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Major winter storm brings snow, wind, bitter cold to much of Minnesota

Plus: St. Paul police investigating shooting death of 2-year-old boy; first responders in Minneapolis won’t be required to take vaccine; state suspends liquor licenses of four more bars; and more. 

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The Star Tribune’s James Walsh writes: “A Christmas blizzard upended holiday travel across Minnesota on Wednesday, delaying flights, closing roads across most of the state and stranding motorists. Central and southern Minnesota were under a blizzard warning Wednesday, with 70 mph-plus wind gusts causing conditions to deteriorate quickly. Seven to 11 inches of snow were expected in central Minnesota, where temperatures were expected to plummet overnight. ”

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KSTP-TV reports: “The Minnesota State Patrol said troopers across the state responded to 125 crashes and 288 vehicles off roadways, plus 133 stalled vehicles, in a span of five hours Wednesday night. Those numbers, which were from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., also included 11 jackknifed semis. That moved the daily total for the State Patrol to 376 crash reports, 417 vehicles off roads/spinouts, 133 stalled vehicles and 30 jackknifed semis, across the state.

And this from WCCO-TV, “A Twin Cities resident says the doorbell camera caught the end of a rollover crash that ended up practically on their doorstep. The incident happened in Prior Lake. Lyn Rothmeyer told WCCO that the crash happened early Wednesday afternoon. ‘A blizzard started up and roads were pure ice under it and some guy in a BMW slid down the hill in front of our house and his car flew over our wall and landed upside down in our driveway’, Rothmeyer said. ‘We watched the whole thing on our Ring camera’. Rothmeyer said that the driver was not seriously injured.”

MPR reports: “St. Paul police say that a 2-year-old boy died after being shot Wednesday. Police say St. Paul Fire medics found the toddler in a third-floor apartment in the 800 block of Rice Street. The boy died in an ambulance parked outside. Minutes earlier, medics had responded to a call at 1:12 p.m. that the child had a head injury. Three juveniles were questioned, but it was unclear who was holding the gun when it went off and who else was in the apartment, according to the St. Paul Police Department.”

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Libor Jany writes in the Star Tribune: “When their turn comes, Minneapolis’ first responders will not be required to take the COVID-19 vaccine before coming to work, officials said this week. While the first shipments of the first vaccine only arrived in Minnesota earlier this month, police officers and firefighters are still likely weeks, if not months, away from receiving their doses. …When the time comes, immunization will not be compulsory for MPD officers, said department spokesman John Elder, adding that he expects most officers will choose to be vaccinated.”

WCCO-TV reports: “Sen. Amy Klobuchar is among the senators who intend to vote to overturn President Donald Trump’s veto of the defense spending bill. … The House and Senate passed the NDAA with veto-proof majorities, but it remains to be seen whether House Republicans will still stand up to the president when the legislation returns to the House. Both the House and Senate need to re-approve the legislation with two-thirds majorities in order to override a presidential veto.”

For The Business Journal Nick Halter says, “The Riverplace office complex in St. Anthony Main has sold to a pair of investors that plan to renovate the buildings. Detroit-based private equity firm Crestlight Capital and Birmingham Ala.-based Harbert U.S. Real Estate Fund VII announced Wednesday that they acquired the four-building complex at 1, 43 and 25 Main Street, plus 10 Second St. SE. The campus is in the red-hot neighborhood just across from downtown Minneapolis, where thousands of apartments have been built in recent years.”

Says Mike Hughlett of the Strib, “Minnesota regulators on Wednesday approved Xcel Energy’s $750 million wind farm ‘repowering’ project, one of several proposals from the utility to help speed up the state’s economic recovery from COVID-19. Xcel, the state’s largest utility, said its plan to retool several existing wind farms will save ratepayers $160 million through efficiency gains. The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) unanimously agreed, though the Minnesota Department of Commerce opposed Xcel’s plan.”

The Kenosha News’ Deneen Smith writes: “The online store Kyle Rittenhouse’s family was using to sell branded merchandise was offline Wednesday, the family having been dropped by the company operating the store. The Rittenhouse family began selling Free Kyle branded merchandise last week, saying money raised by the sales would be used toward the criminal defense for the 17-year-old Antioch, Ill., resident who is charged with homicide for shooting three people during the August unrest in Kenosha, killing two.”

The Pioneer Press reports: “State health authorities have suspended the liquor licenses of four Minnesota establishments that inspectors say violated the governor’s executive order closing bars and restaurants to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The Minnesota Department of Health on Wednesday issued notices of license suspension to Cornerstone Cafe & Catering in Monticello, M.B.’s Little Gourmet Deli in Virginia, the Pour House in Clarks Grove and the Interchange in Albert Lea, according to a news release issued by the agency. … In his office’s news release, MDH Assistant Commissioner Dan Huff called the suspensions a last resort.”