And now … the bill. Ben Katzner in the St. Cloud Times says: “Xcel Energy customers used about 29 percent more natural gas this past December than in December 2012. Data also show that customers used about 19 percent more natural gas than forecast for the month. Initial numbers show usage was higher for four of the first five days of January than they were for the same span in January 2012. On Jan. 5, a day where St. Cloud’s high temperature was minus 8 degrees and the low was minus 23 degrees, Xcel customers used 46 percent more natural gas than they did the previous year.”
And what next? Turn Mickey’s Diner into an Applebee’s? In the Strib, Curt Brown writes: “A long-term fixture in downtown St. Paul since 1933, Seven Corners Hardware will close in a few months after a private sale to a developer. Third-generation owner Bill Walsh confirmed the sale Tuesday. He’s been living and managing the store from Orange County, Calif., for a decade. … A spokeswoman for Mayor Chris Coleman said she’s heard a developer had planned a hotel for the site, but could not confirm that and was checking with city planners.”
So … you didn’t see the flashing lights? Leah Beno’s story for KMSP-TV says: “The Minnesota State Patrol says 4 of its squads were hit by passing cars this past weekend. All 4 troopers involved in the crashes escaped serious injury.” One example:
“Sunday, Jan. 12
Two squads were rear-ended in separate crashes — one on Interstate 35 near Willow River, the other at Highway 36 and English Street in Maplewood, Minn.” But somehow the guy changing a tire on the Basilica interchange the other day didn’t get nailed?
Coming back from a “ski trip” in Colorado? The AP says: “Authorities say a Minnesota man and his son have been arrested after marijuana was found in the trunk of their car. The Nebraska State Patrol says a trooper pulled over the men’s car for a traffic violation just before 11:30 a.m. Monday near the Henderson interchange of Interstate 80 in York County. A State Patrol dog taken to the scene alerted troopers to the odor of drugs. The patrol says more than 33 pounds of pot was found in the car trunk.”
Presumably they’ve run the numbers on the bureaucratic costs of making government more “forthcoming” … An editorial by the Forum folks in the Duluth News Tribune says: “We only know our taxes are going up, again, and we’re going to be left paying more. But we should know. … Legislation is needed to require local governments to regularly report not only how much they spend on things like police, fire departments and water treatment, but how much in detail, including specific expenditures like wages and benefits.”
A “happy light” might do more good … In the Shakopee Valley News is a story saying: “Despite warnings about the serious health dangers of indoor tanning, results from this year’s Minnesota Student Survey confirm that a large percentage of Minnesota high school girls are tanning indoors. This year marks the first time questions about indoor tanning have been included … Thirty-four percent of 11th grade white females reported they had tanned indoors in the last year, and more than half of them tanned indoors 10 or more times.”
Need something to worry about? At the U of M’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, Robert Roos says: “Medical investigators never were able to discover the source of the spores that made a Florida man severely sick with inhalational anthrax after a western vacation in August 2011, according to recent reports in Emerging Infectious Diseases (EID). The man, age 61 at the time, fell ill on the return trip and was hospitalized in Minnesota for more than 3 weeks. … Their trip was ‘a very typical vacation for an older couple,’ [lead author Jayne Griffith] said. ‘Certainly people have more significant exposures than they did and don’t get ill.’ “
More on the two U of M students who drowned in the Chicago River … Liala Helal of MPR writes: “University of Minnesota classmates of Lauren Li, 21, and [Ken] Hoang were informed Monday at a student event that the two had died, and 23-year-old Quoc-Viet Phan Hoang survived. ‘I was stunned at first. After that, I was sad the rest of the night,’ said Phong Do, 19, a U of M student who knew Li and Hoang. ‘A lot of us took it really hard last night — I can’t imagine how (Li’s) family is feeling right now.’ “
At MPR, Cathy Wurzer talked with Ed Mierzwinski, consumer program director for U.S. PIRG, the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups, about how to respond to the Target data breach.
MIERZWINSKI: [A]ny consumer who can avoid credit card debt should just simply use credit cards online and at the store. Debit cards are inherently dangerous. …
WURZER: Of the information that was reportedly stolen from Target, what’s the most damaging to a customer?
MIERZWINSKI: [O]n Friday … they admitted that names, addresses, email addresses, phone numbers, a lot of information about you was also leaked. That information does not cause identity theft. You need a social security number and birth date to cause identity theft. But, what that information does do, if they’ve got your email address and your phone number, they can try to get you to give up the other information that they need.”