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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: Student who suffered frostbite returns home

DULUTH -- A University of Minnesota Duluth student has returned to her St. Cloud home after spending more than two months in the hospital with severe frostbite.

Doctors gave 19-year-old Alyssa Jo Lommel clearance to return home Monday, and she is now receiving home health care, her mother, Teri Lommel, wrote on her CaringBridge site.

“It will be nice for her to get personal care in her own environment, and they will give us ideas on what we should change to make things easier for her,” Teri Lommel wrote. “We have already changed all the door handles to levers instead of knobs and gotten rid of all the rugs. I'm sure there is much more we need to do.”

She said Alyssa is doing well walking on her own, but still needs some assistance. Home health care professionals will continue to assist Teri in Alyssa’s care for now.

Alyssa Lommel has been hospitalized since Dec. 7, when she was found on the steps of a neighbor’s home. It's estimated she spent nearly nine hours outside on a night when the temperature dipped to 17 degrees below zero.

While hospitalized at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Lommel lost parts of her feet and all of her fingers last month due to frostbite. On Feb. 3, she was transferred to St. Cloud Hospital so she could continue her recovery closer to home.

A 2012 graduate of St. Cloud Cathedral High School, Lommel was a sophomore at UMD.


The western half of the state is under a winter weather advisory until 4:00 this (Thu) afternoon, and forecasters with the National Weather Service in Chanhassen are warning the remainder of Minnesota that blowing snow will reduce visibility for drivers. Winds are expected to gust as high as 45 m.p.h., and combined with the light snow that has fallen over the past 24 hours will greatly reduce visibility virtually statewide. Meteorologists are telling drivers to also watch for icy patches caused by drifting snow. As always, open areas in rural Minnesota will be most impacted.


Three Minnesota National Guard "recruiting assistants" are now linked to a national scandal that involved alleged kickbacks for recruiting soldiers. The Recruiting Assistance Program began in 2005 to boost military ranks, and paid soldiers and civilians to enlist recruits. The names of the Minnesota Guard members suspected of being involved have not been released. U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill says the number of people involved and the dollar amounts are staggering, with thousands of National Guard and Army Reserve participants who are associated with suspected fraudulent payments at an estimated total amount of 29 million dollars. The investigation is expected to continue until fall of 2016, due to the thousands of fraud claims that must be looked into.


The family of former Vice President Walter Mondale says he had successful heart surgery Wednesday at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. A statement says Mondale, who's 86, is resting comfortably and expected to make a full recovery. The surgery comes only a little more than a week after the death of the former vice president's wife, Joan Mondale. Mrs. Mondale was honored at a memorial last Saturday at a downtown Minneapolis church, attended by former President Jimmy Carter and Vice President Joe Biden.


Authorities have released more details about last Friday's high-speed police chase in the Twin Cities southwest suburbs that resulted in two suspects being fatally shot by officers. Investigators say after the vehicle crashed, 36-year-old Matthew Serbus emerged with a knife, ignored repeated commands to drop the weapon and was shot by officers. They say 34-year-old Dawn Pfister then grabbed the knife and was also shot. Investigators say the vehicle was reported stolen in Colorado and the license plate was stolen from another vehicle in that state. The investigation continues.


 A bi-partisan group of state lawmakers unveils their plan this morning (930am) to combat insurance fraud in Minnesota. Mark Kulda  with the Insurance Federation of Minnesota says insurance fraud costs the average Minnesota family about 14-hundred dollars a year in higher premiums and other costs. Kulda says among the proposals: more resources for investigating insurance fraud, and better information-sharing between insurance companies and law enforcement. The 2014 Minnesota Legislature convenes in under two weeks.


It's a week-and-a-half to the start of the 2014 legislative session and lawmakers have had a fairly full agenda of committee hearings as they get bills queued up. They got an update yesterday (Wed) on the propane shortage. Governor Dayton has asked the federal government for additional low-income heating assistance funding and, if it isn't forthcoming, says he'll include 17 million dollars in his supplemental budget request And in response to the recent incident just across the North Dakota border, a proposal has been floated to tax oil that's shipped through Minnesota, which money going to an oil spill preparedness fund. And among a number of other issues, lawmakers are getting ready to start the debate on a bonding bill for state public works projects, on a minimum wage increase, and on legalizing marijuana for medical purposes.


The U-S Senate has confirmed Minneapolis attorney Andrew Luger as Minnesota's new U-S Attorney, the head federal prosecutor in the state. Luger replaces B. Todd Jones whom the president appointed last year to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Senator Amy Klobuchar says Luger's confirmation is good news for the state. She says Luger has demonstrated a commitment to justice and his experience makes him well-qualified to serve as Minnesota's U-S Attorney.