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ATF: Fire that destroyed hotel under construction in downtown St. Paul set intentionally

Plus: former Minnesota fugitive Lois Riess admits to killing husband; Big Ten announces putting college football season on hold due to coronavirus; new poll says Trump within striking distance Joe Biden in Minnesota; and more.

Downtown St. Paul and 35E at dusk
Downtown St. Paul
MinnPost file photo by Rita Kovtun

Mara H. Gottfried writes in the Pioneer Press: “The fire at a hotel under construction in downtown St. Paul was intentionally set and it’s being investigated as an arson, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives announced Tuesday. No one was under arrest as of Tuesday, ‘but there are persons of interest that we’re looking into,’ said Ashlee Sherrill, spokeswoman for the ATF’s St. Paul Field Division.”

For the Forum News Service, Emily Cutts writes: “More than two years after her husband was found slain in their Blooming Prairie home, former Minnesota fugitive Lois Riess admitted she was the one who killed him. Riess, 58, pleaded guilty Tuesday afternoon in Dodge County District Court, in a hearing held at Kasson-Mantorville High School. She was sentenced to life in prison. … Riess’ 54-year-old husband, David Riess, was found shot to death in the couple’s Blooming Prairie home in March 2018.”

MPR reports, “The Big Ten Conference said Tuesday that it is putting its college football season and other fall sports on hold because of the coronavirus, just weeks before schools were  scheduled to play their first football games. … In addition to football, the decision postpones fall sports such as cross-country, field hockey, soccer and women’s volleyball.” 

For The Hill, Max Greenwood reports, “President Trump is within striking distance of former Vice President Joe Biden in Minnesota, according to a new Emerson College poll released Tuesday that shows the GOP incumbent trailing by only 3 points in a state Democrats have carried for decades. The survey shows Biden with 50 percent of the vote in Minnesota, while Trump trails with 47 percent, within the poll’s 3.6 percentage point margin of error. Several other recent polls in Minnesota show Biden with a much wider lead.”

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At Fox News, Morgan Phillips says, “A Minnesota court issued a ruling Tuesday that blocks a Republican effort to deny ballot collection and voter assistance known as ballot harvesting in the state, saying their effort to block the process was motivated by politics.…The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) had sued to block the law, which makes it a crime for anyone in Minnesota to help more than three people vote. Democrats have claimed easing voter laws will boost voter turnout.”

For KSTP-TV, Kirsten Swanson writes: “Concerns over the postal service slowdown is at the top of the list for Minnesota’s Secretary of State, as officials turn their attention to preparations for the November general election. Sec. Steve Simon told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that a group of secretaries of state is asking to meet with the new postmaster general, to get to the bottom of recent reports that policy changes have impacted the speed at which mail is delivered.”

In the Pioneer Press, Josh Verges writes: “St. Paul voters will have six candidates to choose from in November to fill an open seat on the school board. The special election winner will serve out the final year of Marny Xiong’s term following her death in June from COVID-19.”