News in brief

Published 12:30 pm Saturday, November 6, 2010

U of M president search down to 4 finalists

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The search for the new president of the University of Minnesota is down to four semifinalists, but their names have not been released.

The university says Friday that the individual regents are reviewing the files of each of the candidates. They will soon hold a public meeting to select finalists to interview.

According to state law, the names of the candidates selected for interviews will be made public.

The university says the Board of Regents intends to appoint the next president by the end of the year.

President Robert Bruininks plans to return to the university faculty when his contract expires June 30, 2011.

Fire marshal: Time to check smoke alarm batteries

ST. PAUL (AP) — The state fire marshal is reminding Minnesotans that the end of daylight saving time is a good time to check smoke alarm batteries.

Fire Marshal Jerry Rosendahl says checking the smoke alarm battery takes just a moment, and it could save lives.

The “Change Your Clocks, Change Your Batteries” campaign was created 23 years ago.

The fire marshal says studies show working alarms increase chances of survival by 50 percent. But about one-third of American homes with smoke alarms are not protected because batteries are old or have been removed.

There were 35 residential fire deaths in Minnesota in 2009; 10 of those were in homes where alarms were missing or weren’t working. In eight cases, it was not possible to determine whether working alarms were present.

Northstar puts St. Cloud extension on hold

ST. CLOUD (AP) — It looks like the Northstar commuter rail won’t be extended to St. Cloud anytime soon.

The executive committee of the Northstar Corridor Development Authority has decided to recommend not applying for federal funding for the project’s second phase, for now.

Northstar officials decided the extension couldn’t compete for federal funding. They cite less-than-robust ridership numbers for the Northstar rail line and the Link commuter bus to St. Cloud.

The Cloud Times reports officials decided it made more sense to try to boost ridership and possibly try again later.

The 40-mile line between Big Lake and downtown Minneapolis opened last November. Northstar has been struggling to meet ridership goals, due to the recession, high unemployment and lower gas prices.

Minn. firearms deer season opens

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Hunters are taking to the woods and fields Saturday for opening day of Minnesota’s firearms deer season.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources expects nearly a half million people to take part in this year’s season.

The DNR expects good hunting this season. Last year the harvest was 194,000 deer, with a success rate of 32 percent.

Hunters also should have a clearer view of deer this year. Most of the corn is expected to be cut down by opener, providing less cover for deer.

There are now three ways to register harvested deer: at walk-in big game registration stations, by telephone and on the Internet.

Unions criticize MnSCU bonus pay

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Union leaders are criticizing the performance pay of nearly $416,000 to 35 top administrators at the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System.

But the chairman of the Board of Trustees, Scott Thiss, says the system is committed to using performance pay because it provides more accountability for its top leaders.

In June, the system’s trustees awarded Chancellor James McCormick a $40,000 bonus. Details of other bonuses become available Friday. Eight presidents or vice chancellors received the maximum payout of $15,000.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees notes that the system is going through a budget crunch, with rising tuition for students and layoffs for workers.

$100,000 reward offered in bank robberies

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A $100,000 reward is being offered for information leading to arrests and convictions of those responsible for three bank robberies in Twin Cities suburbs.

The FBI says Friday the suspects are still at large.

They are described as two black men in their 20s or 30s. One is about 6 feet tall with a thin build, the other is about 5-foot-8 with a stocky build.

They have been wearing dark clothing, including masks and gloves. They have threatened bank employees with violence and officials say other people may be helping them.

The most recent robbery happened Friday morning at a US Bank in Anoka. The FBI says the suspects carjacked an employee from her driveway, forced her to the bank, and then took money from the vault.

Bloomington man shot and killed by police IDed

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Hennepin County medical examiner’s office says the man who was shot and killed by a Bloomington police officer died of multiple gunshot wounds.

The medical examiner identifies the man as 50-year-old Billie Lobahanow.

Lobahanow allegedly wielded a knife in each hand as he confronted the officer in the hallway of a Bloomington apartment building Thursday. Witnesses say Lobahanow did not comply with repeated orders to stop and drop the knives.

Police have not yet identified the officer.

According to the Star Tribune, police Cmdr. Mark Stehlik says police were responding to a report of a domestic assault involving Lobahanow and his sister.

7 students escape SCSU fire

ST. CLOUD (AP) — Seven students escaped a house fire in the St. Cloud State University campus neighborhood.

St. Cloud Fire Chief Bill Mund says some of the students had to jump out of a second story window in order to escape early Friday morning. Some students had minor injuries.

Mund tells KVSC radio the fire apparently started in the front part of the house.

Minn. man finishes 4,000-mile run

KEY LARGO, Fla. (AP) — A Minnesota carpenter has arrived in the Florida Keys, completing a 4,000-mile cross-county run.

Forty-five-year-old Steve Knowlton left Seattle on July 30, pounding the pavement through 13 states and clocking 40-plus miles a day in his 100-day trek. Knowlton is a veteran of 45 marathons and says he took his run one day at a time.

The journey completed Saturday is aimed at raising money and awareness for the cure of Crohns disease, a chronic gastrointestinal illness. Knowlton was diagnosed with the disease during his senior year of high school.