Burglaries and drug arrests up in Austin

The stats are in and burglaries and drug arrests are up in Austin. Jordan Gerard of the Austin Daily Herald reports that the 2015 study by the Austin Police Department’s shows an increase in burglaries and drug crimes but the overall crime rate has stayed the same. Police Chief Brian Krueger said arrest rates increased to 1,227 from 2014’s number of 1,144, which is higher than area communities like Albert Lea, Owatonna and Faribault. The report showed a significant increase in meth, heroin and marijuana seizures in 2015. Krueger said the reason is the high demand. “The demand is up, so sales are up,” Krueger said. Burglaries increased from 159 in 2014 to 220 last year.

On Sunday, the Minnesota Marine Art Museum in Winona unveiled “The Great Florida Sunset,” an 1887 landscape that is a companion piece to “View from Fern-Tree Walk, Jamaica,” both by Martin Johnson Heade. Matthew Stolle of the Rochester Post-Bulletin reports that the paintings were commissioned by Standard Oil founder Henry Morrison Flagler and were on display together at the Hotel Ponce de Leon in Florida until the 1950s when “View from Fern-Tree Walk, Jamaica” was moved to a private collection in California and was later bought by the Winona museum in 2013. “The Great Florida Sunset,” was sold in 2015 for $5.9 million at auction and is now on long-term loan to the museum. The Marine Art Museum has featured works by Picasso, Van Gogh, Matisse, Cezanne, and O’Keefe and last year unveiled “Washington Crossing the Delaware.”

Waseca’s Tink Larson Field burned to the ground last week. Suzanne Rook of the Waseca County News writes that the much of the field was burned beyond repair Wednesday night. Officials say that after the investigation into the cause of the fire is finished, the plan is to bring in temporary bleachers and revive the grass so the field can still be used this season. The 77-year-old grandstand was a Works Progress Administration project. Lights were first installed in the 1940s.

STDs are up across the North Star State. John Lundy of the Duluth News Tribune says that the Minnesota Department of Health’s annual report shows 25,986 sexually transmitted diseases in the state last year, a 6 percent increase from 2014 and a 33 percent increase from five years ago. One reason: “We’re seeing increasing antibiotic resistance, particularly in gonorrhea,” says Dr. Kevin Stephan, an infectious-disease specialist at Essentia Health. Lundy notes that the vast majority of gonorrhea and syphilis cases were reported in the Twin Cities but about one-third of chlamydia cases occurred in non-metro Minnesota.

In addition to the main findings, the MDH reports also notes the state saw three cases of congenital syphilis, in which the disease was transmitted from a pregnant woman to her baby. It was the first time any such cases had been reported in Minnesota in four years. “Syphilis in an adult can be a mild infection … (but) in an infant it can still be treated, but it can lead to very severe problems,” said Dr. Andrew Thompson, an infectious-disease specialist at St. Luke’s Hospital.

The Philippines is about as far away from Minnesota as you can get and still be in the same hemisphere, but 74 years after the ignominious Bataan Death March, the last surviving member of Brainerd’s A Company, 194th Tank Battalion, attended a memorial to the awful event. Zach Kayser of the Brainerd Dispatch writes that Walt Straka attended the memorial for the members of the 194th, who held vital positions throughout the island until the fall of Bataan in April 9, 1942. Of 64 National Guardsmen in the 194th, only 32 survived to return to Brainerd after World War II. At the event at Minnesota National Guard’s Training and Community Center, soldiers read the names of each of the Brainerd men who died in combat or in captivity. For each name, they hung the soldier’s dog tags on the gun barrel of an M3 Stuart tank, the same kind of tank the 194th used at Bataan. The last name read was that of Julius Knudsen, a Brainerd native who disappeared during the march and is still listed as missing in action.

Comedian Ralphie May made derogatory comments about Native Americans and has cancelled his shows in Bemidji, Fargo, Sioux Falls and Burnsville. John Lamb of the Fargo Forum writes that a video surfaced on YouTube in which the comedian referred to Native Americans as “a bunch of alcoholics” who have “never made it to the Bronze Age.” He now says the clip was edited and the punch line removed, but he’s very sorry for any hurt he may have caused. “I am postponing my shows in Fargo, Sioux Falls and Burnsville out of respect for the Native American community and safety for all parties,” May said in a statement. “I thought I was a well-read, educated man. I know nothing. I’m a product of mass media and the U.S. public school system. I have learned so much this week and I want to learn more. My eyes are open and I hope to be a conduit for things that we are not taught.”

Barn Bluff – a popular graffiti spot in Red Wing – has sported support for Donald Trump’s campaign for president for the past week. Brian Todd of the Rochester Post-Bulletin reports that Red Wing city workers have twice painted over the candidate’s name on the bluff. Red Wing Police Capt. Tony Grosso said the city tries to avoid controversial messages on the bluff that overlooks U.S. Highway 63 and Main Street in Red Wing. “Typically, its things like the graduating class year,” Grosso said. “They’ve had other things like the (Minnesota) Wild logo. There was a North Stars logo once. Someone painted the American flag after 9/11.” No one has ever been arrested for painting anything atop Barn Bluff, he said, but because the presidential candidate’s name amounts to a political statement, Grosso said, it could be deemed offensive. 

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