Minnesota News Briefs: Finalized Vikings stadium plan expected soonMinnesota News
-- Top officials say there could be an announcement as soon as today about an agreement for a new Vikings stadium next to the Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis.
MINNEAPOLIS - Top officials say there could be an announcement as soon as today about an agreement for a new Vikings stadium next to the Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis.
Vikings Vice-President Lester Bagley and Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission Chair Ted Mondale are both sending signals that an announcement could be near. But another highly-placed source indicates it's not likely over the weekend. Meanwhile, the White Earth Tribe wants to build, own, and manage a casino-hotel in the Twin Cities with revenue from the casino evenly split between the state and the tribe. Tribal Chair Erma Vizenor says just building the complex will provide 2,500 jobs and after that it will employ a minimum of two thousand full-time workers.
State health officials believe the peak of the flu season will hit in the next two-to-three weeks. So far, flu activity has been pretty mild across the state and some wonder if it's related to the mild winter. Kris Ehresmann with the Minnesota Department of Health says the weather really doesn't factor in because influenza season is the same in Florida where it's warm all the time. Over the last week, one person died from influenza-related complications and nine people were hospitalized. In addition, six schools and one nursing home reported flu outbreaks. Ehresmann says these numbers are up from the previous reporting period.
The school week comes to a merciful end later today for elementary and junior high students at Sibley East in Gaylord. Health officials think norovirus is the cause of illness which wiped out up to a third of the children from classes on Wednesday and Thursday. Test results are still a couple of weeks away but for now, the school has been cleaned and self-service food offerings have been stopped.
A Minnesota-made playground slide is being recalled because it lacks a platform where children start the ride. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says the Slalom Glider, made by Landscape Structures of Delano, has caused more than a dozen fractures nationwide to children under the age of 8. More information on the recall is at CPSC.Gov.
Minnesota has a new HMO. The state has certified Gunderson Lutheran Health Plan to operate in southeastern Minnesota. Gunderson, which will become the state's ninth Health Maintenance Organization, is based just over the border in Onalaska and offers services in Wisconsin and Iowa. It's the first certification of an HMO in Minnesota since 1998.
Authorities in Anoka County are still sorting out details after a deadly crash in Ham Lake this morning. A car slid into the path of a pickup, killing the car's driver. The driver of the truck was not hurt. No identities have been released.
An accident in northwestern Minnesota killed one man and sent a couple to the hospital with injuries. The State Patrol reports a van driven by 66-year old Larry Rahn of Thief River Falls ran a stop sign near Lancaster in Kittson County, and was struck by the couple's minivan. Randal and Twyla Caudill of Warren, Manitoba are recovering after the crash. Rahn was ejected from his vehicle and died after being airlifted to the hospital.
There's another move afoot at the Minnesota Legislature to reduce the number of state agencies. Senator Mike Parry's bill would combine MN-DOT with another department, and do the same with the Health Department, Human Rights Department and a number of other state agencies. But the Waseca Republican stresses his bill is a starting point to open the discussion. Columbia Heights Democrat Barb Goodwin is leery about combining state agencies saying Minnesota ranks very high for efficiency in state government.
Slower delivery, one less day of service and higher stamp prices are all needed to stem the massive flow of losses at the U.S. Postal Service. That's according to officials in Washington who are pushing Congress to allow the changes to avoid an estimated $18-billion loss per year by 2015. A new plan would see stamps go up by as much as a nickel, elimination of Saturday mail delivery and one extra day allowed for First Class delivery. The U.S. Postal Service is also planning to close hundreds of mail processing centers and 37-hundred local post offices. A few are in Minnesota.
A fine levied in Silver Bay for air quailty violations brings to mind a massive pollution lawsuit filed 40-years ago today. Northshore Mining has agreed to pay a $#240,000 penalty at its taconite-processing plant. The MPCA says the violations were for excessive emissions of very fine dust that is unhealthy to breathe. The violations happened between November of 2010 and May of last year. Northshore says it has taken corrective action. Oddly enough it was on this day in 1972 the U.S. Department of Justice filed suit against Reserve Mining Company, which then operated that same plant in Silver Bay. For years, tons of taconite tailings with asbestos-like fibers were dumped into Lake Superior. Five years after the lawsuit was filed, a final judgement forced Reserve Mining to stop dumping the taconite into the lake.
Two members of Minnesota's congressional delegation are fighting for full benefits for National Guard soldiers deployed with the Red Bulls in Kuwait. The Pentagon recently reduced the amount of post-deployment leave for eligible troops. Senator Amy Klobuchar (DFL-Plymouth) says they were promised a certain amount of leave when they deployed and the rules changed in the middle of the game. Rep. John Kline (R-Burnsville) warns that some of Minnesota's Guard members could lose more than 27 days of leave under this new policy. Around 2,400 soldiers deployed to Kuwait last summer to help with the drawdown of U.S. forces from Iraq.
Representative Tim Walz (DFL-Mankato) will be voting for the compromise deal that extends the payroll tax cuts and unemployment benefits. Walz says the package is going to have an overwhelming majority in the U.S. House and he stands with the middle class who doesn't need their paychecks to be cut March 1st. He notes that it's important that it passes today because Congress goes on President's Day break next week and the measures were set to expire February 29th. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-Stillwater) plans to vote against the $150-billion deal.
Here are the winning numbers from the Minnesota State Lottery for Thursday, February 16th, 2012. The Daily Three: 4-9-6. Northstar Cash: 2-15-23-28-31.