Minnesota News Briefs: Special session for disaster relief being plannedMinnesota News
-- Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton meets with GOP leaders at the Capitol this afternoon (2pm) to discuss disaster recovery in northern and southern Minnesota -- and whether a special session is needed later this summer.
ST. PAUL - Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton meets with GOP leaders at the Capitol this afternoon to discuss disaster recovery in northern and southern Minnesota -- and whether a special session is needed later this summer.
Meanwhile, officials are going door-to-door to assess flood damage in northeastern Minnesota. They're trying to determine whether homeowners and businesses qualify for individual assistance. Julie Anderson with the Department of Public Safety says if the area does qualify -- residents can apply for grants which average around three-thousand dollars. Assessment crews will be in Aitkin, Carlton, Lake, Pine and Saint Louis Counties - and the Fond du Lac Tribal nation.
Talk continues at the State Capitol about a possible special session later this summer to help storm- and flood-damaged communities in northeast, southeast and central Minnesota -- and officials in Sartell want assistance for the fire-ravaged Verso Paper Mill to also be included. Sartell Mayor Joe Perske says his hope is not only to get the mill running again, but also improve it so it will be viable for at least a couple more decades. Verso Paper officials say they're still determining damage and reconstruction estimates. A Dayton administration spokeswoman says they are "committed to helping Verso and Sartell in a special session." About 260 employees have been laid-off since the Memorial Day explosion and fire.
Four teams consisting of local, state and federal officials begin conducting damage assessments of homes and businesses in Aitkin, Carlton, Lake, Pine and St. Louis Counties today (WED). The assessments also include the Fond du Lac Tribal nation. If FEMA determines the flooded areas qualify for Individual Assistance, residents and business owners will be able to apply for federal grants to help with cleanup and repairs -- as well as for damaged vehicles, and moving and storage expenses associated with the flooding.
Water continues to recede along the flooded Mississippi River in northern Minnesota but Aitkin County Flood Information Officer Lynn Mizner says some residents are still dealing with contaminated well water. She says city water in Aitkin is good shape. High water warnings continue as the river remains more than three-feet over flood stage at Aitkin. Mizner says floodwaters are dropping quickly on the river but are receding more slowly around Big Sandy Lake. Mizner adds they're thankful no one was killed or injured during the flood event. She also thanks "all the volunteers who have put their names down to help us clean up."
Emergency phone service is back to normal in Carlton County following an outage last night. The flood-ravaged area experienced an interruption in 911 service due to phone line damage, but the problem was fixed in short order. Over in Beltrami County, officials are looking for volunteers to man phones and clean up yards after recent storms which caused destruction around Bemidji and other local areas.
A Minneapolis man and a Richfield teen are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder in the death of a homeless man. Prosecutors allege that 32-year-old Willis Esposito Richardson and 17-year-old Andre Steward Junior beat 50-year-old Harry Brown with a baseball bat and punched him in the face June 29th, causing him to his head on the sidewalk. Brown died in the hospital Sunday. The criminal complaint says Steward told police they took five-dollars from Brown and used it to buy liquor.
It's the second anniversary of a state court program that helps veterans struggling with substance abuse and mental health disorders. District Judge Robert Rancourt says the program came about due to the increase in returning veterans committing suicide. Rancourt says the idea of veterans treatment courts is to try to prevent those suicides by quickly assessing veterans' mental health needs and putting them in appropriate treatment. Rancourt says the program is also designed to educate law enforcement officers on how to best respond to vets on the brink of suicide and to cut down on the number of homeless vets. The first veteran court program in Minnesota was established in Hennepin County in 2010.
It's county fair season around Minnesota. There are more than 80 county fairs statewide each summer and about a dozen get underway this week. In eastern Minnesota, there's Chisago, Ramsey, Waseca and Winona. Across the western half, there are fairs in Clay, Kittson, Polk, Red Lake and Wilkin counties. There's a county fair for the far north in Little Fork in Koochiching County. And in Proctor, people are invited to the South St. Louis County Fair. The fair that would have started today in Aitkin County was canceled due to flooding but officials say there is a Midway including rides open today through Saturday at the McGregor Airport.
A fight on a city transit bus led to the death of a man on the north end of St. Paul overnight. Two people were involved in an altercation as they got off the bus and police arrived just after 1am to find the victim unresponsive. He died at the scene. Two other people were there and are being questioned about the killing.
The FAA is investigating the crash of a single-engine plane piloted by a Minnesota man. Sixty-three-year old Charles Rautiola of Eagan was taken to the hospital with a back injury after his Cessna lost power and went down in a southern Wisconsin soybean field. Rautiola and a passenger from Burnsville who was not hurt, were flying to Indiana at the time.
The Department of Employment and Economic Development is hosting the sixth annual Minnesota Veterans Career Fair today (Wed 11-3) in Brooklyn Center. DEED's Jim Finley says it's one way to help current and former members of the military connect with employers who are hiring. He says they are expecting over 130 employers to be at today's event. Finley says there will also be workshops and panel discussions for both veterans and employers. Governor Dayton has proclaimed July "Hire a Veteran Month."
The most recent fiscal year shows higher-than-expected tax collections in Minnesota. The state totaled $16.5-billion dollars overall -- $336-million more than predicted -- as of the end of June.
Clearwater County authorities have still not released the identity of the man who died in a lake near Bagley but they have determined that he drowned. The body was found by a boater on Sunday, floating in Lake Lamond. Officials do not think the man's death is suspicious.
The University of Minnesota Board of Regents votes today (Wed 1:15 p.m.) on allowing beer and wine sales at TCF Bank Stadium. Alcohol could be sold at Golden Gopher football games one hour prior to kickoff through halftime in a designated beer garden and the premium section. There would be no hard liquor sales. Fans would be limited to two beers per person and they could consume them at their seats. The plan would also allow beer and wine sales in the premium seating areas of Williams and Mariucci Arenas during basketball and hockey games. The U-of-M considers this two-year plan a pilot project.
Thousands of people are making their way to Willmar in west-central Minnesota for the 31st annual Sonshine Christian music festival. Festival Director Bob Poe says he first got the idea when he was a youth pastor but he never thought it would grow into what it is today. The Sonshine festival now runs four days and features 120 bands. Poe says attendance was down a bit last year due to cold and wet weather but this year the weather is looking picture perfect.
Here are the winning numbers from the Minnesota State Lottery for Tuesday, July 10th, 2012. The Daily Three: 7-9-4. Northstar Cash: 4-8-18-19-29.