Duluth leaders glad to see guilty verdicts for Last Place on Earth owner

Mayor Don Ness and other Duluth officials and business owners are pleased at the guilty verdicts handed down Monday in 51 of 55 charges against Jim Carlson, the owner of Last Place on Earth, Mike Creger reports in the Duluth News Tribune. Creger writes, “Carlson was found guilty of 51 of 55 charges in U.S. District Court for allegedly selling misbranded drugs and money laundering. Getting this verdict was a long process, Ness said. ” ‘It’s the culmination of over two years of this community combating open sales of synthetic drugs in downtown,’ Ness said. ‘The process worked. If someone is set on harming our community, there will be consequences.’ ” Eric Faust, owner of the Duluth Coffee Co. across the street from the head shop, said, “We’re working to make the whole area better, and getting rid of that place is a key piece.” 

For the second time in as many months, the Islamic Center of St. Cloud has agreed to pull back plans for development. Kari Petrie of the St. Cloud Daily Times writes that the second decision to rethink plans came after a long St. Cloud City Council meeting Monday where council members discussed an amendment to a planned unit development for a property at 1850 Clearwater Road. The organization wanted to build two two-unit residential dwellings, a mosque, a religious school and a community building with a gymnasium. Its first plan, revised after meeting with the city’s planning commission, would have included office space, a restaurant and retail space. City staff and neighbors raised concerns about those uses, and the Islamic Center agreed to remove them. It was a similar story Monday as Abdulrashid Salad of the Islamic Center said he wanted to withdraw the application and reconsider their request. Opponents have raised concerns about traffic and have said that the site is too small for a multibuilding development. Attorney David Meyers, speaking on behalf of  the Islamic Center, said the organization is asking to build something that already exists in numerous places in St. Cloud. He said the education center would be similar to a Christian Sunday school, and the community building is like a church basement.

“The Rochester City Council unanimously approved an ordinance Monday that prohibits smoking around the perimeter of the Rochester Public Library,” writes Edie Grossfield in the Rochester Post-Bulletin. “The library perimeter is the fifth outdoor area, or regular event, in the city where smoking is banned; the others are: Peace Plaza; all city bus shelters; at the Down By the Riverside Concerts in Mayo Park; and within the city’s ‘medical zone,’ or Mayo Clinic’s downtown campus.” The ordinance, Grossfield writes, “includes nicotine vapor delivery devices, also known as electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes.” 

And, speaking of e-cigarettes, the Mankato City Council “may take a breath before solidifying a ban on electronic cigarette use in all places where traditional smoking is prohibited,” Mark Fischenich reports in the Mankato Free Press. “A public hearing is slated for next week that would clarify that it is as illegal to inhale from an e-cigarette, which uses a smoke-free process to deliver vaporized nicotine to users, as it is to smoke a typical cigarette in an indoor public space such as a bar, restaurant, workplace, store or arena,” he writes. “But Councilman Jason Mattick, an e-cigarette user and advocate, asked the council to table action until the federal Food and Drug Administration publishes its findings on e-cigarettes.” Councilman Mark Frost said he’d be willing to wait a bit for FDA action, and others who spoke at a council work session “indicated they would support tabling the issue at the Oct. 14 meeting.”

The American Civil Liberties Union has decided to close its offices in Bemidji, reports Crystal Dey of the Bemidji Pioneer. The Bemidji office is called The Greater Minnesota Racial Justice Project North and the decision to close it is rooted in budgetary concerns. Unlike many nonprofit organizations, the ACLU is not eligible for government grants. The project was supported by donations and member contributions. In its nine years, the Bemidji organization has reduced racial disparities faced by communities of color, notably the American Indian population, in Beltrami, Becker, Cass, Clearwater, Hubbard, Itasca and Mahnomen counties, as well as the Red Lake, White Earth and Leech Lake Nations. In 2004, the American Indian jail population was around 80 percent; it is now between 50 percent and 60 percent. Through community events, GMRJP fostered relationships between the American Indian communities and law enforcement. 

The Winona Daily News has dedicated some ink to a little-known problem in Minnesota – accidents between farm vehicles and leaf gazers.  “Harvest season is in full swing and farmers in every corner of the state are out using the highways,” said Sue Groth, traffic engineer with the Minnesota Department of Transportation. “Motorists need to be prepared to encounter slow-moving farm vehicles, especially on rural, two-lane roads.” From 2010 to 2012, 377 traffic accidents in Minnesota roads involved at least one farm vehicle. There were 13 deaths and 211 injuries. Farm equipment is large and heavy, making it hard for operators to accelerate, slow down and stop. The machines also make wide turns and sometimes cross over the center line. In addition, farm vehicles can create large blind spots, making it difficult for operators to see approaching vehicles. All of these factors can cause serious crashes.

Christine Schlumpberger of New Ulm has been a “Wheel of Fortune” fan for many, many years. Last week, she collected a $10,000 prize after her “Spin ID” number was picked after a recent show. The New Ulm Journal explains it thusly: “People who join the Wheel of Fortune ‘Wheel Watchers Club’ get an ID number, and after each show, a number is selected. Whoever has the number has 24 hours to claim a $5,000 prize. If they also have an active SonyCard, they can win $5,000 more. Oddly enough, Schlumpberger’s number was drawn on a night when she wasn’t home to see the show. But she logged on to the show’s website to play a puzzle challenge, and clicked on a button to see if her number had been drawn. … This time the website informed her she was a winner. Her husband, Bob, and her son-in-law were out in the barn when she called them into the house to check it out. … This week the FedEx envelope arrived with the $10,000 check in it, sending Schlumpberger into new heights of excitement. ‘I’ve never won anything before,’ she said. … She plans to put most of the money in a savings account ‘and just look at it for a while.’ Her husband and son-in-law are expecting their cut as well, she said. ‘They said I have to buy them each a Monster Burger,’ she laughed.”

Last Place on Earth photo by Flickr user anthonylibrarian and used under Creative Commons license.

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