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Rain hampers final fieldwork, yet helps winter moisture profile

Although rain and snow hampered one of the last weeks for fieldwork, Minnesota farmers were thankful for the moisture heading into the winter. The Associated Press (via the Mankato Free Press) reports that  in the final crop report of the year for Minnesota, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said that in the 2.2 days that were suitable for fieldwork last week, farmers completed fall tillage, applied fertilizers and baled corn stalks. Topsoil moisture supplies are rated 1 percent very short, 9 percent short, 79 percent adequate and 11 percent surplus heading into winter. Subsoil moisture supplies are 3 percent very short, 16 percent short, 74 percent adequate and 7 percent surplus.

Plenty of roosters remain in the fields for pheasant hunters, the state DNR says. Edie Schmierbach of The Associated Press (again via the Free Press) reports that warm and dry conditions earlier this hunting season made it tough for hunters and dogs to find pheasants, but the cooler temperatures and recent rains should make it easier for dogs to pick up the scent of birds. The daily bag limit rises from two to three Tuesday, while the possession limit rises from six to nine.

In case you wondered, the Duluth City Council takes a dim view of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement. Peter Passi of the Duluth News Tribune reports that the council on Monday passed a resolution that urges Congress to reject the proposed pact. Councilor Joel Sipress said the agreement could weaken a local government’s ability to regulate the activities of multinational corporations and pointed to what he said was cheap foreign steel created by previous U.S. trade agreements. Council Member Sharla Gardner noted that while the local unemployment rate is 4.4 percent, the local poverty rate is 22.1 percent. “Yes, we have jobs, but many of the jobs are low-paying jobs,” she said, pointing to previous trade agreements.

In Austin the Hormel Foods Corp. beat fourth-quarter forecasts. According to The Associated Press (via the Austin Daily Herald), Hormel on Tuesday reported fiscal fourth-quarter earnings of $187.2 million. Earnings adjusted for one-time gains and costs were 74 cents per share, which beat Wall Street expectations of 68 cents per share. Hormel posted revenue of $2.4 billion in the period. For the year, the company reported profit of $686.1 million, or $2.54 per share. Revenue was reported as $9.26 billion. Hormel shares have climbed 33 percent since the beginning of the year.

John David LaDue had a plan and the tools necessary to carry out an attack against multiple targets in Waseca in 2014. What he didn’t have, and what ultimately kept him from facing the most serious charges, was a “substantial step” toward taking those actions. Suzanne Rook of the Waseca County News reports that law enforcement officials want legislators to close that gap so people like LaDue can be sent away. Waseca Police Chief Penny Vought and Waseca County Attorney Brenda Miller have approached state Sen. Vicki Jensen, DFL-Owatonna, to consider changes to state law to criminalize plotting like LaDue’s. Jensen promised to consult with colleagues in the Senate, especially Sen. Ron Latz, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

If one fracture in a critical piece of the historic U.S. 63 Eisenhower Bridge in Red Wing were to fail, the entire bridge could collapse. That’s why Nathan Hansen of the Rochester Post Bulletin brings good news when he reports that the plans for a new U.S. Highway 63 bridge into Red Wing are moving apace. On Monday, the Red Wing City Council gave municipal consent to the project. This allows the Minnesota Department of Transportation to move forward. The new bridge will connect Red Wing to Wisconsin and cross over U.S. Highway 61, creating better traffic flow in Red Wing’s downtown. The total cost is $112 million: MnDOT will pay $41 million; the Wisconsin Department of Transportation will pay $69 million; the City of Red Wing will pay $954,600, and the project could start in 2017 and be done in 2019.

Moorhead is rethinking its stance on Uber. Adrian Glass Moore of the Fargo Forum reports that the city wants cab companies and ride-sharing services to conduct background checks on drivers and disclose their names. While taxi companies have been complying with the requirement, Uber has made it clear it will not, City Manager Michael Redlinger told the City Council on Monday. If Uber won’t provide driver names, then the rule should be dropped for cab companies too, said Redlinger, while Council Member Brenda Elmer said, “I don’t necessarily see that we have to have equity with the cab companies. It’s a very different business model.” Negotiations with Uber continue.

Tough days for cinephiles in Worthington: While Northland Mall owner Brian Pellowski tries to decide what to do with the abandoned facility, one of the few going businesses in the mall – Northland Cinema – shut down in September and theater owner Todd Frager is upset. Julie Buntjer of the Worthington Daily Globe reports that after having spent tens of thousands of dollars on digital technology and other improvements for the theater, Frager was prepared to work with Pellowski to keep the theater open. Now as the city waits for Pellowski to decide what to do with the property, the theater is closed and likely won’t reopen until spring of 2016 at the earliest. It’s a “pretty tough deal to swallow,” Frager told the City Council Monday night. 

A guy with a wooden samurai sword started walloping on people in Austin on Friday night. Jenae Hackensmith of the Austin Daily Herald reports that an 18-year-old man allegedly hit two people with a wooden samurai sword. The two were injured — one with a hit to the shoulder and one who was hit on the arm. It appears the victims and sword-wielder may have known one another. The suspect awaits formal charges.

Officials are warning of a phone scam in the Albert Lea area. Two businesses reported that they received calls from someone who identified themselves as an Alliant Energy employee and asked for payment to prevent service from being interrupted. Officials say if you receive a call from a utility asking for personal information, hang up and call the utility to see if the call is legitimate. If it’s a scam, call the police.

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