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Verso may sell Duluth paper mill, or declare bankruptcy

ALSO: Moorhead finds Uber reluctant to supply driver names; Northfield police and FBI look for bank robber; and more.

Although the company is losing money and considering shedding assets, employees at the Verso paper mill in West Duluth shouldn’t worry, officials say – it will likely keep running no matter who owns it. The Duluth News Tribune reports that Verso Corp. may sell three plants or file for bankruptcy, the company announced Monday after posting a quarterly net loss of $111 million and a year-to-date loss of $511 million. The losses come after the company bought rival NewPage earlier this year. To raise money, the company may sell the plants in West Duluth, Stevens Point and Androscoggin, Maine. The Duluth mill, which began operations in 1987, makes coated paper used for catalogs, magazines, advertising inserts and other commercial products.

Uber won’t be getting any favors in Moorhead. Adrian Glass-Moore of the Fargo-Moorhead Forum reports that City Manager Michael Redlinger told the City Council Monday that Uber is showing “some real reluctance” to comply with a regulation that it give the city a list of names of its drivers. Redlinger said Moorhead wants to hold Uber to the same standards as traditional taxi companies. City Clerk Michelle French told The Forum last month that the regulations help ensure the safety of residents, adding: “We’re going to stick with our ordinance.”

Mayo Clinic employees are watching a labor dispute between the clinic and eight workers in Rochester. Brett Boese of the Post-Bulletin reports that 100 picketers marched in Albert Lea Monday in support of “eight maintenance workers (who) have gone through six bargaining sessions over the past three months while trying to finalize a new contract with Mayo Clinic. While most of the issues have been worked out, the sticking point with SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, a union that represents more than 60,000 across the state, appears to be Mayo Clinic’s insistence that it be allowed to change employee benefits at will during the contract period.”

Mayo employees want a contract in writing, reports Sam Wilmes of the Albert Lea Tribune. “Union members are concerned that the change in the contract would eliminate negotiation. The members want their benefits secured in writing. … ‘They want to destroy our right to negotiate a fair deal,’ said maintenance worker Gary Wichmann. … Tami Yokiel, public affairs manager at Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea and Austin, said the group is being offered the same benefits package virtually all other Allied Health employees receive and the change is better as a whole than the benefits the employees currently receive.”

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Minnesota State University at Mankato is no stranger to racism, say students of color. Trey Mewes of the Mankato Free Press, covering a discussion about racism on campus, was told by Kankemwa Green the story of a professor who talked about “the way black people talk as ‘Negro dialect.’ Green was the only student of color in the class at the time. ‘Your body just kind of shuts down. You’re just like, ‘What’s happening in my life?’ You stop learning, you stop listening.’ … Dozens of people discussed racism on campus Monday afternoon at a demonstration inside MSU’s Centennial Student Union as a show of solidarity with black students across the country protesting against systemic racism. Organizers say the demonstration was also held in support the Black Lives Matter movement in light of the fatal shooting of a black man by police in Minneapolis during the weekend.”

Holy Myrrh-bearers Orthodox Church in St. Cloud has been the target of repeated vandalism. The Associated Press reports that the church, near St. Cloud State University, has been vandalized so often that church leaders have lost count. The most recent incident was Friday when someone smashed a door and a window, causing about $500 in damage. The Rev. Nathan Kroll tells the St. Cloud Times that the damage has included broken windows, graffiti, crushed fences, stolen property, burglary and ritual desecration.

Wasn’t there something about a bank robbery in Northfield some years ago? Brad Phenow of the Northfield News says police and the FBI are hunting down a man who robbed the Premier Bank in Northfield on Friday using a note. Not quite as dramatic as the James Gang, but probably just as effective. No arrests have been made.

It was easy for Noah Anderson to win the world Jiu Jitsu championship. He just had to train every day for months on end, writes Amanda Zimmer of the Brainerd Dispatch. Working at Alliance Gym and with Jiu Jitsu trainers at Performance Compound, Anderson honed his skills and won his first match with an armlock and his second via points. And he’s 16. Alliance has offered him a position training youths ages 6-12. “Noah is always making the right decisions,” said his coach, Damian Hirtz.

Have no fear! Mairaid Breitbart of the Waseca County News reports that the state’s nearly 850 Minnesota Department of Transportation snowplows are ready for the snow, ice and sleet. Last year, there were 60 crashes involving vehicles and snowplows in the state. Crashes typically happen because of inattentive drivers, motorists driving too close to the plow or motorists driving too fast for conditions MDOT says.

 Blooming Prairie has hired Susan Arnolf to be its first on mental health therapist, writes Kim Hyatt of the Blooming Prairie Leader. Hyatt writes, “The National Alliance on Mental Health reports that 1 in 5 kids ages 13 to 18 have a serious mental illness. What’s more, the alliance said 50 percent of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14 and 50 percent of students age 14 and older with a mental illness drop out of high school. School-based therapy, or school-linked mental health, is a way Minnesota is looking to support students with mental illnesses. More than 13,000 students from 500 schools received mental health services between July 2008 and December 2011 statewide, according to Mark Sander, mental health coordinator for the partnership between Hennepin County and Minneapolis Public Schools.”