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NTSB says worker tried to evacuate Minnehaha Academy before blast

First responders on the scene at the Minnehaha Academy upper school explosion.

There was a warning before the Minnehaha Academy blast. MPR says, “Just before an explosion at Minnehaha Academy killed a receptionist and custodian and hurt nine others earlier this month, a maintenance worker heard and smelled gas being released. He went to the source of the gas, in the basement of the building on the school’s Upper Campus. As he left the basement, he used his hand-held radio to announce the presence of gas and tell everyone to evacuate. The worker, whom a school spokesperson identified as Don DuBois, then ran up the stairs to search for anyone left inside. Less than a minute later, the building exploded.”

Not so fast. Catharine Richert of MPR says, “Gov. Mark Dayton and Lt. Gov. Tina Smith Monday said they have ‘serious concerns’ about the Mayo Clinic’s decision to end some services at its Albert Lea facility. Minutes after Dayton and Smith issued their statement, Mayo announced that it will invest more than $3 million in the Albert Lea hospital. Mayo wants to end inpatient, intensive care and birthing services at the hospital and consolidate them a half hour away in Austin. Albert Lea will maintain an emergency room, outpatient services and behavioral health services.”

Lena Sun of The Washington Post takes a further interest in our measles outbreak. “Minnesota’s worst measles outbreak in decades has un­expectedly energized anti-vaccine forces, who have stepped up their work in recent months to challenge efforts by public health officials and clinicians to prevent the spread of the highly infectious disease. In Facebook group discussions, local activists have asked about holding ‘measles parties’ to expose unvaccinated children to others infected with the virus so they can contract the disease and acquire immunity. Health officials say they are aware of the message posts but haven’t seen evidence that such parties are taking place. The activists also are using social media to urge families who do not want to immunize their children or who believe their children have been harmed by vaccines to meet in Minneapolis this week with associates of Andrew Wakefield, the founder of the modern anti-vaccine movement.” 

Ok, let’s make this a little easier. Who isn’t running? J. Patrick Coolican of the Strib says, “State Sen. David Osmek is joining Minnesota’s race for governor with a promise of some Trump-style political brawling that he says Republicans are thirsting for after more than a decade of defeats in statewide races. The Mound Republican was elected to the Legislature in 2012 as a conservative insurgent and is known at the Capitol as a forceful and at times impolitic voice on behalf of his views. … Osmek, 52, is also a project manager for a division of UnitedHealth Group.” 

This always sounds like something Harry Potter would have kept in a drawer. Kelly Smith of the Strib writes, “A second Minnesota lake has been found to have been infested this year with the latest aquatic invasive species. The state Department of Natural Resources said Monday that starry stonewort has been found in Lake Minnewaska in Pope County. The 7,500-acre lake, the largest in Pope County and a popular spot for anglers and boaters, is the 11th in the state to be infested with the invasive algae since the first infestation was reported in 2015.”

Also Potter-esque: weaponized owls. The Forum News Service reports: “Lake Bemidji State Park staff temporarily closed one of their park trails after an owl attack over the weekend. A 3-year-old girl received ‘minor scratches’ on her head and took a brief trip to an urgent care ward, park staff said, after she was attacked by an owl about 8:30 p.m. Friday in the park’s general-use area near Lake Bemidji. Staff closed the park’s Rocky Point Trail — where they said most ‘owl activity’ occurs — and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources workers investigated the attack but couldn’t locate the bird, which they suspect is a barred owl.”

Awful. A KSTP-TV story says, “A homicide investigation has intensified after authorities identified remains as those of a Minnesota teenager who had been missing for more than a month. Ozark County Sheriff Darrin Reed confirmed that Savannah Leckie, 16, was the person whose remains were found on a Missouri property in a burn pile just a few weeks after she disappeared. …Officials began focusing their investigation on her mother, Rebecca Ruud, and her stepfather after a search warrant revealed bone fragments in the camper where she lived. Ruud also admitted to disciplining Leckie ‘by forcing her to crawl through a hog pen’ and forcing her to bathe in a pond on the property.”

Post-eclipse Paul Huttner at MPR offers this: “The eclipse was visible on NOAA satellite images and produced some interesting meteorological effects.

The temporary lack of solar heating wipes out the thermals and the cumulus cloud field across the southeast USA.

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