Minnesota News Briefs: Firefighters on alert for fires at egg carton plantThe Moorhead Fire Department has been quietly staging firefighters around the clock at a company where three fires have broken out since March.
MOORHEAD, Minn. -- The Moorhead Fire Department has been quietly staging firefighters around the clock at a company where three fires have broken out since March.
Fire Chief Rich Duysen says managers at the Pactiv Egg Carton Plant requested the assistance. He says it's a temporary measure until Pactiv installs a new fire suppression system. Firefighters have been stationed at the plant for the past three weeks. Duysen says that could be why a fire on Saturday was quickly contained.
In the first of three political debates, 8th District Republican Congressman Chip Cravaack and Democratic challenger Rick Nolan got together this morning in Duluth. On creating jobs, Cravaack says "You have to create demand from the people and you do that by two things. You give them a tax code they can work with and eliminating the rules and regulations." Nolan argues that economy prosperity comes from creating incentives for the middle class and he wants to "to build this economy back from the middle out. Not from the top down." Election Day is four weeks from today.
With just four weeks to go until the election, the race in the Sixth Congressional District is starting to heat-up. Democratic challenger Jim Graves has now admitted to an incorrect statement on his resume. He listed himself as a board member for the Central Minnesota United Way. However, United Way CEO Patrick Powell confirmed Monday that Graves never served on its board of directors -- only on a committee. Graves opponent incumbent Republican Michele Bachmann released a statement saying "Jim Graves got caught red-handed." But members of the United Steelworkers Local-274 from the Verso Paper Company held a news conference this afternoon. They say they want to "set the record straight" on Congresswoman Bachmann's claims that the workers are not telling the truth about her response to the fire and ultimate closure of the Verso Paper Mill. A TV ad released by Bachmann's opponent Jim Graves says workers complained that Bachmann didn't reach out to them immediately after the May fire in Sartell. Bachmann visited the site in August after it was announced the Verso plant would close.
St. Cloud Technical and Community College is gearing up for a major expansion of its medium/heavy truck and auto body program facilities. Dean of Trades Bruce Peterson says they will double their space, which will allow room for students to work on full-sized tractor trailers end to end. The college was awarded four-million dollars in bonding money last spring to complete the renovations. The new facility is slated to be finished in the fall of 2013.
A man and woman facing potential murder charges are scheduled to appear in court today in northwestern Minnesota. The Roseau County Sheriff's Office says a man and woman were arrested after the discovery of a man's body in his Badger apartment. Reports have identified John Courier as the victim. Authorities are not looking for any other suspects in the case.
More than two-dozen St. Louis County employees were honored this morning for their work following this summer's historic flooding in northeastern Minnesota. County Board members are recognizing those who put in long hours and even canceled vacations "because of the work that needed to be done." More employees will be honored during ceremonies later this week. In St. Louis County alone, June flooding damaged more than 1,400 miles of paved and unpaved roads, destroyed four bridges and caused massive closures. Officials note that no lives were lost and there were no serious injuries.
Wednesday is Unity Day across Minnesota and everyone is being encouraged to wear orange and help raise awareness on bullying. Julie Hertzog, director of the Pacer Center’s Bullying program, says Unity Day is just more than wearing orange. She says it is a day everyone can link together -- in schools, communities and online -- and send one large, ORANGE message of support to students who have experienced bullying.
Although there are no red flag warnings posted across Minnesota today, weather experts still warn that conditions are very dry and volatile in southwestern counties. Forecasters say winds will pick up later, elevating potential fire danger in areas around Marshall, Pipestone, Worthington and Jackson. Statewide highs today will range from the low-50's in the south to upper-30's in northern Minnesota.
A probable cause hearing was held this morning for a teenager accused of throwing a punch that killed a Greenfield man last month in a St. Cloud alley. Seventeen-year-old Jesse Smithers of Sauk Rapids is charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter and assault in the death of 20-year-old Colton Gleason. Stearns County prosecutors wanted to file a motion to certify Smithers as an adult in court last Tuesday, but the judge granted the defense additional time to review the case file until today. Smithers is accused of punching Gleason in the face last month causing him to fall backward and hit his head on the pavement. He died the next day in the hospital.
The president of the Taxpayers League of Minnesota is weighing in on the presidential debate over tax policy. President Obama wants to raise taxes on high-income earners while Mitt Romney is calling for tax cuts for nearly everyone. Phil Krinkie says the next president won't be able to pass anything on his own since "there's this little thing called Congress." Krinkie warns that "Taxmageddon" is coming on the first of the year if Congress fails to extend the payroll tax cuts and Bush-era tax cuts.
The State Patrol has identified a man found dead inside a burning car in northern Minnesota on Sunday. Authorities say 60-year-old Wallace Joenks of Pine River missed a curve on a Cass County highway and hit a tree. The nearly 40-year-old car he was driving caught fire and was fully engulfed when officers got there.
"We have been blessed," says Pierz farmer Charlie Poster about Minnesota's growing season, despite the early wetness and later drought. Poster predicts Minnesota will probably lead the nation in bushels per acre and says it's evident there are more success stories than not. The latest USDA Crop reports shows more harvest progress in Minnesota fields, as both soybeans and corn remain far ahead of last year's pace. Once again, little if any rain fell across the state in the past reporting week.
A warm, dry autumn has accelerated the turning of leaves across Minnesota. The DNR reports much of the state is now past its peak of color. However, there are still plenty of oranges and reds throughout the southern-third of the state, especially in the bluff country of southeastern Minnesota and around portions of the Minnesota River Valley.
Today marks the end of an era for the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Winona. Coke spokesman Kevin Morris says the Clint Kuhlman family is ending production of returnable glass bottles after 80 years. The last run of six-thousand six-and-a-half ounce returnable Coca-Cola bottles are from the 1940's or 50's. Morris says the last returnable Coke bottles in the U.S. will be sold for 20 dollars each with proceeds going to the Lake Winona bike and pedestrian path. The company still makes eight-ounce glass bottles of Coke, Diet Coke and Sprite that are non-returnable.