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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: Minnesota tops for Senior Health

Minnesota is number-one for senior health.  The 2014 report from United Health Foundation says most of the state's elderly people visit the dentist and have quality nursing-home care available.  Minnesota also has the highest percentage of active elderly people and good prescription drug coverage.  Mississippi ranked last in almost every category.  The report looked at 34 factors to rank states, including the quality of nursing-home care and the number of elderly people in poverty.


New Brighton is taking the U.S. Army to federal court.  The Army admits the city's water supply was contaminated by an ammunition plant and agreed to make restitution.  However, the Army is not honoring its agreement until the city agrees to accept lower payments.


Minnesota U-S Representative Tim Walz was among those who voted in favor of the VA Management Accountability Act, which would give the Secretary of the VA greater ability to hold employees accountable when misconduct is uncovered.  Walz says his top priority, both a veteran and a Member of the VA Committee, is to ensure veterans get the support and care they have earned and deserve. The vote came on the same day that President Obama gave his first public remarks on allegations of long wait times and false record-keeping at VA medical centers in several states.  The fate of the legislation in the Senate is not clear.


Congressman Collin Peterson has written to the USDA Risk Management Agency, asking for a delay in planting dates for corn, grain and silage in some  Minnesota counties.  Federal crop insurance won't cover crops planted after the final planting date unless special late planting insurance is purchased, and Peterson says while farmers in Minnesota have planted about 53 percent of the corn acreage there have been significant delays in the northwest part of the state.  He says wet weather has prevented many of those producers from even getting fields ready for planting, much less actual planting, and growers would rather produce a corn crop than collect a prevented planting claim - and moving the dates back would give them that opportunity.


Minnesota's U.S. Senators have introduced a bill to rename the U.S. Department of Transportation Headquarters in memory of former U.S. Representative Jim Oberstar. Oberstar died May 3rd, and the Senators say he devoted his career to improving transportation and infrastructure and was regarded as an expert on public works and transportation issues. Senator Amy Klobuchar says, "Representative Oberstar's fingerprints can be found on just about every major federally funded transportation project during the last five decades," and  Senator Al Franken adds that, 'He knew more about transportation than anyone in this country."


 Fox News anchor Gregg Jarrett was arrested at a Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport bar yesterday (Wed) for refusing to cooperate with airport police.  Airport spokesman Patrick Hogan says security was called to the Northern Lights Grill in the main terminal and noted that Jarrett acted intoxicated, belligerent and refused to follow police orders.  The 59-year-old was booked into Hennepin County Jail on a preliminary charge of obstructing the legal process by interfering with an officer.  TV Newser reports that Jarrett recently requested time off from Fox News for 'personal reasons.' 


 Minneapolis police are defending the way they handled a riot following a hockey game in Dinkytown.  When students failed to disperse, officers used sponge rounds to break up the gathering and 19 people were arrested.  Assistant Chief Matt Clark said yesterday that the officers involved showed a lot of discipline and did everything they were asked to do.


A 6th grade substitute teacher is accused of making a reference to guns during class.  Alice Smith Elementary School Principal Jody De St. Hubert confirms that a reference to firearms was made by a substitute teacher, and says the students did an excellent job of reporting it - and an administration investigation determined the substitute teacher's comments were inappropriate and unacceptable she will not be back in any district classroom.  The woman is employed by Teachers On Call and has been with the company for 2 months. The company says it regrets, "the unfortunate use of words stated by a talented teacher in front of a classroom which may have been perceived differently than its original intent." The teacher will be allowed to sub in other schools the company contracts with.


 Police in Rochester conducted a massive fugitive search in Rochester last (Wed) night, searching for a Lake City man who has escaped from officers several times.  The Olmsted County Sheriff's Department believes 48-year-old Greg Ahlers is the same person who first took off on a motorcycle May 9 after a State Trooper tried to stop him in Rochester, and later sped away after a deputy later spotted him in Stewartville. In both cases, officers broke off the pursuits for safety reasons  They got a tip yesterday (Wed) that Ahlers was at a Rochester home but he managed to get away before officers could surround the property. A local tactical team was sent in to help with the search for Ahlers, which included a State Patrol helicopter.  The search was called off late last (Wed) night.


The long winter and rainy spring has not been kind to Minnesota farmers, and they're about three weeks behind on planting crops.  The latest crop report puts progress way behind the five-year average when it comes to planting corn.  University of Minnesota Extension educator Dan Martens says farmers need to wait until the ground dries to have the best success.  Martens says some farmers may choose to plant mature corn hybrids to make up for time they lost this month.  He says farmers have about a week before the delay starts to affect harvest.


Governor Dayton is defending after critics and editorial writers around the country say Minnesota "bought" the 2018 Super Bowl with its new Vikings stadium.  Dayton says the purpose of building the new stadium wasn't to get the Super Bowl -- although he says he's delighted Minnesota was successful.  The governor says the reason is to put over seven-thousand people to work at the construction site.  Dayton also points to 400 million dollars of additional planned private development in the "Downtown East" area of Minneapolis.


 A mental health advocacy group is demanding changes at the state Security Hospital in Saint Peter, accusing the Minnesota Human Services Department of a "troubling lack of improvement" after numerous licensing violations.  Sue Abderholden with NAMI Minnesota points to when one resident killed another earlier this year, and the victim laid on the floor over an hour-and-a-half before anyone noticed.  Abderholden says with a ratio of two residents to one staff person, she can't understand why someone didn't find out sooner.  State Human Services Commissioner Lucinda  Jesson says they're deeply troubled about the patient death and, although they've made progress at the state Security Hospital, changes have not come fast enough.  Jesson says new licensing conditions provide "a tidal wave of staff training and infusion of management support."


  Governor Dayton signed 19 bills into law Wednesday, five days after the 2014 legislature adjourned.  Among them:  The state Pharmacy Board now has cease-and-desist authority to prevent the sale of rapidly-evolving varieties of synthetic drugs.  Penalties are increased for assaulting or causing the death of a prosecuting attorney or judge in Minnesota, prompted by the 2011 courthouse shootings in Grand Marais.  And local governments will now be able to use electronic rosters to administer elections.  A bill the governor signed sets minimum technology standards for those election rosters.


 The Port of Duluth-Superior is commemorating National Maritime Day this afternoon with a special event (Thurs12pm).  Adele Yorde of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority says it started out as a way to honor our Merchant Marine -- those who delivered troops and supplies during wartime and peacetime -- and evolved into a combined salute to Merchant Mariners, veterans and the entire maritime industry.  Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center founding director Pat Labadie (LAB'-uh-dee) is keynote speaker at today's program.  National Maritime Day is always held on May 22nd, which marks the first Trans-Atlantic voyage of a steam vessel in 1819.