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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUND-UP: Thirty-car pile-up on I-35 in Duluth

DULUTH --  At least 30 vehicles were involved in a crash in a tunnel on Interstate 35 in downtown Duluth yesterday morning.

Around five inches of snow fell in a quick moving storm-system that caused slippery roads and poor visibility.  Lt. Eric Roeske of the State Patrol says no serious injuries were reported.  The lanes reopened around 1:30 p.m., about three hours after the first crash.  


A one vehicle crash on a slippery I-35 in Pine County around 8:30 Thursday morning left one person dead and another injured.  The Minnesota State Patrol says 82 year old Shirley Schultz of Coon Rapids died when the vehicle she was a passenger in lost control on northbound I-35 and rolled into the median. 


Skiers at Hyland Ski and Snowboard Area in Bloomington were stranded for a short time on a chairlift yesterday morning.  Three Rivers Park District officials say seven skiers had to be lowered with ropes by the ski patrol.  Nobody was hurt. The lift remains closed.


Scientists are promising a silver lining to the bitter cold winter we've had over the past few months -- the Great Lakes are icier than they've been in a third of a century.  Climatologist Jeff Andresen says ice on the Great Lakes is a good thing.  He says having ice cover the lake inhibits or even prohibits evaporation of free water so this should help reduce the amount of evaporation and, of course, that would help our lake levels a little bit.  Water levels have been below normal on all of the Great Lakes since the late 1990s.  As of yesterday (Thu) 94.6 percent of Lake Superior was covered by ice, and the Great Lakes as a whole about 88.4 percent. 


Three passengers suffered minor injuries when a twin-engine plane that departed from Rochester made a hard landing in northeastern Wisconsin.  Oconto County sheriff's deputy Troy Sherman says the pilot notified Austin Straubel International Airport that the plane's instruments and wings were icing up and he needed to make an emergency landing in Oconto. The plane landed hard, apparently because poor visibility prevented the pilot and co-pilot from seeing the ground, and skidded off the runway.  Three passengers were taken to a hospital with minor injuries, but the pilot and co-pilot refused treatment.  The plane was heavily damaged. 


Newport Police are investigating a stabbing death at a business in the east metro community.  Investigators say a 911 call came in yesterday afternoon to report a stabbing at Bailey's Nursery.  The victim has since died and a suspect is in custody.  The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is helping with the investigation. 


A Grand Rapids teen has changed his plea to guilty to charges resulting from a high-speed chase on the 4th of July.  Prosecutors say officers were responding to a domestic assault call when 17-year-old Grant Gunderson took off at speeds of over 100 miles an hour.  They say Gunderson tried to ram two squad cars and forced them off the road -- and during the chase a Grand Rapids officer fired shots.  Gunderson admitted to charges of running from police and impaired driving, and in exchange domestic assault and using deadly force against an officer counts were dropped. 


A convicted killer from Rochester was sentenced to nearly two years in prison for threatening his ex-girlfriend last summer, but he may not serve any time.  Rochester police arrested 41-year-old Mark Huyber after he was spotted driving near the woman's home in August.  He pleaded guilty to making terroristic threats and was given a stayed prison term of 21 months -- but he could be made to spend that time behind bars if he gets in any trouble in the next five years.  Huyber was sentenced to 18 years in prison in 2000 after pleading guilty to 2nd degree murder in connection with the 1999 shooting of a Detroit man.


A Rochester man is facing an expensive taxicab bill - and an expected assault charge after attacking a cab driver early Thursday morning after vomiting on him. Police say the 31-year-old initially had the cabbie drive him to a friend's home, but when they arrived the intoxicated man told the driver he wasn't familiar with the area and wanted to go to his own home instead. The man became ill when they arrived and threw up on the driver. The cabbie then told the man he owed him $42 for the ride and another $100 to clean the vehicle. The man became upset and assaulted the cabbie, who then called 911. Police arrived and arrested the passenger.


Jeffery Trevino is appealing his conviction of second-degree unintentional murder in the death of his wife, Kira Steger.  The Star Tribune reports the appeal documents were filed Thursday in Ramsey County District Court.  Trevino received a 27-year prison sentence -- almost twice the maximum recommended in state guidelines.  The judge said he acted with "particular cruelty" by dumping Steger's body in the Mississippi after killing her in their Saint Paul home.


State health officials say geographic spread of influenza remains "regional" in Minnesota and key indicators continue to drop.  The number of flu-related hospitalizations has dropped to half - from 122 in the previous report to 63 last week.  Eight schools in the state reported outbreaks and there were none in nursing homes.  It appears the flu season peaked in early February.  


At least $6.6 million in upgrades at TCF Stadium so the Vikings can play there until their new stadium is finished -- that plan is up for a vote by the University of Minnesota Board of Regents this morning.  Upgrades include artificial turf with a field heating system, heated restrooms and elevator lobbies plus air curtains, and 1,750 temporary bleachers.  The money comes from the budget for the new Vikings stadium.  U-of-M Assistant VP Suzanne Smith says they're really looking forward to the Vikings playing at TCF Stadium for the next two seasons.


U.S. Senator Al Franken (DFL-MInneapolis isn't thrilled with the proposed $45-billion merger of the nation's two largest cable companies.  Franken has sent a letter to the Justice Department expressing his concerns that the combination of Comcast and Time Warner will result in higher prices, fewer choices and worse service.  On CNN, Franken said the fact that the two companies have boasted that they don't have any customers who share ZIP codes is proof that there is too little competition for cable television.  


State education officials say more Minnesota high school students than ever before are taking advanced-placement college courses.  A report by the College Board shows Minnesota high school students had passing scores on over 42-thousand advanced-placement exams last year and earned over 126-thousand college credits free-of-charge.  State Education Department's Charlene Briner (BRY'-ner) says a student finishing high school with some college credits makes a big difference to their family's budget.  Briner says advanced-placement courses not only give high school students a "leg up" on college work but also expose them to the rigors of post-secondary education.


Consumers are keeping their budgets in check this Valentine's Day.  Bruce Nustad, president of the Minnesota Retail Federation, says average spending for Valentine's Day 2014 is about 135 dollars per person, including gift cards, an evening out and the like.  Nustad says Valentine's gift giving isn't just for couples:  Nearly 60 percent will show their appreciation for family members and around 20-percent will give a Valentine to a friend or teacher.


The Minneapolis Police Department's Mounted Patrol is saying goodbye to its "go-to" horse this Valentine's Day (Fri 12pm).  Police spokesman Scott Seroka says 19-year-old Oliver has served the department for the last 13 years and was part of more than 12-hundred patrol and bar-close events.  Seroka says Oliver did admirable work during the Republican National Convention as has been part of a couple officer in-the-line-of-duty funerals as well  Seroka says today's send-off in Maple Plain will be difficult and emotional for officers who consider him a valuable member of the family.  Oliver will retire to a stable in Stearns County.