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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: Four die on snow-slicked roads

The death toll now stands at four in crashes on snow-covered and icy roads in Minnesota.  Two people from Missouri were killed yesterday when their car slid into the path of another car on Highway 21 northwest of Faribault.  Earlier this week, Tyler Evan of Belle Plaine was killed when he lost control on a Carver County road.  Mridusha Allen of Springfield was killed Monday afternoon in Blue Earth County when she lost control on icy Highway 68 and slid into the path of a semi. 


Two Rogers Police squad cars are in ruins after being hit by an out of control semi truck. Two officers were responding to a jackknifed semi on Interstate 94 late Monday night when another semi lost control and collided with both of their vehicles. The road conditions were said to be icy at the time of the incident.  One of the officers was taken to the hospital as a precaution but both were able to avoid major injury.  


The Minnesota Propane Association is *not* expecting a big uptick in prices this heating season after last winter's major spike.  Executive Director Roger Leider says crop drying did not increase demand and rural homeowners and businesses were proactive.  Leider says after last year's crazy winter, a great number of propane customers had their tanks filled during the summer and are generally ready for the coming season.  Leider says storage facilities in Canada and Kansas have 15 to 20 percent more propane this season than last.  The average price for a gallon of propane is a dollar-89 in Minnesota right now.


A hearing is scheduled for next Monday on the grievance filed by the NFL Players Association to reinstate Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.  The union filed the expedited grievance this week asking that Peterson be removed from the commissioner's exempt list. FOX Sports is reporting an arbitrator will conduct Monday's hearing and then have five days to make a decision.  Peterson pleaded no contest last week to charges he abused his four-year-old son.


Students from school districts across Minnesota are gathering today (Wed) at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul for We Day.  It's an event kids can't buy tickets for, but earn them through community service and global activism projects.  Among the performers and speakers at this year's event -- former NBA star and philanthropist Magic Johnson, The Band Perry, the first female space shuttle commander Lt. Colonel Eileen Collins, and former U.S Army soldier and winner of Dancing With the Stars J.R. Martinez.


With temperatures dropping, some Minnesotans are thinking about ways to make their homes more energy-efficient.  Xcel Energy's Jean Hammer says one option is to call in the utility's "Home Energy Squad" -- a team of two energy experts who come to the home and work closely with the homeowner to make immediate energy-saving changes -- things such as door weatherstripping, energy-efficient showerheads, faucet aerators, a programmable thermostat, and lighting.  Hammer says the squad will go to work right away, swap out those items and be out in two hours or less.  Energy audits are also available from Xcel, when experts make recommendations on bigger changes, such as insulation, windows and doors, or an upgraded heating system to make a home more energy-efficient.


The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says hunters have taken 71 wolves so far in the season that opened on Saturday.  The harvest target for the season is 250, slightly higher than the 238 limit last year.  In the northeast Minnesota zone the early season quota is 37 and 29 wolves have already been harvested.  Meanwhile, a group opposed to the wolf hunt, Howling for Wolves, held rallies in St. Paul and Duluth over the weekend to protest the state's 3rd wolf hunting season.


The Independent Vapor Retailers of Minnesota is hosting a number of listening sessions ahead of votes on proposed regulations to the e-cigarette industry later this month.  Currently the Minneapolis and Bloomington city councils are looking at ordinances that would put e-cigs under the same regulations as traditional cigarettes and other tobacco products.  But Independent Vapor Retailers spokeswoman Angie Griffith says there's no science that shows e-cigs are as bad for a person as cigarettes, and so they need their own set of regulations  E-cigarettes are a booming business in Minnesota with over 100 retail locations established in the state, largely over the past two years.