Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


Kellogg to lay off 200 in St. Paul

Plus: a spike in emergency calls due to synthetic marijuana; siding factory in northern Minnesota on hold; Forest Lake votes to disband police force; and more.


200 workers. Matt Sepic of MPR reports, “The Kellogg food company is closing its St. Paul area distribution center. The move will put more than 200 employees out of work this summer. In a letter to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, Kellogg’s said it plans to permanently cut 216 jobs at its facility in Vadnais Heights. The company says it’ll eliminate the positions in July and August. Some of the workers are members of the Teamsters union.”

Were you hacked last week? BBC News says, “A phishing email that targeted Gmail users is estimated to have cost the state of Minnesota $90,000 (£69,400). About 2,500 state employees received the email, according to the state chief information security officer. Around the world, people have reported getting multiple copies of the email, while others have received the message from trusted organizations. One million Gmail users, which Google says is ‘fewer than 0.1%,’ were affected. The cost to the Minnesota state government was mainly the result of employees dealing with the attack rather than carrying out their normal jobs, said state chief information security officer Christopher Buse.” The upside was hearing from people I hadn’t heard from in years telling me I had been hacked.

The Times likes Minnesota’s satanic temple story. Says Christopher Mele in the New York Times, “The Veterans Memorial Park in Belle Plaine, Minn., includes a walkway with rows of American flags on either side, a UH-1 Huey helicopter and a granite monument with the engraved names of residents who died in the Indian War of 1862, the Civil War, World Wars I and II, and the Korean and Vietnam Wars.Coming soon to this one-acre park will be an unlikely monument from an even more unlikely source: a black steel cube with a golden inverted pentagram on each side and an empty soldier’s helmet on the top, sponsored by the Satanic Temple. It will be the first monument sponsored by the temple to be erected on public grounds, the group said.”

Legislative work desks for sale … lightly used. For KARE-TV Gordon Severson reports, “Minnesotans are getting a chance to purchase a piece of the state Senate. More specifically, they can buy a piece of furniture. ‘Vintage is hot right now,’ Greg Christian says. ‘The 70’s and 80’s. Everybody likes those years. Those were fun times.’ The Minnesota Senate is auctioning off some extra furniture used by senators and staff over the past few decades. The items up for sale include desks, chairs, bookcases, tables and other pieces from the State Capitol and State Office Building.”

Article continues after advertisement

Less is better. MPR’s Dan Kraker reports, “After a 2011 study by the Minnesota Department of Health showed that 10 percent of newborns tested along the North Shore had concerning levels of mercury in their blood, public health officials faced a conundrum. Too much mercury can cause lasting problems with understanding and learning. So how could they reduce the levels of mercury in women of child-bearing age, without sacrificing the health benefits of eating fish — especially in communities in northeast Minnesota with a deep cultural connection to fishing?”

Believe it when you see it. Another MPR story from up north says, “Residents and officials eager for a new siding plant to open in northeast Minnesota are going to have to wait a bit longer. Louisiana Pacific — which last year announced the purchase of a former mill in Cook, Minn., to expand its thriving engineered wood siding business — now says it will first convert a mill the company operates in British Columbia to make siding. In a conference call with analysts, LP’s Chief Operating Officer Brad Southern said it makes sense to develop the Canadian site first because of its proximity to the company’s West Coast customer base, and because the mill is already staffed and operating. But that doesn’t mean a northern Minnesota plant is off the table. The Cook location and another site in Quebec ‘are likely options for future siding expansion,’ said Southern. He added the company is ‘continuing our planning process for both locations with a focus on Cook.’” Translation: We’ll get back to you.

Fake reefer madness. In the PiPress, Mara Gottfried writes, “Over and over again, St. Paul paramedics and EMTs have responded recently to people having bad reactions after apparently smoking synthetic marijuana. Some have been unconscious, some vomiting and others in a catatonic state. The medical calls keeping the fire department busy are happening in the downtown area where many homeless people get services.”

Cutlery knives! Forum News Service’s Youssef Rddad has this: “A former principal of East Ridge High School in Woodbury has pleaded guilty to felony theft for misusing school funds to make personal purchases. Aaron Harper, 41, abruptly resigned in 2014 when allegations surfaced that he had inappropriately spent thousands of school district dollars for unapproved goods and services. … The criminal complaint details thousands of dollars worth of unauthorized purchases Harper made over the course of three years. They including weight loss drinks, Sam’s Club memberships, Menards power tools, electronics, funeral flowers, softball equipment and $7,900 in cutlery knives.”

Trouble in Forest Lake. In the PiPress, Mary Divine writes about the big controversy: “The Forest Lake City Council on Monday night voted to disband its police force and contract with Washington County for law enforcement services. The 3-2 vote followed weeks of heated community protests and petitions opposing the proposal … . Hundreds of people again packed the Forest Lake Community Center for the meeting, which was a continuation of a meeting last week that lasted five hours. Residents began yelling and booing as soon as the vote was taken”

Finally, this in from The Florida of the Midwest. According to an AP story, “Authorities say a 37-year-old Milwaukee woman arrested on suspicion of her third DUI had an 8-year-old boy on her lap steering the car. A Milwaukee County sheriff’s deputy saw the car entering an on-ramp on Thursday afternoon with a child seated on the driver’s lap and steering the car. The deputy stopped the car and saw that the boy was crying. He told the deputy that he did not want to go jail. The sheriff’s office says the driver refused to cooperate with the deputy until the deputy’s supervisor arrived. Authorities say the woman was visibly impaired and failed field sobriety tests.”