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ST. PAUL - Minnesota's transportation emergency management director was fired Friday in part because she remained on the East Coast 10 days after an Aug. 1 Minneapolis bridge collapse. Minnesota Department of Transportation officials fired Sonia Morphew Pitt, 43, of Red Wing after an investigation found she abused work-related travel privileges and did not return to the Twin Cities as her agency responded to the Interstate 35W bridge disaster. According to her termination letter, Pitt attended an emergency management conference in Boston July 31-Aug.
WILLMAR -- A new study concludes that Minnesota is ill-equipped to meet the mental health needs of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, especially those who are brain-injured. The study's authors recommend developing an innovative diagnostic and rehabilitation program for brain-injured soldiers in conjunction with a proposed veterans home in Willmar. Better identification of these soldiers will help lead to better treatment and enable them to return to a productive civilian life, said Rep. Al Juhnke, DFL-Willmar.
I came across the deer stand on a drizzly October grouse hunt. I wanted to spend some time at the stand, but we were moving briskly behind a couple of good English setters. This stand was the north-woods classic, a platform in the popples built square and stout from two-by-fours. Its only concession to luxury was the sturdy ladder that rose from the forest floor and connected to the front of the stand. No rickety climbing steps nailed to the tree for this hunter. I liked the stand. A lot of the stands you see in the woods now resemble one-bedroom apartments.
In the beginning, he's a nubbin buck. A cute little guy with a couple of bumps up top. If he avoids the wolves and survives the winter, he might well have a couple of spike antlers the next fall. But he'd better be on his toes, because "spike" bucks make up the biggest part of the buck harvest in Northeastern Minnesota. Let's say our spike buck makes it through another year, and another, and another. He has now joined an elite club: He's alive at five. In Minnesota, that's an old whitetail buck. And if he's eaten well, he likely has a set of antlers that any deer hunter would drool over.
CLARA CITY -- Nearly 12 hours after being hurriedly evacuated from their homes in the pre-dawn darkness, residents in Clara City received the all clear to return. Officials in Clara City gave the go-ahead for residents to return to their homes at 4 p.m., after being assured that efforts to clean up a hydrochloric acid spill on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway main line were complete. No one was injured in the early morning mishap, but an estimated 350 to 400 people were ordered to evacuate their homes.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty said Monday he remains "hopeful" that he'll be able to support plans to build a $1.2 billion steel slab plant near Nashwauk. But first, he said, he needs assurances from its would-be owner, Essar Global Ltd., that the company will abide by sanctions aimed at punishing Iran for its terrorist activities. Pawlenty said he believes the Indian company's involvement in a proposed Iranian refinery project could constitute financial support for what the U.S. has labeled a terrorist state.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Chris and Stephanie Potter have come to know a whitetail buck they call Jackson, who visits a feeder near their rural Two Harbors home. Chris wrote this essay as Minnesota's firearms deer season approaches. My wife, Stephanie, and I have always been somewhat private people, but we feel the need to share our story to give a magnificent buck a fair chance this deer season. We began feeding deer in 1996 for the mere pleasure of watching them and finding their shed antlers. I am a deer hunter myself, but I do not hunt on or even near our property.
ST. PAUL - Congressional Quarterly calls a potential match-up between Sen. Norm Coleman and Al Franken as "one of America's most intriguing 2008 senatorial races." Franken still has to get past Mike Ciresi and others in his own Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party before he can face incumbent Republican Coleman, but many of the big national organizations already are counting Franken as the nominee. Congressional Quarterly notes that the $10 million Franken and Coleman already have raised is second only to $14 million in a Texas race.
Minnesota Democrats are increasing their criticism of Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Assistant Senate Majority Leader Tarryl Clark, DFL-St. Cloud, blamed his policies for a higher state unemployment rate. "For the second time in recent months, we learned Minnesota's unemployment rate exceeds the national average," Clark said. "This has not happened once during all the decades that this data was collected." The always-colorful Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia, delivered even harsher words after Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Delano, wrote a column blaming Democrats for transportation problems. "Rep.
The political dispute over transportation issues took another turn when a Minnesota Department of Transportation bridge inspector and union official told a congressional panel the state's bridges are unsafe. "Most importantly, I want you to know that I lack the resources to do my job well and keep motorists safe," said Bart Andersen, who is on a leave of absence from his job with the agency to work as a field representative for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union. He spoke Wednesday before a U.S.