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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: Father abandons injured children after crash

ST. PAUL -- A 45-year-old St. Paul father was arrested after he crashed his van in a construction zone and ran from the scene, leaving his two injured children behind.  St. Paul police received an anonymous 911 call, and when they got to the scene they found and 8-year-old and a 14-year-old in the van, screaming for help.  Earl Ward has prior convictions for assault, dealing narcotics, criminal sexual conduct, domestic threats and terroristic threats and weapons possessions, and he has an active warrant in a domestic incident in Hennepin County.  The children suffered serious injuries but are expected to recover.


Storm and flood damage assessments aren't finished yet, but Minnesota has more than met the 7.3 million-dollar statewide threshold to ask for a presidential disaster declaration.  Governor Dayton said Tuesday afternoon the state should be in a position hopefully by the end of next week to make a request.  Officials say so far initial damage numbers total about 32 million dollars, but only 21 counties have turned in paperwork.  They say numbers don't include Roseau and Lake of the Woods counties, which are still in the flood fight.


The Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis says it's conducting an internal investigation of Archbishop John Nienstedt in response to allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct with seminarians, priests and other men.  The Star Tribune reports the conduct allegedly occurred when Nienstedt worked in the Archdiocese of Detroit, as bishop of New Ulm and in the Twin Cities Diocese.  Nienstedt says the allegations are "absolutely and entirely false."  He was cleared earlier this year of allegations of inappropriately touching a youth during a church function.


An arrest warrant has been issued for a member of the Fargo Invaders Football Club from St.Paul.  Twenty-four-year-old Sedne "Leon" Williams is accused of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl.  Clay County Assistant Attorney Pam Harris says Williams is facing two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, because the victim was assaulted on two different locations on the same -- once in Dilworth and a second time in Moorhead.  Harris says Williams knows he is wanted on a warrant but has failed to turn himself in.  The Invaders' football team has released Williams, saying he clearly violated team policy.  Officials say the team sympathizes with the victim's family.


 Authorities say that a man has likely drowned in the Mississippi River.  Police say that a man was spotted in the river north of the Hennepin Avenue Bridge about 10:30 yesterday morning and efforts to have the victim grab onto a rope with a flotation device attached to it failed  The man then disappeared beneath the water and crews searched the river yesterday as part of a recovery effort.  


The unofficial kick off to the Fourth of July holiday is here.  Gail Weinholzer with Triple-A Minnesota says they're predicting 41-million Americans will travel at least 50 miles or more from home this Independence holiday weekend, which they define as today (Wed) through Sunday.  The highest percentage of those travelers, about 35 million, will be in their personal car.  Weinholzer says this figure is the highest number of Fourth of July travelers since 2007.


Heavy rain and lack of sun has hit Minnesota farmers hard this summer, and that affects the local economy for everyone as harvests don't look nearly as good as usual.  Farm Management Analyst Kent Thiesse from Lake Crystal says corn will be "knee high by the Fourth of July," but to get best yields farmers in Minnesota want it to be waist high, and that's not happening this year. 


A Minnesota teenager is hospitalized after a farm accident in Stearns County.  Sheriff's officials say 13-year-old Kurt Herdering's father was taking over operation of a tractor when it started rolling backward and both Kurt and 45-year-old Tom Herdering fell from the tractor.  The teen was caught under the front left tire, and the tractor continued to roll into a nearby shed.  He was taken to a hospital in Albany; there is no word on his current condition.


The last of three co-conspirators in a Fergus Falls home invasion was sentenced this week.  33-year-old Daniel Cassman, Terry Stewart and Jeremy Wark are accused of knocking on the door of a home at 4 am and forced their way inside.  Cassman worked for the one of the victims and went there to demand his paycheck. Cassman plead guilty to burglary and was sentenced to 180 days in jail and a prison stay of nearly one-and-a-half years was stayed for 10 years of probation. Co-conspirator Wark was previously sentenced to 180 days in jail and Terry Stewart received a nearly two-and-a-half year prison sentence because he had prior convictions for assault, receiving stolen property and other offenses.


Police in Austin say a burglary suspect unsuccessfully tried to make his getaway from a restaurant break-in in a kayak.  An employee was giving a tour of the closed restaurant and interrupted the burglary.  A fire department boat chased down the suspect as he paddled away, and cleaning supplies and lighters apparently taken from the restaurant were found in the kayak.  The suspect faces burglary charges.


Wisconsin's largest grocery store chain will close its distribution center in Stevens Point, Wisconsin - putting almost 200 people out of work.  Roundy's told state officials yesterday that most employees would be released by the end of August, and the shutdown would be complete by the end of September.  The company blames the closure on the sales of more than two dozen Roundy-owned stores in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul areas, which obtained its grocery items from the Stevens Point facility.  The firm said it would move the center's operations in phases to similar facilities in Oconomowoc and Mazomanie.  Roundy's operates a total of 174 supermarkets and 110 pharmacies in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Minnesota.


A group of college students from Texas spent the night in St. Cloud last (Tuesday) night. They're biking their way from the University of Texas in Austin, to Anchorage, Alaska for the non-profit organization "Texas 4000", which raises money for cancer research.  There's a total of 79 cyclists taking three different routes across the country. Kevin Helgren says they all have a personal reason for signing-in up for the grueling ride, and he's doing it for his grandfather, who lost his battle with cancer.  In addition to committing to riding the roughly 4,600 miles, each bike rider is also required to raise $4,500 - or about one dollar per mile - and they also have to commit to 15 hours of community service.  


 Hormel has agreed to buy CytoSport Holdings --  the company behind the Muscle Milk brand of protein drinks, powders, bars, energy chews and more -- for about $450 million. That's expected bring in about $370 million in total 2014 sales to Hormel, and company representatives predict Muscle Milk will increase shares by 5 cents in fiscal 2015. The agreement is expected to close within a month.  Hormel Foods CEO and President Jeff Ettinger says the company expects Muscle Milk sales to grow beyond the company's 5 percent annual growth goal for next year and could do even better as Hormel throws its sales force and research departments behind the protein line.


 The world's largest airplane has landed in the Twin Cities.  The Antonov (ann-TOE-nof) 225 landed at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Monday.  Officials say that the giant aircraft is in the Twin Cities to pick up air conditioning equipment to take to the Middle East.  The plane is scheduled to leave the Twin Cities tonight.