- Associated Press - Sunday, May 4, 2014
Teacher funds in St. Paul, Duluth could get boost

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - A bill headed to Gov. Mark Dayton’s desk would provide $14.3 million a year to the Duluth teachers’ pension fund and another $7 million per year to the St. Paul Teachers’ Retirement Fund.

The funding was part of a larger bill the Senate passed Thursday, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported (https://bit.ly/1rSUAlmhttps://bit.ly/1rSUAlm ). The House passed the measure last month.

The St. Paul fund needs assistance because it doesn’t have enough assets to cover its liabilities, said Senate President Sandra Pappas, DFL-St Paul. She said the Legislature had decided in 1978 to help the district by allowing it to reduce its payments to the fund, but the end result was a long-term shortfall.

Republican senators argued that the funding amounted to bailouts for St. Paul and Duluth. They proposed amendments to reduce or block the payments but were unsuccessful.

The state aid would continue until the pension plans are fully funded. That’s predicted to happen in 2042.


Minnesota fish-poaching cases going nowhere

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Federal officials promised an aggressive crackdown on fish poaching from lakes in northern Minnesota but the court cases have languished, raising concerns that unchecked poaching could ruin the catch for law-abiding anglers.

U.S. prosecutors announced 10 federal indictments last year, but four cases were dismissed, four more were overturned at a judge’s discretion and two remain on hold, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported (https://strib.mn/1kCAsBxhttps://strib.mn/1kCAsBx ).

The 10 men were accused of illegally catching and selling hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of walleyes and other fish from the Red Lake and Leech Lake Indian reservations. Other people were charged in state and tribal courts.

The federal cases haven’t gone well, though. Prosecutors themselves requested dropping four cases because the language of the indictments was flawed.

U.S. District Judge John Tunheim overturned four others, citing a 177-year-old Indian treaty that he said trumped the case brought by federal prosecutors. That ruling has led to an appeal, and the remaining two cases have been placed on hold pending the outcome of the appeal.


Theft charges for worker at Minnesota nursing home

HIBBING, Minn. (AP) - A St. Louis County nursing home worker has been charged with stealing jewelry from residents, including a ring that she allegedly took from the hand of a woman who was awake.

Terri K. Stephens, of Nashwauk, was charged last week with theft and financial exploitation. She no longer works at the Guardian Angels Health & Rehabilitation Center, the Hibbing Daily Tribune reported Saturday (https://bit.ly/1rSYtXuhttps://bit.ly/1rSYtXu ).

A home telephone listing for the 53-year-old Nashwauk couldn’t be found Sunday, and it wasn’t clear if she had a lawyer.

Prosecutors say residents at the center reported that gold jewelry had disappeared from their rooms. Police contacted a local pawn shop, which confirmed that it had bought some of the jewelry.

Stephens told investigators she had taken gold jewelry from residents and pawned it for cash, the criminal complaint alleges. She said she removed a ring from one woman’s hand and replaced it with “a junk ring from her own home,” the complaint said.


Ice recedes as Minnesota fishing opener approaches

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The ice is receding as Minnesota’s fishing opener approaches, and that has longtime Leech Lake resort owners Steve Jacobson and Roy Huddle breathing a little easier and optimistic for a strong start to the season.

Despite a record cold winter, more of Minnesota’s lakes are expected to be ice-free when Minnesota’s walleye season opens on Saturday than were clear for last year’s opener. Gov. Mark Dayton had to fish on a river last year because the lakes near Park Rapids were still frozen over, but Gull Lake near Nisswa is expected to be wide open for the 2014 Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener.

The Department of Natural Resources’ online ice-out map for the state showed that many lakes across the southern two-thirds of the state were ice-free by Friday. The dividing line closely followed U.S. Highway 2 from Duluth to East Grand Forks. Even north of that line, many smaller lakes should be open and many larger lakes should at least have some open water come next weekend.

Leech Lake in north-central Minnesota is right on that dividing line. It’s become a success story in recent years with a resurgent walleye population that has allowed the DNR to relax the lake’s size restrictions for the upcoming season. Anglers will be allowed to keep four walleyes up to 20 inches long instead of 18 inches like last season. All walleyes within the 20- to 26-inch “slot” must be released, although one trophy walleye longer than 26 inches may be kept.

That’s exciting for Larry Jacobson, owner of Hiawatha Beach Resort on the west end of the lake, who was looking out at a wide open Steamboat Bay on Friday.

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