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Regional News Briefs: Upper Mississippi shipping season well behind schedule

WINONA -- The navigation season on the Upper Mississippi River is a few weeks behind this year.

Patrick Moes with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says measurements at Lake Pepin indicate the river is not quite ready for tow boats -- with ice depths generally at least 20 inches still. Moes says the season traditionally opens around March 22nd. The first towboats arrived in Winona this week, dropped off barges and then headed back south.


Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker is optimistic about this spring's flood season. Walaker, a veteran of 13 floods and also the city's former public works operations director, says he believes the Red River's level will come in below some of the worst-case scenarios. The mayor was on hand as the city kicked off a 10-day campaign to fill one-million sandbags. 300 middle-school students were among the first volunteers Wednesday at what's come to be known as "Sandbag Central" in Fargo.


A construction firm has filed a protest with Minnesota officials, after it lost a contract to build a connection to the new four-lane bridge over the Saint Croix River near Hudson. C.S. McCrossan was the apparent low-bidder to build an approach to the new bridge on Highway 36 on the Minnesota side. But the Minnesota DOT's Civil Rights Office threw out the bid, saying the company did not try hard enough to use disadvantaged businesses as sub-contractors. McCrossan filed a protest this week, saying it's a responsible bidder and it deserves the contract. The firm said it offered six-million dollars less than the new winners of the contract - a joint venture that includes Lunda Construction of Black River Falls. The DOT expects the project to stay on schedule, in spite of the protest. The Highway 36 approach is scheduled to be completed by next fall, and the new bridge itself is due to open in 2016.


Saint Paul Police want to search Facebook accounts to try-and-find evidence that Jeffrey Trevino murdered his wife, Wausau area native Kira Steger Trevino. According to a search warrant affidavit, a friend told police that Trevino recently used the initials "NWNP" on a Facebook post. And those initials could mean "No Witnesses, No Proof." Jeffrey Trevino is charged with murdering 30-year-old Kira Steger Trevino. There's been no trace of her since she disappeared February 21st. Prosecutors said police dogs sniffed out a possible body last month Keller Lake in nearby Maplewood Minnesota. Several items-of-interest were found in recent searches of the lake - but police have not said if they're tied to Kira's death. The affidavit asked a judge to approve searches of Facebook accounts for both Trevinos and their roommate Matthew Roff. Police say they just want to search out all avenues of possible evidence, and they won't say if Roff is a possible suspect. The Saint Paul Pioneer Press says "No Witnesses, No Proof" is just one of several things that NWNP can stand for on the Internet. Others include "No War, No Peace," "No Way Nuclear Pacifists," and "Never-Winter Nights Podcast." Never-Winter Nights is a series of role-playing games.


A new report released today shows that at least some Asian carp might have entered the Great Lakes, but there's still time to stop a widespread invasion. The report was written by scientists who came up with DNA technology to find evidence of the bloated carp. Christopher Jerde of Notre Dame said there are some carp in the Great Lakes but scientists are "cautiously optimistic" that they have not started reproducing. Once that happens, the carp would spread further, eat more of the food for native fish, and cause serious environmental damage. The report summarized findings by the University of Notre Dame, the Nature Conservancy, and Central Michigan. It disagreed with a recent finding by government scientists that much of the Asian carp's DNA found in the Great Lakes got there by other sources, like excrement from birds that fed on the carp. Only one actual carp has been found beyond an electronic barrier designed to keep them fish out of Lake Michigan near Chicago. Wisconsin and other states fear that a large-scale invasion would ruin the region's multi-billion-dollar fishing industry.