Minnesota News Briefs: Oak Park Heights Council needs to approve proposed St. Croix bridgeMinnesota News
-- Beyond the president's signature, there's one more hurdle before a new bridge can be built across the St. Croix River near Stillwater.
OAK PARK HEIGHTS -- Beyond the president's signature, there's one more hurdle before a new bridge can be built across the St. Croix River near Stillwater.
Officials in the city of Oak Park Heights must give their blessing to a connection between the new bridge and Highway-36 which goes to the Twin Cities. The city says it won’t support the project until it’s decided who pays for utilities, traffic lights and frontage roads. The amenities would cost around $20-millionto build and almost six-million a year to maintain.
A specialist on the Minnesota economy rejects claims the state would suffer a big financial blow if the Vikings left for another city. St. John's University economist Louis Johnston says just having a team in your area is not a big economic benefit. He says the money will not go away if the team disappears and people will move around and find jobs. Johnson says keeping the Vikings here is much more a matter of pride than anything else. And he predicts Minneapolis council members and state lawmakers will ultimately approve a new stadium.
The chairman of the Minnesota House Tax Committee wants at least a vote on a Vikings stadium this legislative session -- but also predicts it will pass. Preston Republican Greg Davids says as far as paying for the state's portion, he wonders whether electronic pull-tabs would generate as much revenue as backers say. He adds that racino is not out of yet and he still likes the White Earth Band of Ojibwe's approach. The White Earth Band has offered to build a metro area casino and split proceeds with the state. That proposal would likely see strong opposition from other tribes with casinos in or near the Twin Cities area.
The head of the "Beat Down Posse" biker gang has been sentenced to 15 years in prison and fined 300-thousand dollars for racketeering. Fifty-six-year-old Joseph Gustafson of Minneapolis also received 12-and-a-half-years for kidnapping, assault and arson but all the sentences will be served at the same time. The criminal complaint alleges that Gustafson ordered his gang members to beat drug dealers and steal their money and they burned a property he owned to collect the insurance money. Gustafson's son, Joseph Junior, is scheduled to stand trial on similar charges next Monday (3/5).
It's expected Governor Dayton in the next week or two will ask Republican lawmakers to reverse some of the cuts the two sides agreed on last summer in the budget deal that ended state government shutdown. The governor will likely ask that a 20-percent wage cut be reversed for personal care attendants who take care of relatives with disabilities. Steve Larson with The ARC of Minnesota says the program has been a great asset in Greater Minnesota and in the Twin Cities' ethnic communities, adding it's "the most effective way of keeping people with significant disabilities living in their homes." Larson says it would cost $24-million dollars to restore personal care attendants' wages to their previous level.
The sentence is 18 years in prison for a Minneapolis man who stabbed a companion in the heart with a pair of scissors. Prosecutors say Brian Nelson of St. Paul died after he was attacked by 29-year-old Kevin Mims. It happened last September at a Minneapolis parking ramp after Mims, Nelson and another man spent an evening at a downtown nightclub. Investigators say Nelson was stabbed as he tried to break up a fight between Mims and the other man who was injured but has since recovered.
The 2,700 Minnesota National Guard soldiers in Kuwait are getting some important job training before they return home. The first-ever team of civilian employment and education specialists arrived at their camp last (Thurs) night. Captain Ron Jarvi says many of the troops will need to find work this summer. Jarvi says the training will include resume writing, interviewing and skills assesments so they can translate their military experience into civilian life.
A former member of the Fargo-Moorhead Derby Girls roller derby team is in a jam -- accused to stealing ten-thousand dollars from the team. Team Marketing Director Tyia Patnaude says they're waiting to hear what charges will be brought against the woman, who was kicked off the team. The F-M Derby Girls, who compete to help support local charities, skate against the Sioux City Roller Dames Saturday night.
March means the run of maple syrup begins across Minnesota. The DNR is teaching folks how to harvest sap and make the syrup starting this weekend in Center City at Wild River State Park, followed by sessions at Fort Snelling, Lake Maria, Sibley, White Water and Maplewood state parks, all later this month.
The flu season is finally reaching its peak in Minnesota even though the number of cases is way down from previous years. Kris Ehresmann with the state Department of Health says there have only been seven flu-related fatalities since last fall. She says there were 70 deaths from October 2010 to April 2011 and we'd really have to see a large uptick to match last year. Ehresmann says flu activity just recently picked up in Minnesota and this is a really late start to the peak season. During the latest reporting period, two people died and 41 others were hospitalized, while five schools and two nursing homes reported outbreaks.
In the Twin Cities suburb of Crystal, police say they have found what could be human bones in a yard. They were reportedly unearthed in the investigation of a death of an infant several years ago. A man and woman are currently being held on suspicion of manslaughter. The findings are being turned over to the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office.
The spring housing market has arrived in Minnesota -- a time when more and more sellers stage their homes and open house signs multiply throughout neighborhoods. An extra incentive right now for buyers is low interest rates, but Frank Keating, president of the American Bankers Association, says "You’ve got to have assets, income, a way to repay the loan." He adds that a good credit score, above 660, is imperative. Keating says 30-year fixed rate mortages are going as low as 3.95-percent right now.
The state's largest food drive is now under way. Organizers of the March Campaign are hoping to raise enough money and food to supply 300 foodshelves with at least half of the food they need for the year. Sara Nelson-Pallmeyer with Minnesota FoodShare says last year food shelves distributed about 70-million pounds of food and they'd be happy to match half that. She says more than one-in-ten Minnesotans currently live in a household that sometimes struggles to get enough food.
- Here are the winning numbers from the Minnesota State Lottery for Thursday, March 1st, 2012. The Daily Three: 5-8-8. Northstar Cash: 8-13-16-24-30.