Minnesota News Briefs: State unemployment rate inches upMinnesota News
-- The state unemployment rate rose one-tenth-of-a-percent in March to five-point-eight percent - the second straight month it increased.
ST. PAUL -- The state unemployment rate rose one-tenth-of-a-percent in March to five-point-eight percent - the second straight month it increased.
Employers eliminated 200 jobs statewide last month. The private sector, however, added 1,600-jobs and has recovered nearly 58-percent of the jobs that were lost during the recession. Top job losses occurred in government, manufacturing and construction. The state's unemployment rate remains well below the national rate of eight-point-two percent.
A new report from the Minnesota Department of Health shows that the number of reportable sexually transmitted diseases (STD's) in the state reached a new high last year. Nearly 20,000 cases were reported in 2011. Reportable STD's in Minnesota include chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis. Chlamydia was the number-one reported infectious disease in the state and reached a record level of nearly 17,000 cases statewide. Officials say nearly one-in-three cases occurred in Greater Minnesota areas. A majority of these cases were found among teen and young adults between the ages of 15 and 24 Health officials encourage sexually-active people to protect themselves and get tested regularly.
Two people were killed Wednesday afternoon in a motorcycle crash in Sherburne County. Sheriff's officials say the accident happened in Big Lake Township on County Road 17 just south of Highway 10. The motorcycle driven by 31-year-old Brien Wickham of Big Lake collided with another vehicle. Wickham died at the scene. His passenger, 26-year-old Jacquelyn Lee of Ramsey, was flown to a Twin Cities hospital where she later died. The 19-year-old driver of the other vehicle suffered minor injuries. Investigators believe additional drivers may have witnessed the crash and could shed light on why it occurred and whether criminal charges should be filed in the case. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Sherburne County Sheriff's Department.
Authorities are asking for the public's help in finding a woman who's been missing since early last week. Worthington Police say 28-year old Kahala Johnson is five-foot-three and about 130-pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. Her vehicle is a blue 2003 Pontiac Bonneville with Minnesota plates. Those with information on Kahala Johnson's whereabouts should call Worthington Police at 507-372-2136.
The walls are closing in on Minnesota lawmakers who want to get a Vikings stadium deal done this session. Time is getting short and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is warning Governor Mark Dayton that the Vikings face "serious consequences" if a bill doesn't go through this time around. Dayton says they need to gather all 200 lawmakers and vote on a bill rather then have a committee decide. Aside from the Minneapolis stadium plan which was voted down by a House committee earlier this week, Ramsey County backers are trying to revive their plan for a Vikings stadium in Arden Hills.
The Minnesota state House of Representatives has approved controversial legislation that requires cities and counties to enforce federal immigration laws. The so-called "sanctuary city" bill prohibits local governments from restricting the sharing of immigration data with federal investigators. Opponents warn the bill could increase racial profiling while supporters claim it will ensure police are enforcing all laws.
High accolades for Minneapolis-St.Paul International Airport. MSP is ranked as the best airport in America in a new "Travel and Leisure" survey. Airport spokesman Pat Hogan says there was no local input or contributions from the magazine's staff. He says all the input came from readers across the country. Hogan says MSP was honored for the ease of check-in and security and its food and drink and shopping options. The airport's low point was a lack of wireless Internet access which will be put in place by the end of 2012.
Former DFL Represenative Lyle Koenen of Clara City will spend the rest of the legislative session in the Minnesota Senate. Koenen was sworn in Wednesday to serve the remainder of the late Senator Gary Kubly's term. He will use Kubly's desk on the Senate floor. Senate District 20 will become the new District 17 next year which means Koenen has to run in an August primary against DFL candidate Larry Rice of Willmar. The winner will face incumbent Republican Senator Joe Gimse of Willmar in November.
Organizers are reporting another successful March food drive campaign throughout Minnesota. Minnesota FoodShare says four-point-four-million pounds of food and eight-point-five million dollars were raised during their biggest effort of the year. Visits to food shelves have exploded in recent years due to the recession.
Three suburban courthouses in Hennepin County will begin interim weapons screening on Monday (4/23). A weapons screening portal and x-ray equipment are being installed at Brooklyn Center and Minnetonka while security wands will be used in Edina. All three locations will have extra staff next week to assist court visitors. County officials voted last month to implement weapons screening after a judge voiced concerns over courthouse safety. The Cook County attorney was seriously wounded in a December shooting at the courthouse in Grand Marais.
The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees is recognizing four instructors with its highest academic honor. Phyllis Ballata of Century College, Paul Carney of Minnesota State Community and Technical College, Shawn Mueske of Ridgewater College and Rod Milbrandt of Rochester Community and Technical College received Educator of the Year Awards. Each of the four honorees also receives five-thousand dollars and a handcrafted medallion. Board Chair Scott Thiss said they are among MnSCU's finest faculty and staff who provide the best education available in Minnesota.
Minnesota is slowing, if not stopping, the spread of the green beetle that kills ash trees. State Agriculture Department officials say the latest research is encouraging in the war against the emerald ash borer. Researcher Jon Osthus says it's not spreading as fast as they thought it might and it's not causing rapid tree mortality yet. Osthus says they have not found the ash borer outside Ramsey, Hennepin, Winona and Houston Counties where it has been confirmed. He says they plan to set loose more stingless wasps on infested areas because the wasps are natural enemies of the emerald ash borer - and can slow their spread.
Not that local residents or business owners are all that concerned -- but the Red River is due to reach basic flood stage at Fargo-Moorhead by this time tomorrow (Fri). The National Weather Service says recent rains have pushed the Red up close to the 18-foot mark between the cities. Today's weather should be mostly dry but more rain is possible tonight and tomorrow.
An 8-year old boy injured in a sailing accident is now able to talk. Isaiah Risland's CaringBridge web page says doctors at Minneapolis Children's Hospital took the youngster off the ventilator early Wednesday -- and then later he answered questions from family in a "quiet and squeaky" voice. Isaiah, his two brothers and their father were sailing on Clearwater Lake near Bemidji when their boat capsized, throwing them into the frigid water. Both his brothers died of hypothermia.
Daydreaming is just as dangerous as texting. That's the message from Minnesota police as they carry out a special one-day crackdown today on distracted driving. The State Patrol's Eric Roeske says it's all about giving your undivided attention when behind the wheel. Roeske says distracted driving is an old problem made worse by new techonology -- and at least one-fourth of highway crashes in Minnesota involve some form of inattentive driving.
In conjunction with Severe Weather Awareness week, there will be a couple of statewide tornado drills today. The first is at 1:45 this afternoon and the second will be in participating counties at 6:55 this evening. Minnesota Commissioner of Public Safety Mona Dohman says it's already been a bad tornado season to the south of Minnesota and they want to make sure people here are ready. Forecasters say around 75 tornadoes touched down this past weekend in four Great Plains states during an outbreak of severe storms that swept through the Midwest.
The state Department of Employment and Economic Development is releasing the March employment figures this morning (10am). Minnesota's unemployment rate rose slightly in February to five-point-seven percent despite employers adding 62-hundred jobs. State labor analyst Steve Hine says that uptick was unusual and it was the first increase since last June. One positive sign for March was a three- to four-percent increase in retail sales in Minnesota. The state's jobless rate is still two-and-a-half percent lower than the March national unemployment rate of eight-point-two percent.
A Rock County sheriff's deputy is scheduled to appear in court today after criminal charges were filed for child neglect and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Twenty-eight-year old Kyle Kreun is currently on paid administrative leave. According an interview with the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension last December, Kreun admitted to having consensual sex with a then-16-year old female. If convicted, Kreun could face two years in jail and a fine.
Minneapolis-St. Paul International is the number-one airport in the nation. That's according to "Travel and Leisure Magazine, which asked readers to rate America's 22 major airports in seven categories. Minneapolis-St. Paul won top honors for shopping, food and drink options plus easy check-in at security. The airport's low point was a lack of Wi-Fi offerings. Charlotte was number two with Detroit in third place. New York's La Guardia came in last.
A New York auction has yielded quite a bonanza for the Minnesota Historical Society. It put up for bids a bundle of rare Revolutionary War letters which generated more than one-and-a-half-million dollars. One letter from an aide to General George Washington fetched far more than expected. The Historical Society's Jennifer Jones says the previous record for a Jonathon Trumbull letter had been two-thousand dollars. This one was estimated at four to six-thousand dollars. But there was a bidding war on the floor and the final hammer price was $75,000. The Historical Society's Jennifer Jones says the auction proceeds will go into the Society's fund for buying future manuscripts and documents. She emphasizes that the material sold at auction this week does not relate to Minnesota and the donors approved of the sale.
Here are the winning numbers from the Minnesota State Lottery for Wednesday, April 18th, 2012. The Daily Three: 7-7-1. Northstar Cash: 4-6-13-17-30. Gopher Five: 1-12-19-21-33. Hot Lotto: 6-19-22-33-38 and the Hot Ball was 5. Powerball: 20-22-39-46-49 and the Powerball was 29.