- 6/18/13; West Hancock vs. Corwith Wesley Luverne Baseball will play varsity first at 5:45 p.m. No JV. :
ECONOMIC FORECAST-MINNESOTA Washington fight clouds Minn. budget forecast ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – The impasse over the fiscal cliff in Washington is casting enormous uncertainty over the economic forecast in Minnesota. And that will complicate Gov. Mark Dayton’s task of assembling a two-year budget proposal. A fresh analysis of the state budget outlook is due Wednesday. But Minnesota finance officials say their economic forecast will have a shorter shelf life than usual because the federal tax-and-spending showdown will likely affect whether the state outlook gets better or worse. At last check, another state deficit loomed but it was modest by recent standards. Democratic President Barack Obama and a divided Congress have until month’s end to reach a deal to avert automatic across-the-board tax increases and spending cuts.
GAY MARRIAGE-MINNESOTA Minn. activists strategize on passing gay marriage (Information in the following story is from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mpr.org) MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – More than 500 people gathered in Minneapolis this weekend to discuss strategy for legalizing gay marriage in Minnesota. Organizer Michelle Dibblee of the Equality and Justice Summit discussed how a grass-roots campaign to pass such legislation would work. Minnesota Public Radio reports she says they won’t have enough votes to win unless they persuade some legislators to make politically difficult decisions. Another participant, Ruth Larson, says it makes political sense to act now while Democrats control the Legislature and governor’s office. But incoming House Majority Leader Erin Murphy won’t say if the Legislature will take up the issue of same-sex marriage. Andy Parrish, an organizer of the unsuccessful effort to write a same-sex marriage ban into the state constitution, is daring Democrats to act so Republicans can respond.
METRO PROPERTY TAXES Property tax bite declining on metro area homes (Information in the following story is from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com) MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – The property tax bite is declining on Twin Cities metro area homes. The owner of a home in Minneapolis with a median taxable value of $170,500 can expect a 5.8 percent reduction in 2013. In St. Paul, where the median taxable value is $108,500, the projected decrease is about 5.6 percent. The Star Tribune reports most homeowners would see decreases in 56 of 85 metro area communities, compared with nine in which increases have been projected. The remaining 20 communities show both increases and decreases, with differences depending on a homeowner’s school district. The projected tax bills could be scaled back and don’t all include the effect of school levies approved in November. Officials say the relief could be short-lived as the improving housing market pushes property values up.
CORRECTIONS OFFICER CHARGED Corrections officer charged with sex female inmate (Information in the following story is from: Duluth News Tribune, http://www.duluthsuperior.com) GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. (AP) – A corrections officer from Tower has been charged with seven felony counts for allegedly having sex with a female inmate. Fifty-six-year-old James Allen Bongaarts is accused of multiple acts of sexual misconduct with a female inmate at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Togo. The facility, also known as Thistledew, houses a boot camp for non-dangerous adult women offenders. The complaint, filed Friday in Itasca County District Court, says the inmate told an investigator Thursday they had sex or attempted sex 10 times, most recently Wednesday. The complaint says Bongaarts admitted to having sex with her or attempting sex several times. The Duluth News Tribune reports Bongaarts is in jail and makes his first court appearance Monday. He did not immediately return a phone message left at the jail Sunday.
SOLDIERS RETURN Minn. Guard unit returns after Afghanistan stint ARDEN HILLS, Minn. (AP) – After ensuring that other deployed U.S. troops got their greetings from afar, a Minnesota National Guard unit is on the final leg of its trip home from Afghanistan. The last wave of 24 soldiers from the 147th Human Resource Company was expected back in Arden Hills for a welcome-home ceremony at 7:30 p.m. The company was in charge of military postal operations in three areas in Afghanistan and was spread across 19 bases. The unit was a joint operation involving multiple military branches overseas as part of Operating Enduring Freedom. On average, Guard officials say the company handled 100,000 pounds a day of incoming mail and 30,000 points of outgoing mail.
MINNESOTA OFFICER KILLED Kids of slain officer police struggle to cope COLD SPRING, Minn. (AP) – The four children of a slain Cold Spring police officer are struggling to imagine Christmas without their father. Tom Decker was killed late Thursday while checking on a report of a suicidal man. His funeral is Wednesday. Mounds of presents surround his children’s Christmas tree in Sartell, but 7-year-old Jade Decker told her mother, Becky Decker, the only present she wants is to have her daddy back. Becky Decker is divorced from Tom Decker but speaks well of him, calling him a good father and widely respected community member. She says their kids are on an emotional roller-coaster, having fun one minute then breaking down the next. She seconded others’ memories about his sense of humor, calling him a goofball who liked to watch “SpongeBob Squarepants” with his kids.