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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: Two Minnesotans missing in Colorado

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ECHO LAKE, CO --  Rescuers are searching a popular Colorado park for two Minnesotans that didn't return from a day hike last week.  Officials say 51-year-old Damian McManus and his 18-year-old son Evan, from St. Louis Park, were last heard from on Wednesday. They were on a spring break trip and were supposed to return from Colorado this weekend but apparently failed to return to their hotel mid-week from a hike at Echo Lake, about two hours west of Denver. Searchers in helicopters and on snowmobiles looked for them yesterday (Sun), and officials say their van was found in the park's parking lot.  Their belongings remained at the hotel where the McManus' were staying.

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The canopy at a Duluth gas station collapsed on top of an SUV yesterday (Sun) afternoon.  Investigators say one customer received minor injuries when a support beam crushed his SUV, and two other vehicles received minor damage.  It's not clear what caused the roof-like structure to fall.

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Officials spent another day yesterday (Sun) searching the Mississippi River for a Ramsey man who is missing and presumed dead after a bizarre incident on Friday.  Police say the 39-year old man disappeared when his Hummer went into the river.  A 42-year-old Fridley man was rescued from the vehicle at the time of the crash but officers say he was uncooperative.  The search for the missing man has been hampered by strong currents.  Police believe alcohol was a factor in the incident.

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They are stationed across Minnesota to help victims of sudden cardiac arrest, and a new effort is underway to make sure those automated external defibrillators are in working order when they're needed. A bill at the Legislature would set up a registry of public AEDs to alert the owners when maintenance is needed.  Kim Harkins with the Minnesota Resuscitation Consortium at the University of Minnesota says the bill in not meant to not make it more difficult for AED owners, but  to provide them with that tool or reminder there is maintenance required.  According to the American Heart Association, the chances that a cardiac arrest victim will survive can double or triple when a bystander assists with an AED, or by applying CPR. 

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A Minnesota company is recalling nearly two-dozen gas fireplace models because they may explode.  Hussong Manufacturing of Lakefield is recalling direct-vent gas fireplaces and gas fireplace inserts that use the American Flame-brand main control modules. They were sold under the names Kozy Heat Fireplaces, Ambiance Fireplace and Stellar Hearth Products, and were manufactured between October 2009 and April 2013.  There have been nine reports of explosions due to prematurely-released gas, which caused two minor injuries and some minor property damage.  The fireplaces should not be used, and owners should turn off gas to the units and contact the place of purchase or Hussong Manufacturing. The company will replace the ignition boards at no cost to the customer.

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The car involved in a crash that killed two people Friday night on Interstate 694 was going over 100 miles an hour.  That estimate is from witnesses according to Minnesota State Patrol investigators, who add the account still needs to be verified.  A one-year-old boy in the car survived the crash, but his parents were both killed.  According to her Facebook page, the boy's mother was pregnant and expecting her second child this fall.

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St. Paul police have a woman in custody for a hit-and-run accident on Saturday night.  Investigators believe Felicia Remmen may have intentionally hit the victim near West 7th and Mercer streets, as it appears the two knew each other and had a confrontation before the accident.  His name has not been released, and he's in critical condition at Regions Hospital.

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A Minnesota Senate committee this afternoon (4pm) takes a look at a revised plan that a House panel approved Friday for a new Senate Office Building across the street from the State Capitol.  House Democrats didn't like Senate Democrats' plan, and so they put all senators' offices in the new building instead of having some stay in the Capitol, plus dropped plans for a new public parking ramp to save money.  Republican Representative Kurt Zellers chided Democrats for playing politics, saying he's proud of the Capitol building. Democrats respond they're trying to put more public-use spaces close-in to the Capitol.  Republicans ask why, then, they're dropping plans for a public parking ramp while spending more on the office building.  

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 It's a busy week at the State Capitol as lawmakers get ready for the Passover/Easter break which begins Friday.  Senate Democrats following the lead of the House on Friday will likely bring their supplemental budget bill up for a vote on the floor tomorrow (Tues).  It spends part of the one-point-two-billion-dollar budget surplus to increase funding for state programs.  Lawmakers have already returned some of the surplus to taxpayers in the form of tax cuts and a smaller second round is pending.  Other major issues will likely not be resolved until after spring break.  Among them, a bonding bill for state buildings and public works projects...a minimum wage increase, which remains deadlocked with the Democrat-controlled Minnesota House wanting the minimum wage indexed to inflation and the Democrat-controlled Senate refusing.  And if there's any agreement on medical marijuana, it likely won't come until later. 

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 Minnesotans with past-due utility bills need to get current or make payment arrangements by next Tuesday April 15th.  That's when Minnesota's Cold Weather Rule is set to expire.  Patrick Boland with Xcel Energy says if you are having trouble paying your bill, contact your provider right away to work out a payment arrangement.  Otherwise you risk having your services disconnected.  Minnesota's Cold Weather Rule protects residents from getting their primary heating source disconnected between mid-October and mid-April.  Utility officials say it's not too late to apply for heating assistance and there are still funds available through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.  For more information, contact your local utility provider.

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With a warmup expected in Minnesota again this week it's the season for allergies and sinus infections, and there's a concern among women that fighting the sniffles with antibiotics can reduce the effectiveness of their birth control pills. But Planned Parenthood physician Dr. Laura Dalton says that belief is largely a "misunderstanding." She said there's only one class of antibiotic, commonly used to treat tuberculosis and known as Rifampin, that decreases contraceptive effectiveness.  But Dalton cautioned that side effects from antibiotics, such as vomiting or excessive diarrhea, can affect the absorption of birth control medications.

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 There's been a cultural trend for many decades in which people connect being tan with being fit and even successful, but recent Mayo Clinic research shows that it actually costs lives.  Dermatologist Dr. Jerry Brewer says the study looked at people in Olmsted County - Rochester and the surrounding area -- between the ages of 40 and 60 over the past 30 years.  Brewer says the instances of melanoma have risen 4-and-a-half fold in men and 24-fold in women. Dr. Brewer is suggesting Minnesotans avoid the use of tanning beds, use sunscreen, perform frequent skin self examinations, and check in with their dermatologist annually.

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