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St. Paul teachers, schools initiate talks for new contact

ST. PAUL, Minnesota (AP) – The St. Paul School District and its teachers ‘union discuss a new contract for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic cut short a three-day teachers’ strike in March 2020 The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported Wednesday, the two sides entered into mediation. The union is looking for smaller class sizes, more mental health support and 2.5% increases. The district wants to contain costs in the face of declining registrations. Teachers in Minneapolis are also in mediation with their school district over similar issues.


Crews put out fire at Federal Reserve loading dock

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Emergency crews have extinguished a fire at the Federal Reserve building in Minneapolis. The city’s fire department said in a press release that firefighters were called to the building on Wednesday morning. Upon arrival, they found thick smoke in a loading dock area near a metal roll-up door. Firefighters learned the door was frozen shut and an employee used a heat torch to thaw it. The heat from the torch started a small fire in the insulation of the walls near the door. Firefighters sprayed water on the walls and extinguished the blaze. No one was injured and the building suffered no structural damage.


Saint-Paul man dies 7 days after reporting assault

ST. PAUL, Minnesota (AP) – A St. Paul man died a week after reporting he was assaulted. City officials on Wednesday issued a press release saying Carlos Venceslado Rocha, 51, called the police to his apartment on December 20 to report that someone in the building had hit him. Police took a report and paramedics responded but Rocha was not taken to hospital. Firefighters checked him on Monday and found him dead in his apartment. The Ramsey County medical examiner ruled the death a homicide. Investigators are trying to piece together what led to the Dec.20 altercation and who is responsible for Rocha’s death.


Biologists discover rare mussels in the Sainte-Croix river

MADISON, Wisconsin (AP) – Biologists have discovered a group of rare mussels that may be over 100 years old in the upper reaches of the St. Croix River. Wisconsin Public Radio reported Wednesday that biologists from the University of Minnesota, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the National Park Service discovered eight spectacle mussels in the river in August. Biologists said the find was surprising because a hydroelectric dam built in 1907 divided the river and prevented the host fish that mussels need to reproduce from reaching the upper reaches.


Police arrest man trapped in bush with bag of cocaine

EAU CLAIRE, Wisconsin (AP) – Police in Eau Claire have arrested a man who allegedly got stuck in a bush with a bag of cocaine on Christmas morning. Prosecutors on Monday indicted Prescott’s David Lunde on several counts, including possession of cocaine, resisting an officer and carrying a concealed weapon. The Eau Claire Leader-Telegram reports that the criminal complaint indicates that an officer noticed a vehicle with a blown taillight making a wrong turn early on Christmas morning. After a chase, the vehicle stopped and Lunde and another man got out and fled on foot. Lunde jumped into a bush and couldn’t get out. An officer must have pulled him out and found a bag containing 25 grams of cocaine in Lunde’s pocket.


Car thieves try to steal vehicle with 3-year-old inside

ST. PAUL, Minnesota (AP) – A man and two teenagers are in custody after allegedly following a St. Paul woman home and stealing her vehicle with her 3-year-old child inside. The Pioneer Press reported that the woman told police the group followed her as she returned home on Tuesday morning. A man with a gun confronted her at her home and drove her car as she frantically pulled her child from a car seat. Sheriff’s deputies spotted the woman’s vehicle in Minneapolis and followed her. A 17-year-old boy jumped up and was captured after a foot chase on the University of Minnesota campus. Police found the stolen car on Tuesday afternoon. An 18-year-old man and a 14-year-old boy were arrested after a foot chase.


Few Minnesota Departments Adopt Body Camera Guidelines

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Most law enforcement agencies in Minnesota have chosen not to implement guidelines requiring officers with a history of misconduct to wear body cameras. Two years ago, the League of Minnesota Cities created a model policy requiring problem officers to wear cameras. An analysis from the Minneapolis Star Tribune found that only 10 of 108 agencies with publicly available body camera policies implemented the policy. Agencies have adopted the guidelines, including the Fairmont, Faribault, Maplewood, St. Paul Park and White Bear Lake Police and Sheriff’s Offices in Anoka, Olmsted and Rice counties. The state’s largest police departments in Minneapolis and St. Paul have not adopted this policy. The state Department of Natural Resources has not adopted it either.


State identifies officer and man shooting with machete

AUSTIN, Minnesota (AP) – Authorities have released the names of an Austin police officer and the man he shot dead on Christmas Eve. The Austin Daily Herald reported on Tuesday that the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension identified the officer as Zachary Gast. The Southern Minnesota Medical Examiner’s Office has identified the man shot by Gast as Kokou Christopher Fiafonou, 38, from Austin. Police said Fiafonou was walking through traffic with a machete on December 23. He retreated to an apartment and a 24-hour standoff with officers ensued. On the evening of December 24, Fiafonou left the apartment. Officers followed him to the Kwik Trip parking lot. Fiafonou confronted them with a knife and Gast shot him several times.

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