TWIN CITIES HOSPITALS-NURSES Twin Cities hospitals, nurses reach tentative deal MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Negotiators for six Twin Cities hospital systems and the Minnesota Nurses Association have reached tentative agreement on a new three-year contract. The two sides announced the tentative deal Thursday. The negotiating committee for the nurses union unanimously recommended that nurses ratify the proposal. The new contracts would take effect June 1st, 2013, and run through May 31st, 2016. Details were not released. Union members will vote on the proposal December 18th through 20th. The two sides had agreed to hold early contract negotiations and limit the talks to wages only. The contract covers 11,000 nurses at Allina, Children’s, Fairview, HealthEast, North Memorial and Park Nicollet hospitals. The nurses union and the hospitals say they are pleased to have reached agreement and can continue focusing on patient care.
IRAQ WAR-PURPLE HEART Purple Heart for ex-Minn. soldier wounded in ’06 ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – A retired Minnesota National Guard soldier is about to receive a Purple Heart, six years after he was wounded in Iraq. Sergeant Jesse Lund of New Ulm is scheduled to receive the award Saturday at the Brooklyn Park Community Activity Center. Lund was wounded in June 2006 when a bomb exploded near his convoy in Iraq. The blast killed another Minnesota soldier, 19-year-old Sergeant Kyle Miller of Willmar. Both Lund and Miller were members of the 1st Battalion, 125th Field Artillery Regiment out of New Ulm. Lund’s former company commander, Army Major David Hintgen, says he’s happy that Lund is finally receiving his Purple Heart. A Minnesota National Guard spokesman says Lund’s application was submitted three times and approved on the third try.
PROSECUTOR-RESTRAINING ORDER Minn. prosecutor ordered to stay away from teen MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – A Minnesota prosecutor accused of an improper relationship with a teenage girl says he’ll stay in his job. Cook County Attorney Tim Scannell (SCAN’-uhl) is the subject of a restraining order this week requested by the 17-year-old girl’s parents. They said Scannell is a longtime family friend who told them in September that he had fallen in love with the girl, then reneged on a promise to stay away from her. A statement from Scannell’s attorney says the prosecutor regrets the pain he’s caused, but he’s committed no crime and did not engage in “sexual conduct” with the teen. Scannell became a public figure after he was wounded in a courthouse shooting in Grand Marais in December 2011 by a man he had successfully prosecuted.
MINNESOTA OFFICER KILLED Cold Spring mayor hopes for clue in Decker’s death MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Authorities are still searching for evidence that will lead to the person who killed Cold Spring police Officer Tom Decker. Decker was fatally shot last Thursday. A suspect was initially arrested but has been released. The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension says Thursday there have been no new arrests. Mayor Doug Schmitz says he felt numb in recent days as Decker was laid to rest, and the fact that no one is charged is a “hard pill to swallow.” He says everyone wants the case solved. Schmitz hopes someone will come forward with a clue, or the shooter will turn him or herself in. Authorities urge residents to share information, even if it seems minor. They’re also asking residents to help search for a shotgun believed to be the murder weapon.
TURKEY BARN FIRE Fire destroys turkey barn in central Minn. MELROSE, Minn. (AP) – Fire has destroyed a barn containing thousands of young turkeys in central Minnesota. The Stearns County sheriff’s office says a passer-by reported the fire near Melrose early Wednesday. Authorities say the barn, containing 17,000 young turkeys, is a total loss. The owner estimates the potential loss at a half-million dollars. Firefighters from Melrose and Sauk Centre put out the fire. The cause remains under investigation.
CHURCHES VANDALIZED Man incompetent to be tried in Minn. church damage (Information in the following story is from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com) BUFFALO, Minn. (AP) – A judge has ruled that a man accused of vandalizing churches in Buffalo and leaving behind anti-gay posters is mentally incompetent for trial. Prosecutor Elizabeth Larson says 30-year-old Wade Murray was moved Wednesday from jail to a state-run mental health treatment facility. Larson tells the Star Tribune that Murray’s ability to stand trial will be reviewed again in May. She says she did not object to Wade’s defense seeking the mental competency review. Police say Murray told them that God and Jesus were talking to him and encouraging his actions. Murray was charged with felony vandalism for allegedly throwing rocks at several churches in late September. Inflammatory messages on posters dealing with religion and sexual orientation were later left at some churches. Damage is estimated at more than $7,500.
TRANSPORTATION COMMISSIONER 2 finalists emerge for Minn. transportation chief ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – The chief executive of a major Minnesota-based bus company and a veteran state employee are the two finalists to lead the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Governor Mark Dayton planned Friday to interview the two, a process that makes their names public. One is Charlie Zelle, the president and chief executive officer of Jefferson Lines. The regional bus company operates in 13 states from North Dakota to Texas. The former investment banker returned to Minnesota to run his family’s company. The other is Bernie Arseneau, the current acting commissioner. He has worked at the department for three decades and is a trained engineer. The department maintains more than 12,000 miles of state highways, including nearly 5,000 bridges. Previous commissioner Tom Sorel resigned in November to take a private sector job.