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Minneapolis businessman released after being detained in his native Ethiopia

Plus: Gov. Tim Walz takes oath, pledges to use surplus for children and families; Atwater pickup driver loses fish house to freight train; wintry mix, heavy snow, freezing rain on tap for Minnesota Tuesday and Wednesday; and more.

frozen gleanA KMSP-TV story says, “Minneapolis entrepreneur Tashitaa Tufaa is on his way back to Minnesota after being detained over the New Year in his native Ethiopia. Tufaa, who came to the United States in the 1990s as a political refugee, was detained in recent days at the Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, his family reported on New Year’s Eve, as they put out a call for help. … Family members asked local politicians for help getting their father home safely. On Monday, Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s office announced Tufaa was on his way back to Minnesota. ‘After my office worked with State Department officials, I’m relieved to see that Tashitaa Tufaa has been released from detainment and is on his way back to the United States,’ said Klobuchar in a statement.”

For The Associated Press, Steve Karnowski reports, “Democratic Gov. Tim Walz pledged Monday to make the largest investments in public education in Minnesota history as he took the oath of office for his second term. Minnesota has a ‘historic opportunity’ with its $17.6 billion projected budget surplus to become the best state in the country for children and families, the former teacher said during inauguration ceremonies at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul. He’ll unveil his two-year budget plan in three weeks but is expected to roll out some major proposals sooner.”

In  the Strib, Mara Klecker reports, “Ashley Koopman’s second child wasn’t due for another week, so she spent the final day of 2022 playing in the snow with her toddler son. But when contractions started around 8:15 p.m., she and her husband, Cameron, started joking about the New Year’s babies who make the news each year: How crazy would it be if their baby girl was the inaugural baby of 2023? At midnight in a room at Maple Grove Hospital, that became more than a jest. With just one push from mom, Isabelle Alice Koopman, weighing 6 pounds, 15 ounces, was born. She’s believed to be Minnesota’s first baby of the new year.”

At BringMeTheNews, Adam Uren says, “A pickup driver had a lucky escape when he narrowly avoided being struck by a freight train, though his fish house was not so lucky. The incident happened in Kandiyohi County on New Year’s Eve afternoon, when a 21-year-old man from Atwater was driving on a private driveway that intersected with two sets of railroad tracks in Gennessee Township, east of Willmar. The Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office says one train with multiple cars was stopped on one side of the tracks, but as the pickup began to cross the tracks, another train was traveling on the other side. It missed his pickup truck, but struck the fish house he was towing. The driver was not injured in the incident.”

In the Strib, Shannon Prather writes, “A new neighborhood of single-family homes with an emphasis on first-time homebuyers could replace the Ponds, the nine-hole golf course in Maplewood that Ramsey County leaders closed in September 2021. The county has asked developers to submit proposals to purchase and build single-family homes on the 88-acre property. ‘We’re seeking proposals dedicating a minimum of 10 units for first-time homebuyers,’ Jean Krueger, Ramsey County’s director of property management, said in an email. … The county could select a developer by March, according to county documents. The county announced plans to close the course in 2019 citing operating losses and the county’s four other golf courses. It quickly became a battleground with several factions weighing in.”

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For The Current, Bora writes, “Lizzo’s ‘About Damn Time’ was for all of us. That is probably why The Current’s listeners chose it as the No. 1 song of the Top 89 of 2022. In Lizzo’s HBO Max documentary ‘Love, Lizzo,’ she says she wrote ‘About Damn Time’ and the rest of her album, ‘Special,’ while feeling sad, mad, and hurt. Over the past couple of years, all of us have experienced one or a combination of those same feelings. The whole world felt the effects of the pandemic to varying degrees. Lizzo knows this.”

At MPR News, Sven Sundgaard says, “A messy winter storm will impact the southern half of Minnesota and portions of northeast Minnesota late Monday into early Thursday. A wintry mix of heavy snow and freezing rain and rain will be possible from the Twin Cities and points south and southeast Tuesday. … Behind the system colder air, but not arctic air will move in. High temperatures by late in the week and weekend will be mainly in the teens with overnight lows in the single digits and even some subzero readings in northern Minnesota.”

For Sports Illustrated Joe Nelson writes, “The Vikings went to Lambeau Field on Sunday and left with two black eyes and the No. 3 seed in the NFC playoff race. It was a brutal day all around for Minnesota. Here are five things that stick out like a sore thumb after the game. … 5. Is getting the 3 seed better for the Vikings? Minnesota can still get the No. 2 seed with a win next week in Chicago coupled with a 49ers loss at home to the Cardinals. But there’s an argument to be made for the No. 3 seed being better for Minnesota.  Yes, it probably prevents them from hosting two playoff games, but it gives them a first round matchup with the Giants in Minneapolis rather than having to face the Lions or Packers, who are fighting with Seattle and Washington for the No. 7 seed.”

This from Stribber Paul Walsh, “A motorist has died 1 1⁄2 weeks after sustaining injuries in a collision in St. Cloud with a driver who left a trail of damage while fleeing law enforcement, according to officials. An amended criminal complaint filed last week now charges Samuel Z. Butler, 28, with criminal vehicular homicide among five other felonies in connection with the three-vehicle crash on Dec. 12. The driver, a man, was taken by emergency responders to St. Cloud Hospital, died 10 days later and has yet to be identified by officials. He remained unconscious the entire time since the crash and suffered two broken legs and a severe head injury, the charges against Butler noted.”