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Minneapolis schools move to all-online learning for two weeks

Plus: union that represents MSP snowplow drivers announces intent to strike; South St. Paul basketball coach resigns, expected to plead guilty to federal charges; massive new development in Rosemount takes another step forward; and more.

student desks

Also from WCCO: “Minneapolis Public Schools will temporarily move to all-online learning starting Friday due to significant staffing issues. Students will return to in-person instruction on Jan. 31. Superintendent Ed Graff said the aggressive wave of the virus has ‘severely compromised’ the district’s ability to run in-person education. On Wednesday, 400 licensed teachers were absent due to illness, and the district was only able to fill 45% of those roles. Typically, 200 teachers are absent around this time of year and 90-95% of those positions are able to be filled, Graff said.”

KSTP-TV’s Kyle Brown reports: “Metropolitan Airports Commission employees represented by Teamsters Local 320 have announced they intend to strike. Wednesday’s notice means Twin Cities airports — including Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport — would be without snowplow drivers if the two sides cannot reach an agreement in mediation during the mandatory 10-day cool-down period. Union members reached a ‘near-unanimous’ vote to authorize a strike last month. … The union’s grievances include disparities between union and nonunion employees in raises and severance pay — Local 320 members get 85 days of severance, while other MAC employees get 200.”

In the Pioneer Press, Nick Ferraro writes: “South St. Paul boys basketball coach Matthew McCollister resigned Wednesday, just hours before he was expected to plead guilty to a felony criminal charge at the federal courthouse in St. Paul. McCollister was scheduled to appear at an arraignment hearing before U.S. District Judge Wilhelmina Wright on a charge that he conspired to commit health care fraud while working as a personal injury attorney. … McCollister, 41, of Mendota Heights, is accused of playing a role in a scheme to rip off car insurance companies with bogus medical claims in Minnesota and elsewhere in 2016 and 2017.”

MPR’s Dan Kraker reports: “More than five years since the federal government first proposed a 20-year mining ban across a large swath of federal land south of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, federal officials once again gathered feedback from the public on the proposal at a three-hour virtual meeting Wednesday afternoon. And once again, opinion was fiercely divided.… Commenters had up to three minutes each to make their case for or against the application from the U.S. Forest Service to ban new mining development over about 350 square miles of the Superior National Forest within the Rainy River watershed, which flows into the Boundary Waters. That includes where Twin Metals Minnesota has proposed an underground copper-nickel mine near Ely.”

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This from WCCO-TV,A Minneapolis woman has been sentenced to more than eight years in prison for her role in a string of Twin Cities carjacking in the summer of 2020. Krisanne Benjamin, 25, pleaded guilty in September to aiding and abetting a carjacking in Richfield. She was sentenced on Wednesday to 100 months in prison, followed by two years of supervised release. She was also ordered to pay over $13,000 in restitution.”

Mary Divine writes in the Pioneer Press: “Fifty-one years ago, Donald Rindahl told his family he was leaving New Brighton and moving to California. They never heard from him again. Rindahl’s remains were discovered in August 2003 about 3 feet underground by a man doing a landscaping project on his property about six miles east of Isanti, Minn. Officials at the time were able to determine that the remains were that of a white man in his 20s who had been buried there for anywhere from three to 28 years. But no one knew who he was until just a few weeks ago. On Wednesday, Isanti County Chief Deputy Lisa Lovering said her agency had partnered with Othram Inc., a Texas-based company that specializes in forensic genealogy, to determine Rindahl’s identity.”

FOX 9’s Bisi Onile-Ere reports: “Next Monday will mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day. But ahead of the holiday, there will be a free event this Saturday at the Minneapolis Convention Center. It’s a first of its kind event for Bob’s Reward – a Black-owned business program. The free MLK celebration takes place Saturday, Jan. 15, from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. …There will be a career fair with up to 20 different employers hiring. There will also be several guest speakers and forums addressing a number of issues including the disparities in Minnesota.”

In the Star Tribune, Jim Buchta reports, “The sale of 435 acres in Rosemount paves the way for a sprawling new development with upwards of 2,000 houses and apartments and a new elementary school on land that was owned by the University of Minnesota. ‘The site is the single largest proposal we’ve had in Rosemount,’ said Eric Van Oss, economic development coordinator for the city. ‘And the property is probably one of the bigger development sites in the metro area.’ The closing comes after several years of creating a master plan for the site, which is part of a much larger redevelopment project in the city. Basic elements of the proposed project, known as Amber Fields, were approved last fall.”

Todd Richmond of the Associated Press writes: “A man accused of driving an SUV through a Wisconsin Christmas parade crashed into people head-on, ran them over as they lay on the ground and at one point leaned out his window to steer because someone had landed on his windshield and was blocking his view, prosecutors alleged Wednesday in a criminal complaint that levies dozens of new charges against him. Darrell Brooks Jr. steered the Ford Escape for five blocks through the parade route in the Milwaukee suburb of Waukesha on Nov. 21, killing six people and injuring dozens more, according to the complaint. … Prosecutors charged Brooks with six counts of homicide two days after the parade. They added 71 new charges against him Wednesday, including multiple counts of reckless endangerment, hit-and-run involving death, battery and bail jumping.”

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