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Parts of Boundary Waters Canoe Area set to reopen

Plus: Attorneys for former officers charged in Floyd’s death ask judge to bar trial from being livestreamed; St. Paul Police chief wants more money to fill vacant positions; North Dakota officials plead with residents to get vaccinated; and more.

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is a 1.1 million square-mile region with 1,600 lakes.
The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is 1.1 million acres with 1,600 lakes.

The Forum News Service reports: “The Superior National Forest announced Wednesday that the full closure of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness will be lifted, though some closures will remain in place around active fires in northeastern Minnesota. Crediting recent rains, cooler temperatures and progress made on active fires, forest officials state that the full closure and the Crooked Lake closure near Canada have been lifted. New closure maps for the Greenwood Fire and John Ek and Whelp fires have been created. The upper Gunflint Trail closure of U.S. Forest Service land remains in place.”

The AP reports: “Attorneys for two former Minneapolis police officers charged in George Floyd’s death are asking a judge to bar their upcoming trial from being livestreamed, saying some witnesses won’t testify if the proceedings are broadcast. The request from attorneys for Thomas Lane and J. Kueng is an about-face from their earlier request to have the trial publicly broadcast, and it’s opposed by prosecutors and news media outlets including The Associated Press. It’s among a few legal issues expected to be argued at a Thursday hearing before Judge Peter Cahill.”

Mara H. Gottfried writes for the Pioneer Press: “St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell told the city council Wednesday that officers are being pushed to the brink — he said they haven’t had the funding to hire new officers since 2019 and they’ve seen more officers leaving the department than normal. He requested $3.1 million from the city for next year’s budget to fill vacant positions, while Mayor Melvin Carter’s 2022 budget proposal restores $1.77 million for hiring officers. The department’s authorized strength for next year is proposed to be 619 officers, one less than the current maximum.”

In the Star Tribune, Briana Biersachbach reports, “State Sen. Michelle Benson officially jumped into the race for Minnesota governor on Wednesday, joining a crowded field of Republican candidates angling to challenge Gov. Tim Walz next fall. Benson, a four-term senator from suburban Ham Lake, served as deputy majority leader and currently chairs a powerful health and human services finance committee, which determines billions of dollars in state health care spending every two years. She’s the first woman to jump into the race in either party, aiming to become the first woman to be elected governor in Minnesota.”

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Rose Semenov reports for FOX 9: “The Minnesota Poison Control System saw an uptick in August for exposure calls for ivermectin, a drug falsely claimed to treat COVID-19. Ivermectin is a de-wormer drug used for pets and livestock. In this form, the drug can be highly concentrated and could be toxic if taken by humans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While there is a human version of the drug, it is not an anti-viral drug nor does it have FDA approval or authorization to treat COVID-19. A recent National Institutes of Health clinical trial also found insufficient data to recommend ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment.”

Kristi Marohn writes for MPR: “Invasive zebra mussels have made their way into Rainy Lake, posing an ecological threat to the popular haven for boaters and anglers that flanks the Minnesota-Canada border and is a gateway to Voyageurs National Park. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources confirmed Wednesday that zebra mussel larvae, known as veligers, were found in four of five water samples taken in July from the 360-square-mile lake near International Falls. The DNR said the findings suggest the presence of a reproducing zebra mussel population.”

Also for the Forum News Service, Jeremy Turley writes: “North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and top hospital officials assembled at a news conference on Wednesday to deliver a uniform message: If residents don’t seek COVID-19 vaccines, wear masks and resume social distancing at greater rates, the state’s health care system could become overwhelmed in the weeks ahead. States like Mississippi, where hospitals have reached their breaking point, should provide North Dakotans with a cautionary tale, Burgum said. ‘It could happen here because we have some of the same characteristics of limited (hospital) capacity and low vaccination rates,’ Burgum said.”

David Schuman writes for WCCO-TV: “The University of Minnesota is studying crosswalk safety in the Twin Cities, and the results aren’t great so far. … Nichole Morris, the director of the U’s HumanFIRST lab, is studying 32 Twin Cities crosswalks with her team: 16 in Minneapolis and 16 in St. Paul. Every week, they update signs at a handful of the crosswalks that show the percentage of drivers who stop for pedestrians. … Not stopping for a pedestrian at a crosswalk is against the law in Minnesota. Yet in St. Paul, just over half of drivers usually stop, while the number dips to about 30% in Minneapolis.”

Also for the Pioneer Press, Frederick Melo writes: “For weeks, the billboard sign along St. Paul’s Lafayette Bridge has proclaimed the arrival of Huntington Bank, and it does so in all the wrong ways. ‘Hello, Minneapolis!’ reads the larger-than-life faux pas, which has made more than one St. Paul resident shake their head in disbelief. The Columbus, Ohio-based financial institution completed its acquisition of smaller TCF Bank in June, cementing TCF’s second merger in as many years, and it’s already come in like a bit of a lion, in more ways than one.”

South Dakota Public Broadcasting’s Arielle Zionts reports: “[South Dakota] Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg won’t have to do any community service after he hit and killed a man with his car last year, but he faces a new charge for allegedly driving 22 miles over the speed limit.…A Hughes County deputy pulled Ravnsborg over in Pierre on August 22, four days before he was set to face trial for driving misdemeanors that allegedly happened before he hit pedestrian Joe Boever. … This is Ravnsborg’s seventh speeding ticket in South Dakota since 2014. He has two more from Iowa.”