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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUND-UP: Minnesota soldier critically injured in Afghanistan

A Minnesota Army Ranger was critically hurt when a bomb exploded in a house in Afghanistan during a fight between insurgents and NATO-led coalition forces.  A Taliban spokesman says there was also a suicide bomber in the house, who caused a second explosion when coalition forces arrived to help the injured. 

Army medical officials say 27-year-old Tom Block lost his right eye, sustained injuries to his left eye and had a collapsed lung, but is alert and responsive.  The Waseca native is a former Minnesota State University-Mankato wrestling star who was on a 2008 team that won the National Duals for Division II.  Yesterday was the 12th anniversary of the start of the war in Afghanistan.


The family of a Saint Paul man critically injured by a hit-and-run driver last week is urging witnesses to come forward.  Thirty-one-year-old Wade Souster remains in a coma on a ventilator at Regions Hospital.  The car wash where Souster works is offering a 25-hundred-dollar reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction.  But the federal government shutdown is preventing Souster's family from getting a tax ID number from the IRS to set up a benefit account. 


The Rochester City Council has restricted smoking and drinking even further, including electronic cigarettes.  A smoke-free zone is now in place around the Rochester Public Library, and e-cigarettes are banned in all locations where smoking is already banned -- including medical zones, in bus shelters and on Peace Plaza.  Central Park was added to the list of Rochester parks where drinking alcohol is banned; the other locations are Mayo and Foster-Arend Parks.  Without a permit, alcohol in containers larger than two gallons is banned at all city parks.


A small southeastern Minnesota town has been without a police department after the chief was placed on administrative leave last month.  The suspension of Police Chief Jason Mindrup by the Brownsdale City Council happened in a closed door meeting, without officials giving a reason publicly.  Now the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension confirms they are conducting an investigation and Mower County officials have arranged for Olmsted County to handle any potential criminal charges.  The city is currently being patrolled by the Mower County Sheriff's Department, and this week the city council approved hiring a temporary police officer until the investigation is complete.  They hope to have an agreement finalized within the next week.


Three-hundred employees at Federal Medical Center in Rochester are working without pay during the federal government shutdown.  The facility provides specialized medical and mental health services to male federal prisoners  Most employees have been deemed "essential" and have not been furloughed, but have been on the job for more than a week with no guarantee they will receive a paycheck.  The leader of the FMC employees' union, Brian Himlie, says lawmakers are taking food off the tables of hardworking people because they don't like the health care law.  He's urging Congress to pass the budget or a continuing resolution.


Eighteen-thousand students from 400 schools in the state are attending the "We Day" celebration today at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.  Minnesota is the second state to host the daylong event aimed at empowering teens to get involved in volunteering, service projects and fundraising.  The kids earned their tickets and will be awarded with a full day of entertainment.  Musical performers include the Jonas Brothers and Carly Rae Jepsen. Governor Dayton, Martin Luther King the Third, Barbara Pierce Bush and injured hockey player Jack Jablonski are among scheduled speakers.