Data overview: Minnesota women continue to face obstacles to prosperity

Deb Fitzpatrick, left, and Kim Borton

College campuses are dangerous for women, sex trafficking of young girls continues, and many women in Minnesota’s work force are heads of single-parent households and have jobs with low pay and without access to paid sick days. Kim Borton of the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota and Deb Fitzpatrick of the U of M’s Humphrey School Center on Women and Public Policy gave this overview on the status of women and girls at the South Central Service Cooperative in North Mankato this week, writes Edie Schmierbach of the Mankato Free Press. Even though DFLers Sen. Kathy Sheran and Rep. Kathy Brynaert were in attendance, the Women’s Foundation report lists low numbers of women in state Legislature, county boards of commissioners, the courts and in school administrations as contributing to the problem. They said there is hope: Gov. Mark Dayton signed a law affecting pregnant employees and mothers who are nursing their babies and working outside of the home, and an increase in the minimum wage will help women improve their economic situations.

They say the Twin Cities without professional sports is a cold Omaha. Perhaps it’s time to update that threat to call us a cold Manila. That’s right, it’s raining. Here’s a look from the perspective of the Worthington Daily Globe: Monday’s weather featured funnel cloud sightings, hail, straightline winds and heavy rain on an area that’s already soaked. A funnel cloud was spotted Monday in Worthington to the north of the industrial park. Two weather spotters reported funnel clouds in Ellsworth. Flooded roads were reported throughout Worthington and no travel was advised inside or outside city limits. Almost 2 inches of precipitation was measured at the Daily Globe’s rain gauge Monday afternoon. The Adrian Municipal Campground was evacuated and people were moved into a shelter area. Pea-sized hail was reported north of Kenneth. Sewers are backed up because of flooding along Rock Creek in Luverne and Rock County. High winds knocked out power to about 1,000 customers of Nobles Cooperative Electric.

Brainerd was well-represented at the Miss Minnesota 2014 pageant, including the eventual winner, Savannah Cole, reports the Brainerd Dispatch. Cole was in the pageant as Miss Southern Valley in Lakeville. She is the daughter of Rick and Deb Cole of Brainerd, is a Brainerd High School graduate and is studying physical therapy at North Dakota State University. Her platform is epilepsy awareness. She sings, plays the violin, is active in local theater and helps raise funds for the Children’s Miracle Network. Cole won the preliminary swimsuit competition and the preliminary talent competition in which she sang “House of the Rising Sun.” She was given the tiara by last year’s winner, Rebecca Yeh of Nisswa. Cole was first runner-up to Yeh at the pageant last year. The other women with Brainerd ties were Lauren Johnson, Miss Central Lakes; Maren Goff, Miss Moorhead; Bailey Wachholz, Miss Brainerd Lakes; and Emily Lundgren, Miss Heart of the Lakes.

Experts say a bolt of lightning is the likely cause of a fire that destroyed most of the former Roosevelt Elementary building in St. Cloud, reports Daid Unze and Marta Jewson of the St. Cloud Daily Times. Residents reported a lightning strike at about 8:35 p.m. followed by the smell of burning rubber. Investigators believe a fire was smoldering inside the school for up to three hours before it caused an automatic alarm to call 911 at about 11:30 p.m. When firefighters arrived, the building was engulfed. The fire started in the attic area in the northwest corner of the building. Multiple repairs to the roof over the years created concealed spaces where the fire smoldered. Roofing material burns slowly because it sits on concealed spaces that don’t have access to oxygen. And the heavy rains likely slowed the spread of the fire. St. Cloud school district building and grounds supervisor Bryan Brown said the north part of the building, which houses the gymnasium and a handful of classrooms, is structurally sound. The electrical, heating, venting and cooling systems were all controlled in the main building, he said. The portable classrooms still standing had up to 18 inches of water of standing water inside them at one point. “Everything in the main part of the building is nonsalvageable,” he said.

When Royal West Amusements stiffed the Goodhue County Fair last year, it set off a chain reaction that led to the fairs in Goodhue, Houston and Brown counties to take their fair business elsewhere, reports Brett Boese of the Rochester Post-Bulletin. Idaho-based Royal West, which provides rides and games to county fairs across much of the country, underwent an ownership dispute last year which resulted in personnel shortages. The company was late setting up for the Western Montana Fair in Missoula, Montana, and didn’t show up for last year’s Goodhue County Fair at all, forcing the fair to scramble for inflatable toys as make-shift entertainment. Apparently, Royal West double booked the Brown and Goodhue county fairs, believing they had enough equipment and manpower to attend each fair. Goodhue County has contracted with Merriam’s Midway this summer. Houston County will use Midwest Rides. The Brown County Fair in New Ulm will use Amusement Attractions.

The television show “Fargo” aired the last episode of its season Monday night on the FX cable channel. Since the show is filmed in Calgary and has nothing to do with Fargo per se, the arts reporter of the Fargo Forum thought it would be a good idea to get comments about the series from arts reporters in the cities where much of the fictional action takes place: Bemidji and Duluth. Both  Brady Slater from the Duluth News Tribune and Joe Froemming from the Bemidji Pioneer thought the show a worthy successor to the beloved “Breaking Bad.” The idea that it’s a short drive between Bemidji and Duluth irked the reviewers, as did the treeless landscape and the use of the term “casserole” instead of the preferred “hot dish.” But Slater appreciated the cold-weather details and Froemming liked the Paul and Babe statue sightings in episode 9. And while the cops are portrayed as rather simple, they received no better treatment than “the FBI, trucking magnates, grocery owners, insurance salesmen, etc., in the show. It’s humanity upside down. Real people don’t serve narratives. … Ultimately, this is an escape. Not art imitating life, so much as art mocking it. Truth is not stranger than this fiction at all,” Slater said. Lamb said Colin Hanks’ accent was the worst and Bob Odenkirk’s was the best, and Froemming agreed, adding that he liked Billy Bob Thornton’s fake accent as well. Slater took issue with the question all together: “We’re in denial when we take offense to this as Minnesotans. We ought to embrace our caricatures. It means people pay attention to us. What do they talk like in New Hampshire? Exactly.”

The fact that Bigfoot is an entirely made-up figment of the human imagination is not stopping local trackers from seeking out the elusive man-ape in the Minnesota woods, writes Malachi Peterson of the Bemidji Pioneer. Using night-vision binoculars, a thermal-imaging device, motion-sensitive cameras and tactical vests, the members of the Minnesota Bigfoot Research Team (MNBRT) camped at Gulch Campground in Paul Bunyan State Forest in the hopes of obtaining evidence of the legendary 7-foot-tall bipedal ape-like animal also known as Sasquatch. While Abe Del Rio, the founder of MNBRT, has never seen a Bigfoot in person, he said one chased him and his friend one night while on a Bigfoot expedition in Ohio. 

Here’s a short item by Heather Rule ibn the Fergus Falls Journal: “An inmate punched another inmate twice in the back of the head for no apparent reason Saturday at the Otter Tail County Jail, according to Fergus Falls police. The victim was assaulted while eating when another inmate punched him. He was cited for fifth-degree assault.”

And here’s another tidbit for you freedom-lovers from Trey Mewes of the Austin Daily Herald: “A Rochester man who claimed he was a ‘sovereign citizen’ to avoid arrest in 2012 was sentenced last week to 15 months of probation and a $185 fine. Martin Wayne Chapman, 52, was convicted in Mower County District Court of obstructing the legal process and failure to appear in court. According to police reports, a Grand Meadow officer first attempted to stop Chapman in September 2012 after he clocked him going 68 mph in a 55 mph zone, according to the sheriff’s report. Chapman then pulled onto the Valley Transportation property west of Grand Meadow and allegedly refused to get out of the car or show his hands. According to the court complaint, Chapman said he is a ‘sovereign citizen’ and would not recognize the officer’s authority. Chapman then left Valley Transportation, and deputies followed. Chapman allegedly went south on 740th Avenue near Grand Meadow, crossed the centerline and nearly struck another vehicle. Deputies were able to block Chapman’s path as he pulled into the parking lot of the SKB Lounge; however, Chapman continually refused to get out of the car, according to the complaint. He told officers ‘I do not acknowledge your use of force,’ the complaint adds. After officers watched Chapman reach for the glove box several times, they smashed the car window and pulled Chapman out. Chapman also skipped a pretrial hearing in January 2013.”

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