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Tim Walz picks state Rep. Peggy Flanagan as running mate

Plus: legislative panel votes down raises for state workers; most Minnesota farmers complying with first phase of buffer law; White Bear Lake man alleged to have lived alongside dead bodies of mother and twin brother for months; and more.

State Rep. Peggy Flanagan

That was quick. MPR’s Brian Bakst says: “The first full ticket in Minnesota’s race for governor formed Thursday when Democrat Tim Walz picked state Rep. Peggy Flanagan, DFL-St. Louis Park, as his potential lieutenant governor. … Flanagan, 38, has served in the Minnesota House since winning a special election to represent a district covering St. Louis Park, Golden Valley and surrounding areas in 2015. … If the Walz-Flanagan ticket can go the distance, she would be the first person of color to hold a statewide office and reach one of the highest political posts a Native American has held.”

Voted down. Says Tim Pugmire for MPR, “Members of Minnesota’s two big public employee unions suffered a setback Thursday when a legislative panel voted down their tentative contract agreements. The Subcommittee on Employee Relations rejected the tentative deals by a 6-4 party-line vote. Republicans opposed the contracts covering more than 30,000 state workers. Democrats supported the pacts. Under the two-year contract agreements negotiated with the state, members of the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees and AFSCME Council 5 would have received raises of 2 percent this year and 2.25 percent next year.”

Sports Illustrated stops in Minnesota for its series on “Football in America.” Robert Klemko and Kalyn Kahler write, “In Cleveland [MN], The MMQB staff — on a mission to cover a youth, high school, college and pro football games all in one weekend — is treated to an all-natural setting for the game. There are two small sets of bleachers dotting an expansive hill, forming a bowl as it winds around the end zone, flattens, and melts into the woods. The athletic director long ago tried to talk local pig farmers out of airing out their barns on Friday afternoons, to no avail. The unmistakable smell of slop and pig manure scents the air as the home fans unfurl orange and black blankets.”

Sort of related. Mark Steil of MPR reports, “Most Minnesota farmers are complying with the first phase of a law designed to protect water from pollution. Passed two years ago, the law requires a vegetative buffer, usually grass, between farmland and public waters such as streams, lakes and wetlands. The deadline to have the buffers installed is Nov. 1. State agriculture officials say with just a few weeks left buffers are in place on 94 percent of the land requiring the protective strips.”

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Tell me about it. John Myers of the Forum News Service says, “Drivers on Minnesota highways are slightly more likely to hit a deer this year than last according to an annual assessment by State Farm Insurance. The company said an estimated 1-in-74 Minnesota drivers will hit a deer or other large animal this year, up from about 1-in-80 drivers in 2016. Minnesota retained its rank as No. 7 among all 50 states in how likely drivers are to hit a deer on the road.”

RIP Audree. Beena Raghavendran of the Strib says, “Late in life, longtime painter Audree Sells realized that she could splash her colors beyond canvasses. Soon hooked on quilting, the Chaska artist crafted more than 670 pieces in three decades, vowing never to sew the same quilt twice. The award-winning quilter and elementary school teacher died Sept. 20 after a short battle with colon cancer, just weeks before her 90th birthday. Her quilting résumé includes her title as Minnesota Quilter of the Year in 2014 and co-founder of the Chaska Area Quilt Club. She has quilts in collections in the Library of Congress and the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Ky. Her pieces hang in metro-area medical centers and libraries.”

Whaaaat?! Says Sarah Horner in the PiPress, “Months after his mother and twin brother died, a White Bear Lake man sent out a Christmas card saying the two were still alive but in bad health. He also wrote that his mom didn’t want visitors at the home the three shared together and that neither of his family members could hear the phone ring. It appears his letter was meant to keep people from stopping by their house, where Robert Kuefler was living alongside their decaying bodies, according to a criminal complaint filed against him in Ramsey County District Court this week.”

Also in poor life decisions, Josh Verges of the PiPress writes, “Despite an annual family income approaching $300,000, a former St. Paul assistant principal stole again and again over nine years from the small Wisconsin church where she volunteered as treasurer. Kara Amundson-LaVenture, 43, took money from multiple accounts at New Centerville United Methodist Church, as well as from the collection plate and fundraising proceeds. Without telling anyone, she got a credit card in the church’s name and used it even after the church council confronted her about the missing money in 2015. Amundson-LaVenture was sentenced Thursday to two years in prison and five years probation after pleading guilty to felony theft.”