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More Minnesota News Briefs: Suspicious device closes Hwy. 36 in Oak Park Heights

OAK PARK HEIGHTS, Minn. -- The eastbound lanes of Highway 36 on the east side of the Twin Cities was closed early this morning after suspicious items were found in Oak Park Heights, but investigators believe it was a hoax and not terrorism.

Someone walking along a trail found four strange devices, about six inches long and wrapped in foil with wires protruding from them, just before 5 a.m. and called police. Oak Park Heights Police Chief Brian Derosier says the objects were beeping. The items did not contain explosives, and investigators believe someone placed them there to provoke a police response. The eastbound lanes of the busy highway reopened just outside Stillwater more than two hours later, just before 8 a.m.


A three-year-old boy drowned in Edna Lake last night northwest of Nisswa. The child was located near the shoreline by family members and attempts to revive him were unsuccessful. The young boy was pronounced dead at the scene. The Crow Wing County Sheriff? Office is investigating. At this time, it's unknown how the child ended up in the water. Foul play is not suspected.


With the average age of Minnesotans older than it? ever been, a new campaign -- Minnesota S.A.F.E Elders Initiative -- kicks off today to help prevent abuse and exploitation of elders. Anoka County Attorney Tony Palumbo says part of the effort is to bring the issue out of the shadows. He says in about two-thirds of the cases the perpetrator is a family member of the victim. Palumbo says 40 years ago it was a similiar situation with child abuse; people often considered it a family situation and felt there shouldn't be intervention. He says that attitude changed and predicts the same will happen with elder abuse. Such crimes are under-reported, often because of family ties. Last year nearly 30,000 cases of elder abuse were investigated by social services in Minnesota.


The Minnesota Department of Public Safety is conducting an emergency drill today at the Monticello nuclear generating plant. The exercise will test the capabilities of local, county and state responders. Residents should not be alarmed if they see emergency responders in the area.


The Duluth City Council Monday night passed measures designed to control the sale and use of synthetic drugs. The ordinances require a license to sell the products and will make it illegal to consume them. The only councilor to vote "no" on the licensing measure was Jim Stauber, who warns it will only draw more attention to the "Last Place on Earth" head shop -- which he says will not be subject to the regulations because it is "grandfathered in". The new laws are scheduled to take effect in the middle of next month.


Minnesota U.S. Attorney B. Todd Jones was nominated to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives months ago, and former ATF agents and gun violence advocates are calling on Congress to move forward with his confirmation. Lauren Wiener of Americans United for Change says the ATF hasn't had an official leader since 2006 and it's been six months since the president nominated Jones. Mark Glaze, Executive Director for Mayors Against Illegal Guns, blames the NRA and the gun lobby for stalling the confirmation.


A Robbinsdale Cooper High School employee was arrested after the parents of a student told police he had sex with their daughter. 41-year-old Tajreed Rich has been a hall monitor and attendance office employee for more than two years, and charges are expected to be filed by noon today. Police continue to investigate whether he had an ongoing relationship with the teenager or if it was a one-time incident. A statement from school administrators calls Rich's actions, "reprehensible," and says they are working closely with investigators. Parents were informed of the arrest through a mass voicemail. Rich is being held in the Hennepin County Jail on suspicion of third-degree criminal sexual conduct.


A six-year-old boy suffered possible permanent damage to his face in the second serious dog attack in Douglas County in a month. Police say the 2-year-old pit bull-lab mix bit the boy when he was playing near where the dog was eating. Family members say the dog bit all the way through the boy's cheek, and he may have permanently lost motion on that side of his face. The dog was tested for rabies and then euthanized. The boy is now recovering at home. Just over three weeks ago a Maplewood couple was treated for rabies after a stray dog attacked while they were walking their puppy on a local trail. That dog hasn't been found.