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Northern Minnesota’s Greenwood Fire now mostly contained

Plus: employees of shuttered produce wholesalers accuse new owners of stealing wages, retirement money; driver shortage leads to Metro Transit light rail delays; men accused of triple homicide in western Wisconsin plead not guilty; and more.

Midewan Hotshot Crew conducting a burnout operation to reduce flammable vegetation on Highway 1 in the Greenwood Fire area on September 7.
Midewan Hotshot Crew conducting a burnout operation to reduce flammable vegetation on Highway 1 in the Greenwood Fire area on September 7.
U.S. Forest Service-Superior National Forest

This at MPR, “Officials managing the Greenwood Fire in northeast Minnesota reported Sunday it’s now 67 percent contained, with favorable weather conditions aiding fire crews. That containment level is up from 54 percent on Friday, and 58 percent on Saturday. As of Sunday the fire west of Isabella was estimated at 26,797 acres in size — unchanged from the previous day.”

In the Star Tribune, Kristen Leigh Painter says: “H. Brooks and Co., the 116-year-old fruit and vegetable distributor in New Brighton, fired its workers and ceased operations earlier this summer, just weeks after its sister company — St. Paul-based J&J Distributing — went belly up. Now former H. Brooks employees say their employer stole money from them, including wages, health care premiums and contributions to their retirement accounts. … The rapid demise of two of the Twin Cities’ leading produce wholesalers at the hands of a new owner has left a trail of frustration among suppliers, employees and the companies’ founding families.”

KSTP-TV’s Brittney Ermon writes: “Frustrated light rail passengers dealt with several delays this weekend when Metro Transit canceled rides because of a worker shortage. Metro Transit officials said 18 conductors were out sick, leaving some riders stuck on the platform. … Metro Transit officials are still investigating if COVID-19 was a factor. … Until conductors get back to work, light rail passengers may have to wait a bit longer for a ride. … Make sure to sign up for rider alerts and follow Metro Transit on social media to stay updated with any changes or cancellations.”

Also in the Star Tribune, Tim Harlow reports: “Electronic destination signs on Metro Transit buses tell riders face coverings are required; the federal mask mandate to wear them on public transportation has been extended into January.  … Transit police conducted more than 11,500 fare compliance checks on buses and light-rail trains during August. In conjunction with the fare checks, officers issued 437 warnings to passengers who failed to comply with the mask mandate and distributed 368 face coverings. No citations have been issued yet this year, Baenen said.”

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An AP story says, “Two men accused in a triple homicide in western Wisconsin in July have pleaded not guilty. Khamthaneth Rattanasack, 44, and Nya Thao, 33, have each been charged with three counts of first-degree intentional homicide and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. They’re accused in the execution-style shooting of three men outside the entrance of a Wisconsin quarry. The suspects on Friday waived their right to preliminary hearings. They are being held in the La Crosse County Jail on $1 million cash bond. Both face life in prison if convicted.”

The AP reports: “Kansas City Southern has decided that a $31 billion bid from Canadian Pacific is the best of two offers on the table to buy the railroad. The Kansas City, Missouri, company said in a statement Sunday that it has notified rival bidder Canadian National that it intends to terminate a merger agreement and make a deal with Canadian Pacific. But it’s not final yet. Canadian National still has five business days to negotiate amendments to its offer, and the Kansas City Southern board could determine that a revised CN offer is better. … Canadian Pacific, based in Alberta, has its U.S. headquarters in Minneapolis and substantial operations in St. Paul. The company has said it planned to move those headquarters to Kansas City, Mo., if it merged with Kansas City Southern.”

Says Carter Johnson for Insider.com, “Even as Wells Fargo announced the expiration of a 2016 consent order levied by federal regulators in the wake of a fraudulent account scandal, it now faces a new $250 million fine related to issues stemming from the bank’s mortgage loss modification practices.  The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency said that the civil money penalty, and a related cease-and-desist order, have been brought against the bank for ‘unsafe or unsound practices’ related to its mortgage servicing business and for failing to address compliance and risk issues raised in a 2018 OCC consent order.”

A Newsweek story by Jason Lemon says, “Organizers of a Kentucky rally in support of former President Donald Trump featuring several prominent allies and conspiracy theorists expected some 10,000 people to show up this weekend. Instead, less than 300 were in attendance when local journalists attempted to cover the proceedings. The ‘We the People Reunion’ was held at the Muhlenberg County Agriculture & Convention Center Fairgrounds in Powderly, Kentucky, on Friday and Saturday. MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, retired General Michael Flynn, attorney Lin Wood and others were among the featured speakers, according to the event and ticket page online.”