Minnesota News Briefs: Scam targeting Xcel Energy customersMinnesota News
-- There's a new scam targeting Xcel Energy customers in Minnesota.
ST. PAUL - There's a new scam targeting Xcel Energy customers in Minnesota.
Scammers are calling customers claiming to be Xcel representatives and saying electric service will soon be cut off. The customer is then prompted to purchase a pre-paid Green Dot Visa card at a local drug store. When customers purchase the card and call the number provided by the scammer, they're directed to another phone number where the card information is taken and the cash value is removed from the card. The scam is primarily targeting Hispanic customers and perpetrated by Spanish-speaking callers. If you've been impacted by the scam, you're urged to call your local police department.
Three people from Cloquet were involved in a small plane crash over the border in Ontario. Two of them,a 78-year-old man and 62-year-old woman, were seriously-injured as the Cessna went down during take-off. Coincidentally, three friends from Canada were not hurt after their single-engine plane made an emergency landing on a highway in central Minnesota. The plane was on its way from Rochester to Alexandria when the engine lost power.
A Moorhead-based arts center is dissolving its ties with the Fargo Public School system. "Cultural differences" are at the heart of the decision by the Bluestem Center for the Arts Executive Director Sue Wiger says she doesn't think anyone thought it would come to this, but the organization is very proud of what it's accomplished. Fargo Board President Jim Johnson calls it "a sad ending to a wonderful partnership." Wiger also points to a drop in donations and higher operating costs as factors in the decision.
Authorities have ruled the deaths of two friends found shot about a mile apart in St. Paul a murder and a suicide. The Ramsey County medical examiner says 21-year-old Jordan Hughes was a homicide victim. Hughes was found with a gunshot wound in the Summit-University area on the night of July 24th. 22-year-old Mandela Jackson was found dead about nine hours later in the Frogtown area. His death has been ruled a suicide. Police are still investigating whether Jackson was responsible for Hughes' death The two were basketball teammates at Patrick Henry High School in north Minneapolis.
Prosecutors in three counties plan to re-test evidence in about 350 pending drug cases previously tested at the St. Paul Police Department crime lab. Drug testing was suspended there after reports of shoddy procedures. Now Ramsey, Washington and Dakota county attorneys say they'll have retesting done by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. The St. Paul Police Department has agreed to pay any overtime costs associated with the re-testing.
Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken along with Congressman Chip Cravaack are urging President Obama to reconsider a recent decision by FEMA, denying individual assistance for flood-stricken homeowners and businesses in northeastern Minnesota. In a letter to the president, the three echo Governor Dayton's argument that it was a 500-year flood event and 93-percent of homeowners in the affected area did not have flood insurance. The governor in his appeal letter to FEMA says low-income homeowners "are discouraged and disheartened...feel hopeless, abandoned by the federal government." Dayton adds "many victims are beginning to believe that abandoning their homes is their only option."
It's not looking good that a new Farm Bill will be passed in the U.S. House -- and that has some lawmakers scrambling to help those in need of disaster assistance. U.S. Senator Al Franken has introduced a new bill to restart funding for disaster relief programs that expired last year. He says the bill would retroactively help farmers affected by drought. A vote on disaster assistance could come today (THUR). The current Farm Bill expires at the end of September.
Continuing changes at a Minnesota grocer means more layoffs. Supervalu is dropping 85 more positions around the country -- 50 of those in Minnesota at its Eden Prairie headquarters. They're I-T jobs and officials say any other open positions within the company will not be filled. The ongoing reorganization also means about 300 employees in several states will get new job descriptions. All this follows more than 2,500 job cuts on the West Coast plus other corporate layoffs in offices around the nation. In recent weeks, there was talk of Supervalu being up for sale and on Monday, the company fired and replaced its CEO.
Over the border in Ontario, two Minnesotans were seriously hurt while trying to take off in their small plane on Wednesday. Transportation officials are investigating the crash of the Cessna from a camp on Trout Lake north of Kenora, Ontario. The injured parties include a 78-year-old man and 62-year-old woman. Another man onboard, a 44-year old, was not injured. All are from Cloquet.
Three friends from Canada are unhurt after their single-engine plane made an emergency landing Wednesday on Highway-24 near Litchfield. The pilot, a man from Alberta, said he and his two passengers left Rochester en route to Alexandria when the engine started to lose power. After landing the plane, they found water in the fuel, were able to drain it, and the plane was cleared to take off from the roadway.
Police are looking for suspects after a shooting which left three men injured late last night in North Minneapolis. One of the men died at the scene. Another is being treated while the third was attended to by paramedics and released. The men were found after a 911 call saying several shots were heard in the area.
The State Patrol has identified the man killed while biking through an intersection in the city of Baxter late Tuesday night. Fifty-one-year-old Gregory Marsolek of Brainerd died after his bicycle was struck by a pickup. The driver was not hurt.
A convicted sex offender is going back to jail for nine months after working with children at a church and school in Superior. 31-year-old Michael Burns pleaded "no contest" to felony charges. Burns was convicted of second-degree sexual assault of a child in Washburn County, Wisconsin in 1998. At the time, he was 17 and the child was 12.
Officials are advising drivers to use extra caution and expect delays in the Detroit Lakes area for today's opening of the "We Fest" country music festival. Highway-59 and other roads will be affected. Fifty-thousand people are expected in and out of the Detroit Lakes area from now through Sunday.