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Water levels in Minnesota’s lakes and rivers continue to fall as drought worsens

Plus: OSHA investigating death of Menards employee; victims of triple homicide near La Crosse identified; University of Wisconsin system to offer $500,000 in scholarships to vaccinated students; and more.

Greg Stanley writes in the Star Tribune’: “Parts of the St. Croix River are nearly impassable to boaters as water levels have fallen below launches and landings, exposing boulders, sandbars and other hazards. … The water in rivers and lakes throughout Minnesota continued to fall in July as the drought worsened and spread. Extreme drought, defined as causing major crop losses and widespread water restrictions, has engulfed nearly 20% of the state. Much of the rest of Minnesota has fallen into severe drought, meaning crop losses and water restrictions are likely.

Dana Theide reports for KARE 11: “An official state investigation is underway into the death of a young Menards employee who died Thursday after a pallet of lumber fell on the forklift he was operating. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner identified the victim Saturday as 19-year-old James Lee Stanback of Minneapolis. … James Honerman, spokesman for the Minnesota Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) confirmed an investigator will inspect the scene where Stanback died for safety or health hazards, try to determine what caused or contributed to the fatal incident, and then decide whether state OSHA standards were violated.”

Also in the Star Tribune, Ryan Faircloth writes: “Recent discoveries of mass graves at former boarding school sites in Canada have prompted Native American students at the [University of Minnesota’s] Morris campus to demand a search at their school. More than 4,000 people signed a student-led petition this month in support of a Morris campus search, which they say is an essential step for the university to confront and heal from its history.”

Mary Ann Grossman writes in the Pioneer Press: “Patrick Coleman was driving through Duluth recently when he had a choice. He could have lunch or he could explore a used bookstore. Anyone who knows Coleman, lover of history, books and Minnesota, knows what he did. He went to the bookstore. … Coleman, who was 69 in June, has been Minnesota Historical Society acquisitions librarian for 43 years. ‘Librarian’ is too confining a title though, since he’s built the largest collection of Minnesota-related books and printed materials in the world. … Now this tall, genial, self-described book geek is retiring and his friends and colleagues can’t say enough about Coleman’s legacy and his contributions to the MNHS collections.”

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The La Crosse Tribune reports: “The victims of a triple homicide in western Wisconsin have been positively identified, all of them men in their early 20s with ties to the La Crosse area. The bodies of Peng Lor, Nemo Yang and Trevor J. Maloney were discovered shortly before 5 a.m. Friday at the entrance of Milestone Materials in the Romskog Quarry at N6290 County Road M. Employees arriving at work made the discovery and made the emergency call.”

The AP’s Todd Richmond reports: “The University of Wisconsin System plans to offer nearly $500,000 in scholarships this fall to students who have been vaccinated against the coronavirus. System President Tommy Thompson said all vaccinated students at regional four- and two-year campuses that get at least 70% of their students vaccinated by Oct. 15 will be eligible for a drawing for a $7,000 scholarship. Seventy students will win, with more winners coming from campuses with larger enrollments. UW-Madison students won’t be eligible, Thompson said, because Chancellor Rebecca Blank is working on her own vaccination incentive programs.”