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Jelly-like blobs found on patio near Dent after rain

A Dippity Doo-like substance covered Debra Eull’s patio after a rain last week, causing her to, well, scratch her head. Rob Kupec of WDAY and the Fargo Forum offers both text and video of the strange blobs found at the home near Dent. Eull said the clear blobs appeared after a rain. “I have to assume they came out of the sky,” she said. Jeff Bodwin, a Minnesota State University Moorhead chemistry professor theorized the blobs are a water retention gel. He suggests the gel was in Debra’s potted plants, spilled onto the patio and the rain Friday made them get bigger. Local greenhouse owners confirmed they use a similar substance in some potted plants. The MSUM chemistry department took a sample of the blobs to analyze.

The Albert Lea Tribune picked up Tuesday’s Associated Press story about the USDA’s weekly crop-weather report that says soybean planting in Minnesota has jumped to 81 percent complete. That compares with 30 percent last year and a five-year average of 56 percent. Canola and potato planting are nearly complete. Despite scattered showers over the weekend, dry conditions persist in most parts of Minnesota. Topsoil moisture supplies declined from the previous week and are now rated 2 percent very short, 17 percent short, 76 adequate and 5 percent surplus. In the first corn condition rating of the year, Minnesota’s corn crop is rated 2 percent poor, 14 percent fair, 71 percent good and 13 percent excellent.

At first, Osman Sheik thought the hot-pink graffiti on his driveway was a welcome-home sign for his daughter, Fahma Mohamed, who had recently graduated from the University of St. Thomas, reports Jill Jensen of the Rochester Post-Bulletin. Instead, a swastika and the KKK symbol stretched across the driveway leading to a two-car garage, the word “stink” written nearby. “We don’t understand where this is coming from,” Mohamed said. Neighbors don’t either. Erica Wolf asked her husband to help erase the graffiti with a power-washer. Wolf said Sheik often plows snow from her driveway when her husband, a member of the National Guard, is deployed. Last May, the same symbols were painted on the siding of a house a block away. Fahma’s younger sister, Deqa Mohamed, 13, said she was “really hurt by [the graffiti]. I think this is a good wake-up call for the people who don’t know this is happening,” she said.

Dan Linehan of the Mankato Free Press took a gander at home and land prices in Blue Earth and Nicollet counties. He found that ag property values continue to shoot up while homes and businesses are staying the same or falling slightly in value. Farm values are rising by 19 percent in Blue Earth County and 25 percent in Nicollet County. In Blue Earth County, typical sales were between $5,400 and $5,850 an acre, assessor Michael Stalberger said. However, property values in Mankato dropped a total of 0.5 percent in 2012, a reflection of stagnant housing and business values. Residential values dropped by 1.5 percent countywide. In St. Peter, home values dropped by 4 percent to 5 percent. In North Mankato, values dropped between 4 percent and 10 percent, depending on the neighborhood. In both Nicollet and Blue Earth counties, commercial and industrial properties were mostly unchanged.

Seven students at Lakewood Elementary School have been diagnosed with whooping cough, Christa Lawler of the Duluth News Tribune reports.  The bacterial disease, known clinically as pertussis, is marked by a prolonged and raspy cough and is contagious among children who are not vaccinated. It is spread through droplets produced during coughing and sneezing, according to the Minnesota Department of Health’s website. It can be knocked out with a five-day course of antibiotics. Children who are diagnosed are asked to stay home while taking the antibiotics, St. Louis County Public Health Director Guy Peterson said. Lakewood Elementary School sent letters home to parents about symptoms and prevention on May 18, said Katie Kaufman, spokeswoman for the school district. Peterson said that there seems to be a resurgence of cases of pertussis around the country in the past six years. “It can be a serious disease,” he said. “It can cause a lot of sickness or even death.”

A circus performer named “Mervin Murphy” allegedly stole a Kasson man’s truck at an Apollo 3 gas station, writes Matt Peterson in the Austin Daily Herald. The victim said he was working at the gas station in Austin and chatting with the man. Not long after, the victim’s $6,000 Ford Ranger went missing along with a $600 laptop and $200 tool set. According to the police report, circus members confirmed that Mervin Murphy, 38, was working with them. Police have not been able to locate Murphy or find information about his real name. The victim said Murphy had a “carnival worker look,” according to the police report, which is then described as skinny, 6-feet-tall with a bushy mustache, jeans and a white T-shirt.

Matt Peterson of the Austin Daily Herald got another headline last week after local law enforcement officers were forced to deal with roughly 40 rowdy bar-goers Saturday morning. The melee began when Raymond Gills, 28, of Austin, heard the officer checking on his probation status and fled. The officer Tasered Gills, which angered a nearby bar crowd. The crowd then moved into a parking lot and confronted the officer. According to the report, seven officers, including Mower County Sheriff’s deputies, sprayed Mace to prevent people from charging them while an officer tended to Gills. Dimitri Williams, 24, of Albert Lea, and Spencer Carter, 29, of Stewartville, were arrested and cited for disorderly conduct and obstructing the legal process. Police also had to use a stun gun on Carter. Carter and Gills were taken to Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin and later placed in jail. Williams was held until sober.

Scott Olson became Winona State University’s 15th president after the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees unanimously confirmed him Wednesday. Olson was previously the Minnesota State University-Mankato provost and vice president for academic and student affairs, writes Nathan Hanson of the Winona Daily News. Olson will start July 16. Connie Gores, WSU’s vice president for student life and development, will serve as the interim president until then. “To be chosen is humbling and a great honor,” Olson said. Former President Judith Ramaley stepped down in May after seven years at WSU.

Doug Pace wanted some adventure in his life. Kayaking the Mississippi River solo certainly qualifies, especially considering Pace is legally blind. Jack Hittinger of the Bemidji Pioneer writes that Pace, who has retinitis pigmentosa, isn’t totally blind. He has 5 degrees of central vision — something he describes as the equivalent of a light beam on a flashlight. He started his journey Friday in Bemidji. A guide will take him as far as Cass Lake, but from there, Pace intends to complete the rest of the nearly 1,500-mile, 10-week journey to New Orleans by himself. He’s going to paddle by day in his 10-foot kayak and camp by night.

Pace, 52, says that once he gets past the Twin Cities, contending with locks and other river traffic will be the toughest challenge. He says he’s made contact with the lock operators farther downriver, and although his condition might prevent him from seeing all that’s in front of him, he doesn’t plan on straying too far from the river’s edge. Ultimately, he plans on reaching the Gulf of Mexico in about 10 weeks, give or take a week or two. “What are you going to do? Sit around on the couch all day and mope? No, you can do great things with your life.”

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