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Winona State dean fired for sexual misconduct; totem-pole killer gets 15 years

James William Murphy, former dean of Winona State University’s College of Business, was fired earlier this school year for having sexually inappropriate relationships with several male students and downloading thousands of pornographic photos on his work computer, according to a story by Nathan Hansen in the Winona Daily News. WSU launched an investigation after a student complaint in early September; it found that Murphy asked students to describe their sex lives or take off their shirts when he then photographed them in his office. Murphy’s WSU-issued laptop also contained “numerous pornographic images of nude males and males engaged in sexual acts, along with several photos of students in Murphy’s office,” Hansen wrote. Murphy has not been accused of any criminal wrongdoing because the students were all older than 18. Murphy has disputed some of the charges, Hansen wrote. The behavior has been occurring since 2009, the investigation found. The investigator finished the report Sept. 20, and Murphy was fired Sept. 21. While Murphy was fired in September, WSU did not make the investigation public until Friday because of an ongoing grievance between the university and Murphy’s collective bargaining unit. 

A Koochiching County man, world-renowned for his totem poles, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for his wife’s death, pleading guilty to second-degree unintentional murderwrites Mark Stodghill of the Duluth News Tribune. Carl Muggli, 51, was conducting an Internet affair with a woman in Alabama when he and his his wife, Linda, 61, began arguing in 2010. Muggli has admitted he raised a 5-foot wooden-handled instrument two-handed in a threatening motion while his wife recoiled in fear, fell backward and knocked a 17-foot-long, 700-plus-pound totem pole out of its cradle and onto her head and chest, ultimately killing her. Muggli was originally charged with premeditated first-degree murder and intentional second-degree murder when he reached a plea agreement with prosecutors. Koochiching County Sheriff Brian Jespersen said he doesn’t believe Muggli’s version of events, but accepts the conviction as part of the plea bargain“This definitely was no accident. … One hundred and ten pound Linda Muggli couldn’t knock that totem pole out of its cradles like he said. It couldn’t have happened that way,” Jesperson said. 

John Thorn Wangberg, 58, a teacher in the Bemidji area for 30 years, was found dead Wednesday at his rural Cass Lake home, reports Justin Glawe of the Bemidji Pioneer. Beltrami County Sheriff Phil Hodapp said no foul play is suspected. Wangberg resigned from Central Elementary in Bemidji in March, 2011, two days before the first of three victims of alleged sexual abuse came forward to police. Other victims came forward on March 6, 2012, and Dec. 4, 2012. On Jan. 23, Wangberg was arraigned on two felony counts of sexual conduct in the second degree and a gross misdemeanor charge of non-consensual sexual conduct in the fifth degree. The charges allege Wangberg was engaged in sexual contact with victims between the ages of 5 and 7 on school property. Wangberg’s work computer allegedly contained images of young girls in bikinis. According to police, one victim said Wangberg had shown her the images and said, “when you grow up you can be in a bikini and look like my daughter.”

Being a front-runner in the unmanned aircraft system (UAS) business – otherwise known as drones – is putting Grand Forks Air Force Base in the running to host a new tanker mission, writes Kevin Bonham of the Grand Forks Herald. The Air Force is looking for an active duty main operating base for the new KC-46A flying refueling tanker, which will replace the aging fleet of KC-135 tankers. Minnesota and North Dakota officials are highlighting the base’s assets, including its history with flying tankers, the new mission with the RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft system, and the nearby cluster of unmanned aircraft businesses and schools. Officials hope the tanker mission will have the same economic effect the drone mission has had. Besides the Global Hawk, the base also hosts the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s RQ-9B Predator, making the base the only place in the U.S. where both Global Hawk and Predators operate, said Bruce Gjovig, director of the Center for Innovation at the University of North Dakota. UND was the first university to offer a four-year degree in UAS studies. Northland Community and Technical College in Thief River Falls has a UAS aircraft maintenance technology program, and is developing a UAS systems analysis program. 

The price of homes in Winona County rose in 2012, but experts say the price of rural land may have peaked, reports Nathan Hansen of the Winona Daily News. Home sales jumped nearly 25 percent, with the number of sales up and fewer homes on the market. However, housing prices are still down compared with pre-recession levels. “It’s a buyer’s market,” said Shawn Buryska, president of the Southeast Minnesota Association of Realtors. “We had a four-year hiatus of consumer confidence. For the most part, we are past that.” Dede Mraz of Winona’s Edina Realty said her sales were up and the average number of days a house was on the market has decreased, but prices were down compared with 2011, with an average home price around $139,000. Meanwhile, cropland continues to sell like hotcakes, After a spike in prices in September, when cropland went for $8,500 per acre, prices have leveled out at recent land sales, said Winona County Recorder Bob Bambenek. The average price for cropland was $6,817 per acre, he said. 

Waseca police are saying it was public relations that helped burglaries wane, writes Brian Ojanpa of the Mankato Free PressWaseca Police Capt. Kris Markeson said a rash of break-ins during the holiday season ceased after police issued a press release heads-up to residents, although he says other factors may have contributed to the decline. He said five burglaries were clustered around Christmastime. The public warning was issued a couple of days after the fifth incident. Since the incidents were publicized there has been an uptick in reports of suspicious activity, which Markeson said is a proactive response that police encourage.

It took less than an hour to burn down the 75-year-old condemned grandstand at the Mower County Fairgrounds, reports Jason Schoonover of the Austin Daily Herald. “It’s sad to see the old structure go, but you know, it’s just not cost effective to keep,” said Fair Board President Neal Anderson. The grandstand was condemned last July because of dry rot. Repairs would have been too costly. The county board will soon discuss building a new grandstand and set a date to accept construction bids. The Austin Fire Department used a controlled burn to demolish the grandstand.

Sarah Stultz of the Albert Lea Tribune has the story of a woman who received four speeding tickets along Interstate 90 in one 2½-hour period. Loretta Lacy, 49, of Sioux Falls, S.D., was driving to Racine, Wis. According to the Minnesota Highway Patrol, a trooper stopped Lacy in Martin County at 2:25 p.m. Friday after her vehicle reportedly passed the trooper at 112 mph. Lacy was ticketed for speeding, no insurance and possession of marijuana. She was pulled over 20 miles later driving 99 mph and was again ticketed for speeding and no proof of insurance. About an hour and 10 minutes later, she was traveling 88 mph in Freeborn County, where she was ticketed for speeding and no insurance. She was pulled over a fourth time for traveling 88 mph in a 70 mph zone near the border of Minnesota and Wisconsin. 

Pub crawls, zombie crawls – we’ve had them all. In Winona, hundreds of people gathered for an organ crawl to hear the music played by three church organs. Alexandra Fisher of the Winona Daily News writes that the Organ Crawl started with about 250 people and a half-dozen organ players at the First Congregational Church. The Crawl proceeded to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of St. Martin and then to the Basilica of St. Stanislaus Kostka Roman Catholic Church. Professionals educated the audience on the various sounds of the organ from flutes to tubas, and presented the history of each instrument. “It’s becoming sort of a lost art really,” said organist Jeff Daehn. “It’s a wind instrument, so the technique and the playing are very different from a piano,” said organist Rosalie Alcoser. Organs are also very expensive to maintain and repair. The First Congregational Church needs $400,000 to restore its 84-year-old instrument, which has 2,680 pipes. But the effort is worth it, said Jon Nienow, Crawl coordinator and board member for the Southeast Minnesota Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. “We would like to see the next generation learn what an instrument like this is capable of,” he said. “An organ can do anything, and people don’t realize that.”

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