly be less than 150 thousand deer, and maybe even as low as 120 thousand.  Hunters will only be able to take one deer during the 2014 season in 95 percent of Minnesota and 14 areas, mainly in northeastern Minnesota, will be bucks-only.

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The latest home sale numbers show the market is on the rebound after a slow winter and late spring.  Minnesota Association of Realtors C-E-O Chris Galler (GAL-ur) says pending transactions and prices were up in June, and it's the 28th consecutive month of price increases.  The June report also shows foreclosures are down significantly in Minnesota compared to two years ago, and overall foreclosures in the state are low compared to the rest of the country. 

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The Department of Transportation is rolling out new regulations for oil trains.  They're phasing out all older model tanker cars that are prone to puncture in the event of a derailment.  In the meantime, trains using the older model tankers will have to travel slower than 40-miles-an-hour in cities with more than 100-thousand people, and 50-miles-an-hour in rural areas.  Trains carrying more than a-million gallons of Bakken crude oil must notify emergency response officials in every state the train passes through.

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Audubon Minnesota recently voiced concerns that the new Vikings Stadium, now under construction, would be, "death trap for birds," but stadium officials say they won't make changes to the design plans.  Michele Kelm-Helgen responds that the design and budget were approved before the issue was brought to light, and prior to changes in state guidelines related to bird-safe glass.  While they have taken several steps to minimize bird collisions, including lighting and other operational guidelines, she says the project does not have the budget to include the $1.1 million needed for the special glass.  Kelm-Helgen says they will continue to work with Audubon on operational enhancements that will help make the facility bird friendly.  An Audubon Minnesota survey found more than 125 species that have fatally collided with buildings in the Twin Cities since 2007.

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The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has released a statement following the release yesterday (Wed) of the file of another priest accused of sexually abusing children.  In it, Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Cozzens says Michael Kolar has already been included in a list of former priests who face substantiated claims of sexually abusing children, which is posted on the church's Web site. Kozzens also point out that the archdiocese permanently removed Kolar from ministry in 1991, and the Holy See defrocked him in 1993.  The Auxiliary Bishop says the church now handles things differently regarding priests who have been accused of sexual abuse of a minor, and again asks for forgiveness from all those harmed by clergy sexual abuse.

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