By Associated Press - Saturday, March 15, 2014
As sex offender program marches on, rising costs

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Minnesota lawmakers are getting nowhere over how to resolve constitutional questions about the state’s sex offender treatment program, but the same can’t be said about the program’s costs.

They’re going somewhere - up.

About 50 new patients enter the program every year, a growth rate that threatens to swamp existing facilities in the next few years. A Senate committee on Thursday will review a request for $7.4 million this year to renovate and expand the St. Peter treatment center; another $30 million or more is on the drawing board for future growth there and in Moose Lake.

Lawmakers are under pressure to comply with a federal judge’s warning last month to create a more humane program or risk the judge ruling it unconstitutional and putting it under control of the courts. But despite that and the looming costs, top lawmakers and Gov. Mark Dayton last week said they doubted it would happen this session.

Lawmakers acknowledged on Friday they haven’t met about the issue in about a month.


Minnesota man seeks son’s return from Ukraine

MAPLE GROVE, Minn. (AP) - A Maple Grove man is at the center of an international custody battle that’s left his 4-year-old son in an unsettled place - Ukraine.

Born in Minnesota, the boy, Maxim Vilenchik is U.S. citizen. So is his father, Andrew Vilenchik, who moved from Ukraine as a teen and gained his citizenship while serving in the Marines.

In 2011, Andrew Vilenchik traveled to Ukraine with his son, then 2, and his now-former wife, a Ukrainian citizen he met in Minnesota, KARE-TV reported ( ). She extended her stay while Vilenchik returned to Minnesota, and she later decided to remain in Ukraine with their son permanently.

State Department papers show that a Ukrainian court ordered Maxim’s return to America last June. Two months later, an appeals court overturned that order. In November, the Ukrainian Specialized Supreme Court upheld the original order.

“I was a Marine so I’m a very systematic person. I follow the law,” Vilenchik said. “I followed every step of the process and I went through every single court.”


Cold contributes to 26 deaths in Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The frigid weather this winter contributed to at least 26 deaths across Minnnesota.

But the Star Tribune reports ( ) it’s wasn’t even as deadly as last year, when 41 people died despite much milder average temperatures.

The Minnesota Department of Health says exposure was a factor in at least 26 deaths from Dec. 1, 2013, through the end of February. That’s about average for the past five years.

It’s not clear why the numbers were lower this year. Some officials speculate there was far more publicity about the danger of the polar fronts. Or perhaps the subzero conditions made ice on lakes and rivers safer so fewer people died after falling through the ice.

Alcohol or drugs were factors in nearly half of this winter’s cold-related deaths.


Esko beats Annandale 60-41 in 2A title game

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Ekso’s top scorers differ slightly on how long they’ve played together and how long they’ve been itching to win a state championship game - Marc Peterson says since fourth grade and Kory Deadrick says sixth, when fellow senior Casey Staniger arrived in town.

Regardless, it was a long time coming after years of second-place finishes, which made Saturday’s 60-41 win over Annandale on Saturday for the Eskomos’ first-ever state 2A title all the more sweet.

“If you look back in those sixth and seventh and eighth-grade Pacesetter tournaments, we took second every year,” Deadrick said, his first-place medal hanging around his neck after the game. “It was like, ‘in the championship, we ain’t going to do that again tonight.’”

Peterson scored 16 points and Deadrick added 14. Staniger had 13 for the Eskomos (29-3).

Deadrick, the school’s all-time leading scorer, was well below his 25.9-points-per-game average coming into the tournament, but Esko had a well-balanced offense in the rematch of last year’s third-place game, a 1-point win by Annandale (25-7).

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