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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUND-UP: Prep football standout dies fleeing police

MADISON, Minn.   --  A Dawson-Boyd football standout was found dead on Sunday, hours after his family reported him missing.  18-year-old Michael Anyasike was with a group of teenagers seen running from a party near a vacant farmhouse in Madison early Sunday morning when police responded to a call about an underage drinking party. 

When he didn't come home that night his parents called the Lac qui Parle  County Sheriff's Department, who began a search and discovered Anyasike's body about a mile from the abandoned farmhouse.  There is no word yet on a possible cause of death.  The sheriff and the county coroner continue to investigate.  Anyasike was a senior, planning to attend St. Johns University next fall.


Fire crews remained on scene overnight at the Green Plains Renewable Energy Plant along I-94 near Fergus Falls, monitoring for flare-ups after a fire and explosion.  A fire in the dryer of the ethanol plant was reported shortly after 4:00 yesterday afternoon, followed by a large explosion that blew apart a building.  The plant manager says most employees had already left for the day and there were no injuries.  Fire Chief Mark Hovland says investigators will be on scene later today to look for the cause.  Fire departments from Dalton, Elizabeth and Underwood assisted in fighting the fire.


The 72-year-old man found shot in his home in Winona County home has been identified as former Winona State University professor Mickey Ellenbecker.  He was also a former probation officer in Winona.  Sheriff Dave Brand says the victim was shot in the back of head Saturday with his own .22 caliber revolver and died Sunday in a LaCrosse hospital.  A 64-year-old friend who was in the home at the time of the shooting was taken into custody and described as a person of interest, but no charges have been filed. 


Cybersecurity firm Mcafee is contradicting the findings of the U.S. Secret Service on the Target security breach over the  holiday season.  While the government contends the hackers were  well-organized, sophisticated and highly technical, Mcafee describes the  breach as basic.  According to the company, the hackers used malware that  could be easily modified and other common methods to gain access to Target's  point-of-sale system.  One Mcafee official called the attack "extremely  unimpressive and unremarkable."


With temperatures warming this week throughout Minnesota, the heavily packed snow is finally beginning to melt.  National Weather Service Meterologist Joe Calderone says that with temperatures for the majority of the week expected to be in the mid and upper 40s, the state should lose five to eight inches of the existing snowpack.  Calderone says a probable lack of heavy precipitation in coming weeks may slow down any potential flooding.  He also says the snowpack may have a very positive impact on the coming planting season as it melts. 


With spring finally seeming like a real possibility, state officials are reminding farmers to consider buying crop insurance ahead of the growing season.  State Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman says it's hard to predict the weather, of course, but crop insurance covers drought, hail and other damage and, "It just makes a lot of sense to have it."  Rothman says information about crop insurance can be found at the Commerce Department's website.  And for a list of agents, you can log on to the U-S Department of Agriculture Risk Management Agency's website.  The deadline to finalize a crop insurance plan for corn, soybean and wheat is March 15th. 


A Redwood Falls woman has been sentenced to more than eight years in prison for the death of her 22-month-old son.  Twenty-year-old Sandra Ann Highbear pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter in the February 2013 death of her toddler named Conroy.  The medical examiner determined that Conroy's death was caused by a ruptured stomach from a blunt force injury and also noted that he suffered several other contusions to his head and body.  Highbear has been in custody since her arrest and was given credit for 394 days served.


An overnight house fire in St. Paul has left four injured.  Firefighters were called to the home around 4 am and found flames coming out of the windows.  Four residents of the home had already escaped, but suffered from minor cuts and smoke inhalation.  Officials say the home is a total loss.  The cause of the blaze remains under investigation.


State Representative Pat Garofalo of Farmington is  apologizing for a tweet that many have interpreted as racist.  On Sunday  night, the Republican lawmaker said quote, "Let's be honest, 70% of teams in  the NBA could fold tomorrow + nobody would notice a difference w/ possible  exception of increase in streetcrime."  Yesterday, Garofalo said he was  simply talking about the high arrest rate of NBA players and added he was  surprised by the swift negative reaction.  His post has been retweeted over  17-hundred times.


The Senate has voted to give state employees a pay bump - but beginning in 2015 they will have to pay five percent more of their health care premiums.  DFL State Senator James Metzen of South St.Paul says it's been a long time since the paychecks of state employees   The Senate Health and Human Services Committe has approved a bill that would allow first responders to use a drug that can reverse effects of a heroin overdose.  State Senator Chris Eaton of Brooklyn Center says the legislation gives a standing order for administering naloxone to anybody who is the first one on the scene when some is overdosing, including police departments, fire departments, sheriffs and EMTs.  Eaton lost her daughter to a heroin overdose in 2007.  She says the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to consider the legislation on Friday.


A group of lawmakers has endorsed several pieces of legislation to help reduce childhood obesity in Minnesota.  DFL State Representative Kim Norton of Rochester is a member of the working group that has been tackling the issue for the past four years, and says the bipartisan, bicameral group has endorsed four bills that could help curb the problem.  Those bills include funding for the Safe Routes to School program, which encourages student to walk or bike to campus; another that would require a report on the status of physical education programs in schools across the state; legislation to provide funding for the school lunch program to cover kids offered reduced price lunches under federal guidelines; and a bill that would provide $65,000 to fund a study aimed at the reduction and prevention of childhood obesity in the state.


A bill introduced in the Minnesota House Ways and Means Committee would feed more children in public schools.  A recent report showed that more than half of the school districts in Minnesota either deny or limit access to hot lunches for children who don't have any money in their lunch account.  The bill sponsored by Republican State Representative Yvonne Selcer of Minnetonka means the state would pick up the tab for children of the "working poor" and pay the 38-cents per-meal for those who qualify for federally reduced price lunches.  The bill was approved in committee.


Legislation that will be discussed this session would provide infrastructure money for the Safe Routes to School Program, which works to increase safety for Minnesota kids who walk and bike to school.  State Representative Bob Dettmer of Forest Lake spent many years as a physical education teacher and says the goal is to encourage communities, when they do road work, to put in sidewalks and provide safe routes so students can walk or ride bicycles to school where they aren't crossing busy streets.  In the last federal funding cycle, the Minnesota Department of Transportation received 63 applications requesting a total of $15 million, but only $6.7 million was available and many of the programs went unfunded.


It's been four years since passage of the law requiring all Minnesota schools to include physical education, and lawmakers now want to know how it's working. State Representative Kim Norton of Rochester says the standards have been implemented by all districts, so today they'll introduce a bill asking for a report on the status.  The CDC recommends that elementary school children receive 150 minutes of phys. ed. per week, and that increases to 225 minutes per week in middle school and high school.


Same-sex marriage continues to divide Republicans in Minnesota. GOP delegates in House District 48-B refused to endorse State Representative Jenifer Loon of Eden Prairie over the weekend.  Loon was one of four House Republicans who supported the bill to legalize same-sex marriage last year.  The convention decided not to endorse any candidate and Loon plans to run in the GOP primary.  Representative David FitzSimmons of Albertville also lost his party's endorsement over his same-sex marriage vote and will not seek re-election.  Representative Andrea Kieffer of Woodbury supported the bill and also chose not to run again.  Representative Pat Garofalo of Farmington was able to win the GOP endorsement despite supporting same-sex marriage.


A pilot attempting to take to the skies in his experimental, homemade airplane on Mille Lacs Lake near St. Albans Bay received minor injuries when the takeoff went awry.  Crow Wing County Sheriff's deputies say 62-year-old Kenneth Olson of Sartell was using a makeshift runway on the lake when the left wing caught a snow bank and the two-seater plane flipped over.  He was treated for minor injuries, and his 59-year-old wife Mary was unhurt.  The Olsons were a part of a club of pilots that had landed on Mille Lacs Lake for a private event.  The accident is being investigated by the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office and the F.A.A.


The Electric Fetus record store in St. Cloud is closing its doors May 23rd after 27 years in business.  The St. Cloud store's lease expires this spring and the Electric Fetus decided to concentrate its efforts on the Duluth and Minneapolis markets.  The story on their website says "it's been incredible to be a part of the St. Cloud community and music scene for many years, and we have great and loyal customers who we will miss."  


Guilty consciences and a confession landed two Rochester men in jail.  Rochester police say the two men who stole a wallet from a neighbor who lives in the same apartment complex as one of the thieves went on a shopping spree with the victim's credit card, purchasing several items -- including a $200 bong  They apparently began to feel guilty about the crime and confessed to the neighbor they stole from, who called police.