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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: Carleton College grieving the loss of three students

NORTHFIELD -- Grief counseling is being offered at Carleton College today. The campus continues mourning the deaths of three students killed Friday in a crash on an icy road near Northfield. School spokesman Eric Sieger says the close-knit community is getting through the loss together. Twenty-year-old James Adams of St. Paul, 21-year-old Paxton Harvieux of Stillwater and 20-year-old Michael Goodgame died when their SUV collided with a semi. The driver and another passenger in the SUV were seriously injured. The group was headed to the airport to play in an Ultimate Frisbee tournament in California.


The brutally cold and seemingly endless winter is delivering another morning of below zero temperatures and a wind chill advisory that covers much of the state. Forecasters with the National Weather Service in Chanhassen say sub-zero temperatures will stick around through around 9 a.m., with wind chill readings between 25 and 35 below in most areas. It is expected to be especially cold in southeastern and northeastern Minnesota. An inch or two of snow is also likely for spots along and north of the I-94 corridor.


If you're one of the Minnesotans complaining about the weather this winter--the data show you have good reason to gripe. State Climatologist Greg Spoden says this is officially one of the worst winters in the past 35 years based on average air temperature, number of days below zero and total snowfall. Spoden says the harsh winter came as a bit of a surprise to the experts as well. He says in late autumn forecasters had predicted a mild winter with temperatures above normal. Spoden says Mother Nature threw us a curveball this year with the polar vortex.


 State lawmakers continue debating the best use for the state's billion-dollar-plus budget surplus as the Minnesota Legislature begins week two of the 2014 session. Governor Dayton says additional tax cuts beyond what he proposed earlier will probably be part of the supplemental budget proposal he plans to unveil this week. Democrats are talking about using some of the surplus for tax relief, putting some in the state's "rainy day" fund, and possibly using some for state buildings or transportation projects. House Republican Minority Leader Kurt Daudt says the surplus should be returned to taxpayers.


Prospects are uncertain for a new 90-million-dollar Senate Office Building and parking ramp across the street from the State Capitol, as the 2014 legislative session begins its second week. The issue is tangled up with a major renovation of the State Capitol building that's well in progress. The Senate has already endorsed a plan that would leave some senators' offices in the Capitol building and put the rest in the new building across the street. Republicans say the building isn't necessary. And Democrats in the House are balking. Analysts say House Democrats might fear backlash at the polls, or maybe they're upset that the Senate would get a new building while they stay across the street at the old State Office Building.


Members of the Minnesota Medical Association will gather in Eagan tomorrow (tues) night to discuss the hot topic of legalizing medical marijuana. M-M-A spokesman Dan Hauser says the group currently has no position on the issue, so now is a good time to gather phsyicians together with members and hash it out. Currently 21 states and the District of Columbia allow medical marijuana in one form or another.


More people are getting away from Minnesota's brutal winter by booking flights to warmer climes. That's causing some delays at MSP International Airport. MSP Spokesman Pat Hogan says there was a about a 6.5 percent bump in traveler's this January compared to last year, and he expects that to continue throughout March. Hogan says reduced TSA staffing is also causing some slowdowns. He recommends if you want to be on time for your flight, you should arrive at least two-and-half hours ahead of the departure time.


The Department of Natural Resources is reminding anglers the deadline to remove fish houses off lakes is tonight in the southern two-thirds of the state (Mon11:59pm). The DNR's Rich Sprouse says there is a base fine of 125 dollars plus local fees for those who fail to comply. If the shelter is left on the ice five days after the close of the season, a mandatory court appearance is required. And litter is a misdemeanor with a fine of up to one-thousand dollars. The deadline to remove ice shelters in the northern third of the state is March 17th.


Funeral arrangements are still pending for a Marine from Waseca who was killed in an attack by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan Friday. 20-year-old Lance Corporal Caleb Erickson was a gunner riding in the last truck of a convoy when the bomber attacked. Erickson was airlifted to a medical facility where he later died. No one else in the convoy received life-threatening injuries. Erickson graduated from Waseca High School in 2012. He was due back in the U-S in May. Messages of condolence to the family can be posted on the Dennis Funeral Homes website. 


 The 12-year-old boy hospitalized after being pulled from a St. Louis Park middle school swimming pool has died. City spokesman Jamie Zwilling released a statement saying that St. Louis Park officials were notified Saturday that the boy died overnight. A teacher found the seventh grade student in the deep end of the pool Thursday morning and jumped in to pull him out before starting C-P-R. The boy's name or cause of death has not yet been released.


The Dalai Lama took part in Tibetan New Year celebrations in the Twin Cities over the weekend. It marked the first time since he was exiled from Tibet that he marked the holiday from anywhere other than India. The Dalai Lama joined an estimated three-thousand Tibetan-Americans at Augsburg College in Minneapolis Sunday morning, and spoke at Macalester College in St. Paul in the afternoon. This was his first visit to the Twin Cities in three years.


Two Moorhead police officers are among the five finalists for the police chief position in Dilworth. Sgt. Toby Krone and Detective Ryan Nelson are on the list of finalists that the city council will review. The other three who made the cut are from New Mexico, Utah and North Carolina. Josh Ebert resigned last fall after 19 months as police chief. That followed questions about his performance and a vote of no confidence by officers under his command. Officer Brad Browning is serving as interim police chief.


The St. Paul Federation of Teachers will vote tomorrow(tues) on a new contract with the school district, with the board to vote on March 18 if teachers ratify it. The tentative deal was reached February 21 and include a wage and benefit increase of six-point-eight-percent over two years and smaller class sizes. Expansion of the Parent Teacher Home Visit Project is also part of the agreement as part of an effort for educators to build stronger relationship with parents.