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(Update) Minnesota News Roundup: Sheriffs want gun background check database upgraded

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

A group of law enforcement officials is urging the Minnesota Legislature to improve the state's database on people who are disqualified from owning or purchasing firearms. They're spotlighting the issue following the shootings in Connecticut and the Accent Signage killings in Minneapolis. Carver County Sheriff Jim Olson says a person who has been deemed mentally ill and dangerous by the courts should never be allowed to purchase a handgun. Law enforcement officials add they should have ready access to mental health court records which are already public, so they can respond in the best way to emergency situations.

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Former GOP state Senate staffer Michael Brodkorb is in critical condition following a car crash Wednesday night in Mendota Heights. The State Patrol says Brodkorb's vehicle ran off Interstate 35-E, hit a cement wall and then traveled into the oncoming lanes and struck the median. The accident report shows he was not wearing a seat belt and there was alcohol in his system. Brodkorb was taken to Regions Hospital in St.Paul. He was terminated as Senate Republican communications director in December of 2011 after an affair with then-majority leader Amy Koch.

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Early next week, state lawmakers will focus on how the recession has impacted college education in Minnesota. DFL Representative Gene Pelowski of Winona says they specifically want to know how the U of M and MnSCU budgets are drafted, and how students have been impacted. He says he's very concerned about the ability of people to be able to afford an education in Minnesota. The hearings will also address the dramatic increase in student tuition, fees, and debt over the past six years; administrative costs; student to faculty ratios; and funding by number of students, among other topics.

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Governor Dayton plans to introduce a bonding bill of up to a half-billion dollars for public works projects this legislative session. But the governor says he won't issue his proposal until the updated budget forecast is released in late February. Dayton says he will "definitely, absolutely" include funding for convention center upgrades in Mankato, Rochester and Saint Cloud which the legislature rejected in previous years. Dayton says those convention center projects will be "the first ones in" his proposal.

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A former Bemidji elementary school teacher is charged with molesting several students -- between the ages of ages 5 and 7. Prosecutors say John Wangberg quit his job, and 30-year-teaching career just two days before the first of three victims went to police. But before he stepped down Wangberg's work computer was seized, and on it investigators found pictures of young girls in bikinis. Court documents show he showed at least one of his young victims those photos, and told her she could look like that when she grew up. The Cass Lake man is charged with two felony counts of sexual conduct in the second degree and a gross misdemeanor of non-consensual sexual conduct in the fifth degree He'll be in court next on March 4.

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Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar (DFL-Plymouth) is applauding the Pentagon's decision to lift the ban on women serving in combat roles in the military. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta makes the official announcement today. Klobuchar says this is a major milestone for our women in uniform, opening up doors that had previously been shut. Women will have to pass the same physical standard tests as their male counterparts. More than 150 women service members have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Minnesota National Guard plans to comment on the policy change this afternoon.

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Fallen Cold Spring Police Officer Tom Decker's name will be added to the National Peace Officer's Memorial in Washington D.C. in May. Decker's family is hoping to raise enough money to travel to D.C. through a memorial pin fundraiser. The event takes place May 12th through the 18th. The pins are available at a number of businesses in the Cold Spring, Richmond and St. Cloud areas. Decker was ambushed outside a Cold Spring bar in November while responding to a call. For more information on the memorial pins you can go the RIP Officer Tom Decker Facebook page.

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Minnesota weather experts briefed state House lawmakers this morning on the extreme weather seen in the state in recent years. The University of Minnesota's Dr. Mark Seeley says there is no question that the weather is changing. He says we have seen more intense thunderstorm rains, flash floods, spring snow melt floods, large hail, tornadoes, and heat advisories. The point of the hearing was to increase the state's resilience to weather extremes. Restoring grasslands and prairies remains a top priority in order to lessen environmental damage brought on by wicked weather.

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Embarrass, Minnesota continues to be the coldest spot in the nation, and it seems to just be getting colder and colder there. The temperature this morning -- 42 degrees below zero, and that's actual air temperature, without windchill factored in. Other cold spots -- the temperature in Ash Lake dropped to 39 below, 36 below in International Falls, and minus 35 in Ely.

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More than 322,000 passengers flew in and out of Duluth International Airport last year, making 2012 the second busiest year in history. Executive Director Tom Werner says the numbers prove that demand for flights in northeastern Minnesota is increasing and that air travel is an integral part of a strong and vibrant economy and Duluth. Werner says the nine-percent increase in passengers is especially impressive considering the new terminal was still under construction United, Delta and Allegiant offer direct flights to seven destinations from Duluth.

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State officials say an assisted living center in Columbia Heights is responsible for the death of a patient who was injured in a fall but did not receive medical treatment for several days. The health department report shows that workers at Lighthouse of Columbia Heights didn't report the patient's worsening condition to a nurse, and didn't seek medical attention in a timely manner. The medical examiner ruled that the fall caused the woman's death, three days after she was admitted to the hospital. Lighthouse executive director Tammy Kucera says their own internal investigation came to the same conclusion, and they have since changed several policies to make certain it doesn't happen again.

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The 127th Saint Paul Winter Carnival kicks off today with a number of events and activities The multi-block Ice Carving Competition began this morning in Rice Park and the illuminated Moon Glow Pedestrian Parade will march through downtown St.Paul tonight. After an unusually warm and dry winter last year, the Snow Sculpture Contest returns to the State Fairgrounds tomorrow. The 2013 Royal Coronation is Friday night at the Xcel Energy Center. The "Coolest Celebration on Earth" runs through next weekend.

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