Here are the latest Minnesota News Briefs from the AP for January 9th, 2018.
COSTLY US DISASTERS
US hits record for costly weather disasters: $306 billion
WASHINGTON (AP) — With hurricanes, wildfires, flooding, tornadoes and drought, America hit a record high bill last year for weather disasters: $306 billion.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Monday that the U.S. had 16 billion-dollar disasters last year. That ties 2011 for the number of billion-dollar disasters, but the total cost of damages blew past the previous record of $215 billion in 2005.
NOAA says Hurricane Harvey cost $125 billion, second only to 2005’s Katrina, while Maria cost $90 billion, ranking third. Irma was $50 billion.
The weather agency also says that 2017 was the third hottest year in U.S. records with an annual temperature of 54.6 degrees (12.6 degrees Celsius). Only 2012 and 2016 were warmer. Records go back to 1895.
Walz, Coleman release fundraising totals in governor’s race
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The rush for cash is on in the crowded race for Minnesota governor.
Democratic candidate and Rep. Tim Walz said Monday his campaign had raised more than $1.1 million in 2017. Fellow Democrat and former St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said he’d raised more than $800,000.
It highlights the expensive race for the open governor’s seat ahead as candidates jockey for support among their parties. Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican challenger Jeff Johnson raised a combined $5 million in the 2014 election.
Several other Democratic candidates did not release fundraising total, nor did any of the eight Republicans running. The final fundraising reports aren’t due until the end of January.
Minnesota man sentenced to 61 years for killing parents
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — An Eden Prairie man has been sentenced to 61 years in prison for killing with parents with a screwdriver.
Thirty-eight-year-old Nathan Lehman was sentenced Monday after earlier pleading guilty to two counts of second-degree murder. He was charged in the deaths of Robert and Debra Lehman of Eden Prairie last May.
Prosecutors say Lehman has a history of mental illness and methamphetamine addiction and wasn’t following orders of his mental health caseworkers. He was accused of breaking into his parents’ home and stabbing them both nearly 60 times with screwdrivers before fleeing. The couple was found dead on a bathroom floor, holding homes.
Lehman declined to say anything in court. The Star Tribune reports with good behavior, Lehman could be eligible for release when he’s 78 years old.
Keillor in mediation with Minnesota Public Radio over firing
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Humorist Garrison Keillor says he is in negotiations with Minnesota Public Radio after the radio network cut ties with the former “A Prairie Home Companion” host over unspecified allegations of inappropriate behavior.
Keillor wrote on his Facebook page Friday that a second day of mediation was held at a law firm in Minneapolis, but gave no details. MPR spokeswoman Angie Andresen says the two sides are talking about the transition of their business relationship.
MPR announced in late November it was terminating contracts with Keillor after learning of allegations of “inappropriate behavior” with a person who worked with him. Keillor told the Star Tribune that he had put his hand on a woman’s bare back as he tried to console her.
Keillor retired as host of “Prairie Home” in 2016.
Worker dies while make repairs at Minnesota school dome
CHASKA, Minn. (AP) — An employee working at a Chaska middle school has died after he fell off a ladder.
A spokesman for the Eastern Carver County School District says 51-year-old Daniel Buesgens was trying to repair a heater in a maintenance room of a domed athletic center when he fell off an 8-foot ladder Monday morning.
Buesgens was working in a room that is not in a public area. He was found by another school employee.
Physical education classes held in the center were canceled Monday as Chaska police and OSHA officials investigated.
The Star Tribune reports Buesgens had worked for the school district since 2015. He was a building and grounds employee.
GOP’s Myhra announces bid for state auditor
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The open race for Minnesota’s state auditor finally has a Republican candidate.
Former Rep. Pam Myhra registered to run last week for the office. Minnesota Public Radio News first reported her candidacy.
The office is being vacated by current State Auditor Rebecca Otto, who is running for the Democratic nomination for governor. The state auditor oversees local government spending.
It’s Myhra’s third attempt at higher office since leaving the Legislature in 2014. She was former Rep. Marty Seifert’s running mate in the 2014 governor’s race but the pair lost in a primary. She also launched a short-lived campaign for the state’s 2nd Congressional District in 2016.
No Republicans have announced a bid against Democratic Secretary of State Steve Simon.
Osmek says his governor campaign is over
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Republican David Osmek says he’s ending his campaign for governor.
Osmek, a state senator from Mound, says he decided to drop out after discussing prospects with family and supporters over the holidays.
Osmek finished fifth of seven candidates in a straw poll at the party’s State Central Committee meeting in December.
He said he’ll support whomever the party endorses.
Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, isn’t seeking another term.
MISSING TEEN FOUND
Missing Florida teen found in Minnesota, 2 arrested
CALEDONIA, Minn. (AP) — A missing Florida teen has been found in Minnesota where two people have been arrested in the disappearance.
The 17-year-old girl was reported missing Friday in Hawthorne, Florida. Authorities believed she was with a 25-year-old man she had met online. KTTC-TV reports authorities believed they were headed for Caledonia, Minnesota. That’s where they were found Sunday. The mother of the 25-year-old suspect has also been arrested.
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