- Associated Press - Monday, March 31, 2014
Tornado damages farms in western Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - A tornado has damaged at least three farms in rural Minnesota, but no injuries are reported.

Yellow Medicine County Sheriff Bill Flaten said in a statement the tornado was reported about 4 p.m. Monday southeast of St. Leo.

Flaten says at least three farms were hit, with machine sheds, grain bins, outbuildings and homes damaged.

He says there have been no reports of injuries.

St. Leo is about three hours west of Minneapolis.


Minn. youth pastor charged with soliciting girls

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - A Minnesota youth pastor has been charged with trying to solicit nude photos from adolescent girls online.

A criminal complaint says 24-year-old Matthew Boos, of St. Louis Park, told investigators he had posed as a 15-year-old girl on Facebook and another social media site.

River Valley Church in Savage says it has fired Boos, who worked there for three years.

The charges filed Monday relate to a girl from Pope County in western Minnesota, but a criminal complaint says Pope met many of his victims through his job as a youth pastor.

River Valley Church pastor Darin Poli said previously that Boos passed a background check before he was hired by the six-campus ministry. The church issued a statement Monday saying it was cooperating with law enforcement.


Minnesota residents rush for health coverage

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - The call center for Minnesota’s online health insurance marketplace strained Monday under a crush of people trying to beat the midnight Monday deadline for open enrollment, while residents lined up to take advantage of locations offering in-person help.

MNsure said its call center logged about 17,000 calls by 4 p.m. Monday, taxing the phone system and preventing some people from getting through to agents. The average wait time was 20 minutes. The call volume was about four times that seen on Dec. 31, an earlier enrollment deadline for coverage that took effect Jan. 1.

Minnesota is one of 14 states plus Washington, D.C., that chose to run their own exchanges rather than using the federal system.

People who couldn’t get through or encountered difficulty signing up online were urged to fill out an enrollment attempt form on MNsure’s website so an agent could contact them later to complete the enrollment process. Those who missed the 11:59 p.m. CDT deadline but made a good-faith effort to enroll were being allowed more time and to escape the federal tax penalty.

Shawne Jones, 43, of Maplewood, was among the last-minute shoppers lining up at the Ramsey County Government Center for help from Portico Healthnet, a nonprofit that provides “navigators” to help guide people through the enrollment process.


Diocese: Former Blue Earth priest to be deported

WINONA, Minn. (AP) - A Minnesota priest was taken into custody at his Monday sentencing and will be deported after admitting he fondled a girl while attending dinner at her grandmother’s home.

The Rev. Leo Koppala will be held by the Department of Homeland Security until his deportation proceedings and likely sent back to his native India, according to a statement from the Diocese of Winona said.

Koppala pleaded guilty March 17 to second-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a victim younger than 13. He was sentenced to 25 years of supervised probation and ordered to register as a sex offender.

The Diocese of Winona says the 47-year-old Koppala was assigned in 2009 to the Catholic Church of Saints Peter and Paul in Blue Earth and to St. Mary’s in Winnebago.

He was placed on leave in June 2013. The diocese said it had permanently removed Koppala from ministry and dismissed him from employment as of Monday.

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