Minnesota News Briefs: Maple Grove house burned down after fire set by lighting strikeMinnesota News
-- A lightning strike is being blamed for a house fire this morning in the Twin Cities suburb of Maple Grove.
MAPLE GROVE, Minn. -- A lightning strike is being blamed for a house fire this morning in the Twin Cities suburb of Maple Grove.
Crews found flames shooting from the attic and fire spreading to the upper floor of the home Two adults and a child in the house were awakened by lightning and able to get out safely. The damage is described as significant and it could be a while before the home is habitable. The Maple Grove area received an inch-and-a-half of rain and half-inch hail early today.
The debates are over and U-of-M Communications Studies Professor Ed Schiappa calls it "one of the most interesting set of debates in the history of presidential debates." Schiappa says Mitt Romney's candidacy was fading until he came out swinging in debate number one, then President Obama became more aggressive in the second and third debates. Schiappa says the net result might be that we're where we were right before the debates but "went on a heck of a ride." State Representative Terry Morrow of St. Peter says that discussion of foreign policy plays into a bigger immediate concern for Minnesotans -- agriculture. Morrow, who supports Obama, says Minnesota exports have hit records and "the clean energy economy has been doing great." Polls still show the presidential race a toss-up. Election day is two weeks from now.
In the past, we've heard of political figures such as former governor Tim Pawlenty starting a "SuperPac" to raise money for a cause. Now, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg says he is starting his own SuperPac, donating money to several campaigns fighting for same-sex marriage -- and that includes $125,000 in Minnesota. We're now two weeks away from the elections, which includes voter questions on the marriage amendment and voter photo-ID.
A Monticello man has been sentenced to 58 months in prison for an April crash in Sherburne County that killed two people on a motorcycle. Twenty-year-old Cody Moen pleaded guilty to criminal vehicular homicide in the deaths of 31-year-old Brien Wickham of Big Lake and 26-year-old Jacquelyn Lee of Ramsey. The criminal complaint says Moen was driving 95 miles per hour when he tried to pass another car on the shoulder, skidded across the northbound lanes, crossed the median and struck Wickham's cycle. Moen was on probation for reckless driving at the time of the crash.
Police in Minneapolis are investigating a shooting death on the city's north side. Officers responding to a shots fired call early this morning found a man down. He was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics. Investigators are asking the public for tips. The victim has not been identified.
Receiving steroids for treatment of back pain has turned into something completely different for nearly 300 people around the country. The Centers for Disease Control says the national meningitis outbreak is up to 297 people overall, with 23 deaths now reported. Seven people in Minnesota have the fungal menigitis but there have been no deaths here. Michigan and Tennessee account for more than 130 of the nation's cases and 14 people in those two states have died. Federal officials confirm the fungus found in tainted steroid shots is the same fungus to blame for the outbreak. Symptoms of meningitis can include a stiff neck, fever, headache and increased sensitivity to light.
Usually, Minnesota farmers have a few more days of harvest work before packing it in for the season. But this time around, most all of the late crops, including corn, sugarbeets and sunflowers, have been harvested. Scattered showers in the past week added much-needed moisture to the state's fields where pasture and range conditions have been suffering due to drought.
A 35-acre field of canola near Pillager was harvested last week and officials at the Central Lakes College Ag Center hope to produce enough fuel to operate all their tractors and farm equipment. Director Bob Schafer says it's part of something called the "distributed energy" concept where the crop is harvested and processed locally. He says the fuel is then consumed locally. Schafer says they currently have one tractor that runs on 100-percent vegetable oil. All the by-product canola meal will be sold to local cattle producers.
A Twin Cities area woman has to wait yet again to see if she is competent to stand trial in the death of an 11-year-old boy. On Monday, a judge ruled 29-year-old Leah Graeber of Savage will stay in a mental health facility until March of next year before appearing in court again. Prosecutors say Graeber was off her medication when she lost control of her car at over 100-miles-an-hour and crashed into an SUV, killing Joey Balistreri and injuring his mother, father and sister. Graeber, who faces several charges in the accident, has a history of mental health issues and violent public behavior.
Minnesota paint-maker Valspar is looking to expand its research work and add up to 135 new jobs in the next two years Valspar is spending $30-million to add 87,000 square-feet of laboratory and office space at its former headquarters in downtown Minneapolis. The renovations are scheduled to be done in early 2014.
A man is dead after a construction accident at Fort Snelling. Reports say a backhoe involved in drainage work at a pond tipped over, killing the worker. The man's name has not yet been released.
Regular unleaded gas is back under $3.50 a gallon on average this morning. Minnesota-Gas-Prices.com reports, at $3.46, we're paying about 20-cents less than the national average right now. In fact, the statewide average has dropped 40-cents in the past month to its lowest level since July.
Nine-hundred traffic safety advocates are in Bloomington for the final day of a conference on Minnesota's "Toward Zero Deaths" program. State Public Safety Commissioner Ramona Dohman says it brings together experts in the areas of enforcement, engineering, education and emergency medical services. She says they're talking about seniors and the elderly driving, and about new technology that might fit into efforts to reduce bad traffic crashes. Dohman says Minnesota has reduced traffic fatalities 44 percent over the last decade and contends "Toward Zero Deaths" is a realistic goal.