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Shipping traffic is heavy as seasonal close of Soo Locks nears

As the annual closing of the Soo Locks on Jan. 15 approaches, business for the owners of the Great Lakes Fleet of ships appears to be peaking through the ports of Duluth-Superior, Two Harbors and Silver Bay. The Duluth News reports that Adele Yorde, spokeswoman for the Duluth Seaway Port Authority, said, “It was nice to see an uptick in iron ore, and certainly it was great to see advancing grain numbers.” The last saltie left the Twin Ports just before Christmas but laker traffic will continue all the way up to the close of the Soo Locks.

Meanwhile, the same article notes that earlier last year, scientists found the Great Lakes hadn’t seen a confirmed new aquatic invasive species in 10 years — a strong indicator that the Coast Guard’s ballast-flushing program for incoming oceangoing salties has been working.

Bemidji schools are implementing a new way to react to an “active shooter” at or near a school. Joe Bowen of the Bemidji Pioneer reports that instead of the current method — where students and teachers hunker in a locked classroom – the new program says teachers and students should assess the situation and decide if they should alert, lockdown, inform, counter or evacuate. For example, if a shooter is in one wing of a building, instead of being required to stay in classrooms, students and staff in another wing now have the option to evacuate the building or even distract a shooter by throwing whatever is close at hand.

Family and friends are confused about the involvement of a man who was killed by a Mankato police officer Saturday. Mark Fischenich of the Mankato Free Press reports that 33-year-old biology and physical education teacher Chase Anthony Tuseth was fatally shot by 30-year veteran Mankato patrol officer Gary Schnorenberg Saturday at 4 a.m. at the Country Inn and Suites in Mankato. According to the police report, Tuseth was acting erratically when Schnorenberg responded to a 911 call. Fischenich writes, "Tuseth was in a hallway near the pool when Schnorenberg arrived, according to the BCA summary. After successfully deploying his Taser, Schnorenberg was attempting to handcuff Tuseth when he broke free and began hitting and kicking the officer. Schnorenberg then fired his weapon, and Tuseth died at the scene." Tuseth was not armed. "This is so uncharacteristic of him," said Tuseth's uncle, Mark Liptrap of Spokane, Wash. "Chase was just a great kid. He was quiet, just polite," Liptrap said. Mike Baumann of Mankato said he's known Tuseth for 12 years. "It just blows my mind," Baumann said. ".... He's always been a really nice guy. This is a big surprise. It's not in his character."

Douglas County Sheriff’s deputies used some crackerjack investigative skills to capture and apprehend a man accused of driving a snowmobile while intoxicated. The Fargo Forum reports that at 1:54 p.m. Sunday, deputies tried to arrest a snow-sledder who was driving erratically. He left the vehicle, but police were able to follow his footprints to capture him.

Looking for cheap flights out of the country? Look no further than out of the country. Using anecdotal information, Thunder Bay, Ontario, airport official Ed Schmidtke says he’s seen at least a 50 percent jump in the number of cars with Minnesota license plates leaving from his airport. He tells John Myers of the Duluth News Tribune that travelers can save as much as $500 per ticket if booked out of Canada. "The big draw over the summer was Europe, because Air Canada really does Europe well,'' Schmidtke said. "People were saving $400 or $500 per ticket by driving here and flying to Europe through Toronto rather than driving to Minneapolis and flying out of there."

Copper jewelry created by a Park Rapids artist has been chosen to be part of a swag bag at an upcoming Golden Globes event. Kelly Ringer, owner of ChatterByHammer, tells Shannon Geisen of the Bemidji Pioneer that her copper cuffs will be part of a giveaway at a "celebrity gift lounge" next month honoring Golden Globes nominees and presenters. The exclusive event is hosted by GBK Productions, a Los Angeles marketing firm, which promises to get the "products in the hands of today's leading trend-setters," according to GBK Production's website. Ringer makes copper cuffs, bangles, bracelets, rings, hair accessories and more. The gifts may be personalized with a hand-stamp.

This is a development that has been a long time coming: Jason Schoonover of the Austin Daily Herald writes that Austin Public Library patrons can now look up an item and a computer program, Stack Map, will spit out a map to the item’s location in the library. Stack Map takes a floor plan of the library and the shelving, then plots all the call numbers to the map. It’s “the coolest thing I’ve ever seen,” Technology Librarian Jake Fejedelem said. In an average day, Fejedelem said he’ll get about a dozen questions asking for help finding books. “It’s like: That solves so many problems,” he said.

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