GREAT AMERICAN THINK-OFF Minn. Great American Think-Off announces question NEW YORK MILLS, Minn. (AP) – The 21st annual Great American Think-Off question seems relevant given the recent national debate over the so-called “fiscal cliff.” The Minnesota-based philosophy contest says its 2013 question is: “Which is more ethical: sticking to your principles or being willing to compromise?” Anyone in North America can submit an essay by mail, online or by email. There is no fee, and the deadline for submission is April 1. Finalists are notified by May 1. Essays can be no more than 750 words and should be grounded in the writer’s personal experience. Four writers will be selected to debate the question in New York Mills on June 8. The contest annually awards cash prizes of $500 to each of the four finalists.
BOY STARVED Minn. couple plead not guilty to starving boy (Information in the following story is from: The Free Press, http://www.mankatofreepress.com) ST. PETER, Minn. (AP) – A southern Minnesota couple accused of starving one of their four children has pleaded not guilty to felony charges. An attorney for Russell and Mona Hauer of North Mankato says the couple also filed a motion Wednesday to dismiss charges of child neglect, endangerment and abuse. The Hauers’ 8-year-old adopted son weighed fewer than 35 pounds when he was brought to a doctor Oct. 9. According to criminal complaints, investigators learned the boy had been fed a liquid diet and was kept from eating other food. Attorneys for the Hauers say the couple has not abused the child. The Free Press of Mankato reports the criminal trial is scheduled to start in May. A trial on whether to terminate the Hauers’ parental rights to their four children starts Monday.
HEAD SHOP-PUBLIC NUISANCE Judge: Duluth head shop is public nuisance (Information in the following story is from: Duluth News Tribune, http://www.duluthsuperior.com) DULUTH, Minn. (AP) – A judge has ruled that a downtown Duluth head shop is creating a public nuisance. Judge Shaun Floerke (FLUR’-kee) ordered the owner of the Last Place on Earth to pay for two police officers to provide security and nuisance control. The judge said head shop owner Jim Carlson’s argument that there is no proof his business has sold synthetic marijuana in the past year is irrelevant. Business owners have long complained about the throngs of customers who gather outside the shop. The Duluth News Tribune (http://bit.ly/S5wubB) reports Carlson was ordered to hire two police officers to be present at the business from one hour before he opens until closing time every day the business is in operation. Carlson’s attorney Randall Tigue (TY’-guh) says he plans to appeal the judge’s order.
ORCHESTRA LOCKOUTS SPCO, Minn. Orchestra meet with musicians ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – The Twin Cities’ two major orchestras are meeting with their locked-out musicians in an attempt to end lingering labor disputes. The management of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and the musicians union were at the bargaining table Wednesday. Meanwhile, musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra also met with management Wednesday. It was the first negotiating session since the Minnesota Orchestra locked out its musicians on Oct. 1. The two sides agreed to discuss a process for a “fresh start” to negotiations. The Minnesota Orchestra has canceled or rescheduled concerts through Feb. 10. SPCO musicians were locked out Oct. 21. The SPCO has canceled concerts through Feb. 8.
WOLF HUNT-MINNESOTA Minnesota closing 1st wolf season Thursday evening MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Minnesota is closing its inaugural wolf hunting and trapping season in the final remaining zone as of Thursday evening. The Department of Natural Resources says hunters and trappers have now registered 181 wolves killed in the northwestern zone. That brings the statewide total to just five wolves short of the overall quota of 400. The agency is still having problems with its automated system for tallying the number of wolves killed, which hunters and trappers are required to check before going out to see if their zone is still open. The system stopped working Tuesday. DNR spokesman Scott Pengelly says the totals had to be updated manually on the DNR’s website Wednesday afternoon. A phone hotline that erroneously says the season has already closed is still not working.
FRAC SAND-WABASHA Group appeals Minn. frac sand permit (Information in the following story is from: KAGE-AM, http://www.winonaradio.com) WABASHA, Minn. (AP) – A Wabasha citizens group is appealing a conditional use permit for a frac sand loading facility. The “Friends of Wabasha” filed the appeal Monday with the City Planning Commission. The group opposes the granting of the permit to Superior Sand Systems last month. The permit allows Superior Sands to build a loading facility for transferring silica sand from trucks onto trains for transport to North Dakota and Texas for use in the oil and gas extraction process called hydraulic fracturing. The sand would be trucked in from western Wisconsin. The permit allows up to 250 trucks to enter and exit Wabasha each day. KAGE Radio reports the group claims the permit was issued without the commission assessing impacts on traffic, tourism and nearby St. Elizabeth’s Hospital and another business.