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19-year-old finds, returns $2,800 in cash

Old photos saved; ash borer “counter-attack” looks promising; No. 3 in health rankings; encouraging school-readiness numbers; TCF closing downtown branch; and more.

Faith in humanity … momentarily restored. Wendy Reuer of the Forum News Service reports: “When 19-year-old Erica Clark found an envelope full of crisp $100 bills in a McDonald’s parking lot [in Moorhead], she couldn’t help but wonder if someone’s Christmas had just been ruined. ‘All I could think about was what if someone was going Christmas shopping and all their money was gone,’ she said. Clark had stopped for lunch at the Eighth Street McDonald’s and was returning to her car on Tuesday afternoon when she found the Wells Fargo envelope stuffed with $2,800. Without hesitation, she took steps to find a way to get the money back to its rightful owner. … The man [who lost the money] reached out to Clark shortly after learning she returned his money on Tuesday afternoon. Clark said the man wants to thank her for her kindness in person and the two plan to meet this week. Clark, who is studying elementary inclusive education at Minnesota State University Moorhead, said she doesn’t expect a reward.”

Likewise … this guy … John Myers of the Duluth News Tribune writes: “Matt Seppo could have simply thrown the old photos in the trash. The St. Louis County property manager was trying to clear out some old county ‘stuff’ in a storage room at the Chris Jensen nursing home in Duluth a few years ago, when he ran into dusty plastic bags with old photos and photo albums inside. The photos didn’t belong to anyone currently at the nursing home. But Seppo, a history buff and amateur genealogist, decided to hang on to them. … Seppo used basic tools, like phone books and Google, but also found help at the genealogy site of the Church of Latter day Saints, the Mormons, where he earlier had success tracking down his own lineage.”

The counter-attack seems to be working … Josephine Marcotty of the Strib tells us: “Stingless wasps, the natural ash borer predator that were introduced in three sites in Minnesota two years ago, are reproducing, spreading, and killing ash borers, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture reported Wednesday. Earlier this fall, scientists found wasp larvae in trees that were being checked for emerald ash borer, and the larvae were positively identified as offspring of the wasps that had been introduced two years ago. ‘This is a major step in our battle with EAB,’ said Monika Chandler, MDA Biological Control Program Coordinator.”

We’re No. 3! According to a new study from the UnitedHealth Foundation, only Hawaii and Vermont are healthier than we are. Says the report: “Strengths:
• Low prevalences of physical inactivity & diabetes
• High rate of high school graduation
• Low rates of premature death & cardiovascular disease deaths

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• High prevalence of binge drinking
• Low per capita public health funding
• Low immunization coverage among children

• In the past year, the prevalence of physical inactivity decreased from 21.9 percent to 17.5 percent of the adults; however, almost 740,000 adults remain physically inactive in the state.
• In the past year, the incidence of pertussis decreased from 21.6 to 12.4 cases per 100,000 population.
• In the past 10 years, the percentage of children in poverty increased from 8.4 percent to 13.7 percent of persons younger than 18 years.
• Minnesota’s prevalence of diabetes is among the lowest in the nation; however, nearly 310,000 adults have diabetes in the state.”

Meanwhile … Duluth’s Northland News Center adds: “Wisconsin earned the 20th spot on the list. The Badger’s states strengths include low percentage of uninsured population and unlike its neighboring state, high immunization among children. Challenges also include binge drinking and health funding.”

The GleanBut … we’re only “middle of the pack” on this one … Says the AP: “Federal government numbers released Wednesday show Minnesota in the middle of the pack in signups so far for private insurance under the federal health overhaul, with 4, 478 people. However, the feds say an additional 5,703 people who signed up for MinnesotaCare through MNsure would have been eligible for private insurance in other states, which puts Minnesota closer to the front of the pack.” Oh, OK. Never mind then.

But also on the “better” side … . Christopher Magan of the PiPress says: “More Minnesota preschoolers are ready for kindergarten, a key indicator of future academic success. That’s the result of a new study by the Minnesota Department of Education released Wednesday. It found 73 percent of children surveyed were ready for kindergarten in 2012, up from 60 percent the year before. ‘Students who have access to high quality early learning are more likely to start school fully prepared and then stay on track academically,’ Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius said in a statement announcing the study’s results. More than 7,500 kindergartners from 126 elementary schools around the state were assessed at the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year.”

Some retrenchment by TCF. Evan Ramstad of the Strib says: “TCF Financial Corp. said Wednesday it will close a downtown Minneapolis branch and 37 located in grocery stores in the Chicago area between now and the end of March. The move comes after a recent review of its network of branches that was designed ‘to determine how best to deploy its resources,’ the Wayzata-based bank company said in a statement. TCF said it will take a pretax charge of $7.6 million in its fiscal fourth quarter to account for costs related to closing the units and related job cuts.”

More on the college student found passed out in sub-zero temperatures in Duluth. The AP reports: “A passer-by, Ellen Johnson, spotted [Alyssa] Lommel on the front stoop of the house about 9:30 a.m. Saturday as she and her boyfriend drove by. ‘I was surprised nobody had seen her,’ Johnson said. ‘It was hard to miss her.’ The couple called 911 and emergency crews arrived quickly. Johnson, who is a lifeguard, said she has had to help people in trauma before but has ‘never seen anyone look like that.’ The male driver who dropped Lommel off at her house told police she was walking and talking and didn’t appear extremely intoxicated, according to the police report. … Lommel’s medical team has been testing the circulation in her limbs, the family wrote, and working to reduce swelling.”