AROUND MINNESOTA: Man poses as mascot to propose ... Man enters Pizza Hut, fries wings ... House OKs dog abuse penalty ... more
Man poses as mascot to propose on basketball court WILLMAR -- A man posing as a Minnesota high school sports mascot has asked his girlfriend to M-A-R-R-Y him. It happened Thursday night in the gym at Willmar High School. Bruce Just of Omaha, Neb....
Man poses as mascot to propose on basketball court
WILLMAR -- A man posing as a Minnesota high school sports mascot has asked his girlfriend to M-A-R-R-Y him.
It happened Thursday night in the gym at Willmar High School. Bruce Just of Omaha, Neb., took the floor dressed as Willmar's Cardinal mascot before the girls' basketball game against Rocori High School.
At midcourt, Just removed his mascot's head, bent down on his knee with a ring in hand and asked his girlfriend -- Willmar assistant coach Sally Wilson -- to marry him.
Tearfully, Wilson accepted the engagement ring.
Wilson plans to leave her teaching and coaching job in Willmar at the end of the school year to join Just in Omaha.
Man enters Pizza Hut, fries wings
ST. CLOUD -- St. Cloud police said an intoxicated man broke into a Pizza Hut and started frying up a batch of boneless chicken wings.
An alarm brought out officers who found a door open at the downtown restaurant just before 1:30 a.m. Friday.
Inside, police found a 21-year-old man trying to deep-fry some boneless chicken wings in the kitchen. Investigators said the man also had thrown marinara sauce on the wall.
A breath sample found the man registered a blood-alcohol level of 0.22 percent, nearly three times the legal limit for driving in Minnesota.
The man was taken to jail. He works at the restaurant.
House approves dog abuse penalty
ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota House has voted to toughen a state law to deter people from harming or killing public safety dogs like those police use.
By a 107-22 vote, the House approved legislation Thursday increasing potential restitution costs for people who hurt dogs used in police actions, search and rescue, correctional facilities or arson investigations.
Under the bill, killing or causing great bodily harm to such a dog could prompt a fine of up to $5,000 and restitution costs of up to $25,000. Current penalties allow for prison time but don't require restitution.
Rep. Tony Cornish cited an attack on a Roseville police dog as a rallying cry for his bill. Some who opposed the bill said it gets tougher on people who hurt animals than some crimes against adults.
Distributor recalls MSG cheese dip
ST. PAUL -- A St. Paul distributor is recalling about 87 pounds of buffalo chicken cheese dip because the label does not list MSG that's contained in the product.
J&J Distributing is recalling 16-ounce metal containers of "Cub Fresh Buffalo Chicken Cheese Dip" and 16-ounce metal containers of "Kowalski's Markets Buffalo Chicken Cheese Dip."
The dip was shipped to retailers in the Minneapolis area and has sell-by dates from Feb. 23 to Feb. 25.
The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service said the dip is probably no longer on store shelves. But customers with sensitivity to MSG who may have purchased the products should discard them.
Trafficked youth treated as victims
ST. PAUL -- A group of county attorneys want to make sure that young people who are trafficked and forced into prostitution are treated as victims in need of protection -- not as criminals.
The county attorneys announced a new policy Friday, saying the shift in strategy is important because current state law defines these children both as juvenile delinquents and as victims of sex trafficking.
Historically, child and teen prostitutes are arrested and sent through the juvenile court system. County attorneys said they will still be committed to prosecuting those who engage in the abuse of prostituted children.
Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said the new approach will give kids appropriate treatment and keep them safe, as well as protect communities.
Grant funds health exchange
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota is getting a $1 million health care grant that former Gov. Tim Pawlenty spurned and new Gov. Mark Dayton sought.
The grant announced Friday by Dayton and the state Department of Commerce will pay to plan for a health insurance exchange required by the federal health care overhaul.
State officials said the exchange will be a website where consumers can shop for health insurance, similar to travel websites that sell flights and hotel bookings. Dayton's administration is expected to unveil more details in the near future.
The Democratic governor sought the money after reversing a Pawlenty directive that ordered state agencies to decline discretionary participation in the health care law. Pawlenty is a likely GOP presidential candidate who aimed to limit Minnesota's participation in that law.
Teen not tried as adult in deaths
WINONA -- A Minnesota teen won't be tried as an adult in a crash last spring that left three classmates dead and a fourth with serious injuries.
Winona County Judge Jeffrey Thompson said the community would benefit little from certifying the 18-year-old as an adult, and that he could benefit from programming in the juvenile system if he's convicted.
The teen will face a jury as a juvenile under extended jurisdiction, a blend of juvenile and adult court in Minnesota. He would receive both a juvenile and an adult sentence if convicted.
The Lewiston-Altura High School student was 17 at the time of the accident in April. Deputies said a 16-year-old girl was driving a vehicle that clipped the boy's pickup when she tried to pass him at 90 mph. Her vehicle rolled in a ditch. She and two girls in her vehicle died, and a fourth was hurt.
Conference probes Islam and culture
MINNEAPOLIS -- A University of Minnesota conference on Islam will take a fresh look at the humanities and sciences in Islamic civilization and explore the connections between the Islamic and western worlds.
The federally funded conference started Friday and ends today. It's presented by the university's Religious Studies program.
Professor Nabil Matar is one of the conference organizers. He said another purpose of the conference is to combat the perception of the Islamic world as backward and dangerous.
The conference is supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and conference sessions are free and open to the public.
Still no CWD found in southeast deer
ST. PAUL -- Testing of more than 350 deer has so far found no cases of chronic wasting disease in southeastern Minnesota.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources began the tests after a deer infected with the fatal brain disease was found near Pine Island last fall. Landowners and sharpshooters have been shooting the deer so officials can test the animals.
So far, the DNR has issued 320 deer-hunting special permits to landowners. The department plans to test 900 deer in a 10-square-mile area from Rochester to Wanamingo.
DNR big-game coordinator Lou Cornicelli said tests so far seem to indicate the disease hadn't spread, but he said it's too early to tell. With 900 samples, he said the agency can be 99 percent sure that the disease hasn't infected other deer.