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Minnesota marathoners call in from Boston

ALSO: Embassy wants help finding Waseca man; charges filed after standoff in Grand Rapids; fish poachers charged; cattle producers lose profits; and more.

Flowers at the barricaded entrance at Boylston Street near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

One report said there were 539 Minnesota runners entered in the Boston Marathon, and newspapers across the state went into overdrive to connect with them after Monday’s deadly bombings. Here, in no particular order, are some of their stories:

The Albert Lea Tribune checked in with people who know runners at the marathon. All were safe. “Thank God for Facebook,” said Amy Wasson. “That’s how I found out about my friends.” Lori Alexander of Albert Lea said her niece, Tori Cowles of Alexandria, ran in the marathon and finished at 3 hours and 15 minutes. She texted her aunt to say she was fine. “She said the city is just pure chaos,” Alexander said. Cowles is a graduate student at the University of Minnesota, Moorhead.

Andy Goble of Brainerd spent the day standing just feet away from the site of the first explosion. He left only after his wife, Melissa, crossed the finish line 20 minutes before the attack. They were in the subway when the bombs exploded, Andy Goble told the Brainerd Dispatch. They walked the three miles to their hotel and watched the tragedy on television. “My heart is just breaking. There are tons of emotions,” Melissa said. “I’m just in a confused state. I can’t believe that just happened. I can’t wrap my head around it,” Andy said.

Alicia Harrison of Austin was still running and out of earshot of the explosions, she told the Austin Daily Herald, so her first clue that something was wrong came when the runners in front of her stopped running in the middle of the road. She said she didn’t feel like she was in danger, but she knew the cause must have been serious. “Police weren’t taking time to really speak to people,” and the streets were packed with emergency vehicles and personnel.

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Leah Pustovar of Stillwater told the Duluth News Tribune that she finished the marathon just minutes before the first bomb detonated. “I saw it happen,” said Pustovar, 28. “I happened to be looking back and saw the first explosion go off. In less than 30 seconds, I saw the second one. I saw the huge cloud of gray smoke from both of them. It was loud.” Pustovar’s father, Tom, and her sister, Gina Hennen, were at the finish line across the street from the explosions, but were not injured. When Pustovar saw her father and sister, she ran to embrace them. “It was the best hug I’ve ever had in my life,” she said. As Kari Robertson of Duluth watched her husband, Gregg, finish the race, she remarked how safe she felt in a big city. “I got to the course at 7:30 this morning and there were so many police, on bikes, walking with dogs. I had never seen so many police. You just felt so safe. And then this happened.” Warren and Betty Mlaker of Cook got word from their daughter, Megan, who finished the race about an hour before the explosions, that she was OK. Betty’s voice cracked thinking about what she is going through. “Horrible, horrible,” Betty said. “It’s chaos. It’s such a once-in-a-lifetime event and then to have this happen.” she said.

At first, Ryan Hoyme, a Rochester massage therapist, thought the explosion might be celebratory fireworks. Then the second bomb went off. And people started screaming, he told the Rochester Post-Bulletin. Hoyme viewed the trauma from bleachers near the finish line. “I was in complete shock. I didn’t know what the heck was going on,” Hoyme said. Rochester is often well-represented at the Boston Marathon, and of this year’s 23,000 runners, 32 were from Rochester. Shaun Palmer, a Rochester building inspector, finished the marathon 20 minutes before the explosions. He saw a police officer take a radio call then run toward the finish line. The next thing he saw were people fleeing. “People were just terrified,” Palmer said. “Women were holding their faces and crying in shock.”

Ryan Ping of Winona recorded a marathon time of 2:47:44 and his wife, Megan, finished in 3:11:53, according to the Winona Daily News.  The mood was celebratory for the couple and their three children as well as Megan’s sister, niece and parents all gathered at the finish line to congratulate them. Bombs exploded 50 minutes later. “Our kids were at the finish line, our family was there only a short time before,” Megan Ping said. “If we would have ran any slower, that might have been our family. They stopped the runners that were a mile out. If you think about it, those that were stopped had family at the end. I cannot imagine had that been mine.”

Former Crookston Superintendent Wayne Gilman told the Crookston Times that he and his daughters, Emma and Madeline, were waiting in the family meeting area when the explosions occurred. His wife, Jennifer, was receiving her medal when a bomb went off about a block and a half behind her, six minutes after she crossed the finish line. “We knew Jenn had finished so we were reasonably sure she was not injured,” Gilman said. “She tried calling but the connection was not really good. Then she texted. People were panicking. Our hotel was about three miles from the finish line so we walked back. It was pretty unsettling.”

Mike Thomas of Mankato told the Mankato Free Press that he had finished the race about 50 minutes before the blasts, and spent about 20 minutes in the recovery area. He was drinking a beer with his wife, Lori, in a second-floor restaurant about 300 yards from the explosions when the bombs went off. The restaurant became chaotic as diners broke their drinking glasses and dumped their food on the ground in their haste to leave. Chaun Cox, a doctor from North Mankato, ran the marathon in 3 hours, 4 minutes, 21 seconds. After the explosions, he went back to the finish line to offer his help but was told there were plenty of doctors and emergency workers and to return to his hotel. Cindra Kamphoff of Mankato said there were 15 ambulances parked outside her hotel, and people were nervous about what might happen next as they waited in their rooms.

Shana Allex of Marshall told the Marshall Independent that her husband, Lee, had finished the race and the pair was walking back to their hotel when the explosions occurred. “Thank God we were both back at the hotel and safe,” she said.

Several Central Minnesotans were in the race, including former state Rep. Larry Hosch of St. Joseph who ran with state Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, according to the St. Cloud Daily Times. Both were unhurt. Tammy Fimrite of Sartell said her husband, Jereme, finished about 50 minutes before the first explosion. “We heard the explosions, but we were about three or four blocks away. It sounded like thunder,” she said.

Kandiyohi County Zoning Administrator Gary Geer, who lives in rural Brooten and ran the race with his wife and six children watching, finished running before the explosions occurred, according to the West Central Tribune. Among many others from the area, Brooke Baeth of Spicer, who works as a speech pathologist at Rice Memorial Hospital in Willmar, finished the race and was safe in her hotel room with her husband, Kelly.

In other news, U.S. diplomats are asking for help locating a Waseca man whose turboprop aircraft has been missing since flying in a storm April 7 off the coast of West Africa. Suzy Rook of the Waseca County News said that although U.S. officials wouldn’t identify the man, family members in Waseca say he’s Jerry Krause, who is a missionary. A statement on the web page devoted to finding Krause said the missing plane was a twin-engine Beechcraft 1900 and only Krause was on board. The plane disappeared in the Gulf of Guinea. Krause’s wife, Gina, is also in Africa serving as a missionary. Krause served with the Mission Aviation Fellowship in Mali. When MAF pulled out of Mali in 2009, Krause stayed on.

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Steven Lee Carpenter of Detroit Lakes was arrested Sunday after a two-hour standoff with police in Grand Rapids, reports the Duluth News Tribune. After a man allegedly burgled an apartment and stole a 9 mm pistol with two 10-round magazines, an officer saw a person matching the description of the intruder. When the officer called to him, the suspect fled on foot into a nearby residence. Officers set up a perimeter and identified two suspects — an adult male and a juvenile male — who were inside the building. A crisis negotiator was able to get them to exit the residence at about 4:30 p.m. without incident. Police found the missing handgun — with a full magazine, loaded, with a round in the magazine and the hammer cocked — in the apartment, the police complaint said. Carpenter’s criminal record includes a 2012 conviction for felony burglary. According to the complaint, he is on supervised probation for the offense, and has violated his probation multiple times.

More than 20 people have been charged in the largest fish-poaching ring in 20 years, writes Steve Kuchera of the News Tribune. The suspects face up to 35 misdemeanor and six gross misdemeanor charges in six counties in northern Minnesota, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced Monday. Total state fines are expected in the tens of thousands of dollars. The charges follow a three-year special investigation into the illegal sale and dumping of thousands of game fish in Minnesota. The charges involve both illegal purchases and sales of the game fish, primarily walleye, taken from some of Minnesota’s most popular fishing lakes, including Cass, Leech, Red and Winnibigoshish lakes. The poaching problem has made it harder for anglers to catch legal fish, said Ben Kellin of Ben’s Bait Shop in Grand Rapids. “It’s been a long time coming,” Kellin said.

Cattle producers in West Central Minnesota are seeing profits dry up before their eyes, reports David Little of the West Central Tribune. For example, when Gary and Kathy Stai of New London started their small black Angus herd as a 4-H project for their daughters in 1994, corn for feed was around $2 a bushel , oats about $1.20 a bushel and round bales of hay about $15. Now they cost $6 a bushel, $3.60 a bushel and $70 each, respectively. Yet meat prices haven’t followed. “We should be getting three times as much for our cattle prices that we are but they’ve only gone up about 50 cents to sell,’’ he says. Stai says there are not many small cattle producers in business anymore.  

New Ulm boasts the state’s only “Department of Defense,” which is celebrating its 150th anniversary, writes Josh Moniz of the New Ulm Journal. The New Ulm Battery, which celebrated its 150th anniversary on Saturday, was formed around 1863 after the U.S.-Dakota Conflict, when Brown County sheriff Charles Roos was afraid the Dakota would attack New Ulm again. He also requested weapons, and a 12-pound pack howitzer was donated by the Cincinnati Turner group in Ohio, which was connected to the Turner organization that founded New Ulm. A 6-pound bronze cannon was sent by General Sibley around that time. These two guns have since been retired to the Brown County Historical Society. Three more ordinance rifle cannons were eventually acquired by the Battery in 1907. The cannons have been used in parades and demonstrations ever since. The Battery’s official military status ended in 1871, though the City of New Ulm continued to boast it is the only Minnesota city to have its own “Department of Defense.”