State news in briefPublished 11:44am Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Gov. Dayton to meet Obama today to talk about fiscal cliff
ST. PAUL — Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and six other governors meet today with President Barack Obama to discuss the fallout of Washington’s search for a long-term debt fix.
Dayton joins Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and governors from Delaware, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Colorado and Utah at the White House. Vice President Joe Biden is also participating.
Obama and a divided Congress have until the end of the month to head off across-the-board tax increases and automatic spending cuts. A recession is feared if they fail to reach a deal.
The deliberations over the so-called fiscal cliff are throwing state budgets into doubt.
Minnesota is preparing for an economic forecast Wednesday that could become quickly outdated depending on what happens in Washington.
Minnesota canvassing board will certify legislative recount winners
ST. PAUL — Narrow wins by Republican Mary Franson and Democrat Kevin Dahle in legislative recounts are being made official today.
The State Canvassing Board meets in St. Paul to certify the results of the recounts in House District 8B and Senate District 20.
Franson won the 8B recount and a second term representing the Alexandria area by 12 votes over Democrat Bob Cuniff.
Dahle won the Senate recount in the Northfield area by 71 votes, beating Republican Mike Dudley. Dahle is a former senator returning after a two-year absence.
Neither recount affected party control of the Legislature. Democrats will take over both chambers when the new Legislature convenes next month.
Emerson division planning to add 400 jobs in Shakopee
SHAKOPEE — A division of Emerson Electronics Co. is asking for state and local financial incentives to bring 500 jobs to a vacant plant in Shakopee.
Emerson’s proposal to the city said the company would bring 400 new jobs and about 100 transfers to a facility built by ADC Telecommunications, but never occupied. Emerson Process Management Rosemount said about 300 of the positions would be salaried and 200 would be hourly wage jobs. Emerson estimated average annual wages for the jobs at $55,000 to $64,000.
Emerson is asking the city, Scott County and the state for an assistance package totaling about $6 million, including tax abatements and matching funds for construction.
The Shakopee City Council plans to consider the request Tuesday.
Recommendations advance for treating sex offenders
ST. PAUL — Minnesota lawmakers will consider a recommendation to reform its costly, high-security sex offender program.
A task force headed by former Supreme Court Chief Justice Eric Magnuson recommended the state replace its prison-like treatment of dangerous sex offenders with a network of less restrictive regional facilities.
The Minnesota Sex Offender Program confines and treats the most dangerous offenders under the court’s direction after they have finished their prison sentences. The number of offenders in the program has grown to more than 600. They are confined to high-security treatment facilities at a cost of about $120,000 per person annually.
A federal magistrate ordered the state to form a task force to study alternatives to the current program. Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson plans to meet with lawmakers in coming weeks to discuss the recommendations.
Allegedly starved Minn. boy to stay in foster care
ST. PETER — A judge said an 8-year-old boy who was allegedly starved by a Minnesota couple will remain in foster care for now.
But Nicollet County District Judge Todd Westphal ruled last Thursday that the boy’s three siblings will remain with their parents, Russell and Mona Hauer.
The Hauers, of North Mankato, are charged with neglect and malicious punishment of a child. Authorities said they put an alarm on the 8-year-old boy’s door so he would not steal food.
The Hauers’ attorney has said the couple will fight the charges and to keep all four children, including the 8-year-old.
The judge did grant Nicollet County’s request to allow the 8-year-old to enroll in public school in Hastings.
Deal protects 2K acres on Mississippi River
BRAINERD — Conservationists have closed on an $11 million deal to protect nearly 2,000 acres of land along the Mississippi River northeast of Brainerd.
The project used $11 million of state Legacy Amendment funds to buy the tract from longtime owner Potlatch Corp., which had considered selling the land for development. It includes nearly three miles of riverfront and links with adjacent properties to create a nine-mile stretch of protected shoreline.
The Trust for Public Land closed on the deal with Potlatch last Thursday and scheduled an event in Brainerd on Monday to celebrate the deal.
The Trust calls the land a rare gem. It’s home to bald eagles, Blandings turtles and other species of special concern. The property also provides critical habitat for migrating birds and holds a designated trout stream.
Minnesota man charged in Wisconsin car surfing death
SIREN, Wis. — A Minnesota man is charged with three felonies following a car surfing death in Wisconsin.
Prosecutors in Burnett County said 21-year-old Cole Fohrenkamm, of St. Paul, was driving the car from which a friend fell last August near Danbury. Shawn Swanson died the day after he and another man climbed on top of the car to ‘surf.’ The 21-year-old Swanson suffered a severe head injury when he hit the road.
A criminal complaint said Fohrenkamm admitted to authorities that he had been drinking earlier in the day and was driving the car from which Swanson fell.
Charges against Fohrenkamm include homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle. Fohrenkamm is scheduled to appear in Burnett County Circuit Court Dec. 19.
A call to Fohrenkamm for comment indicated his phone number has been temporarily disconnected.
3 injured in crash landing of small plane in Rochester
ROCHESTER — A four-passenger airplane had a rough landing returning to Minnesota from the Vikings-Packers game in Wisconsin.
The pilot missed the runway while landing in heavy fog at the Rochester airport Sunday evening. Rochester fire officials said the plane bounced and flipped end-over-end in a field before coming to rest on its top.
The Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office identifies the pilot as 23-year-old Scott Lebovitz of Owatonna. Lebovitz was not hurt.
Three passengers — 36-year-old Daniel Cronk, 38-year-old Alan De Keyrel and a 9-year-old boy, all from Byron — were taken to a hospital with bumps and bruises.
The pilot was able to call 911 for help. The plane left Austin Straubel Field near Green Bay, Wis., before the crash.
The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating.
Defense wants to suppress Schaffhausen statements
HUDSON, Wis. — Defense attorneys want to suppress statements made by the father accused of killing his three young daughters at their western Wisconsin home.
Aaron Schaffhausen was back in St. Croix County Circuit Court Monday. The defense is trying to suppress Schaffhausen’s statements in the case, based on Miranda warning questions and the voluntary nature of anything said or indicated after he turned himself in.
The 35-year-old carpenter from Minot, N.D., is accused of killing 5-year-old Cecilia, 8-year-old Sophie and 11-year-old Amara Schaffhausen at their home in River Falls last July during a visit with his daughters.
Schaffhausen, clad in orange jail garb, sat quietly through the hearing, whispering a couple times with a defense investigator while his attorney questioned witnesses.
Pedestrian struck, killed by cab in St. Cloud
ST. CLOUD — Police say a pedestrian was struck and killed by a cab driver in St. Cloud.
Authorities say 33-year-old Timothy Martin was hit while crossing the street between the Press Bar and Le St. Germain Hotel about 2 a.m. Sunday. Police say Martin was struck by a Tuxedo Taxi cab while walking outside the crosswalk.
The St. Cloud man fell backward and struck his head. He was taken to St. Cloud Hospital where he later died. Authorities say the driver of the taxi is a 22-year-old St. Cloud man.
Economy remains weak in Midwest, Plains states
OMAHA, Neb. — The economy in nine Midwest and Plains states likely will remain sluggish because of weakness in ethanol and food production, but conditions vary widely across the region, according to a report released Monday.
The overall economic index for the region remained in negative territory at 48 in November based on the monthly Mid-America survey of business leaders. The index was slightly better than October’s 46.5, but any score below 50 suggests the economy will contract over the next three to six months.
Creighton University economist Ernie Goss said weakness in nondurable-goods producers, such as food and ethanol makers, combined with worries about the health of the global economy to slow business in the region.
The survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota. Goss said that in November businesses in Iowa, North Dakota and Oklahoma outperformed the rest of the region.
The survey of business leaders and supply managers that Goss oversees uses a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100. Survey organizers say any score above 50 suggests growth in that factor while a score below 50 suggests decline for that factor.
The business leaders surveyed turned pessimistic about the economy in November. The confidence index plummeted into negative territory at 43.5 in November from October’s 58.
“Both the fiscal cliff and the uncertainty surrounding health care reform were reported by supply managers as negatively affecting their economic outlook,” Goss said.
The region’s employment index inched into positive territory at 50.5 in November, up from October’s 47.7. Goss said durable goods manufacturers are hiring at a slow pace but that employment growth is being offset by job losses at nondurable-goods producers.
The prices-paid index, which tracks the cost of raw materials and supplies, improved to 64.4 in November from October’s 71.5. But the index still suggests costs are increasing.
The inventory index remained in negative territory at 44.9 in November although it was slightly better than October’s 43.5.
“Supply managers have now cut inventories for five straight months. The last time this happened was in 2009 when supply managers were reducing inventories in anticipation of weaker business activity,” Goss said.
The export index fell to 47.9 in November from October’s strong 60.8 reading. The import index also declined to 42.6 in November from 44.2 in October.
FBI searching for man who fired at Idaho trooper
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — The FBI’s Minneapolis Field Office is searching for a man suspected of firing at an Idaho State Police trooper during a chase early Saturday and later kidnapping a woman who was dropped off unharmed in eastern Montana.
The Kootenai County sheriff’s department in Idaho obtained a $1 million warrant for the arrest of 57-year-old Mitchell Lee Walck on a kidnapping charge after investigators said the 62-year-old woman he reportedly kidnapped was released unharmed in Glendive, Mont.
Walck was last seen driving the woman’s 2005 silver Subaru Forester with Idaho license plate K230050.
The FBI said Walck may be traveling through North Dakota, South Dakota or Minnesota.
Walck is considered armed and dangerous. Anyone with information is asked to call law enforcement.
Man pleads not guilty in shooting deaths
CLAYTON, Mo. — A man accused of killing his ex-girlfriend and another woman in suburban St. Louis said he didn’t do it.
Darnell Vaughn, 29, of St. Louis has pleaded not guilty in St. Louis County to charges linked to last summer’s shooting deaths of Tasheera Jackson and Claudia Williams. Authorites say 30-year-old Williams was Vaughn’s former girlfriend.
Investigators say 29-year-old Johnson and Williams were found dead on Aug. 30 in Williams’ Ferguson home. Vaughn was later arrested in Minnesota, near Minneapolis.
Vaughn has been ordered jailed, pending his next court appearance later this month.