AROUND MINNESOTA: 28 districts unsettled ... Packers needed for Haiti food ... Reservists get sendoff ... moreThe state teachers union said one more school district settled a contract ahead of Friday’s midnight deadline. That leaves an estimated 28 districts that missed the deadline. A statement sent Saturday by the Education Minnesota union said teachers in Bemidji approved a contract Friday evening.
By: Associated Press/Forum Communications,
28 districts miss contract deadline
ST. PAUL — The state teachers union said one more school district settled a contract ahead of Friday’s midnight deadline. That leaves an estimated 28 districts that missed the deadline.
A statement sent Saturday by the Education Minnesota union said teachers in Bemidji approved a contract Friday evening.
By the union’s count, 28 locals failed to settle their two-year contracts by the deadline. Those districts now face a state penalty of $25 per student.
Minneapolis, Edina, St. Cloud and Brainerd were among districts that hadn’t settled their teacher contracts.
The Minneapolis Public Schools said Friday it couldn’t reach agreement with the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers before the state deadline.
On the Net:
- Education Minnesota: www.educationminnesota.org
- Minnesota School Boards Association: www.
Packers needed for food to Haiti
COON RAPIDS — A Twin Cities-based aid group is offering opportunities to help in the Haitian earthquake relief effort.
Feed My Starving Children is appealing for Minnesotans to donate time and money to provide lifesaving meals for Haitians in the coming days and weeks.
The Christian aid group said it needs thousands more volunteers in the next six weeks for its three food-packing sites in the Twin Cities: Coon Rapids, Eagan and Chanhassen. Daytime volunteers are especially needed.
Each site will also hold emergency shifts from 2 to 4 p.m. today, as well as from 2 to 4 p.m. next Sunday in Coon Rapids and Chanhassen only.
Site contact information and donation information is available at www.fmsc.org.
On the Net:
Feed My Starving Children’s Haiti updates are at www.fmsc.org/Haiti
Reservists get sendoff to Iraq
ST. CLOUD — More than 300 soldiers from a St. Cloud-based U.S. Army Reserve unit said goodbye to friends and family before heading to Iraq.
A departure ceremony for the 367th Engineer Battalion was scheduled Saturday at St. Cloud State University.
The reservists will be gone for at least a year. While in Iraq, the 367th will do construction, surveying and support services, such as food and transportation.
The same unit served in Afghanistan from 2004 to 2005.
City’s police chief placed on leave
AKELEY — The police chief has been placed on administrative leave, but beyond that city officials are staying mum.
Mayor Jennifer Mitchell recently announced during a City Council meeting that Police Chief Eric Klein was placed on leave, offering no further information.
The City Council is scheduled to discuss the issue with the city attorney in a closed meeting Tuesday.
Klein did not attend the meeting where it was announced that he was placed on leave, nor did he submit a monthly police report.
His hours were cut to 20 at the end of December as a cost-saving measure for the city.
Walgreens buys Snyder's Drug chain
PARK RAPIDS — A Snyder’s Drug Store in Menagha will close, but one in nearby Park Rapids will stay open, a company official said, after it was announced that Walgreens, another pharmacy chain, bought 25 of the company’s drugstores in Minnesota.
Snyder’s officials announced the sale on the company’s Web site, and employees in Park Rapids and Menahga were told of the sale this past week.
The Park Rapids store will fill its last prescriptions under the Snyder’s company name Jan. 21. Michael Morin, a Detroit-based public relations manager handling publicity for the sale said customers should notice no difference after Walgreens assumes ownership of the stores.
Morin added that Walgreens will be closing other Snyder’s stores, as well, but those announcements won’t be made until next week.
Twenty-five independently owned Snyder’s stores will not be affected, Morin said.
A Snyder’s official said operations of the Menagha store will be merged into the Park Rapids store. Walgreens will interview all current Snyder’s Drug employees to try to place them within the newly named stores, Morin said.
Duluth Metals joins Chile firm
DULUTH — Duluth Metals is partnering with one of the world’s largest copper producers to develop its mining project in northeastern Minnesota.
The Canadian-based Duluth Metals said its deal with Antofagasta of Chile will provide $130 million necessary to bring the Nokomis mining project near Ely to production. Duluth Metals Chairman Christopher Dundas said Antofagasta will also arrange financing for the large capital costs, projected at $1.3 billion.
The Mesabi Daily News said Duluth Metals will have a 60 percent interest in the Nokomis project. Antofagasta will have 40 percent.
Swanson: Limit utility rate hikes
ST. PAUL — Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson and Democratic lawmakers are proposing that electricity and natural gas utilities be more limited in imposing temporary rate hikes while they await state approval of permanent hikes.
At a press conference this past week, Swanson said utilities should be required to present more proof of the need for rate hikes before implementing them. Under current law, power companies can hike rates unilaterally, on an interim basis, while they await permanent approval of the rate hikes from the state Public Utilities Commission.
It’s typically a 10-month process for the PUC to review rate hikes. If they deny a utility’s request, it must refund customers the extra rates they paid.
Under Swanson’s proposal, utilities such as Xcel Energy and Minnesota Power could impose temporary hikes only if they were able to demonstrate an “immediate and compelling necessity.”
Franken hopeful on Afghanistan
MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota Sen. Al Franken said he’s feeling more optimistic about the war in Afghanistan than he did before visiting the region and meeting with top American commanders and ordinary troops from his state.
Franken spoke with reporters this past week from Dubai after finishing a tour of Pakistan and Afghanistan with Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee.
He said he met with Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, and with ordinary troops from Brainerd, Minneapolis and other Minnesota towns. The Democrat said he’s “cautiously optimistic” as McChrystal orders new tactics, the number of recruits to the Afghan security forces spikes and an influx of 30,000 new troops is planned.
Freed death row inmate charged
BAXTER — A former Ohio death row inmate has been charged with felony assault in Minnesota for allegedly hitting his son with a baseball bat.
Kenneth Thomas Richey, 45, will appear in court Jan. 19. Richey was arrested Jan. 6 at the Baxter home of his son, Sean Richey, and charged with felony second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon. Richey was freed on $3,000 bond.
According to a criminal complaint cited by the Brainerd Dispatch this past week, Sean Richey told police his father grew angry and attacked him after the pair had been wrestling playfully.
Richey was convicted in Ohio of setting a fire in 1986 that killed a 2-year-old girl. He was ultimately freed from death row after a federal appeals court in 2007 ruled his lawyers had mishandled the case. As part of a deal to resolve the case, Richey, a U.S.-British citizen, agreed to leave the country.
North Star won’t rebuild lost plant
ST. CHARLES — North Star Foods has decided not to rebuild its meat- and poultry-processing plant in St. Charles that was destroyed by fire last year.
Instead, the firm will merge with Illinois-based Quantum Foods.
Minnesota Public Radio reported North Star had been the largest employer in the southeastern Minnesota city. The fire April 17 forced the city’s 3,500 residents to evacuate and eliminated 250 jobs at the plant.
In a statement released Friday, company officials said they had to end their operations in St. Charles because it would have been too expensive to rebuild the plant.
But North Star vice president Patrick Thesing said the locally owned company might locate a new research center in or near St. Charles.
Police, fire departments out for blood
MINNEAPOLIS — The Minneapolis police and fire departments are participating in a friendly competition for the rest of January. And even though it’s good-natured, they’re still calling for blood.
The two departments have partnered with Memorial Blood centers, and they are competing to see who can recruit the most blood donors.
The Eden Prairie and Bloomington fire departments are also participating in the competition.
From now through Jan. 30, anyone in the community can donate blood at any of the seven Memorial Blood Center metro locations and designate which department they would like to represent.
On Wednesday evening, Bloodmobiles will also be taking donations at the Minneapolis Police Department’s Fifth Precinct and Fourth Precinct stations.
Klobuchar doubts Reid will quit
ST. PAUL — Sen. Amy Klobuchar
doesn’t expect Harry Reid to give up his job as Senate majority leader over his remarks about President Barack Obama’s race and dialect.
Minnesota’s senior senator said Reid has made it clear that his remarks were inappropriate and that he regretted his words. KARE-TV reported Klobuchar said this past week the president accepted Reid’s apology and said the “book is closed.”
While Republicans have called for Reid to step down as majority leader, nationally prominent Democrats have stood by Reid.
In a new book “Game Change,” it was disclosed that Reid’s rationale for Obama’s viability as a black presidential candidate was because he was a light-skinned African-American “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”
Minnesota suspect appears in court
MINNEAPOLIS — A Minnesota man accused of lying to FBI agents investigating Somalis who they suspect left the U.S. to join terrorist forces appeared in federal court this past week in an effort to have some evidence withheld from his trial.
Abdow M. Abdow, 26, Chanhassen, has pleaded not guilty to one count of making false statements.
Authorities said he was a passenger in a vehicle that was stopped by the Nevada Highway Patrol on Oct. 6, about 10 miles north of Las Vegas. Abdow was riding with four other men, including one who was on an FBI watch list and is now believed to be out of the country.
Authorities allege that when Abdow, who is of Somali descent, was later asked about the trip, he lied to federal agents.
The FBI has been investigating the disappearance of as many as 20 young Somali men who left Minnesota over the past two years and who agents believe are fighting with a terror group in their homeland. Fourteen people have been charged in the ongoing investigation, facing a variety of accusations from recruiting and raising funds for the trips, to engaging in terrorist acts in Somalia, to perjury.
Abdow’s attorney, Earl Gray, argued there was no basis for the Nevada traffic stop, so all the evidence stemming from it should be kept out of his client’s case.
During the hearing in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, Nevada Highway Patrol Troopers Gary Smith and Neil Ferguson testified that they stopped the vehicle because it was traveling 79 mph in a 75 mph zone.
Both troopers testified they couldn’t discern how many people were in the silver Chevrolet HHR, or the occupants’ gender or race, until the car came to a stop. Ferguson said he obtained identification from three people in the car, including Abdow, and that Smith ran background checks on them.
The troopers learned that the car’s driver, Cabdulaahi Ahmed Faarax, was on a terror watch list but wasn’t being sought on any current warrant.
Somali group gets new leader
MINNEAPOLIS — A former chief of staff to the president of Somalia is taking over as head of a local Somali advocacy group.
Dahir Jibreel is a social studies teacher at Edison High School in Minneapolis. He previously held several high-ranking posts in the Somali transitional government and was a candidate for president there in late 2008.
He is taking over as chief executive officer of the Somali Justice Advocacy Center in Minneapolis. That group has been led by Omar Jamal, who has been a prominent spokesman on Somali issues and causes in the Twin Cities area. Jamal said he is taking a job in New York.
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