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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUND-UP: State executive council approves non-ferrous mineral leases

ST. PAUL - The state's top elected officials have voted to grant mineral leases to several companies who want to explore for non-ferrous metals in parts of northern Minnesota.

The vote was 4-1 in favor, with State Auditor Rebecca Otto the lone dissenting vote.  Otto says she's concerned about saddling the next generation with a crucial burden.  But backers say the state is doing a good job monitoring environmental effects and they point to the jobs that new mines will create.  The leases may still face one last challenge, however.  A group of landowners asked the state last year to study the environmental impact of the leases, but the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled it wasn't necessary.  They have asked the Supreme Court to review the decision.


The bishop of the Catholic Diocese may have exposed hundreds of parishioners in the Fargo-Moorhead area to hepatitis A.  The North Dakota Health Department has issued an advisory for anyone who was served communion by Bishop John Folda at four churches in Fargo and Jamestown in late September and early October.  The hepatitis A virus is rarely deadly but can cause serious liver problems.  North Dakota health officials say the risk of catching the virus in such a situation is low.  Folda apparently came down with the illness after eating contaminated food at a conference in Italy last month.  Symptoms of hepatitis A include fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, nausea, abdominal discomfort, dark urine, pale stools or jaundice. They can take two weeks to two months to appear.


Authorities are investigating after an officer shot a man this morning at a Hutchinson apartment complex.  Police were called about a suspicious male sleeping in an entryway and shots were fired following a brief confrontation.  The man was taken to Hutchinson Health for treatment.  The officer was not injured.  The suspect's name and condition are not available at this time.


A Rosemount man appears in court today after being indicted for first-degree murder and intentional second-degree murder in a shooting outside a Burnsville bar.  Thirty-one-year-old Shavelle Chavez-Nelson is also a suspect in the death of his ex-girlfriend, University of Minnesota student Anarae Schunk of Burnsville.  Twenty-year-old Schunk was last seen alive with Nelson and his current girlfriend on the night of the shooting.  Her body was found eight days later in rural Rice County.  The investigation into Schunk's death continues.  


A man is in the hospital after the van he was driving plunged into a pond in Eagan this morning.  Officials say the van left the road and went off a ten-foot retaining wall, landing upside down in the holding pond.  The driver had to be extricated.  He was rushed to Regions Hospital but his condition is unknown at this time. Officials say it's not clear yet what caused the crash.


One man is dead and another in critical condition after an early morning shooting in Minneapolis.  Police say the two men arrived at Hennepin County Medical Center in a vehicle this morning and both had been shot. The passenger in the car was pronounced dead at HCMC, and the driver is listed in critical condition.  So far no arrests have been made.  The shootings remain under investigation. 


A Minnesota insurance company has accepted part of the blame for the glitch-ridden rollout of the online health insurance exchange developed under the Affordable Care Act. The vice president of Minnetonka-based United Health's Optum unit told lawmakers in a Congressional hearing the company fixed its glitches quickly -- but Andrew Slavitt says the two weeks they were given to test the site weren't nearly enough, and months would have been nice.  Last year Optum acquired Quality Software Services Inc., which the government paid $85 million  to help build the health care website.  Slavitt says the website was overwhelmed by thousands of people trying to register when it opened.  The federal site serves three dozen states but not Minnesota, which built its own MNsure portal.


U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (DFL-Plymouth) says there seems to be some new momentum on the farm bill thanks in part to the recent government shutdown.  The Minnesota lawmaker says a more moderate voice has emerged on the Republican side that's now willing to stand up and say they're going to work with Democrats to get a Farm Bill done.  Klobuchar says sometimes when you have chaos like the shutdown an opportunity arises.  A conference committee could start work on the bill next week.


Nurses at Essentia Health in Virginia on Minnesota's Iron Range are holding an informational picket outside the hospital today.  R-N Pam Rengo says increased staffing levels are a big part of nurses' push in current negotiations because they want to take better care of their patients.  The nurses are working under a 2011 contract that expired July 21st.  More talks between Essentia management and the nurses association are scheduled.


An unsolved Grand Forks, North Dakota murder case will be profiled on NBC's "Dateline" tonight.  The case involves the death of a man on Halloween weekend of 2007.  The suspects were party-goers on a bus who were all wearing Halloween costumes.  38-year-old Joel Lovelien was found beaten in the parking lot of the "Broken Drum" bar.  A Minnesota man was charged with murder in his death, but later acquitted.  Dateline airs at 7 p.m. tonight.