Minnesota News Briefs: Oakdale woman dies in townhouse fireMinnesota News
-- Authorities in Oakdale are investigating a fatal morning fire in a local townhome.
OAKDALE, Minn. -- Authorities in Oakdale are investigating a fatal morning fire in a local townhome.
Firefighters discovered smoke coming from the windows and forced their way inside where they found a 65-year-old woman dead in her bed. The entire complex was evacuated as fire crews put out the fire. The cause of the blaze is under investigation.
The Minnesota Department of Commerce still has funds available to help low-income families pay their heating bills. The average grant through the Energy Assistance Program is about $500 per household. Commissioner Mike Rothman says applications are down about nine percent so far, but they still expect to reach about 155,000 Minnesotans this winter. Minnesota received $106-million in federal funds in November which has already helped 116,000 families in the state. Rothman says sequestration cuts could affect future funding for heating assistance.
To better meet adequate staffing levels, around 75 pilots from Delta Air Lines are being transferred from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. The move would send pilots to airports in Detroit and Atlanta. It's unclear how many transferring pilots actually live in Minnesota since much of the work force is mobile. The transfers will begin in May. Delta officials say the transfers are not expected to affect the airline's flight routes at MSP.
Rochester voters are at the polls today to select a new city council president, but there may not be a decision today. There are four candidates in the running -- Randy Staver, Jan Throndson, Jeffrey Thompson and Michael Wojcik. If none of them get more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two vote-getters will advance to another election, most likely in early May. The election is taking place because Rochester City Council President Dennis Hanson died last year shortly after he filed for re-election and state law did not allow his removal from the ballot. The late Hanson received the most votes in November.
A Bemidji man has been arrested and charged for impersonating a police officer. According to the criminal complaint, 45-year-old Arron Weatherspoon admitted to calling a number of businesses in the area and identifying himself as an officer. Each time Weatherspoon allegedly spoke with female employees and asked for personal information such as an address, phone number and their physical descriptions.
A Duluth police officer is on administrative leave after apparently backing his personal car, twice, into another car in a bar parking lot. Duluth Police say 50-year-old Officer Brian Jones wasn't in his car when they responded to a hit-and-run call, but it was still in the parking lot. A Duluth police spokesman says Jones hasn't been arrested or ticketed, and the case file has been sent to the city attorney’s office to determine what charges are warranted. Jones worked as a Minneapolis police officer for two years before joining the Duluth department, and was named Duluth’s Police Officer of the Year in 2006.
A St. Cloud man pleaded guilty to a felony count of malicious punishment of a child. 68-year-old Walsamar Tischner was accused of walking two children with harnesses around their necks in February of last year. The children attended day care at his home. According to the criminal complaint, five witnesses reported seeing Tischner push the kids down to the ground and pull them back up again forcibly by their collars. Police also noticed scratches and red marks on the children’s faces and chin. Tischner told police he was upset with the children, but never placed a harness around their neck or harmed them. Tischner will be sentenced May 30th.