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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUND-UP: Dayton orders state's schools to close Monday due to weather

ST. PAUL - Gov. Mark Dayton is closing schools Monday because of predicted frigid weather.

“The safety of Minnesota’s schoolchildren must be our first priority,” Dayton said. “I have made this decision to protect all our children from the dangerously cold temperatures now forecasted for next Monday. I encourage Minnesotans of all ages to exercise caution in these extreme weather conditions.”

Blizzard warnings for northwestern Minnesota tonight into Saturday, with snow, freezing rain and sleet likely for much of the rest of the state. But the big blow comes Monday, when highs of 15 below zero to 20 below zero are expected across much of the state. Overnight lows early next week could tip as low as 30 below, which Dayton’s office reports will be the coldest temperatures in a decade. The governor's office said the decision to close schools was announced today so school administrators, teachers and parents could make plans. The state Education Department reported it is coordinating with school districts throughout the day to notify the public about Monday’s school closings. “Children's safety is always our top priority, and as a former superintendent, I know these are never easy calls,” Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius said. State law gives the governor authority to order schools to close.Rochester school officials already had decided to close Monday, but most other schools were waiting to see updated forecasts.


A federal judge in Minneapolis has refused to release a Minnesota National Guard veteran and member of a militia organization from jail pending his court trial.  25-year-old Keith Novak of Maplewood is accused of stealing security clearance information, Social Security numbers and names of 400 people in his former Army unit.  Federal prosecutors accuse him of running a militia and stealing the information to make fake ID cards for militia members. 


A judge has set bail at two-million dollars for a Ponsford man charged with murder and arson.  48-year-old Charles Joes is accused of setting fire to a house near Ponsford.  Joes admitted to a Becker County sheriff's investigator that he started the fire on Monday afternoon while 35 year-old Shalonda Clark was asleep on a couch.  Joes was found at a neighbor's home. He had suffered burns.


A Sartell man who says he was sexually abused by a priest in the mid-1960s has filed a lawsuit against the Diocese of St. Cloud.  In 1993, Robert Ethen told attorneys he was abused by Father James A. Thoennes and is filing the lawsuit against the Diocese so that no child has to go through what he did.  In 2003, church officials admitted there were 26 priests who worked in the Diocese of St. Cloud who had been accused of sexually molesting minors.  Similar lists have already been released by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Winona and Duluth with pending suits in Crookston and New Ulm.


Red Wing State Senator Matt Schmit says it's time to improve broadband Internet access in Greater Minnesota, when the state budget has a surplus and a bonding bill is on the legislature's plate for 2014.  Schmit kicks off the second leg of his "Border to Border Broadband Tour" Monday (1/6) in North Branch.  He'll criss-cross the state next week getting public input.


Duluth Police have arrested a suspect in the attempted armed robbery at a Subway Monday night. 36-year-old Eric Dahlberg was arrested without incident and was formally charged with felony 2nd degree assault and terroristic threats.  Dahlberg allegedly brandished a knife at the Subway employee.  Authorities say he has a long list of convictions dating back to 1994.