Minnesota News Briefs: Duluth boy trasnferred to Minneapolis hospital after nearly drowing in Lake SuperiorMinnesota News
-- The Duluth boy who nearly drowned Monday afternoon on Lake Superior has been transferred to Children's Hospital in Minneapolis.
MINNEAPOLIS - The Duluth boy who nearly drowned Monday afternoon on Lake Superior has been transferred to Children's Hospital in Minneapolis.
Thirteen-year-old Jeffrey Watson Junior was in critical condition last night at St. Mary's Medical Center in Duluth and had regained his pulse. Watson was underwater for more than 30 minutes. He had been swimming with friends and didn't resurface. Rescue crews used boat poles and a remote-operated vehicle with a camera to locate Watson just off Duluth's Lakewalk trail.
The search continues today in the Arrowhead for a Lakeville man and his twin engine airplane. 67-year-old Michael Bratlie went missing north of Duluth. Captain George Supan of the Civil Air Patrol says Bratlie took off from South St. Paul Friday, and was a very experienced pilot who was in the Navy and then worked for Northwest Airlines. Supan is asking the public across northeastern Minnesota to keep their eyes open and report anything they may have seen or heard Friday night that might have been a plane in distress.
The State Fire Marshal’s Office has finished their on-site investigation of the Verso Paper Mill fire in Sartell and ruled out any criminal activity. A final report including a cause should be released in the next few weeks. Monday night, the Sartell City Council unanimously approved an emergency declaration, allowing them to seek different funding resources to pay for the response. More than 90 fire departments from around the state were on the scene and crews remained there for a week. The estimated cost of fire response could exceed a half-million-dollars.
The National Weather Service has confirmed that a tornado touched down near Belle Plaine Sunday night. The twister was on the ground for about two miles. It was rated a weak EF-0 tornado with winds up to 70 miles-per-hour. Officials say it initially touched down in Le Sueur County and traveled northeast into Scott County. It dissipated southeast of Belle Plaine after damaging some farm buildings and a grain bin. No injuries were reported.
A northern Minnesota man has pleaded guilty to the armed robbery of a Bemidji convenience store on December 30th of last year. Twenty-one-year-old Jason King admitted to threatening the clerk at Newby's Market with a loaded, short-barreled shotgun and stealing nearly 15-hundred dollars. King and a juvenile were taken into custody after abandoning their getaway vehicle in the woods. Officers recovered a 20-gauge shotgun in the area and found cash and a black ski mask in the truck. King faces a maximum penalty of life in federal prison at sentencing.
Beginning in August, family doctors or emergency room personnel caring for children with mental health problems will be able to call the Mayo Clinic for advice, under a new program funded by the state. Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson says the shortage of child psychiatrists is especially acute in Greater Minnesota. She says some social service workers are having to send kids two hours away to be able to see a psychiatrist to get their needs met. Officials expect the one-point-seven-million-dollar cost of the two-year program will be fully offset by reduced cost for hospitalizations and medications in the state's Medical Assistance program. But the consulting service with Mayo is also available to any Minnesota physician.
You can probably tell by looking at the fields -- Minnesota's corn crop is way of ahead of schedule. The latest USDA Crop Report shows corn averaging over a foot in height while most soybeans have sprouted and are on their way up. Another promising sign for Minnesotans -- more than two-thirds of the state's sweet corn crop has been planted. Soil moisture dried a bit in the past week after very warm temperatures across most of the state.
We could be getting an extra day of spring in our early summer. This morning's cool temperatures will set the table for afternoon highs which are 10-degrees cooler than normal for a June 12th. Overnight lows are in the 40's and 50's over much of the state -- and the National Weather Service reports upper-30's in northwestern Minnesota.
Former U.S. Senator Larry Craig of Idaho is being sued for allegedly misusing some $217,000 in campaign funds after his 2007 sex sting arrest at Minneapolis-St. Paul International. Federal Election Commission officials say in a complaint filed in U.S. District Court on Monday that Craig should repay the money. The FEC contends Craig's campaign paid $140,000 to a Washington D.C. law firm and another $77,000 to the Minnesota-based firm of Kelly and Jacobson for legal services related to his guilty plea to disorderly conduct. The FEC says the money was converted to personal use because his defense wasn't campaign-related.
Normally, summertime gas prices go up -- but this year, we're actually paying about 20-cents less per gallon than in June of 2011. Minnesota-Gas-Prices.com reports our statewide average is down to $3.46 a gallon, which is also a dime less than the national average. Minnesota, the Dakotas and Nebraska are among the states with the least-expensive gas right now.
Minnesota's budget situation got a boost with the news that tax collections were 32-and-a-half-million dollars ahead of forecast last month. That puts the state $148-million ahead for the year. Reports say sales taxes drove the increase while individual income tax collections are lagging behind.
The latest Manpower Employment Outlook Survey suggests more Minnesota companies will be hiring in July, August and September. Regional Director Anne Edmunds says 22-percent of companies surveyed said they'll increase staffing levels -- a "nice uptick" from 17-percent during the second quarter. Edmunds says only four-percent of Minnesota employers plan to decrease staff levels during the third quarter. Job prospects appear to be best in durable goods manufacturing, construction and health services.
Flags are flying at half-staff over all state and federal buildings in Minnesota today in honor of Navy Lieutenant William Swanson of Zimmerman. Lieutenant Swanson's plane went down in Laos in 1965 but his remains were not recovered until 2010 after local villagers led investigators to the crash site. Swanson was buried Monday at Fort Snelling National Cemetery with full military honors. Minnesota flies its flags at half-staff after the death of military personnel killed in the line of duty. Governor Dayton has chosen to extend this honor to all of Minnesota's fallen soldiers, including those who are returned to their families long after their service.
A 26-year veteran of the Duluth Police Department is Minnesota's 2012 Police Officer of the Year. Sergeant Brad Wick was honored at the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association's annual convention in Alexandria. Wick was involved in the capture of a violent offender who robbed a drug store, hijacked a car at gunpoint, and the next day shot a homeowner in the leg after a police chase. Wick immediately followed the suspect into the home and after being shot at twice, fatally wounded the suspect. Police and Peace Officers Association executive director Dennis Flaherty says if not for Wick's quick action and bravery, it clearly would have ended in a hostage situation where other innocent people could have been harmed.
A St. Paul man is in jail after admitting he made terroristic threats to a state government agency, through a local newspaper reporter. The Pioneer Press says 61-year old Robert Shedd was charged with sending emails to one of its reporters, threatening to take hostages at the state Department of Human Services. It's not yet clear what the messages refered to but it could have been the result of a computer glitch which dropped than five-thousand people from the state-subsidized MinnesotaCare earlier this year. Police say Shedd threatened to "take hostages and kill anyone involved" with the DHS. If convicted, Shedd could spend five years in prison.
More than 300 citations were issued for child safety-seat violations during the statewide "Click It or Ticket" campaign just ended. Donna Berger with the Office of Traffic Safety says a majority seem to involve children between the ages of four and seven, who should be in a booster seat once they've outgrown their child safety seat. Berger says children can suffer "terrible spinal injuries" in a crash if they're not buckled in at the proper place in the shoulder and lap belt. State law says children no longer must be in a booster seat after they reach four-foot-nine or age eight. Berger recommends parents make the decision based on a child's height rather than age.
This morning's cool temperatures will set the table for afternoon highs which are 10-degrees cooler than normal for a June 12th. Overnight lows are in the 40's and 50's over much of the state -- and the National Weather Service reports upper-30's in northwestern Minnesota