Minnesota News Briefs: Minnesota's unemployment rate dropsMinnesota's unemployment rate dropped two-tenths of a point in December to five-point-five percent.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota's unemployment rate dropped two-tenths of a point in December to 5.5 percent.
Employers in the state added 91-hundred jobs last month, plus November gains were revised by an additional 15-hundred jobs. Trade, transportation and utilities led all sectors in December with 3,900 new jobs. Construction was down 3,500 jobs likely because of winter weather. State officials say Minnesota gained more than 21,000 jobs in the final two months of 2012.
A Crookston woman was sent to the hospital after she was hit by a car Wednesday afternoon in an elementary school parking lot while holding her one-year-old son in her arms. 35-year-old Nykisha Mariscal was also holding hands with her six-year-old daughter when a vehicle made a U-turn and hit her. She was able to push her daughter out of the way and went onto the hood of the car before falling to the ground while holding her son. The children were not hurt but police say Mariscal complained of an injury to her right side. The driver was cited for failure to yield right of way to school children and inattentive driving. The victim has since been released from the hospital.
Two northern Minnesota men face federal charges for the armed robbery of First State Bank of Bigfork in Kelliher last month. The indictment alleges that 19-year-old Cody Troy of Mizpah and 20-year-old Travis Burns of Bemidji stole more than 37-hundred dollars while brandishing a 12-gauge sawed-off shotgun. Investigators say Troy was wearing white coveralls and a mask from the movie "Halloween" when he approached a teller, placed a backpack on the counter and pointed a shotgun. He grabbed the backpack and fled the bank in a red pickup. Two days later, police arrested Troy on an outstanding warrant and found the getaway truck and other evidence from the robbery in the apartment Troy shared with Burns.
A Minnesota Congresswoman is backing President Barack Obama's plan to toughen the nation's gun laws. Congresswoman Betty McCollum says there were 16 mass shootings in the U.S. in 2012, and 151 people died -- so it's about more than the Sandy Hook massacre. McCollum has signed onto bills that would require a background check for every gun sale, including private ones; ban high capacity magazine manufacture or possession; and prevent gun shop owners who lose their license from transferring guns to anyone else.
The leader of a Minnesota advocacy group is applauding President Obama's just-announced plan to curb gun violence, which includes a bill that would ban high-capacity magazines and reinstate a ban on some assault-style weapons. Protect Minnesota: Working to End Gun Violence executive director Heather Martens says they are common sense steps, and so is a proposal to require mandatory background checks for all gun purchases, including private sales. The National Rifle Association says law-abiding gun owners should not be blamed for the acts of criminals and madmen, and claims the push is more about attacking the Second Amendment than keeping children safe.
A former nurse practitioner in Duluth has pled guilty to first-degree sale of a controlled substance after prescribing more than 11-thousand pain pills to people who were not her patients. 27-year-old Jill Karkoska worked at Essentia Health System and said she wrote the prescriptions for people and in return they would give her some of the pills. Karkoska admitted to being chemically dependent on pain pills. The judge ordered an investigation into Karkoska's background before sentencing in March.
The Fergus Falls High School band is headed east for another once in a lifetime performance. The band leaves today for Washington, D.C., where they will be the lone Minnesota band to participate in the presidential inauguration. Band members raised 78-thousand dollars for the trip in less than a month. The Fergus Falls High School marching band performed four years ago in the Obama inaugural parade. The students were chosen again this year from about 28-hundred applicants.
More than 300 auctioneers are in St. Cloud today for the annual Minnesota State Auctioneers Association convention. The three day event offers a variety of workshops surrounding the auction profession. The main event, tonight's Minnesota State Bid-Calling Championship. The contest typically attracts 30 or more contestants who compete for the top prize as well as the opportunity to represent Minnesota auctioneers at the National Auctioneers Association annual convention held in July.