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State officials step up response to Minnesota’s deepening drought

Plus: 3-year-old Minneapolis boy in critical condition after being shot; cluster of COVID-19 infections traced to Anoka County funeral; family of murdered corrections officer sues company operating prison workshop; and more.

The AP’s Steve Karnowski reports: “Minnesota officials stepped up their drought response on Friday as the state grows drier, which threatens water supplies, agriculture and more wildfires. Minnesota has now reached the threshold to trigger the ‘warning phase’ under the statewide drought plan …. The updated U.S. Drought Monitor map released Thursday shows that 98% of Minnesota is now in a drought, with 52% of the state in a severe or extreme drought, and conditions are expected to grow drier. The ‘warning phase’ triggers a series of steps, including the convening of a state drought task force made up of state, federal, regional and local experts, which last convened in 2012. Water conservation measures are being recommended, and in some cases mandated.”

FOX 9 reports: “Police are investigating after a 3-year-old boy was shot in Minneapolis Friday morning, according to Minneapolis Police Department spokesman John Elder. Elder said police responded to the call just after 11 a.m. to the 2700 block of Thomas Ave N. An ambulance took the boy to Hennepin County Medical Center. Elder says the boy suffered a serious gunshot wound and is in critical condition. According to preliminary investigation, the shooting happened inside the home. It is unclear at this time what led up to the shooting.”

In the Star Tribune, Jeremy Olson reports: “Pandemic measures remained minimal in Minnesota on Friday, but a cluster of infections traced to a funeral and the state’s 14th COVID-19 death of someone in their 20s underscored the continued infection risks. … The state has verified an outbreak linked to a June funeral in Anoka County, though, that involved at least five people who tested positive and two people who suffered breakthrough infections despite being vaccinated.”

WCCO-TV reports: “The family of a murdered Minnesota corrections officer is suing the company that operates the workshop at Stillwater Prison. The wrongful death lawsuit comes after the legislature failed to approve a $3 million settlement this past session for the family of Joseph Gomm. Inmate Edward Johnson brutally attacked the 45-year-old in 2018 while he was supervising a workshop inside the Stillwater Prison.”

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In the Pioneer Press, Nick Ferraro writes: “Ramsey County planners have devised three preliminary road concepts for a new Rice Street between Pennsylvania Avenue and Wheelock Parkway in St. Paul. Over the past two years, county officials have been working to define a community-driven vision for the 2-mile stretch of the four-lane street, which has aging infrastructure and traffic concerns. A focus has been put on community development, business vitality, bike and pedestrian connections, public safety, livability and compatible land uses in the corridor, according to county planners.”

In the Star Tribune, John Reinan writes: “A federal judge has held Chisago County and former County Sheriff Rick Duncan liable for sexual harassment, setting up a jury trial to decide the amount of damages an ex-employee of the Sheriff’s Office will receive. The ruling Thursday came after a bizarre episode in which Duncan tried to get the woman to have sex with him by sending anonymous letters under the name ‘Control Freak,’ threatening her and her children if she and Duncan didn’t follow orders.”