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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUND-UP: Dry days last week help farmers catch-up with crops

ST. PAUL -  Minnesota farmers had 4.7 days suitable for fieldwork last week, the most in nearly a month, according to the USDA's Weekly Crop Report. 

Drier field conditions allowed many farmers to catch-up with herbicide and fertilizer spraying.  Nearly all of Minnesota's corn crop has emerged, with 64 percent of the crop in good to excellent condition.  The state's soybean crop is rated 61 percent in good to excellent condition.  Only 20 percent of the state's sugarbeet crop was rated in good to excellent condition.  Topsoil moisture is rated 70 percent adequate and 30 percent surplus, while subsoil moisture is 67 percent adequate and 32 percent surplus.


The preliminary damage assessments from last month's severe storms and flooding continue this week in southern Minnesota.  State and federal teams are meeting with local officials and viewing the damage today in Chippewa, Freeborn, Murray, Pipestone and Hennepin counties.  Governor Dayton indicated last week that initial damage estimates reached $32-million.  The state threshold to request a presidential disaster declaration is $7.3 million in damage to public infrastructure.  Assessments continue Wednesday in Sibley, Steele, Martin, Carver and Scott counties. 


A 14-month-old girl was killed after being run over by an SUV in Brooklyn Center Monday afternoon.  The driver of the SUV was backing the vehicle away from a grill after starting a fire in it.  The man believed the three siblings had moved out of the way  The victim's name has not been released.  Authorities are still investigating and say the family is cooperating.  Federal regulators say 210 people are killed every year by drivers backing up.  Rear-facing cameras, now available on higher end vehicles, will become standard equipment for most new cars and trucks starting in 2018. 


The Rochester City Council is expected to hold a public hearing July 21st to get input on proposals to deal with panhandling issues.  The recommendations were put together by City Attorney Terry Adkins in response to increasing complaints about aggressive panhandling in the city.  One addresses aggressive panhandlers, such as those who approach vehicles or public dining areas.  Adkins also proposes the city ban anyone from using a public road median to panhandle due to traffic concerns.  Police Chief Roger Peterson was asked if his department would enforce the proposals if they are adopted.  He told the council he anticipates his officers would educate violators about the new restrictions. If the same person was caught in violation again, a ticket could be issued.


The 2014 Minnesota Veterans Career Fair will be held tomorrow in Brooklyn Center.  Tomorrow's career fair is the largest event in the state for military veterans who are looking for work.  More than 140 Minnesota employers with job openings are scheduled to participate.  Governor Mark Dayton will also address employers and veterans in attendance.  Tomorrow's event will run from 10 to 3 at the Earle Brown Heritage Center in Brooklyn Center.  All current and former members of the U.S. military are welcome.  


The city of Minneapolis is home to 15,000 people attending the Shriners International 2014 Imperial Session this week. (July 6th-10th) Melvin Tennant is president of Meet Minneapolis Convention and Visitors Association and says the economic impact to the area is around 34 million dollars.  He says this is the fourth time the Shriners have held their event in Minneapolis.  Tonight the Shriner's will hold the Imperial Parade starting at 7:30 in Minneapolis.  There will be nearly 200 parade units including clowns, motor cars, bands, motorcycles and antique cars. The parade runs through downtown Minneapolis in Hennepin Avenue starting at Parade Stadium at 7:30 and ending at South 5th Street.


A Mound man is charged with two felonies after leading deputies on a boat chase on Lake Minnetonka Friday night with an infant on board.  During a routine patrol, the Hennepin County Sheriff's Water Patrol spotted a speed boat driving erratically around a woman in the water.  The operator of the boat, 33-year-old Ryan Krueger had a nine month old toddler on his lap -- who wasn't wearing a life jacket.  After being ordered by deputies to stop his boat, Krueger fled.  Several responding officers were eventually able to block Krueger in and board his boat.  He had to be subdued with pepper spray before being taken into custody.  Krueger's blood alcohol level registered at point-one-five. When authorities asked Krueger what was going on, he said the mother of the toddler was drunk and jumped out of the boat.


Investigators are trying to track down who's been stealing large amounts of copper power cords from Moorhead area beet pilers. The pilers are owned by American Crystal Sugar Co. and are located in Hitterdal, Felton and Sabin.  Sheriff's Lieutenant. Steve Landsem says the thefts have been occurring in Clay and surrounding counties over the past six weeks.  A $2500 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction.  Landsem says the value of the stolen copper is in the "tens of thousands of dollars."


A suspicious death investigation is under way in the city of McIntosh in northwestern Minnesota.  A man's body was found in his home Saturday and taken to the University of North Dakota Medical Examiner's Office for an autopsy  Neighbors say the man was confined to a wheelchair and that his son stayed with him from time to time.  Polk County investigators say more information will be released once they receive the autopsy results.


The Minneapolis police chief is calling on the city's residents to put down their guns and find another way to resolve personal conflicts, after a particularly violent Fourth of July weekend.  Chief Janee Harteau says there were three shooting incidents in north Minneapolis in the early morning hours of July 5 - in which two adults died from gunshot wounds and at least three more people were hurt  The Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Officer has identified the victims as 24-year-old Francesca DeSandre and 28-year-old Cabrie Young, both of Minneapolis.  They were killed in separate violent incidents.  Police also say there were two stabbings downtown, and a man and woman were hospitalized.  Harteau says she and other city leaders are concerned about the level of violence.


Mankato Police arrested a man yesterday after they say he set off a homemade pipe bomb outside a home.  Investigators say they also found several other such bombs and they called in the Bloomington Bomb Squad to remove and dispose of them.  Nobody was hurt and the suspect was jailed.  The case is still under investigation.  


A statewide effort is under way to help donations to food shelves go further, as summer is often their toughest time.  The 5th annual Open Your Heart Food Shelf Challenge has $150,000 available in matching donations this month.  Ed Murphy is executive director of the group Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless, which is putting on the challenge along with Hunger Solutions Minnesota.  He says demand on food shelves increases during the summer, when children who receive free or reduced-priced school lunches are at home.  Murphy says even as Minnesota's jobless rate is at the lowest point in seven years, food shelf use increased by about 60 percent in that same time, so that they're now used by 1 in 5 families statewide. 


Minnesotans who traveled the roads over the holiday weekend likely felt the pinch at the gas pump, but some spent a lot less money fueling up than others.  New research from the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) finds drivers of 2008 models typically spend $300 more a year on gas than those who drive a typical 2014 model.  And CFA's Jack Gillis says savings should only increase as manufacturers improve fuel efficiency.  He says by 2020, you'll be spending just under $1,800.  Gillis adds those who purchase more fuel-efficient vehicles, such as hybrids that use gasoline and electricity, are saving about $500 a year.  


MNSure, the state's health care exchange, is setting up shop at county fairs throughout Minnesota this summer.  Even though the open enrollment period has ended, enrollment is still available for consumers eligible for MinnesotaCare or Medical Assistance.  MNsure's Shane Delaney says representatives will be on hand to answer people's questions and to assist with enrollment.  The Polk County Fair, which kicks of Wednesday, is the first county fair of the summer where MNsure will make its services available.