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Le Sueur County jobless rate: Low-paying jobs partly account for it

ALSO: Rally participants in St. Cloud oppose travel ban; a John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon update; turkey truck tips over; and more.

A report on the jobless rate in Le Sueur County uncovers the fact that people don’t want to work at low-paying jobs. Jeffrey Jackson of the Owatonna People’s Press reports that the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development found that in the southeastern and south-central regions of the state, even though there is only 1.1 job seeker per job vacancy, employers can’t fill the jobs because they are low-paying. In these regions there are 57 openings for the computer jobs that pay an average of $19.69 an hour while there are 931 vacancies in the retail sales jobs at an average of $10.89 an hour and 914 openings in personal care jobs where the median wage is $10.29 an hour. “Some people are choosing to stay unemployed,” said Mark Schultz, a DEED regional labor market analyst for southeastern and south-central Minnesota. “They don’t want to take those jobs.”

Unlike a “good-news, bad-news” situation, this is a “bad-news, not as bad as it could have been-news” situation: A bullet flew into a bedroom of Dakota County Sheriff Tim Leslie’s house early Saturday. Barry Amundson writes that the sheriff at first thought he was being targeted by a shooter, but later discovered it was just a randomly fired bullet that succumbed to the law of gravity into his daughter’s bedroom. It was a moment for Leslie to get philosophical: “It was a random shot up in the air and it hit my house. It could have been anyone’s house down the block. … It’s very odd, and I don’t know it what it all means. It means that we’re not always in charge.”

President Donald Trump’s immigration ban hasn’t gone unnoticed in St. Cloud. Kristi Marohn of the St. Cloud Daily Times reports on a rally outside the Stearns County Courthouse Monday that attracted several dozen protesters from a group called Expect Resistance. “We need to be united. We don’t need to exclude people,” said organizer Jane Conrad. Bishop Donald Kettler of the Diocese of St. Cloud said, “Our nation needs safe and secure borders and a reliable vetting process, but we cannot achieve them by sacrificing human rights and basic principles.” Ashish Vaidya, interim president of St. Cloud State University, notes the school has representatives from “more than 90 countries” which makes “the new restrictions on immigration to the United States … very concerning for our campus community.” 

The West Central Tribune in Willmar reports that a tractor-trailer carrying 850 turkeys tipped over Monday on Kandiyohi County Road 5 north of Willmar. The driver wasn’t hurt but there were a lot of dead and injured birds. The official report says the driver navigated a turn too fast.

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Speaking of animals traveling at dangerous speeds, the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon continues this week. Andrew Krueger of the Duluth News Tribune reports that Ryan Redington and his team from Wasilla, Alaska, were in the lead as of Monday night. Redington left Grand Portage — 183 miles into the 373-mile marathon event — first on Monday night. The top mushers should reach the finish line near Duluth early Wednesday. Redington was the first to reach Grand Portage, followed by Matthew Schmidt of Grand Marais and four-time and defending Beargrease champion Nathan Schroeder of Warba.

Paraman Radhakrishnan, 53, prompted a three-hour closure of the Grand Forks airport Saturday after he told an airport employee there was a bomb in his bag, police say. Andrew Hazzard of the Grand Forks Herald reports that Radhakrishnan was irked when he couldn’t board his 5 a.m. flight (SkyWest operated on behalf of Delta Airlines) because of overbooking, and then became incensed when he learned his luggage was on the plane that had already left for Minneapolis. That’s when he stated “There is a bomb in the bag.” Officials closed the airport and now Radhakrishnan, an Indian national, faces a charge of terrorizing, a Class C felony.

The Secret Service is investigating messages threatening President Trump that were scrawled on a whiteboard at Bemidji High School. Joe Bowen of the Bemidji Pioneer reports that the messages were found Monday afternoon. Lakeland Public Television reported one of the messages read “if no one kills Trump I will do it myself.” The U.S. Attorney’s’ Office notes that while federal law has a maximum sentence of five years for threatening the president, the context of a threat is important too. “Proof that threatening words were uttered in a context such that a reasonable person would interpret them as mere political hyperbole, idle talk, or jest indicates that the words do not constitute a threat within the scope of the statute,” the office’s website reads.

A state grant will bring high-speed internet to Nobles County. Karl Evers-Hillstrom of the Worthington Daily Globe reports that the Department of Employment and Economic Development announced a $2.94 million grant for Lismore Cooperative Telephone Co. to create a hybrid fiber-optic and wireless network in the county. Wilmont and Leota will be built out completely with fiber. After Lismore makes enough money from internet subscribers, it will install fiber throughout the county, including in Worthington. Christopher Mitchell, director of the Community Broadband Networks Initiative, says slow DSL is an impediment to business growth and creation. “If a business is looking to expand or build a new site, it’s rare they will go into a location that doesn’t have fiber access,” he said. Mitchell cited Chattanooga, Tenn. and Lafayette, La. as examples of cities that saw huge job growth after installing fiber to the home.