MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: Winter Storm warning canceled
The storm system that has blanketed parts of central and northern Minnesota with snow over the past several days is winding down and the Winter Storm Warning has been canceled. Forecasters with the National Weather Service in Chanhassen say 33 inches fell north of Two Harbors, 28 inches in Duluth, between one and six inches across much of the Twin Cities, and just one-tenth to a half inch in Rochester. Light snowfall is expected to continue for some areas until about noon, and the Arrowhead, including Duluth, could get another two inches. MnDot is still playing catch-up on many roads and highways and are asking drivers to be careful and give the plows room to work. Snow emergencies have been declared in Minneapolis, Bemidji, and many other communities, and officials are reminding drivers to follow the parking restrictions so their cars don't get towed.
The Minnesota State Patrol was busy yesterday, with hundreds of crashed across the state. Lieutenant Eric Roeske says troopers handled at least 368 crashes on Wednesday, including one fatal wreck and 44 that involved injuries. Two semis jacknifed during the slippery road conditions, and 462 drivers spun out or slid into ditches in just a single day.
Students at Lakeville North High School in the south suburbs of Minneapolis are mourning the loss of a classmate. 17-year-old Alyssa Ettl was killed Wednesday morning a quarter-mile from school when she lost control of her car on a slushy road, slid sideways and was broadsided by an S-U-V. Principal Marne Berkvam says minutes after the announcement was made, the school's 600-seat auditorium was completely packed -- which she says shows what type of student Alyssa was. Berkvam says psychologists, counselors, clergy and others are available for students. The school's Facebook page says Ettl was "an exceptional student, athlete and friend to many."
Two children are missing and an emergency responder is hospitalized after a fire at a southwest Minnesota home. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety says two adults and several children were able to get out of the house in Lucan, in southwest Minnesota, without injury after it caught fire Wednesday afternoon but the house was fully engulfed when firefighters arrived and they were not able to get in to look for the children who were unaccounted for. A firefighter from the neighboring town of Vesta was hospitalized after he slipped at the accident scene and was injured by a fire truck. D-P-S spokeswoman Jen Longaecker says he may have been run over. There is no current update on his condition. Seven departments worked to put out the fire.
This is the day (Thurs) the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis says it will release the list of priests accused of sexually abusing minors, but victims' attorneys expect it will include names of only 29 out of 33 known offenders. Attorney Mike Finnegan says for church officials to delay releasing any of the names even one more day puts kids at risk. An attorney for the archdiocese indicated earlier that one priest on the list of 33 didn't serve in the archdiocese, and officials say allegations cannot be substantiated against three others. Finnegan says that when the archdiocese made the list in 2004 officials determined all 33 were credibly accused of sexually molesting minors.
The "forecast" that lawmakers are waiting for at the State Capitol this morning (915am) has nothing to do with snow and windchills. State officials will release the latest *economic* forecast, which tells lawmakers whether the state budget has a deficit or, hopefully, another surplus going into the next legislative session. Tax revenue collections have been 54 million dollars more than predicted so far this fiscal year which began July 1st. If there's any additional predicted surplus in today's forecast, the first 200-plus million dollars goes to repay money still owed to Minnesota schools for state aid payments that were delayed to help balance the budget. If there's any surplus still left after that, interest groups will fight over it at the Capitol.
It's expected the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis today will only release 29 out of the 33 names of priests accused of sexually abusing minors. Officials say one priest didn't serve in the archdiocese and allegations can't be substantiated against the other three. Victims' attorney Mike Finnegan says "every different time that we've been in court trying to get them to release the list of names, they've fought that at every turn. And so one of the things that they may do is appeal at least on some of the names." A Ramsey County judge on Monday ordered the archdiocese to release the complete list by December 17th, and also ordered the Winona Diocese to release a list of 13 priests' names.
A special investigator has decided there is not enough evidence to file criminal charges against the police chief of a small town in Winona County. Olmsted County Attorney Mark Ostrem was asked by the Winona County Attorney to investigate allegations that Lewiston Chief Joseph Hastings committed a felony by listening in on communications involving the town's other full time police officer. The investigation began after an electronic eavesdropping device was found in the officer's squad car about a month ago. Hastings was put on paid leave while the case was investigated.
A convicted killer already serving a life sentence has been charged in the shooting death of a Minnesota man just a month after he moved to Pennsylvania. Beau Zabel moved from Austin to Philadelphia in May 2008 to begin a teaching job in Philadelphia public schools. He was shot to death the next month. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that a witness has how come forward, telling police that Marcellus Jones killed Zabel after realizing that the iPod he was carrying wasn't a much more valuable iPhone. Jones is already serving a life sentence for killing his getaway driver in the Zabel murder.
The FBI is going after a former campaign aide for Congresswoman Michele Bachmann's 2012 presidential bid. The home of former Iowa State Senator Kent Sorenson was raided two weeks ago, with his lawyer confirming the search just yesterday to the "Des Moines Register." Computers and materials connected to Sorenson's work with both Bachmann and Ron Paul's campaigns were seized by federal agents. Sorenson jumped ship from Bachmann's camp to Paul just before the Iowa Caucuses, and authorities have alleged they have evidence he was paid to do so.
A 21-year-old Twin Cities man is learning the expensive way that Minneapolis has a law banning spitting in public. KARE-TV reports Myles Thomas was fined 115-dollars when a police officer saw him spit as he walked along the road in Dinkytown with friends. Thomas says he was just getting over an illness and that's what caused him to have to spit. He's not planning to fight the ticket.