MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: Vikings stadium groundbreaking set for December 3
An agreement is on the table on the guaranteed maximum price of the new Minnesota Vikings stadium and groundbreaking is now set for December 3rd. The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority will vote Friday on the stadium's total construction costs of just under 738-million dollars. The Vikings are also expected to close on their share of financing for the new stadium. The 65-thousand seat venue is scheduled to be open by the start of the 2016 N-F-L season.
Pine County government offices were the targets of an unknown person who apparently delivered six envelopes containing a white powder. Chief Deputy Steven Blackwell says the envelopes were immediately isolated to two locations within the Government Center and about 200 employees and visitors, including the court rooms, were evacuated. A HAZMAT team from the Saint Paul Fire department is working to figure out what the substance is, and Cole says that finding will determine whether the Government Center will be open for business today (Wed). Blackwell says there was no threat included in the envelopes. The F-B-I is helping with the investigation.
More and more victims of alleged sexual abuse by Minnesota priests continue to come forward after the state legislature extended the statute of limitations earlier this year -- but a lawsuit filed yesterday (Tue) names a target not listed in other, similar suits. Attorney Jeff Anderson says the lawsuit filed on behalf of a man now in his 30's, known publicly only as "John Doe 27," names the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, the Order of St. Benedict, and Father Francis Hoefgen...plus the St. Luke Institute in Maryland. Anderson says that's a Catholic bishop-run treatment facility that has treated hundreds of offending priests. Anderson says Hoefgen was quietly sent to the institute for six months after admitting to police that he molested a minor, and was then returned to the ministry at a parish (Elizabeth Ann Seton) in Hastings...where he sexually abused "Doe 27" for several years.
State officials are cutting the unemployment insurance taxes for businesses as a result of an improving economy and healthy trust fund balance. The U-I tax cuts will go into effect January 1st, 2014. Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben says it's great news for Minnesota businesses because 346 million dollars in unemployment insurance savings can be re-invested in their operations. Sieben says during the Great Recession the state had to raise the unemployment insurance tax rate on businesses so it could continue paying unemployment benefits to Minnesotans who lost their job.
Supporters of e-cigarettes have formed a consumer-based coalition to educate Minnesotans and lawmakers about nicotine vaporizers. Many cities have banned e-cig use and one state lawmaker wants to add them to the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act. But Matt Black with the Minnesota Vapors Advocacy Group says there are no tar or carcinogens with e-cigs, no combustion and therefore no smoke -- so no danger of second-hand smoke. Black says studies by Drexel University and the National Institutes of Health found e-cigarettes pose no health risk to the user or bystanders. Opponents worry e-cigs will become a gateway to traditional tobacco cigarettes, particularly for younger Minnesotans.
The State Patrol has released the name of a Milaca teenager killed Tuesday morning on her way to school. 13-year-old Katrina Maetzold was killed after the minivan she was traveling in pulled out in front of a semi on Highway 23 near Milaca. Her brother, 17-year-old Tristen Maetzold, was driving the minivan and suffered a broken leg. His 11-year-old brother, Devon Maetzold, suffered a fracture to his skull, and their sister, 16-year-old Patience Maetzold, suffered bumps and bruises. The State Patrol says none of the four Maetzolds were wearing seat belts and two of them were thrown from the minivan. The driver of the semi was not injured.
Minnesota's U-S Senators have introduced a bill that would improve child abuse training programs and enhance child protection nationwide, and the legislation is modeled after programs developed at Winona State University and an Arkansas community college. Senator Amy Klobuchar says the National Child Protection Training Center (NCPTC) facilities at Winona State have developed a cutting-edge program for law students, medical students, and professionals to help improve child abuse training -- and, as a former prosecutor, she has, "seen firsthand how important it is for children and families to have the resources they need to escape the horrors of child abuse.Senator Al Franken says the bill expands on the success of an innovative, Minnesota-based program, "by giving professionals around the country who work with kids the tools they need to detect and prevent abuse."
Minnesota Salvation Army disaster relief volunteers are traveling to Illinois, after Sunday's tornado outbreak -- including an EF-4 with winds of 190 miles an hour that damaged about 1,000 homes in the town of Washington Longtime volunteer Jim Daly from St. Paul will fly to the command site today (Wed) to take over as the relief leader for The Salvation Army response in the Peoria area. Six additional volunteers will drive to the area tomorrow (Thu) and spend the next two weeks feeding and otherwise supporting the victims. Salvation Army officials say the best way for other to help right now is through monetary donations -- which can be done online at donate-dot-salvation-army-dot-org or by texting the word "storm" to 80888.
A 61-year-old Rochester woman is headed to federal prison for five years for swindling her elderly neighbors out of 840 thousand dollars. The Star Tribune reports U.S. District Judge Joan Ericksen ripped into Carolyn Cassar at her sentencing, calling it "coldblooded manipulation" that goes beyond a "normal fraudster." Cassar was given more time behind bars than federal court guidelines, but nowhere near as much time as the victims wanted. The 92-year-old man who lost the money with his wife between 2006 and 2012 told reporters he felt quote, "she got off damn lightly."
Edina-based Nash Finch is no more after 100 years of business in Minnesota. The grocery chain has merged with Spartan Stores out of Michigan, with the new company being called SpartanNash. Nash Finch provied food distribution to private companies, primarily independent supermarkets. Shareholders of both companies approved the deal this week. No announcement has been made on if the new company will be headquartered in Michigan or Minnesota.